And on we went in the merry month of April - at the peak of the galaxy season. Logically, with NGC 5033 it was now the turn of another galaxy, which turned out to be not so easy. That was partly because during this session both the handbox of the motor focus and my filter wheel for the Newton dropped the sails. Fortunately I have the same hand controller for the Epsilon, which I changed for the Newton until I got a new one.
And also in the following days April was a lot of fun. Quiet and sunny weather during the day, then waning moon at night and many clear nights. The right time for a molecular cloud. I would not have had the idea to photograph LDN 1228 and LDN 552 alone, the suggestion came from Marcel Drechlser, with whom I had already successfully photographed Sh2-174 in a cooperation. We arranged a cooperation on short notice. Marcel was to contribute the luminance and I the color.
The first days of April promised clear and calm early summer weather and for the most part this even happened. So I decided for the sunflower galaxy M 63, which I wanted to capture as deep as possible and with the star stream which is present there. Rarely has there been such an uncomplicated session, during which no problems occurred, except a broken cable of my flatfield foil.
March also brought us many clear nights, because the famous Russia High, which sent clear and cold air from the east to us in northern Germany. Beside the currently popular galaxies I wanted to take a picture of a nebula region, which is located directly next to the cone nebula. In March, however, the region is already very deep at my location and disappears completely behind the roofs around midnight. That's why I split the nights in two objects during this session.
The month's finale of the february was absolutely magnificent. There were almost more clear than cloudy nights and so I was able to photograph with NGC 3344 another galaxy. Unfortunately I had to postpone the intended target Sh2-224, because a stubborn tilt at the Epsilon spoiled my pictures. I didn't want to waste the moonless nights with hours of tinkering, so I switched to the Newton and the galaxy.
The February compensated this year for the astronomically unusual winter. A quite stable cold high from the east provided the last days for many clear nights, which wanted to be used. Some of them even with new moon with good transparency, others with some haze. So in February I took some pictures, which I documented in an overall video due to lack of time.
The year 2018 unfortunately began with an unprecedented astronomical drought. In the month of January there were 3 clear nights and February also began grey and rainy. Now finally a clear period of several nights was heralded, which I used for the IC 444 project I recently started and my first galaxy of the year with NGC 2403.
Already in October 2017 Frank Iwaskiewicz and I decided on a new Astro-Cooperation. This time the especially weak Planetary Nebula HDW 2 (or Sh2-200) should be photographed together. We knew that it would take us up to 30 hours and more to achieve a pleasing result. The start was then made by Frank in October, I myself could contribute a whole and two half nights until mid-November. After that, nothing happened for many weeks.
The so-called fair weather catastrophe in October has largely remained stuck in Bremen. There were some nice late summer days, but no clear "nights" throughout. The originally planned two objects, VdB 152 and M45, became only one. I had visited the Pleiades only briefly and so far I did not have an appealing photo in my collection. I wanted to change that. With the epsilon at f3.3, I expected a deep result with little exposure time.
I've had the shark nebula LDN 1235 on my list for a long time now and since it worked so well with the Epsilon at vdB 9, it should start now. Unfortunately, due to the weather it developed into a 4-week project, but was successfully completed in mid-October.
Since the moon was still shining quite reservedly and some nights clear sky were announced, I chose a quite bright H-Alpha target with the Propeller Nebula or Simeis 57, which I wanted to enrich with RGB data in addition to the Hubble palette. Somehow I had the idea that due to the high luminous intensity of the Epsilon I could make shorter exposures in the future. However, I had to find out that the desired depth could only be achieved by "holding on to it" as long as you can.
I once again expanded my equipment. A new addition is a Takahashi Epsilon 130 D - a so-called "Hyperbolic Astrograph" - also simply called "Newton". The special feature is the enormous light intensity with f3,3 and an aperture of 130mm at 430mm focal length. A clear candidate to replace the FSQ85.
The dark nebula Barnard 344 in the Cygnus complex was already longer on my list. In the middle of August the conditions were favorable enough to start the project. The very colored region should be exposed with H-alpha and RGB - luminance then delivers the H-alpha. The processing of the data turned out to be more difficult than expected, because the very bright star Sadr from outside the image came in between.
