North American Nebula (NGC7000)

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


I tried for a twofer, staying up late hoping to see something good of the aurora, and had the tracker set to shoot this target, which wasn’t above the trees until almost 1 am. I was in and out from dark until after 1 am and never saw more than a very diffuse and unchanging reddish glow to the north, but got about 3 hours of acquisition on the nebula before it started getting light. I was pleased with the processing except that the focus is a bit soft on the stars, even though I had meticulously fine-tuned focus with a Bahtinov mask. Need to check that out. It has been a long dry spell for clear nights close to the new moon. We’ve had some wonderful clear skies close to the full moon.

Specific Feedback

Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m fascinated by what can be “seen” in the night sky with fairly basic equipment. No way nebulae like this can be seen visually. So I’m just tossing it out as, hey, there’s another world out there. Not a lot of artistic leeway in this stuff.

Technical Details

Trust me, you don’t want to know. Basically the telescope is a 400mm focal length refractor (basically a fine-tuned telephoto lens less expensive than some comparable wildlife lenses) and the sensor is APS-C sized in a cooled astro camera run at -10 deg F. (ZWO ASI2600MC Pro). About 3 hours of 2 minute exposures on a tracker. Processed in PixInsight.

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It is amazing what relatively accessible equipment & techniques can pull out of deep sky. It is the stuff of imagination, terror and wonder. I remember when Hubble started sending stuff back and was fairly gobsmacked every time. Quite amazing and what dedication to one’s chosen subject - I start to fade away around 10pm!!

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For anyone who is fascinated by what might be out there, the classic “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan is a great place to start. He was a master of many disciplines and they all fold together in this and his other books.

@Kris_Smith, I used to be good till 10:00 (later if it’s a party) but now it’s more like 9:00. The astro stuff is much more automated than it used to be in the old days (6-7 years ago) but some steps can be hands on after the target is above the trees, then I can go in the house and run and monitor from an iPad. But the whole thing can lead to lack of sleep.

When Ted would be away on an airline trip, our last cat knew she could get away with sleeping on the bed, but she felt she had to wait till I was there. One night I was up really late with some sort of Photohsop creation and she kept coming in and meowing at me that it was time to get to bed! She did it every 15 minutes until I finally told her it was OK, she could go ahead and I would be along shortly. She did.