Monday, September 12, 2011

A Different Look at North America

I now have more images than I have time to process.  I'm working my way back to finally finish some earlier images that were left to the wayside.  Blame it on my eagerness to use the new QSI camera.  Oh, that and learning a new workflow now that I have to process each color channel separately.  There is always something to keep this imaging pursuit from becoming easy.  But hey ... I *can* handle a monochrome image without too many problems.

This was taken back in the spring.  The goal of the evening was to take a LRGB widefield of the M81/M82 region (which I haven't finished processing either).  After shooting those, there was still some time before dawn and I noticed that Cygnus - one of our summer friends - was rising in the east.  What a great opportunity to try out the new Hydrogen-alpha (Ha) filter on the North American nebula!  I imaged well past astronomical twilight.  With the very narrow (3A) filter it didn't make any difference.  Very cool.  Now I too will be able to use the ubiquitous disclaimer ... "taken under the full moon in my light polluted backyard".  But this was taken at Fremont Peak State Park which is one of the better dark sites easily accessible from the south San Francisco bay area.

I decided to present the image rotated sideways from convention.  I think it highlights those wonderful dark nebula clouds.  At least they seem more obvious to me when I'm not so focused on making those ionized hydrogen clouds into a continent.

The dark complex separating the North American and Pelican nebulas (where the Gulf of Mexico should be) looks to me like a frog jumping into a pond.  The obscuring dust really seems to stand out in front of the nebula.

Other patterns emerge too (the head of a golden retriever in the "pacific", a pontificating elephant in the center, others?) - much more obvious to me than the "Pelican" ever was (the Pelican is the common name given to the nebula just off the coast of "Florida").  Maybe we should look at our night sky friends in new orientations and perhaps see details we otherwise miss.

Sideways North America

Taken at Fremont Peak State Park, CA  April 30, 2011
QSI583, Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L @ f/4
Astrodon Ha (3A) filter

19 x 300sec exposures (95min total)
AP900 Mount
calibration, registration and post-processed in PixInsight

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