It’s been a bit since my last EAA session. Cloudy skies, bright Moon, and being sick for the last couple weeks I just have not been able to get out and observe. Not sure what kind of bug I had but I was definitely really sick for over a week. I was really looking forward to doing some EAA and I wanted to work through some of the CloudyNights EAA April 2023 Monthly Observing Challenge objects.
I uncovered the scope early in the afternoon and connected everything up. It has been set up and covered since my last EAA session so things were pretty well good to go. Seems like it took forever for it to get dark. Around 8:30 PM it was dark enough to see some stars in the scope so I ran the Ekos Focus module, my focus is a little soft but I really could not manage to get it any better after fiddling with it for 10-15 minutes. Focus was good enough for plate solving to work, so I decided to go with what I had. I did a polar alignment using the Ekos Polar Alignment routine, polar alignment was pretty close so it just took a couple minutes to dial in. Checked the focus in the guide scope, all was well there.
The EAA images in this post were capture with my ZWO ASI294MC Pro cooled to -10 C through my Celestron C8 SCT with the Celestron 6.3 Focal Reducer. For guiding I am using the Orion Starshooter Autoguider (OSSAG) camera attached to my SVBONY SV106 60mm guide scope. All gear is mounted on a Sky Watcher EQ6-R Pro. The mount and cameras are remotely controlled with KStars/Ekos through INDI Server running on a Libre Computer SBC. The images were live stacked using SharpCap Pro. Images have been cropped to the region of interest for file size and to remove vignetting caused by the focal reducer, but otherwise appear just as I observed them.
IC 3568, the Lemon Slice Nebula, a planetary nebula in the constellation of Camelopardalis. This is a live stack of 20 x 30 second exposures at 121 gain, 30 offset, and bin 2×2. IC 3568 is on the April 2023 Cloudy Nights EAA Challenge list.
Even at the 1279mm focal length of the C8 this planetary nebula is really small. Might be worth another try with out the focal reducer, and better focus. It was also still a bit early in the night, so the sky was still a little bright.
Messier 109 (M109) is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation of Ursa Major. This is a live stack of 30 x 30 second exposures at 121 gain, 30 offset, and bin 2×2. M109 is on the April 2023 Cloudy Nights EAA Challenge list.
A bit of detail in the inner structure. A few other faint fuzzies are also visible. The arch of light in the lower right is a reflection artifact from a bright star just out of the field of view. I think there is an issue with the focal reducer which is causing this and also some deformation in the stars. I have ordered a new F/6.3 Focal Reducer and I am hoping that will fix the issue.
NGC 3842 is an elliptical galaxy in the constellation of Leo. This is a live stack of 30 x 30 second exposures at 121 gain, 30 offset, and bin 2×2. NGC 3842 is on the April 2023 Cloudy Nights EAA Challenge list.
NGC is the brightest member of the Leo Cluster of around 70 major galaxies. Here is the annotated live stack showing many of the other cluster members and other faint fuzzies in the FOV.
NGC 3893 a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Ursa Major. This is a live stack of 30 x 30 second exposures at 121 gain, 30 offset, and bin 2×2. NGC 3893 is on the April 2023 Cloudy Nights EAA Challenge list.
Nice detail in NGC 3893. NGC 3906, which is up towards the left corner, is also an interesting barred spiral galaxy about 64 million light years way. NGC 3896 is a companion galaxy to NGC 3893 and is just up and left of center. NGC 3906, NGC 3893, and NGC 3896 are all members of the NGC 3877 group which is part of the Virgo Supercluster. NGC 3893 and friends were my favorite observation of the night.
NGC 4731 is a barred spiral galaxy located near the Virgo supercluster. This is a live stack of 30 x 30 second exposures at 121 gain, 30 offset, and bin 2×2. NGC 4731 is on the April 2023 Cloudy Nights EAA Challenge list.
Since it was a school night I went out to pack up and cover the scope around 10:15 PM. Focus definitely could have been better, and I should have captured some new calibration frames, but overall it was a nice night and I enjoyed observing.
I ordered a new F/6.3 Focal Reducer, I am hoping this will solve some of the issues I am having with focus and the artifacts. I expect some distortion in the corners, but the odd shaped stars, the reflections, and other artifacts – not sure what is causing them… since I have not been able to correct it through other means I am going to just try a new F/6.3 Focal Reducer. We shall see…