In June 2017, I took this image of M57 (the Ring Nebula):
It was a bit of a test-run for me: through my Explorer 200p with a mono ASI290MM CMOS camera – 50 integrations of 10 seconds each, gain set just a little high, with no filter other than an IR-blocker in place. The image is also in my Site Gallery.
This month, I fed the image through Astrometry.Net (for the full results click HERE). For those who may not have seen the site, it takes a star-field image and “plate-solves” the image to determine the position of the exposure against the night sky: coordinates, orientation and frame-size.
As a by-product it also identifies interesting objects in the image:
You’ll see a number of Tycho catalog stars and a mysterious reference to IC 1296. I certainly had never heard of it but a little research produced the following information:
- Low surface brightness, barred spiral galaxy
- Visible magnitude about 15.5 – compared to telescope limiting magnitude of about 14.5
- About 1 arcmin by 0.5 arcmin size
- About 220 million light years distance – so an order of magnitude further than anything I’d seen before
So I went back to my source 16-bit image files and turned up the mid-range levels a bit (actually, rather a lot – so the resultant noise was horrible) and saw this:
I was impressed – it really brings out the superior photon-capturing capabilities of a camera when compared to the human eye !
Let’s compare to a proper image from a professional (Brian Lula on the NASA APOD website):