09/02/2023 – EAA – Nothing but Nebula…

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. Here in Southeastern Virginia Saturday was a beautiful day which gave way to a nice clear night. I uncovered the scope before dark and took a few sets of dark frames and a quick set of lights. I created darks for 60 seconds and 30 seconds. The flats were created at ADU 8192. The Moon is about 88% full and waning, rising around 9 PM. Despite the near full Moon it was a nice night to do some EAA.

After capturing the darks and flats, I created the masters using SharpCap.

Once the Sun set I checked focus and then plate solving. Plate solving is calculating the focal length at 699.6 mm, so a focal ratio of F/6.9. I ran the Ekos Polar Alignment routine to get the alignment dialed in. Then I checked focus on the guide camera.

Temperatures were in the mid-60s. It did not feel like the humidity was very high but some dew formed on my observing table shortly after the Sun set. I turned on the dew heaters and set them to 5 degrees above ambient temperature.

The EAA images in this post were capture with my ZWO ASI294MC Pro cooled to 10 C through my SVBONY SV503 102ED Scope with a UA adjustable field flattener. The SV503 is focused using a ZWO EAF and the Ekos Focus Module. Guiding is accomplished with an Orion Starshoot Autoguider (OSSAG) attached to a 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 via an INDI Server running on a Libre SBC. The images were live stacked using SharpCap Pro. Images have been resized (80% of original) and/or cropped for file size but otherwise appear just as I observed them.

NGC 7023, the Iris Nebula, is a reflection nebula in the constellation Cepheus. This is a live stack of 30 x 60 second exposures at 121 gain, 30 offset, and bin 2×2.
NGC 7023, Iris Nebula, EAA Capture 09/02/2023
A bit noisy early on but cleaned up nice after about 10 frames. Interesting dark nebula surrounding it. Guiding was also working great with a RMS around 0.74.

IC 1396 (IC 1396A – Elephant’s Trunk Nebula) is a concentration of gas and dust in the constellation Cepheus. This is a live stack of 30 x 60 second exposures at 121 gain, 30 offset, and bin 2×2. The Elephants Trunk nebula is a CloudyNight’s September 2023 EAA Observing Challenge object.
IC 1396, Elephants Trunk Nebula, EAA Capture 09/02/2023
This is my first visit to the Elephant’s Trunk nebula. IC 1396 is pretty much the entire frame, the Elephant’s Trunk (IC 1396A) is the dark dusty cloud which can just be resolved in the lower center of the frame. I am going to revisit this one in my next EAA session to reframe it with IC 1396A in the center to hopefully observe some more details, and more of the nebula.

NGC 7129 is a reflection nebula in the constellation Cepheus. This is a live stack of 15 x 60 second exposures at 121 gain, 30 offset, and bin 2×2.
NGC 7129, reflection nebula, EAA Capture 09/02/2023
Neat little reflection nebula. I don’t think I have observed NGC 7129 in past. There is also a nice open cluster, NGC 7142, up and to the left of center. Great view. Even with the air plane and satellite flybys this was one of my favorites of the night.

NGC 7026 is a planetary nebula in the constellation of Cygnus. This is a live stack of 15 x 60 second exposures at 121 gain, 30 offset, and bin 2×2. NGC 7026 is a CloudyNight’s September 2023 EAA Observing Challenge object.
NGC 7026, Planetary Nebula, EAA Capture 09/02/2023
Bright but very small. Can’t really resolve any structure but can kind of tell there is structure if I zoom in. The planetary is almost dead center, it is greenish/blueish and is just below a bright star. The C8 is better suited for planetaries like this, so I’ll put it on the list to give it another try when the 8″ is on the mount.

At about 10:30 PM the Moon had risen and was well above the horizon in the East.

IC 5146, the Cocoon Nebula, is a reflection and emission nebula in the constellation of Cygnus. This is a live stack of 30 x 60 second exposures at 121 gain, 30 offset, and bin 2×2.
IC 5146, the Cocoon Nebula, EAA Capture 09/02/2023
The Cocoon nebula is a reflection and emission nebula which reminds me of the Trifid Nebula (M20), just not quite as bright. I can just resolve some of the dust and clouds which make up the nebula. The interesting thing in this frame (IMHO) is the dark nebula, Barnard 168, which surrounds the Cocoon Nebula. The way the darkness breaks up the star field. In this capture the dark lane heads down and slightly right from center, continuing off the frame. Enjoyed observing this one.

Before I packed up I took a couple hundred quick frames of Saturn and the Moon to tinker around with stacking later. Here is a screen grab of the FITS preview from one of the shots of the Moon:
Moon, EAA Capture 09/02/2023
It is a 0.000032 second exposure at 121 gain, 30 offset, bin 2×2. I took a 100 or so frames just to do some stacking and such, stay tuned…

I shutdown, packed up, and covered the scope at around 11:30 PM. Looking forward to another session this holiday weekend.

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