Well, what a year 2020 has been. Aside from the state of the world, the year has been a bit up and down with astrophotography also. From a nice beginning with the 533mc Pro, a scorching summer and an abysmal winter. In this post I think I’ll take some time to recap, to look back over the year, and my images. So feel free to tag along for a trip down this year’s lane as we bid farewell to 2020, and welcome in another year of opportunities, targets, and incessant cloud cover.
2020 In Review
At the beginning of the year I was still using the ZWO ASI 533mc Pro that was on loan from First Light Optics. It was actually the first piece of equipment they had loaned me. I also had the Astronomik 12nm Hydrogen Alpha filter that was loaned to me from the Widescreen centre. It was certainly strange getting items sent to me, and definitely took some getting used to. The relationship with Widescreen Centre didn’t go anywhere, however I did get on board with First Light Optics as a reviewer and I couldn’t be more thankful for such an opportunity.
The key images I took early on in the year included the Rosette Nebula, Comet Atlas and M81 & M82. These were exclusively shot with the 533mc Pro and then I was able to make my review. Which was my first camera review. I think it came out well.
2020 also included a house move from one town in Northamptonshire to another. I also moved in with my partner so I actually missed a couple clear nights during that transition period. Trying to move house, sort internet out, unpack and image deep space was too much to do at the same time really.
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The California Nebula
The California Nebula is a large bellowing bunch of gas in the sky. It’s a beautiful and iconic nebula in Perseus and gets its name from looking like the state of California in the United States of America.
At Magnitude 6 and about 1000 light years from Earth, the California Nebula is reasonably easy to image. Using very modest gear I was able to capture this target in February 2019.
NGC 1499 lies within Perseus, named after the Greek God of the same title. A great time to image this nebula is late November through to January. It raises early and stays high in the sky for the entire night, allowing you plenty of imaging time. So naturally I shot it in February. Not the end of the world though, but it was on its way down.
In this article I’ll talk about what it’s like imaging The California Nebula as well as why would you choose narrowband over broadband as well as challenges I faced. Continue reading “The California Nebula”
If you’re looking for a way to really add some bang to your emission nebula, then hydrogen alpha data is probably the way to go. To that end we have this offering from Astronomik. A 12nm hydrogen alpha filter that can clip into a DSLR camera body. Isolating a singular wavelength of light – 656nm – and then letting the sensor capture that can really make a difference in your astrophotography. Taking your images all the way up to 11.
There are several reasons why to invest in a hydrogen alpha filter, there are also a lot of filters out there to choose from at different wavelengths. But for now, in this article, I’m going to talk about my findings having used the Astronomik 12nm Ha filter which was on loan from The Widescreen Centre.
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I had an unexpected clear night recently. So I decided to take the Astronomik Ha 12nm Clip In Filter for a
road sky space test. Pointing the telescope towards Orion, I decided to begin gathering data on The Horsehead Nebula.
The Horsehead Nebula
Otherwise known as Barnard 33, this dark nebula gets its name by the striking resemblance to that of a horse’s head. Often (almost always) photographed with it is the reflection nebula NGC 2023. The Horsehead Nebula is a popular winter time target and as such the perfect time to photograph it is late November to January.
Being partly an emission nebula, one popular trick is imaging this nebula in Hydrogen Alpha. Hydrogen Alpha is a narrowband wavelength of light that only allows light from that gas to pass through.
I was able to capture this wavelength due to the generosity of The Widescreen Centre in loaning me the filter for review. The Astronomik 12nm Hydrogen Alpha Clip-In Filter is a heavy weight filter known for being really useful and good with DSLR cameras. So it was perfect for me and my modified Canon 600D.
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