Heart and Soul Nebula (Second Attempt)

10 October 2021

After nearly a month of either bad weather, a much too bright moon or simply having no time to do astrophotography this weekend was my chance and despite not being fully fit I still did want to take advantage of the good conditions.

Originally the plan was to get to a darker site and meet up with some friends but that was not going to happen. Being out in the cold until 0300 in the morning just did not feel right. So I set up my rig in the garden which was a feasible compromise: I could start imaging fairly early and get a good amount of data and still be in bed before midnight.

So why can't I build upon the data I collected that weekend? It's simply down to two issues I had:

  • Somehow I messed up the aperture setting. Instead of shooting at f/3.5 which I found provides good results I ended up shooting at f/2.8 and sadly the stars are kind of ugly at f/2.8.
  • The second reason is that I did not take proper flat frames and therefore combining the data with later sessions might result in numerous problems. Luckily I found some old flat frames which were taken with the exact same gear and settings. They did not clean up the sensor (or lens) dust but managed to clean up the heavy vignetting.

So what's the takeaway from this session?

  • Check my aperture and finally get a proper flat field box (I am on it and hope that I have one for the next session).
  • 2h data is not nearly enough for the Heart and Soul nebula with a stock camera - not even at the maximum aperture.

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