The Milkyway from Mangrove Mountain Pony Club

On Saturday night, I headed out to the Mangrove Mountain Pony Club for the first time since January, to do some social observing with friends, and some widefield photography away from home.

The image below is the outcome from the night – a widefield Milkyway image taken with my Canon 350D and 28mm f/2.8 lens, piggybacked on my ED80/EQ6.

Click the image for a 1200px wide version (600kb jpeg).

The Milkyway Galaxy at the Pony Club. Click to view 1200px wide version.

The Milkyway Galaxy at the Pony Club. Click to view 1200px wide version.

Given it was my first image in so long, I’m quite happy with how it turned out. Drift aligning went smoothly and quickly, I didn’t forget to take anything, and generally it all went as well as I could’ve hoped. Continue reading for more details about the capture and processing.

I had my usual Deep Space Imaging setup, with the (unmodded) Canon 350D piggyback on top of the ED80 and EQ6 combo, and was guiding through my no-name refractor using the DMK21AU04 and PHD software.

I was using the Canon cheapie 28mm f/2.8 lens, which cost me about $50. I only stopped it down to f/3.5, which was a mistake as you can see by the field curvature/coma in the corners of the image (and that’s after cropping out the worst of it). I should’ve stopped it down further, or used my Sigma 17-70 or Canon 50mm f/1.8 – but I wanted to try the lens out as I hadn’t really used it since I bought it, about 18 months ago.

My capture settings were ISO800, f/3.5, 17 x 5 minute exposures, giving a total exposure time of 85 minutes. Calibration included ICNR darks, and 15 flats at the end of the session using my lightbox.

The raw images were calibrated, registered and stacked using Deep Sky Stacker. I then applied DDP using ImagesPlus, followed by further processing in Photoshop CS2.

Next time – a sharper lens, stopped down a bit more, and hopefully more exposure (maybe using darks instead of ICNR – but i’m still wary about that!)

Thanks for looking.

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