After having success with my NGC7000 mosaic I found some time to get out to the RASC, Halifax Centre’s dark sky observatory to capture the last frame of my second 3 by 3 effort on the Andromeda Galaxy. One of the issues I’ve been struggling with is matching the camera rotation night to night. After having a few clear nights at home I figured out where zero degrees camera rotation lined up and things fell into place. After a little practice I’m now able to line the camera up with just one plate solve and get close enough to shoot multi-night mosaics.
As evening fell I headed out to the observatory with my gear. After a pleasant 30 minute drive I arrived as a few other club members were setting up. Lugging 200 pounds of gear from my car and setting up gave me my evening workout and soon it was dark enough to align the scope and acquire a guide star. Firing up the computer and recalling the mosaic in Mosaic Engine the scope quickly moved to my target and thanks to some recent software changes Mosaic Engine was able to control PHD and completely automate the session.
Initially I captured eight frames at our cottage over the summer. Unfortunately the Sun came up before I could capture the upper left frame. Since the image was taken at two different times and at two different places I was concerned that stitching in the last frame would be a bit tricky. Turns out I was right to be concerned as the skies at SCO are slightly darker than at my cottage and I had a bit of trouble matching the final frame. Using a lighten blend mode I was able to combine the mosaic with a neutral, dark grey frame with some noise added to flatten the background nicely.
To see a higher resolution version, visit my site web page but keep in mind that clicking on the image to download the high res version will cause a large download.
All in all not a bad image and it’s been several years in the making. One of my first efforts on this target was the combination of a zoom lens shot and a telescopic shot of the core.