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Imaging telescope or lens:Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Imaging camera:ZWO ASI 1600MM-Cool
Mount:Orion Atlas AZ/EQ Pro
Guiding telescope or lens:Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Focal reducer:Orion .8X Focal Reducer
ZWO B 1.25" optimized for ASI1600: 38x90" (gain: 139.00) -15C bin 1x1
ZWO G 1.25" optimized for ASI1600: 34x90" (gain: 139.00) -15C bin 1x1
ZWO L 1.25" optimized for ASI1600: 81x90" (gain: 139.00) -15C bin 1x1
ZWO R 1.25" optimized for ASI1600: 41x90" (gain: 138.99) -15C bin 1x1
Integration: 4.8 hours
Avg. Moon age: 11.81 days
Avg. Moon phase: 45.66%
Bortle Dark-Sky Scale: 5.00
Astrometry.net job: 2443203
RA center: 3h 44' 39"
DEC center: +32° 14' 13"
Pixel scale: 1.666 arcsec/pixel
Orientation: 20.860 degrees
Field radius: 1.297
Locations: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, Connecticut, United States
Data source: Backyard
The central portion of my image shows IC 348, a 2-million year old open star cluster associated with two small reflection nebula LBN 758 and LBN 601 (LBN refers to Lynds catalog of Bright Nebula). It is estimated to be 970 light-years away and resides in the Perseus Molecular Cloud which accounts for the cloudy appearance of the background. The larger nebula, LBN 758, is located in the center of the open cluster the while the smaller LBN 601 is just to the left of the bright blue giant star Atik (38-Per).
The image also contains some dark nebulae, in particular, the barely visible LDN 1471 in the upper left portion. In addition, the more visible LDN 1468, LDN 1470, and LDN 1472 (LDN refers to Lynds catalog of Dark Nebula) appear on the right portion of the image. One of my favorite areas in this view is the illuminated gas and dust of the molecular cloud on the bottom left and is one of the reasons I did not crop this image.
I thought it would be easy to process but it was surprisingly tough as I wanted to highlight the faint gas & dust from the molecular cloud while keeping the noise low. I also had horrible gradients that ABE nor DBE in PI could not remove. Getting frustrated after an hour I switched to Gradient Exterminator in PS and it fixed it with one simple click and then went back to PI. I am sure there many PI experts who could have done it but I could figure it out.
The weather was no help, even on clear nights clouds came in for a visit. I started in early December thinking I would be done in a couple of days and this would be my last object with the ED80 as my main scope. I only managed to get about five hours of usable exposures and you think I would have been able to get more like 15 hrs with the amount of time passing since I started this project. Oh well, my telescope has not arrived yet either.
If you do this object I would recommend getting as much luminosity data as you possible as that had the greatest effect on the outcome. I collected a little over an hour of Ha one of the nights before the clouds moved in but when I stacked it, there was barely anything there so I decided not to pursue this course when the LRGB was much more useful.
Lastly, I have been putting together an APT video tutorial series and made a new video while imaging the IC 348 of having APT do an Automatic Meridian Flip [https://youtu.be/r0jhx_Jf_3s] and it worked! I don't know if I will use it that often as I like to make sure my wires don't get tangled and to do it manually only takes five minutes anyway. However, I gotta give credit to Ivo and the rest of the APT team it stopped imaging, turned off the autoguider, flipped the scope, zeroed in on the object with plate-solving, started PHD2 guiding, and then started imaging again. Worked like a charm.
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