Taken 24-Jun-12
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IC 5068 and surroundings

This is the area just south of the North America and Pelican nebulae. I really like the area because of the nice contrast between the bright nebulae and the dark nebula just to the left.

This is my first light with a CCD. As with most first lights, not everything went as planned. In this particular case, I underestimated the exposure time. Initially I was planning on shooting 8 min exposures, but the histogram looked like trash so I shot 15 min exposures. This had me really worried as with 15 min exposures I would be stuck with only 15 exposures. I wasn't sure if that would be enough to get a noise free final image with so few exposures. Another smaller problem was that I didn't have proper dark frames for such exposures. Dithering came to the rescue though.

I should stress that I didn't use dark frames at all. Also, I left the CCD at -5C, when I could have easily gone to -15C. Even with these things going against me, take a look at the black level in this image and compare it to the black level in my DSLR work. This is the main reason for upgrading to a CCD.

Technical details:

Camera: SBIG STF-8300M
Temperature: -5C (I played it safe)
Lens: Canon 200mm f/2.8 stopped down to 58mm
Filter: Astrodon 5nm H-alpha
Light frames: 15x15 min
Dark frames: none
Flat frames: 30
Guiding: Orion SSAG @ 80/400mm Orion Short tube
Mount: Losmandy GM-8
Dithering: Manual
Processing: Stacking in DSS, Curves and levels in PSCS5.

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IC 5068 and surroundings