I'm reviewing recent images for my talk to the Astronomy Fundamentals group tomorrow and saw these images collected 10 days ago while chasing the Jupiter/Venus conjunction over Kitt Peak. Since the planets set so early in twilight, I stayed an hour and took a few guided images - still finding what the "new-to-me" Canon 6D can do! I'm still loving the big sensor (twice the area of the APS sensor!) and low noise - I no longer have to do the "long exposure noise reduction" to reduce electronic noise in the camera (and double the exposure!). Using the small tracking mount that goes on my tripod, Vixen's Polarie, I mounted my old Nikon 135mm lens (via an adaptor) and took some 2 minute exposures at F/4, ISO 2,000. Around the central part of the Summer Milky Way, it looked to be about the perfect exposure. Of course, I could have taken many more exposures to knock down the little noise that remained, but I had little time to tarry as I was needed at home... For all of the frames used here, only two exposures of 2 minutes each were stacked, so 4 minutes of investment per image shown.
Still the results are nothing less than spectacular! Shown at left is the full frame of the 135mm lens and the 6D of the Teapot asterism of Sagittarius. The brightest part of the Milky Way (towards its center) is at right, but there are a multitude of objects that can be picked out of the original files. Unfortunately, at the 1600 pixel resolution limit here, many are resampled away, but a few Messier Objects are pointed out in the labeled version at right. Of course, I could gaze at the dark clouds all day - it is these mysterious clouds seen in silhouette against distant clouds of stars that I love to find and photograph. Unfortunately, it is too late in the season to chase many more of these towards the center of our galaxy. Optimum time to chase these are while we are busy up at the Grand Canyon in June!
With only 4 minutes of investment per exposure, I took a series of shots, hoping to do a mosaic of the central part of our galaxy later. Here is a 3-frame mosaic from the "stinger" of Scorpius in the lower left corner, up through the "Prancing Horse" of Ophiuchus. above center. Let me know if you can't make it out, and I'll supply another labeled version! The darkest part of the "horse" is the rear leg area, also known as the "Pipe Nebula", if you consider the dark nebulae rising upwards smoke from a pipe. Clicking on the image, if you poke around the dark nebulae, you can also pick up the sinuous "Snake Nebula", the bright nebulae M8 (Lagoon) and M20 (Triffid) at upper left, and a few fainter red clouds of hydrogen gas down near the "stinger" at bottom left. It is such an amazing part of sky, and with only 12 minutes of exposure invested, how can you NOT collect images like that when given the chance!?
Well, that's about it - just a couple amazing shots whose taking couldn't be much easier. I hope you enjoy and for goodness sake, if you have a camera and tracking mount, feel free to duplicate my results too!
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