M45 (Return Of The Pleiades)
Hmm, interesting. Some slight flurries of snow and suddenly there is chaos on the roads, schools closed, post and deliveries curtailed etc.. However, making my usual bus journeys did not reveal a problem, apart from buses not turning up, and the inability of bus drivers to know what time it is, but that's par for the course anyway. But, certainly the main roads had been gritted, and... Hang on, is this edition of the blog about the seven sisters or not, and I don't mean Tottenham? Sorry, yes of course it is and we will get straight to it now.
So, looking at the forecast, its looking good for tonight (20th Jan 2023). Darkness is falling around 5.30 pm and a quick look outside reveals a perfect looking sky. With much trepidation, I venture outside in the 2 inch snow that's carpeting the back garden. Barely making it to the observation platform alive, I ascertain that, yes indeed, imaging will be taking place tonight. My goal tonight is to image Messier 45, the Pleiades. I was gifted a new filter for Christmas and I had only managed to use it once on a test run imaging M38: https://www.astrocrescent.com/?pgid=kja8x7oa-1cd5afc1-e89e-4d0d-9e40-f3fc1907bef5 The test run on M38 looked excellent, but M45 will be a sterner test for the filter due to the brightness and nebulosity. So, the idea was to use this filter on the Pleiades and see if we get a good result.
Well, we are set up and the camera is rolling. Usually, I would take 3 minute exposures on clusters, but because M45 is so bright I decided to use 2 minute exposures. Due to the really clear sky and knowing how sensitive my ASI533MC Pro camera is, I thought this would be sufficient. I had hoped to get at least 40 exposures which would have given me 80 minutes total exposure time. As, it turned out, I ran to 50 and then decided that would be enough. So, a total of 100 minutes of exposure and I ended the session there. In need of some sustenance, I bravely trod the 10 yards through the snow to our kitchen, where my wife was waiting with some badly needed refreshment. My darling, what on earth are you doing out there again? Clearly, I have no answer to that question...
As it turned out the imaging session did not end there. Feeling refreshed, I ventured outside again, to take another 3 hours imaging of a pair of galaxies. However, that will be another image and another blog to look forward to, if indeed you are looking forward to see it! As regards M45, I spent most of Saturday morning (21st Jan 2023) processing the data. This is what I ended up with.
I am totally incredulous at this image! Just 100 minutes of exposure has revealed an incredible wealth of detail. The stars are beautiful, but look at the dust that has appeared! I have never seen this amount of detail in M45 before. This combination of the camera and the new filter has blown my previous image of M45 out of the water and totally torpedoed it. As I suspected, 2 minute exposures would be enough to at least show the cluster, but I did not expect the filter to bring out all the dust. Was this worth trudging through 2 inches of snow and getting my hands cold? Yes, without a doubt..
As always, I welcome your comments, good or bad. Until next time, keep looking up, but not enough so you trip over something you have failed to see, like the truth..
See you next time.
For more details on this image go to: https://www.astrocrescent.com/?pgid=kja8x7oa-9578f757-9f05-436a-b610-fac0ae53c437