Sword of Orion under Austin City Lights

Happy New Year! The sword of Orion with the Great Nebula of Orion and the Running Man dark nebula. I live and take most of my images under Austin's light dome with Bortle 6+ skies from my driveway. I mostly take solar system images because I love capturing the universe in motion with a small telescope. Dark skies are not a necessity for those images.

Recently I've been working with vintage camera lenses to capture the deep sky from darker sites. I just completed a project that gives me more stable tracking for long exposures with my Vixen Polarie mount, a very sensitive low light full frame camera - the Sony a7 iii, and now a very small, high quality, apochoromatic petzval refracting telescope, the William Optics RedCat telescope with 51 mm of aperture and 250 mm focal length.

These should make for great dark sky adventures, but the past couple of days I've been exploring what I can do from my Austin driveway. I'm thrilled with this image and looking forward to seeing what this setup can do under dark skies!

Sony a7 iii camera with a William Optics RedCat 250/51mm telescope, Astromania Moon and Skyglow filter, on a Vixen Polarie Mount. Bortle 6 sky under the light dome of Austin, Texas. Exposure stack of almost 2 hours of data: Thirty second exposure ISO 640 (yes 640, I was maximizing dynamic range) with 228 images stacked in Nebulosity. Final crop and exposure curve stretching in Photoshop.

Equipment List

This is the hardware I used to make this image:

  • Williams Optics RedCat 51 telescope with saddle handle bar
  • WO 48mm to Sony E-mount adapter
  • Sony a7 iii full frame mirrorless camera with I/R remote
  • Davis & Sanford C88 compact tripod
  • Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Equatorial Wedge Base
  • Vixen Polarie Star Tracker mount with polar scope
  • Vixen Polarie Multi Mounting Block
  • Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Dec Bracket with optional SVBONY Dovetail Clamp
  • Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Counterweight Kit
  • ScopeStuff one pound end counterweight with 6mm threads
  • Small lithium rechargeable battery with two outputs and mini-USB and USB-C cables for all night mount and camera power
  • Astromania Moon & Skyglow Filter, this an inexpensive Neodymium alternative to the Baader filter. A multi-band pass filter that passes 95% of visible light selectively blocking some skyglow from street lights.

Raw image conversion was done in Capture One, image stacking in done with Nebulosity, and post processing in PhotoShop.

Content created: 2019-12-31

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