Colorful Coconino Pleiades

I've just returned from the dark skies of the Coconino Plateau in northern Arizona. I spent a week in a an A-frame cabin between Flagstaff and Sunset Crater. A high pressure ridge kept most of the smoke from the devastating California wild fires away, for four nights of astrophotography. With lots of data to work on my return I've made good progress in moving most of my DSO processing to PixInsight. The results have been well worth it.

The Pleiades are one of my favorite targets, one that has captured interest from astronomers and artists for thousands of years. This images was captured the evening of 2020-09-15 with a William Optics RedCat 250/51mm Petzval refractor and ZWO ASI533MC cooled astrophotography camera controlled by a ZWO ASIAir Pro. The ASIAir is a marvel aiding and automating much of the shoot. Polar alignment and focusing with my single axis Vixen Polarie mount are a breeze. I monitored imaging session progress inside our cabin with a wireless connection to my iPad. This image includes data from 69 minutes of light frames and 15 minutes of dark frames taken at unity gain (101) at -10C in 30 second exposures.

Most processing was in PixInsight with final crop and exposure in PhotoShop and noise reduction in Topaz DeNoise. This colorful HDR, saturated, rendition captures the structures of the nebulae around the Pleiades and the colors of the nearby stars.

Content created: 2020-09-26

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