M42 – Orion Nebula

Orion Nebula - M42

I’m rather pleased with this picture of the Orion Nebula. I’ve never seen it before, sitting within Orion’s belt, and being basically invisible without an optical aid.

This was taken in my first session with an iOptron Star Tracker – a mount that sits on a regular photographic tripod to allow you to take photos of stars, tracking them as they move. That said, this is only a six second exposure taken in quite a dark Norfolk site (Yes – that’s how I spent my Christmas Eve).

The lens is my Sigma 70-200mm, with this exposure at the full 200mm end at F2.8. My camera is a crop-sensor model, so that makes it the equivalent of a 300mm lens. Here’s hoping for more clear skies…

Geminids and Startrails

Startrails Wideangle

Last night was the peak of the Geminids meteor shower. So I headed out from the lights of my part of suburbia to rural Bayford (a 10 minute train ride). To be honest, there are still plenty of city lights on the horizon, but it’s the best I can do easily.

I set myself up in a field, and thanks to the red torch of my headlamp, I then spent the thick end of two hours in a field. A fine way to spend a Saturday.

I had two cameras set up, both taking 20-30 second exposures in different parts of the sky. The photo at the top had a wide-angle lens on it, and that photo, which includes Polaris (the pole star) shows the stars leaving circular trails around it. The camera stopped at one point, hence the slight break in every trail. I also learnt that I need something to fight the dew if you stay out that long. I hadn’t noticed that both cameras had fogged up by the end of the evening, leaving me with useless pictures. It appears that a cheap way to fight this is to use chemical hand warmers…

The photo is made up of about 60 images, stacked inside Startrails.

The photos below are a couple of shots of something like 20-25 meteors that I observed in different parts of the sky. Unfortunately, the don’t always appear in the right places, or be to faint to be visible in photographs. Perhaps I just need a faster lens?

Geminids 02

Geminids 01

Finally, here’s another startrail photo made up of 118 images including parts of some of the images above. I need to persevere with this!

Startrail 02