Sunday, June 2, 2013

Flaming Star Nebula - New Camera

I've held off posting this one for a few months because, frankly, I'm not at all happy with it. This is the Flaming Star Nebula, located in the constellation Auriga.

Flaming Star Nebula; Canon Rebel T3 (1100D), ST80 on Vixen SP mount; 10x120 at ISO-6400
The reason I decided to post it here is to give an example of what a long exposure looks like on my new camera. I've had this camera for a while, but haven't had the opportunity to use it much for astrophotography. It is a Canon EOS Rebel T3 (1100D) that I got for cheap. It's main selling point was its low noise on long exposures. I was never able to separate the Flaming Star Nebula from the ambient noise of the old Rebel XS.

Another advantage of the new camera is that it will take exposures at ISO-3200 and ISO-6400, unlike the old camera that only went up to ISO-1600.

As those of you who keep up with this blog already know, I use an Orion ShortTube 80 on an old Vixen Super Polaris mount when I view and image from home. The Super Polaris is a great little mount, but it does not have autoguiding or any kind of fancy computer control, like GOTO. The polar alignment scope is out of date (it was probably made in the mid-80s), so I have to estimate where to place Polaris in the reticle. As a result, the best I can usually get out of it are 3-minute exposures. Therefore, I figure that the higher ISO and lower noise of the T3 will help me capture more detail.

Here is a portion a single shot from the run that was used to produce the image above. I limited the exposure time to two minutes because the light pollution was swamping the nebula at higher exposures.

Two-minute exposure at ISO-6400. The nebula is barely visible, but can be separated from the relatively even noise.
Here is another example frame. It is a portion of a shot of Messier 101:

Three-minute exposure at ISO-1600 of Messier 101.
I'm looking forward to trying this camera on the astrograph at the observatory.

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