After four weeks of abstinence because of holidays and bad weather, I wanted to get some stars in front of the mirror at full moon and clear sky (as usual). Bright objects in narrowband are very grateful under these conditions, so I choosed be the pelican nebula and the great wall in NGC 7000.
Meanwhile, the nights are really extremely short and not really dark, which makes astrophotography of course difficult. The fast apperture ration of the FSQ with f3.8 still appeals, and with narrowband still goes quite much. The veil nebula I had last photographed with DSLR in the year 2014. Since it was time to create a new version.
Despite the very short nights I wanted to make a first light for the Takahashi Reducer on the FSQ85. With 325 mm focal range at F3.8, an H-alpha region was found. I chose a rather rare object in the Cygnus complex. Originally planned as a Hubble palette, I had to realize that there is unfortunately almost no O[III] available.
At the end of the galaxy season, a shot of M109 should be added. You do not have much time during the nights and the darkness is not really dark anymore. In addition, it is very warm in these nights with 17 degrees Celsius and the cooling of the Atik goes only down to -12 degrees. The Newton behaves very differently at such temperatures than on cold nights.
On 09.05. I made a short 300 secs full moon snapshot of the fireworks galaxy. After a few days a Supernova became visible and I photographed the galaxy again. The animation shows the comparison between the two images. In addition, I used the short nights to capture the spiral galaxy NGC 5907. The galaxy in edge position makes a good figure.
As always at full moon the night is perfect, if there were not the disturbing moonlight. As the summer milkyway slowly rises again over my house roof in the north-east direction, I rang the nebula season today and tried to capture the elephant's trunk with a large focal distance. A classic narrowband object - and with the moonstand only at all feasible.
One of my favorite galaxies - NGC 4725 - has not made it into my collection yet. In the last 14 months, I had started to collect data twice, but something always came between. This year, I wanted to finish the galaxy finally. Practically, I also had access to the luminances of the first shots, which is why the effort of exposure time should be moderate.
Dwarf galaxies have affected me somehow. Apart from the fact that every time it is a challenge to image it in a reasonable way, I'm also challenged by the fact that there are not as many amateur pictures as for the standard galaxies. Besides, they are usually quite high in the sky and are better to reach from my location than the galaxies eg. in the hair of Berenike. This time, it is NGC 4395's turn.
On April 3rd there was the best night since a long time and so it was worth taking two targets to capture. The Hamburger galaxy NGC 3628 from the Leo triplet and an additional irregular and weak galaxy, NGC 4236. That offered itself, as I can image the "hamburger" only until about midnight and then the rest of the night could go to the second, which is quite close to Zenith.
Since the weather situation is still stable, I was able to use it again for a new destination tonight. With M 106, I wanted to expose a lighter object than the last very weak galaxy, and I would like to replace my first attempt of 2015 with a more beautiful version. Unfortunately, I have been messed up in the night half of the exposure time by the lack of concentration.
The weather god means it well and sends us a few beautiful days and nights with only a little bit of moon. According to the prediction, this is supposed to stay 4 to 5 days, even if the nights are not always cloudless. So I ring the final countdown at IC 2574 and parallel the cone nebula, which has now mellowed to a bicolor mosaic.
Due to the bad weather, nothing happened for many days. March appeared from its cloudy and rainy side. Even though I could already use a cloud gap longer than expected on march 2nd, it is not quite effective. Even today, on the 16th, it did not really work well. Unfortunately I have chosen a very weak target with the IC2574 galaxy.
At the weekend I was in Linz at the CEDIC 2017 with my astro colleague Jürgen Beisser. With 170 participants from all over Europe it was the most visited CEDIC so far. I found the event very successful, because besides all the interesting lectures, I finally got to know many astrophotographers from Germany and abroad. Apart from the esteemed Austrian colleagues, Fabian Neyer from Switzerland and Sara Wager from Spain were also present. I was really happy about it! As a souvenir, I bought directly from the exhibition the new Lacerta Motorfokus for the Newton, which I then also immediately installed the next day. It's running!