Thursday, March 10, 2011

Orion's Belt

For a long time now I've wanted to do long exposure astrophotography in the field. To do this properly I needed to have my Takahashi EM-200 mount, my DSLR, my autoguider camera and my laptop all working simultaneously - for hours at a time. The quickest solution (for me) was to get a portable generator to power the whole lot. Last week I finally broke down and bought a Honda EU2000i. Great little generator, very quiet, efficent and puts out 1600W of power - far more than I needed for my current setup but there's room for expansion.

So - after work on Kitt peak last night I finally got to try out the new setup at the 6000 foot pull-off of the mountain road. Though there was a 25% waxing cresent moon nearby I attempted a 150 minute exposure of Orion's belt using a 300mm lens @ F/4. A standard Canon EOS 5D Mark II was used at ISO 800. Thirty - 5 minute exposures were combined using ImagePlus and PSCS5.

The three bright stars running diagonally across the field are the three belt stars of the constellation Orion. IC 434 (the horsehead nebula) along with NGC 2024 (the flame nebula) can be seen making up the environs of the left-most belt star - Alnitak - or Zeta Orionis.


If everything is working properly this kind of photography is pretty boring - I spent the nearly three hours it took to make this image watching "Avatar" on my DROID. Ha!


Paul said...

Wow, Dave, that is pretty darned nice!

Dean said...

Dave! You found "my" spot! I like it a lot better than the top of the mountain... Really nice effort on the Orion shot!


David A. Harvey said...

Dean! Yes I did. To bad you were out chasing whales - you could have joined me. :-) ~Dave