A few weeks ago after taking some photos of Jupiter, I changed my setup to do some long exposures on an easy target: a globular cluster. Unfortunately I forgot to note down the name of what I had photographed! So a few weeks later when I found the time to process the images I was at a loss to identify what Messier object it was. However, after an evening of matching up stars surrounding the cluster and I was able to correctly identify it as Messier 3.
Globular Cluster – Messier 3 (Benoit Guertin)
The above was taken with my Skywatcher 80ED and Canon 80D. It is a stack of 27 x 10sec exposures at ISO3200 on an unguided and roughly aligned mount.
Looking at my archives I found that I had imaged M3 about 10 years ago with the same telescope, so I decided to align both old and new image and see if anything would stand out. And to my surprise, spotted one star that appeared to have shifted. To help identify the star I colorized one of the photos and subtracted from the other (done in GIMP). All the stars within the field of view lined up except this one; the two colored spots are not aligned!
High PM Star BD+29 34256
To be sure this wasn’t on an error on my part I did a bit of research and found it to be a know high proper-motion star BD+29 34256.
It’s not everyday someone with amateur backyard astronomy gear can show how a star has moved in 10 years.
In one of my previous post I mentioned how Messier 44, the Beehive Cluster, would be an easy find the evening of April 22-23, so even if I took this photo on the 21st, the same evening that I took a photo of the Moon, all I needed was to moved a few degrees north after observing the Mooon to image this large open cluster.
Messier 44 – Beehive Cluster. Benoit Guertin – taken with Skywatcher 80ED and Canon 80D
Photos of open clusters with small refractors always lack the diffraction spikes that really make the stars stand out. So a little photo editing did the trick to spice up the image.
Canon 80D ISO 3200
Stacked 22 x 10sec
Looking at the sky at night from your backyard you’ll probably be able to see about 50 stars, more if you are away from the city. So how many do you think is in the frame below?
Portion of the Milky Way near Vulpecula.
Taking a 200 x 200 pixel sample in the middle I counted 155 stars. Hence extrapolated to the entire picture comes to 38,000 stars for this 18 x 10 degree portion of the sky. OK I cheated in taking a picture of a portion of the Milky Way… Nevertheless that is a rather small fraction of the 300 billion stars estimated within our own Milky Way.
Bonus if you can spot the meteor! Showed up in a single 30sec frame, which I added separately in post processing, else it would have been eliminated from the final image as it’s a random event and I always use a sigma distribution for my stacking. Hint: it’s located just above open cluster CR399, also known as Brocchi’s Cluster.