Peltier Cooled Canon 450D (XSi)

M51 with Supernova AN2011dh and NGC 4565

Astro-Tech 6" f/9 Ritchey-Chrétien Astrograph

Cherry Springs Dark Sky Park - May 30 - June 5, 2011

by Gary Honis

Images were taken with a Peltier Cooled Modified Canon 450D (XSi).

Telescope used for imaging was an Astro-Tech 6" f/9 Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph at prime. The Astro Tech RC and ED80 refractor guide scope were mounted on an Orion Atlas EQ-G mount. The EQMOD ASCOM driver was used to drive the mount directly via an EQDIR interface module.

Equipment used:

DSLR Modification Service: I am selling and converting Canon 450D, 500D, 550D, 600D, 1000D & 1100D DSLR cameras for astro imaging. CLICK HERE for details.

Our first two nights were clear but hazy. The next two nights were clear with better transparency with one of those nights having brief periods of good seeing. The three remaining nights were in order: cloudy with showers, partly cloudy and clear.

On May 31st, a French amateur astronomer discovered supernova AN2011dh in M51 on a CCD image of the galaxy with his 14-inch telescope. The same night, an observing friend, Elliott Mckinley, was viewing M51 through my 20 inch Starmaster and remarked how good it looked with many stars sprinkled across the galaxy. I had my Vicker's Catalog on my observing table at the time, which I use to check galaxies for supernova, but didn't for such a bright galaxy. Another friend set up next to me, Mark Casazza, had taken images of M51 with a C11 the night before the discovery. It was first light for his setup but unfortunately had tracking issues and star images were streaked.

This was my first time using the Astro-Tech 6" f/9 Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph (AT6RC) for deep sky images. My first two nights of exposures had tear shaped stars in one quadrant and pointed to the scope being out of collimation. My friends Tony and Elliott spent an afternoon helping me to collimate the AT6RC using an artillery of collimation tools. For my last day of imaging, the scope was fairly well collimated.

M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy and Supernova AN2011 dh - June 5, 2011:

51 five-minute exposures at ISO 1600 captured with AT6RC at prime were combined using DeepSkyStacker and reduced in size for display (1000X666).

The following image is a "mouseover image". You will need to have scripting allowing in your web browser for this to work. Move your mouse cursor over the image and you will see an arrow showing the location of Supernova AN2001 dh. Move the mouse cursor off the image to remove the arrow:

Move cursor on and off image:

NGC 4565 - Needle Galaxy - June 2, 2011:

31 five-minute exposures at ISO 1600 captured with AT6RC at prime were combined using DeepSkyStacker and reduced in size for display (1000X666).

On June 3, the setting Moon was at 5% phase. Image taken with Canon T2i (550D) and Sigma 55-200mm zoom lens at 55mm:

Bear on Field

A bear visited the field one night. I heard something fall outside of my trailer and didn't think much about it. The next morning I found bear prints on the hood of my Navigator and the trailer mirror knocked off. My fault since I had placed my trash bag on the roof. Two other campers had to chase the bear away from their sites and I was told the bear then headed for a group at the pavilion. Looking for picnic baskets no doubt:)

Elliott McKinley took this photo with his cell phone of a bear and her cubs on Route 44 near the park :

Me and Elliott with our 20" scopes in upper NE field:

The last clear night, Sunday, June 5, we noticed skyglow to the North. The glow was brighter than the usual Coudersport skyglow. We suspected lighting at the marcellus gas drill site that was flaring last month. The glow was not noticeable on the previous nights during our stay.

Field panorama on June 6, day of departure and end of New Moon period. Scroll to right for entire image:

Other astro images with the modified 450D: CLICK HERE

My Astro YouTube videos: CLICK HERE


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