M81 Bode's Nebula

Object name: M81 Bode's nebulae
Popular name: Bode's nebulae
Object type: Galaxy
Magnitude: 7.8
Size: 24.9 11.5
Position angle: 15
Classification: Sb
Apparent RA: 09 55 33.5 Apparent Dec: +69 04 02
Constellation: Ursa Major

First big colour image with the Artemis 285! W oot! Exciting stuff. Let me tell you - this is bloody difficult. With the colour you have to be extremely careful to make sure the colour frames have a very even background - otherwise you end up w ith a patchwork quilt. And then the unfiltered exposures. This camera has such a huge dynamic range, even 20 minute exposures are only saturating in the very very bright centre of the core. However, I spent hours trying to bring out the faint detail in the arms, and maintain the core detail. I played with lots of software, and, in the end, pretty much gave up and left it looking like this. All my other results just looked daft. I guess I need more practise using things like DDP - not to mention better raws.

With regard the absurdly long exposure. I was trying to see how far I'm getting with my guiding. The image shown is reduced 50%, but on the big original (not shown as it looks crap) you can see some flexure drift. However, 20 mins on a budget LXD55 mount with marginal drift is pretty pleasing. I hindsight I probably should have binned it 2x2 (or maybe just 2x1) and gone for about 10 minute subs. Probably would have ended up with a better picture. Moving from a webcam to a "real" camera has a learning curve like you wouldn't believe.

As is traditional here, lets look at last years effort with the SC3. Make sure you scroll down beyond the mouldy fried egg. That was not bad, but the new image certain shows it up - I particularly like the bright red bits in the spiral arms.

If you look closely you can see galaxy UGC 5336 on the left, and a few tiny PGC galaxys too.

Captured in Artemis Capture. Long (20 mins) L frames in 1x1 binning and shorter (5mins) binned 3x3 for the colours. I think I might have done better going for 2x2 for the L layer. Calibrated and stacked in Maxim. Background balanced in Maxim. Coregistered and colour scaled in IRIS. Curves and LRGB combine in photoshop.

This image was autoguided using my 400mm focal length refractor and my black and white SC1 webcam.

Exposure Details :

4x1200s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285
Green 2x300s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285
Blue 2x300s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285
Red 2x300s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285

Curdridge Observatory, Southampton,UK