Thursday, September 25, 2008

Upcoming DSO Astrophotography Attempt

The last time I took a shot at DSO astrophotography, it was a bit of a disaster. This was two weeks ago. It was the first time that I used the Milburn Wedge with my LX200 but I left my polar drift instructions at home, thereby really limiting my exposure times. Additionally, I wanted to take a methodological approach to the photos, shooting multiple sets in increments of both ISO and time exposure settings. Because I wasn't really keeping track, my shots were all over the place. The results were expectedly terrible, although I was able to acquire a nice shot of the Double Cluster in Perseus.

This time, by George, it will be different! I've done a lot of reading and research, and feel I now have the advantage! Short exposures will be the order of the day given the amount of light pollution at the observing site I'll be using. But, lots of short exposures at different exposure times and ISO speeds (ranging from 30-60 second exposures at ISO 400 and 800 respectively).

Being a process-oriented kinda bloke, I created a workflow spreadsheet to help me keep track of my attempts. The sheet includes basic scope, site, time, date and weather info. But it splits each overall attempt into separate ISO and exposure time settings. It has a checklist for each frame required (including both Light and Dark frame sets) and should help me keep track of what I'm doing out there. It also has a field in which I can store image numbers as they are saved on the card. Because I usually shoot in RAW format, the preview in Windows won't allow me to see my images so it becomes a real chore to select the right photos for the image. Screenshot below, and if it really helps me I'll make the file available for download. (Click for full size and easy to read version!)

Still sticking to the idea of targeting brighter objects first for ease, I will target M20 (Triffid Nebula) and see how things go. Wish me luck...

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