Monday, September 13, 2010

Vixen GP, Many Messiers

The Great News: We have a new baby boy! He arrived a few days ago, and is in fine health.

The Bad News: I won't have much, if any, spare time over the next few months to go out to the observatory to do imaging.

The Good News: Val, my astronomy pal over at, lent me a mount that I can use for astroimaging at my house!

I picked up the mount at an impromptu gathering at the observatory the other week and gave it a test drive. It worked great! This comes as no surprise, though, as the mount is a Vixen Great Polaris. It has a right-ascension drive (no declination drive or GOTO), a polar alignment scope, and a very sturdy tripod. Val has taken some excellent images using that mount.

I've been wanting to take a group shot of the Lagoon Nebula, Trifid Nebula and open cluster Messier 21 since they came up over the horizon a few months ago. I figured my ST80 had a wide enough field of view to capture all three, and then Mike Prokosch confirmed my thought when he created a fine image of the same region with his ST80 a couple of months ago. Here is my attempt, and first light with the Vixen GP:

Messier 8 (Lagoon Nebula, lower-left), Messier 20 (Trifid Nebula, middle-right), and Messier 21 (upper-right)
There is noticeable vignetting in the image.  I will need to work out a way to create flats with my ST80.

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