My Very (Very) First AstroImage – M31

So my goal for 2020 when I first ordered the SkyGuider Pro was to create one image that I would feel OK with showing to someone not related to or living with me.

Well, it was actually “Of Jupiter” since that’s the first thing I looked at with the Dobsonian scope, but then I did two minutes of research and decided that wasn’t the direction for me

Well, this is NOT that image. But it’s OK, I’m going to show it anyway 🙂

I couldn’t wait for the SkyGuider to arrive so I searched the internet and discovered that it was possible to make astro images with just a DSLR camera/lens and a tripod. Well, that I had!

So I setup in the driveway and started with – drum roll. M31 of course (having no idea it was effectively the target that 87 bazillion other beginners all sweat blood and tears over for their first image)

I spent some time with the “Rule of 500” trying to calculate what exposure times I might be able to get with my plastic 70-300MM Nikon zoom lens set to 200mm and in the end just decided to wing it. Guessed at the ISO (800) for my ancient Nikon D300

Looking back at the images, amazingly I actually had APT hooked up (even though it cannot control BULB mode on the D300) – my subs were short enough that APT was just fine. I even took some (51) Dark and Flat (50) frames. I honestly have no clue what I shot the flats against

By some miracle, I managed to frame M31 using Sky Safari Pro and waving it madly at the sky.

I simply cannot begin to describe the feeling when I caught M31 in the first frame. Even with a few seconds exposure, it was huge compared to the stars and there was no doubt in my mind that I had found it.

I shot 321 5 second subs and integrated with DSS. Edited in GIMP

So … here goes nothing

Picture saved with settings embedded.

Aactually I think I do have an even earlier/worse version of M31 somewhere – maybe I will dig it out sometimes as the Very Very Very first astro-image!

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