Testing the MAM-020

First tests  -  Testing the GoTo - Deep Sky Imaging

Another clear night - another run of the MAM-020. This time I hook up my fairly new SBIG ST-10XME with the CWE-09 filter wheel to the William 110 mm. Again, I am fascinated by something all other amateurs of the current generation know, but I am just too old for it - the GoTo capability of the FS-2. I point the scope to Vega, take a 1-s image, and press 'reference star/alp Lyr'. Oh, I first focus. Not perfectly so as I later realize, but I did spend about 10 minutes on this.

Then I say 'GoTo M57' and there I am, a 1 s exposure already shows a little smudge. I take a few 60  s images - unguided, but ok. I slew to M15 and don't even bother to take a check image, I immediately use 'CCDSoft', the software I am using with the SBIG camera, to take 3 color images (RGB) with 60 s each.

Here, I show images of my dream object - Stephen's Quintet. These are 5 (possibly) interacting galaxies, which are faint and difficult to find. I only realized last year that they are easily visible overhead in Pegasus on northern summer nights, and tried to see them in my at that time brand new 110 mm William refractor. My logbook entry says:

"I was able to imagine seeing (the close) NGC 7331 in my image-stabilised 10x42 binoculars. I looked at this galaxy in the William refractor. I already checked out the area the night before, so NGC 7331 was easy to find. From there, I tried to find Stephen's Quintet. I used the chart in Stoyan's book "Deep Sky Reisef"uhrer" (Deep Sky travel guide). Using 30x magnification and staring for a long time, I saw some smudges. Using 90x, I can see 2 galaxies and one star with occasionally nebula around it - presumably another galaxy." - and I make a drawing, which confirms that I saw NGC 2720 and NGC 7319. I guess the 'smudge' was NCG 7317.

So last night I pressed 'GoTo/NGC/7317' and said 'Go!'. Then I took a 60-s exposure - and clearly identified NGC 7331 and at least two to other smudges belonging to Stephen's Quintet! I was flabbergasted. The naked-eye limiting magnitude was about 4.8, I could not see the Milky Way. Everybody in Noordwijkerhout enjoys having his/her Christmas illumination on at the time - but still, I could identify this object which I used to think as a kid is only something to be seen with the Mount Palomar telescope.

Below the image - well, those professional astro-photographers will not be impressed. But for me it's a dream come true! I add a screenshot of Guide8 showing the area, for comparison. How many galaxies can you find?

Enjoy, Detlef.

Screenshot of Guide 8, showing the area to the right.

Stephen's Quintet is about here... And the bright galaxy to the right of the image center is NGC 7331. Image taken with a William 110 mm Apo refractor, SBIG ST-10XME CCD camera, using CCDSoft's ColorGrab functionality to acquire images in Red, Green, and Blue filter. Red, Blue, Green were a stack of 2 images, 60 s each.

Created by dvk,  26 Dec 2008.
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