Tuesday, May 19, 2009

M3 Globular Cluster

Tonight was odd night. The forecast was excellent, the skies were beautifully clear all throughout the day, and there was none of the haze that had been around Austin for the last few weeks. So, after work I drove out to the local popular observing spot and set up for an imaging session. MY target was M51 again, which has remained elusive to me since I decided to try to image it, be it because of bad weather or schedule conflicts.

As the sun set, a layer of very high clouds approached from the West. It kept approaching, and kept approaching, until it covered up a big part of the sky, around 80% of it, to be quite honest. Unbelievable! That would be three times in a row now that this has happened to me...

I could see the brighter stars, so decided to try out a new iterative alignment procedure I had read on the internet a few months ago. It actually worked very well, reducing much of the drift alignment issues I had experienced before. Still, the clouds were hanging around and not going anywhere, so I trashed the idea of shooting M51 and looked at Saturn for a while.

Then I noticed a curious hole in the clouds around the area of M3. So, I mounted my Nikon D40 and shot away quickly. The hole in the clouds remained for about 30 minutes, and I managed to obtain about 15 minutes of data of the globular cluster. Below is the result...

Object Details:
  • Distance from Earth: 33,900 light years
  • Approx Number of Stars: 44,500
Image Details:
  • Nikon D40
  • Meade LX200 8" Classic, F6.3 mounted on Milburn wedge
  • 20 * 30 second exposures @ ISO 1600
  • 5 * 30 second dark frames
  • Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker
  • Mild sharpening and noise removal in Neat Image
Not bad considering the conditions!

Click on image for full size.


Polaris B said...

What rough luck! Nice shot of M3, though! Val

Chris Dann said...

Bad luck...