First CCD Project – first real data.

So, time for the first project – and with Cygnus currently rising over the back of the house just after darkness (~22:30) I’m not short of options. Cygnus hosts a number of the sky’s most impressive nebulae, including my first target – the Eastern Veil nebula.

The Eastern Veil is releatively large – about 6 times the size of the full moon in the sky – and with the field of view of my CCD will require a 2 frame mosaic. Accurately positioning the camera to capture both frames of the mosaic will be a new test. The Camera needs to be pointed in the right place and with the correct amount of rotation.

Fortunately the planetarium software helps with the mosaic layout and also allows you to “link” any pictures taken and overlay them so you can see how close you are. Below is a screen grab – the grey area is a quick test shot – showing that I am in the right place.

Eastern Veil Mosaic layout

For the data itself I will be using 2 Narrowband colours – Doubly Ionised Oxygen (OIII) and Sulphur (SII). Ideally I would use a Hydrogen Alpha filter also but I am still waiting for one to be delivered.

Narrowband makes sense for this target as not only does the nebula have strong emissions in these bands, it is also situated in the milky way. Using narrowband filters will help to prevent the huge volume of stars from over whelming the nebula.

So to execution – the first night was disappointing – having positioned the telescope correctly and watched a 20 minute frame expose correctly – I headed to bed. Waking up I was greeted with a guide star faded error on frame 2! Not sure what its problem was but a thin layer of cloud could well have drifted in.

Fortunately the following night was clear – and I was able to have another crack – successfully capturing 5 20 min and 6 10 min exposures of OIII and 1 20 min of SII.

Below is the result – my first CCD image – and pretty close to the planned framing too.

Eastern Veil OIII

Just need some more clear nights now to get the rest of the data.



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