Back to Basics: Part 1 - Orion (constellation)

25 February 2023

In the middle of the week, we arranged to meet at our usual spot and spend a night in the field again after a long time. But when the time came, the forecast was anything but rosy, so we changed the plan without hesitation:

Instead of bringing out the heavy gear for photography at the familiar location, we packed our light kit and drove to a new place that we had wanted to try out for a long time.

Armed with two Star Adventurers and small telescopes or camera lenses, we set off in the direction of the Roman villa Haselburg. Once there, we were delighted by the extremely clear and dark sky but noticed that it was freezing cold and windy.

For my part, I didn't spend much time on the polar alignment and only did a rough alignment. Since I forgot my illumination for my polar finder, I didn't have much of a choice anyway (mistake no. 1). But with 35mm focal length on an APS-C chip and a maximum of 30-second exposures, this should not be a major problem. (At least I was right about that).

Mistake No. 2 concerned the focus: I had not quite nailed it. Unfortunately, I don't have a suitable Bhatinov mask for the 35mm lens - a thing I should definitely change at some point.

Mistake No. 3 and the most serious one was the operation of the built-in interval timer in the D7500: I hadn't used it for a while and so I had forgotten that you have to set the interval to exposure time + storage time. I left it at an interval of only 3 seconds for an exposure of 30 seconds. But since it was freezing cold, I just wanted to sit under the blanket in the wind-protected car.

Two hours later I wanted to change the battery, as experience shows that it lasts about this long. When I arrived at the camera, I was surprised to find that the battery was still mostly full. It became clear to me why when I looked at the pictures I had taken. I had a total of 19 pictures, 30 seconds each in the box. 19 of the planned 200 pictures. Unfortunately, Orion was setting in the meantime, so I could not continue here. I had to look for a new target. But more about that another time.

The picture above shows the products of my "efforts". One of the images was sorted out by WBPP during stacking, the rest was added up to a total of 9 minutes of exposure time.

Considering that it is only 9 minutes with an unmodified camera, I think the image is not too bad. All the important objects are visible:

  • Barnard's Loop
  • Flame Nebula
  • Horsehead Nebula
  • Running Man
  • Great Orion Nebula
  • Witch's Head Nebula

This definitely speaks for the observing site and I am sure we will return there sooner or later.

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