February 26th, 2018, 08:15 p.m. local time
Finally, for one night, the weather was great (likely above 45 degrees F), no wind, and an amazingly clear sky. This is the best time of year for stargazing where I am, when the weather permits, because there are neither bugs nor humidity to combat. If this had not been a school night, I would have pulled out my big telescope, waited the 45 minutes for it to cool down, and then observed the sky for as long as I could.
The only damper was the Moon, days away from Full, lighting up everything.
Waxing Moon notwithstanding, these conditions were perfect for tripoding my camera and trying out my new wide-field lens. I upgraded over the stock lens of my DSLR camera last month and have have been eager to use it. This night’s session was mostly a test of the new lens.
Here is the full image:
Orion with Taurus was the perfect target. What most impressed me about this image, which is a single post-processed shot, are the colors. The oranges of the giants Betelgeuse and Aldebaran, the blues of the young stars in the Pleiades. They all pop out vibrantly.
This is a 20-second exposure and remarkably only ISO 100. I think there is room for bringing out even more details if I bump up the ISO more and play with the focal length, set at f/2.8 for this image. It’s worth noting here that I did try image stacking at ISO 1600 with a much higher focal length, but the end results seemed dull compared to this single shot image. I have work to do to figure out how to take advantage of my new lens in conjunction with image stacking.
Other constellations are visible as well. In the extreme upper left is the star Procyon and its constellation Canis Minor. To the left of Orion, very faint, is Monoceros. Below Orion you can see the top of Lepus, and next to that is the end tip of Eridanus. I admit that I never thought about Lepus (a hare), Monoceros (a unicorn), and Eridanus (a river) until now. They are simply too faint and not in any recognizable shape to take special notice of. Still, there they are, pretty much as they were when the ancients named them.
Gemini is also barely visible at the top, but let’s save mention of the twins for when I can get a better view, when the glaring Moon is not sitting right on top of Castor and Pollux
Since I started taking wide-field views of the sky, I put my tally of snagged constellations at 29:
- Ursa Minor
- Leo the Lion
- Leo Minor
- Ursa Major
- Canis Minor
- Constellations I: Testing Ursa Minor, Snagging Draco
- Constellations II: Leo the Lion
- Constellations III: Of the Summer Triangle
- Constellations IV: Scorpius Rising
- Constellations V: Leo the Lion (Remastered)
- Constellations VI: Pegasus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and the Quest for the Andromeda Galaxy
- Constellations VII: Orion and Taurus (this post)
- Meteor Hunting, 2017 Edition