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!