Constellations II: Leo the Lion

Click to enlarge and discover many stars!

Five weeks.  That is how long I had to wait from my first session photographing Leo the Lion to my second.  That is how long I had to wait for a mostly clear night, but even then, in the early evening of May 29th, I just finished my shots in time before large clouds rumbled in.

Five weeks prior, on April 22nd, the skies were much clearer and Leo was still directly overhead.  But as that was more of a test-shoot, compiling light, dark, and bias frames with my Canon EOS DSLR camera, I wanted to get a second set to see if there was any noticeable difference in the final imagining.  In particular, I wanted to shorten the focal length from f/22 to f/14, about mid-range.

I don’t think the focal setting change made much of a difference, but at least I did learn a few more things about the stacking software, DeepSkyStacker.  For example, the stacking “Intersection Mode” works wonders if you have to move the camera a bit and to ignore the stray wisps of clouds.  I know now for future reference that the sky does not have to be perfectly clear, just clear enough.  I can also take as many light/picture frames as I want, so long as I keep the object approximately centered.  DSS figures out the rest!

The one aspect of this technique I wish I could improve is to highlight better the apparent magnitudes.  Regulus is the brightest stars in my picture, but you cannot tell.  I don’t want to faux edit the image just to make the brighter magnitude stars bigger, but I do want to research possible PSP techniques to highlight the bigger stars.

I am also amazed at how accurate the picture is.  Compare the above image with this star chart and you can mentally plot the smaller stars.  Pretty cool!

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7 thoughts on “Constellations II: Leo the Lion

  1. I liked exploring around that enlarged top image. The star images are each slight ovals I assume from the exposure time. How many images did you stack? Would you be able to show the ISS in a stack of images?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I appreciate Jim that someone (you) scrutinized the image to that level. Yes, the ovals are the result of the 15-second exposures, all 59 of them. That’s kind of the trick with a wide-field stationary view of the sky – if the field-of-view is far back enough, the movement is not noticeable, or at least it shouldn’t be.

      Funny you should mention the ISS, because last night I finally got around to looking for it, just with my eyes and binoculars. I really do not know the best way to photograph it, but I plan to start researching.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great photo. I love taking shots like that one (though I have had a strange amount of trouble getting Leo right, so thanks for letting me cross that off my list). It’s cool to see them in the sky and compare them to the map (or vice versa). I could sit in, front of Sky & Telescope’s atlas for hours, and then to go out and say “Yep, there it is…” makes me really happy.

    Since I just use a pocket camera for these sorts of things, I find just revving up the ISO a stop or two, depending on the scene, helps bring out the magnitudes, and the colors. I’ll dig through my old photos and see what I can put together for a post about it. Would that sort of thing work for the way you like to do things?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Constellations III: Of the Summer Triangle | Aperture Astronomy

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