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First Light with M51

Karl and I got the Superstar out for our first real attempt at astrophotography. It is one of the 3D printed Skyward 150 telescopes in our Blue Door Astronomy Library. We took it off of it's 3D printed mount which is great for visual astronomy and put it on a motorized equatorial mount which is better for astrophotography.

By a great coincidence an older ASI1600MM Cool astronomy camera screwed directly into the focuser. Fortunately we didn't need to adjust the scope for backfocus, which was also a great surprise.

The metal focuser on the Skywards have over 65mm of useable travel which means it is easy to switch between a variety of eyepieces and this camera.

We used the focusing mask that is integrated into the lens cap to do our focusing.

This is the pattern that the Bahtinov inspired focusing mask gave us in the ASIAir application while we were focusing.

We didn't use any filters with this monochrome camera, so all of our images are black and white. We stacked 3 frames of 3 minutes exposure in Pixinsight and they looked like this. This is not unlike what you might see in the eyepiece when doing visual astronomy:

Then we did some quick processing in Pixinsight (no flat fields, no dark frames, no bias frames used) and Photoshop and we got this.

M51, also known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, is a cosmic dance of two galaxies intertwining under the spell of gravitational forces. Its distinct spiral arms, aglow with star-forming regions, resemble twirling ribbons, offering a glimpse into the dynamic processes of galactic evolution. M51 is 31 million light years away, which means the photons we captured left on their journey way before humans existed, but the first cats were starting to evolve on Earth.

We are quite pleased with this first attempt at astrophotography with a 3D printed telescope!

1 Comment

Excellent! Great that you were able to get some astrophotography with the Skyward 150. A big step forward and it greatly adds to the capabilities of this 3D printed scope. Great work and congratulations to Karl on his first astrophoto!

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