Taken 17-Jan-13
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Sh2 231, 232, 233 in Auriga

Having moved to a new home, I wanted to evaluate the astrophotography capability of my backyard. The rare midweek outing resulted in this crummy image of nebulas Sh2-231, 232, 233 in Auriga.

I rate the sky quality in my backyard as better than a full moon sky but not adequate for serious imaging. The light dome extends well to zenith. Near zenith, DSS finds half as many stars as at 50 degree elevation on the western horizon. From a dark location, you see the opposite trend: Near the horizon you see fewer stars because light has to travel through more atmosphere. Because fo the light dome, the images I shot near zenith contain far less data and so the resulting image is quite noisy. For serious imaging, Figueroa Mountain remains the place to beat.

The primary image target was actually to look for an undocumented nebula in a different area of the sky but an exploratory shot gave me a black image. It's possible that there really is no nebula at the location but it's also possible that the light dome swallowed it. I'll just have to try again from a darker location.

Technical details:
Date: Jan. 16-17, 2013
Time: 10:00 pm - 1:20 am
Camera: SBIG STF-8300M
CCD Temperature: -17 C
Optics: Takahashi Sky 90 II @ 406 mm fl (f/4.5)
Filter: Astrodon 5 nm H-alpha
Light frames: 9x20 min (only 5 were stacked though)
Dark frames: 0
Flat frames: 10
Binning: 3x3
Guiding: Orion SSAG @ Orion finder (~162 mm)
Mount: Losmandy GM-8
Dithering: Manual
Processing: Stacking in DeepSkyStacker, Curves and Levels PSCS5.

Guiding was once again spot on with <1" rms error in RA. DEC was similarly good.

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Sh2 231, 232, 233 in Auriga