I’m sure you have peered at the spectacular full Moon that lit the entire night sky with its glow last weekend. You can’t have missed it, just next to the bright star Antares, in the constellation Scorpius, our satellite offered a superb view.
June’s full Moon is typically the last full Moon of spring or the first of summer. It was called the Strawberry Moon by some Native American tribes to mark the ripening of strawberries that are ready to be gathered in June.
This is a shot of the Moon taken in infrared (IR) with my 80/600 refractor telescope.
Here instead is a composition I took with my Canon EOS 250d and Canon 55-250 mm lens. The shot was taken from my backyard in the North of Luxembourg.
Today, after three months, I finally had a chance to take out my solar setup and snap a shot of the Sun. There is plenty of activity on the chromosphere right now, as our star goes through its solar maximum phase. And though the seeing was not ideal, I’m quite happy with the end result, have a look:
Below, instead, is a picture of the Moon I got last night. This was taken without a telescope, just with my camera on a tripod. It’s the results of 80 photos stacked together, and processed in Photoshop.
Finally, while I was out, I also practised my landscape photography skills. In the below shot, under the watchful eye of Pollux and Castor (the heads of Gemini), Venus dominates this spring sunset with her glow and beauty. In the foreground, a deserted road leading to a pine forest, in the silence and tranquillity of the countryside in northern Luxembourg.
As days get longer and longer here in Luxembourg, the hours of (real) dark are not sufficient for capturing enough data on deep sky objects. With my telescope at rest, I’m now focusing on traditional photography, with some occasional shots at the Moon with my Canon EOS 250d.
Here are some shots I took in May.
Sunday, 21 May. A tiny crescent Moon peeks out from a thin blanket of clouds.
Today I want to show you some images I took with my Askar 107PHQ telescope, an amazing quadruplet astrograph that I bought exactly a year ago, but hardly had a chance to try.
A year ago, in fact, I decided to go through a reshuffle of my gear. I sold most of my equipment including mount, scope and camera, and re-invested the money (with a little extra, but don’t tell the wife!) into something more suited for astrophotography, including this stunning telescope.
As April is already galaxy season here in Luxembourg, for first light I chose the Needle Galaxy (NGC 4565), a bright galaxy in Coma Berenices, some 40 million light-years away. This is an edge-on spiral galaxy, oriented perpendicularly to our line of sight, which makes it a perfect target to capture.
This image, which I recently reprocessed, is the result of 10 hours of data captured on 3 different nights. I am fairly happy with it despite having some difficult sessions, fighting heavy light pollution and some tracking error on the Sky-Watcher HEQ5 mount. It was a good first test.
Then in May my daughter was born, and then the weather got miserable (and still is), so I didn’t have many opportunities to test this scope further. Until February came. Now, the cold winter temperature (-8° C or 17° F) paired with a very bright full Moon were discouraging factors, but nonetheless I decided to put the Askar 107PHQ to work. And this is what I got.
PacMan Nebula (Sh2-184)
This bright emission nebula stretches around 48 light years across and is located in the constellation Cassiopeia, approx. 9,500 light years from Earth. The resemblance to the iconic video game from the ’80s is remarkable, hence the name.
For this image I collected 8 hours of data on a single night, using a narrowband filter (Optolong L-Ultimate) to alleviate the brightness of the full Moon. The Askar107PHQ has impressed me for the sharpness of the image, with pinpoint stars across the whole field of view.
Wizard Nebula (Sh2-142)
This large emission nebula, composed mainly of ionised hydrogen atoms, is shaped like a magician in a pointed hat, and can be found in the constellation Cepheus, some 7,000 light years away.
This image is the result of 7 hours and 10 minutes of data. Unfortunately, I had a technical problem with the AsiAir Plus that prevented me to reach the benchmark 8 hours I wanted to achieve, but all in all I feel I can’t complain. I might add some more data in the future to see if even more faint details can be brought out.
Again, the Moon was almost full and the sky extremely bright, but the Optolong L-Ultimate does a terrific job filtering all wavelengths but the H-Alpha (red) and OIII (green-blue). It is a magic filter for imaging emission nebulas in difficult conditions.
Finally, this below is an image of the Askar 107PHQ at the end of the session, at roughly 6am. I was taking flat frames, while the full Moon was about to set: it was amazing being out there!