01/11/2024 – NGC 1333 – A Reflection and Dark Nebula

It was clear and cool, mid-40’s when I started out and low-30’s by the end of the night. The Moon is new, so no issues there. I uncovered the scope early in the afternoon and was ready to start capturing light at just before 7 PM. NGC 1333 was the target for this nice clear Moonless Thursday night.

NGC 1333 is a reflection nebula and star formation region located in the constellation Perseus. The nebula is about 1000 light years from us and is surrounded by some interesting dusty and cloudy dark nebula.

Primary (Imaging) Secondary (Guiding)
Scope: SVBONY SV503 102ED
Reducer/Flattener: SVBONY SV193 0.8 FR/FF
Filter: None
Camera: ZWO ASI294 MC Pro, Cooled to -10 C
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Mount: Sky Watcher EQ6-R Pro
Scope: SVBONY SV106 60mm Guide Scope
Camera: Orion Star Shooter Autoguider (OSSAG)
Telescope Control, Image Acquisition, and Image Processing Software
Equipment Control and Imaging Software: KStars/Ekos connecting to INDI Server on a Raspberry Pi
Stacking and Processing Software: Siril astronomical image processing tool

Once the Sun was set I ran the Ekos Auto Focus. Plate solving calculated the focal length at 569.3 mm or F/5.6. The storm early in the week shifted the scope around a little so it took a bit of time to get a polar alignment. I ran the polar alignment routine multiple times to get things dialed in. Then checked focus again, Ekos Auto Focus set the focus steps at 10133.

I let the Ekos scheduler do it things and captured 3 hours of light from NGC 1333. Once the sequence was finished I captured a few more incase any needed to be thrown away, I ended up with 66 light frames. I packed up and covered the scope around 11:30 PM.

I was able to capture 66 x 180 seconds of light from NGC 1333 at 121 gain, offset 30, and bin 2×2. Before I packed up the scope I captured 50 x 0.000032 second bias frames. This morning as the Sun was coming up I captured some new flats at ADU 25000. I am using my 180 second darks from 12/11/2023 (these are getting the job done so I am going to keep using them). Flats, darks, and bias frames were all shot at the same gain (121) and offset (30) as my light frames.

I used Siril to create the master calibration files, calibrate, align, and stack the light files, and finally to crop and process the image. Here are my results:
NGC 1333, Reflection and Dark Nebula, 66 x 180 seconds, captured 1/11/2024, processed in Siril.
Not too bad. I am getting a little better with the processing in Siril… but only a little. There is a little bit of detail coming through in the dark nebula, which is pretty cool. I am going to try to get a bit more time on this while it is still high in the sky.

Looks like a couple days of clouds in the near future, Saturday looks like it might be OK but we will see. I hope to get a little more light from NGC 1333 and to attempt Sh2-308, The Dolphin Head Nebula, my next time out. Sh2-308 is the January 2024 Sky-Watcher Target of the Month (TOTM). NGC 1499, the California Nebula, is also on this month’s “hope to get” list since it is Goofis’ January 2024 challenge in the CloudyNights’ Beginning Deep Sky Imaging Forum.

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