Last night turned out to be a surprise clear night. I wasn’t originally expecting it, as the forecast said cloudy, but when I poked my head outside at sunset, the sky was totally clear. It remained clear until after midnight (when a few bands of clouds finally rolled in, followed by total cloud cover), and so ended up being an excellent night. I managed to image M45 (The Pleiades), M35 and NCG2158 (a large and small open cluster in Gemini), as well as one of the galaxy clusters in Leo which included NGC3628, M65, and M66. I have not yet had a chance to see how the M35 and NGC3628 sequences turned out, however the M45 sequence turned out to be superb!
The very first image sequence I took with the Orion Atlas mount I recently purchased was The Pleiades, almost two weeks after I had actually purchased the mount, and nearly a week after I had received it (clouds are the astrophotographers bane.) That night was wrought with troubles, and I was only able to capture a small fraction of the number of frames that I needed. Last night, I was able to capture about twice as many frames, each of which were 3.5x longer than the originals, for a much deeper and richer exposure. I spent several hours today processing those images, and managed to create the image featured here. Significantly better than the last ones, more color accurate as well (the grayish tone of the nebula near Merope was all blue in my prior images), and much more detailed. I’m quite pleased with the results, although I still can’t wait to get out to a dark sky site and try again…I am pretty sure I can capture even more detail!. 🙂