When I bought my new iPhone, I chose one that would allow me to do astrophotography with my telescope. If you’ve been seeing my last few posts, you see some of the results. The moon was easy. Planets? Not so much, but I’ll get there, even if I have to use filters or stack some images or shoot video. Stars are not as easy as I hoped, still getting a lot of blurry results on the bright ones. But as per my last post, I was able to get globular clusters. I had high hopes for that, as I got something previously with my wife’s iPhone 6 plus and the default software; with my new iPhone and Night Cap software, I knew I would “get there” eventually, just was pleasantly surprised to get there on the first real go at it. I still need to hone my technique, but it’s good enough for me for now. I took a shot at Ceres to try an asteroid, but well, I’m not likely to do much on that in the short or even long-term.
Which leaves me two outstanding targets, and the ones that the astrophotographers who use webcams and DSLRs manage to accomplish daily — a galaxy and a nebula. Galaxies only ever look like faint fuzzies to me, particularly in my light-polluted skies of a suburb in the city, and I’ve never really done a true dark sky location. But nebulae? I’ve seen them. Orion was easy, the Veil popped when I used a filter. So I know I *CAN* see nebula, but I wasn’t optimistic I would get much easily with my phone setup. But I gave it a go. I’ll share it in numerical order in the Messier catalog.
First to share is one of the ones that I am most proud about, and super excited. M8 aka the Lagoon Nebula has some amazing colour in it when you do some long-exposure shots with high-end setups. But you know what? A 10s exposure at ISO 9216 also gave me a bit of colour (top centre, a bit of red to the right):
Holy doodles! I did it! I still need to work on my technique, and it would be better without the suburban light pollution or the moon overlighting the sky, but I got it! I’d like to thank the academy for this honour…hehehe. Mostly I should thank my friend Loren who inspired me with his shots and advice on an active FB group. But I’m not done! Here is M8 again, with even MORE colour, although a bit fuzzy too. Remember this is a single frame exposure, not complicated stacking or retouching in any software:
M16, the Eagle Nebula, shows only a bit of a faint glow, so maybe I shouldn’t get completely cocky yet:
M17, the Swan Nebula, looks like a smudge:
Here it is again, but ooh, I managed to centre the smudge (hey, I’ll take what I can get for success):
I confess that I saw these in reverse order i.e. the smudges before the Lagoon ones with colour, so it was more of a build-up for me. I was like, “Okay, well, there’s something there, and if I stare long enough, I can imagine a bit of colour. It’s promising at least.” M20, the Trifid Nebula showed up as only a faint glow/fuzziness:
And because I was still a bit cocky, I also tried for an open cluster nebula, NGC6572. Nada.
But did I mention the first one had some colour? 🙂
All in all, I’m ecstatic about the night. My first real night going hard-core on everything, and I was doing a huge star tour all at once, not taking my time with specific objects or fine-tuning. About a minute an object at most. I tossed about 40% of the images I took, too rushed, too many star trails, etc. But considering I was trying for nebula and clusters, losing 40% is pretty amazing, normally you’d lose about 90% or more with the first shots. I’m not going to be featured on the Astronomy Picture of the Day anytime soon, or well, ever, but I’m accomplishing what I wanted. Souvenir shots of my observing. I’ll definitely accept these as “mission accomplished!” any night of the week.