Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Starry Starry Nights

We trekked out to the south end of Bonaire on Saturday and Sunday night to enjoy the spectacular summer Milky Way. I think Sunday was the clearest night we've had all year. It has been amazingly cloudy and hazy this year. I think I can count all the good stargazing night on the fingers of one hand.

The picture below shows a large dark nebula known by us northern hemisphere types as the Pipe Nebula. It is located at the middle of the right side. The stem of the pipe extends to the right edge of the frame and the bowl is one third of the way across towards the left side. The Lagoon nebula is at the middle at the left side, and the Triffid nebula is just above it.I took these pictures to show what one can do with a minimum of equipment. I had my trusty DSLR camera sitting on a photo tripod with a 85mm lens on it. Each image here is a combination of 50 exposures, each lasting a mere six seconds. The camera was set at iso 1600 and the lens was at F2.8. I also took 50, six second exposures with the lens cap on (dark frames) and combined them all on my laptop with free software called DeepSkyStacker. So if you have a camera that can shoot RAW images, and a computer to process them with, don't be afraid to try some simple astro-photography. The sky's the limit!

The bright star above is Deneb in Cygnus, also known as the Northern Cross. The regions of the sky shown in both these pictures are some of the most fun to scan with binoculars.

1 comment:

QBall said...

WOW... These photos are amazing! You're so lucky; living on Bonaire AND nice dark skies. Good find on that software too.