Constellations I: Testing Ursa Minor, Snagging Draco

Do you see Polaris, Ursa Minor, and Draco?
Click to enlarge to full size.

On Monday, the same night I photographed Jupiter and Io, I also set up my tripod and new digital camera.  I want to start taking wide-field pictures of the night sky.

As a test subject, I pointed at the Little Dipper.  On the digital camera, everything has to be set to manual.  The longest setup time was in getting the focus just right.  For this, I used the brightest “star” available, Jupiter.

I took 17 images at ISO 3200, 18mm, and 10 second exposures.  I then took eleven dark frames – same camera settings but with the lens cap on.  This is to ascertain camera noise.  Finally I took 14 bias frames.  These are dark as well – lens cap on – but very fast shots.  In reading up on this, it’s possible I did not need bias frames, but I used them anyway.

I put all these images into DeepSkyStacker, and the above is what I got.  This is not a very interesting part of the sky, and my light pollution does not help.  In Ursa Minor I can see Polaris and the two bright end stars, but the middle ones are more difficult.  Something like Draco I cannot see at all.  So it is remarkable what the camera can pull out!

I am pleased with the amount of stars I captured.  Can you see Polaris and Ursa Minor?  I also got all of Draco in this picture, which surprised me.  Do you see it?

If you are having trouble (like so many of my co-workers did), please see this cheat image I created.  I purposefully am not showing the image directly in the blog post, to give you time to first study the raw picture before looking at the “answers.”

11 thoughts on “Constellations I: Testing Ursa Minor, Snagging Draco

    • So the night before (Saturday now I believe), I had a super clear sky, so I took out both my big telescope, for later Jupiter imagining, and my camera & tripod to get Leo, which is now nicely overhead at a good hour. After the Leo shots, I took them right away to my computer and processed them quickly. I was so pleased with the results, I made a decision to forego Jupiter imaging that night and instead take more camera tripod pictures. I did Jupiter and Virgo, and then the Big Dipper.

      Now I need to spend more time on understanding how to harness the detail in these pictures, as Flying Squirrel mentioned below. I can do it, but I feel they can be done better still.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s like you read my mind because that is exactly where I want to go next. I know there is more detail and I need to extract it. As I mention to Scott above, I have a sample set of different objects to work with now. Also, last night I took a “proof” set of Jupiter via telescope, using all of my cameras video resolutions. So here too I want to work to get the best possible images.

      Liked by 1 person

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