Taken 20-Oct-12
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Heart nebula

Here we have the Heart nebula in Cassiopeia. It is part of the Heart and Soul nebula complex which I have imaged a few years ago with my DSLR. This target is on the beaten path (which I try to avoid whenever possible), but it was the first night out with my new optics and the new guide scope, so I wanted to keep it simple.

Three quarters of the way up the mountain I noticed that it was very breezy. I decided to set up at a lower elevation trading strong winds for a higher humidity and thus a higher chance for fog. This gamble paid off partially, as I did finish imaging my primary target, but the fog did eventually roll in cutting the night short.

The mount was performing perfectly - not too surprising given how many times I have tweaked it. The RMS guiding error in the RA axis was no greater than 0.12 pixels translating to sub arcsecond guiding. The DEC axis was behaving oddly at times. I suspect that it's due to sticktion, which is easy to fix. Focus might be just a tiny bit off. It might be wise to invest (time or money) in a Bahtinov mask.

Technical details:
Date: Oct. 19, 2012
Time: 10:20 pm - 1:30 am
Camera: SBIG STF-8300M
CCD Temperature: -10 C
Optics: Takahashi Sky 90 II @ 406 mm fl (f/4.5)
Filter: Astrodon 5 nm H-alpha
Light frames: 9x20 min
Dark frames: none
Flat frames: 10
Binning: 2x2
Guiding: Orion SSAG @ Orion finder (~162 mm)
Mount: Losmandy GM-8
Dithering: Manual
Processing: Stacking in DeepSkyStacker, Curves and Levels PSCS5.

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Heart nebula