Pelican Nebula 1st light for ASI533, ASIAir, & RedCat

A crop of the Pelican Nebula taken during the full Moon, early morning 2020-08-03 from Austin, Texas. Photographed with a William Optics RedCat 250/51mm telescope, Optolong L-Pro broadband light pollution filter, and a and ZWO ASI533MC Pro one shot cooled color camera.

Imaging was automated with an ASIAir Pro, Raspberry Pi based, telescope and camera controller. The ASIAir is controlled wirelessly with an iPad or iPhone. I experimented with this idea with the first Raspberry Pi six years ago and gave up. It’s a thrill to see a product that does this so well with the latest hardware.

Out of three plus hours of data I only used only 96 minutes of 30 second exposures due to clouds and poor transparency. Visually, I could only see the brightest stars in the sky, about mag. 3.5.

I used a Vixen Polarie mount without Go-To electronics; so finding an invisible target was a challenge. I used a red dot reflex finder and then the plate solving function of the ASIAir to verify location. I was a bit off on my framing for the North America Nebula, but the shot was perfect for the Pelican. I was rushed to start taking images before sky conditions worsened. I think that this hybrid visual and computationally aided telescope aiming will work alright under bright city skies. My kit is shown below, well lit by the bright moonlight!

This image was also my first complete trip through the amazing PixInsight deep sky image processing program. I’m a solar system astrophotographer, I’ve made limited use of it before. The final crop and exposure tweaks to goose up the image were in Photoshop. With only 96 minutes of total exposure in the final image, I used Topaz DeNoise for some light noise clean up.

PixInsight made it easy to find the best images and to understand sources of error. I have a lot to learn about using this new equipment and processing deep sky data. For a last bit of fun, helpful in understanding the characteristics of the mount and camera, the animated GIF below shows Periodic Error and the Hot Pixels dancing to their rendition of "Music of the Spheres":

Content created: 2020-08-05

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