September 29, 2009

Heart and Soul (Kelling/Borg/H36/Ha)

A while back, just after I received my Borg 77, I jokingly mentioned to a friend of mine who owned a Starlight Xpress H36 that it should illuminate his CCD reasonably well. We laughed, we joked… and a crazy idea kind of stuck in our heads.

I contacted Hutech and obtained the correct 72mm adapters and spacers to allow me to swap over from the SX M25C to the H36, and we chose a few targets. One that stuck out as an obvious choice was the Heart and Soul area, which is always done as a two pane mosaic. It would be in a good location in the sky as it got dark, and a great place to start.

So, when it started getting clear and dark on the Friday at the Kelling Heath Star Party, the plan sprung into action.

A few things to mention before we get to the image itself.

– Many thanks go to Paxo (Steve) for lending me the camera to attach to my Borg for this project.

– This was really a proof of concept to show whether it would actually work or not. I think it did 😀

– The H36 wasnt aligned squarely with the OTA, something we only noticed in the subs after they were stacked. We should have checked the collimation screws on the H36, but were too excited at the time! The stacked version had much larger stars at the bottom of the image than at the top, which meant I had to get creative with the star reduction routines. Its not ideal, but it certainly looks a lot better than the version I first saw on screen.

– We were unable to plate solve in Maxim using this configuration, nor was PoleAlignMax. As such, the polar alignment is fractionally out, and field rotation is just visible in the very corners of the uncropped version. Unsure if this was due to such a large area of sky to solve for, or the large number of catalog stars it tried to retrive from the catalogs before it tried solving. I doubt I will get another chance to try this specific combination out, but I know Paxo now has a Pentax 75, so there will be similar projects coming up soon which will require PAM to work.

Mount: EQ6 via EQMOD
OTA: Borg 77EDII @ f/4.3
Guiding: SW ED80 + SX Lodestar + PHD
Imaging: Starlight Xpress H36 + MaximDL, 30×600s, Astronomik 13nm Ha (101 bias, 101 flats)
Stacked: DeepSkyStacker
Post Process: PSCS2

(Click on image for larger version, or click >>HERE<< for the MAAASIVE version… 4445 × 2635!!)

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