At the end of November New Moon came again and finally on the 3rd of December the sky was clear too! After a very nice visit with friends at the christmas market in the Monastery of Maulbronn I decided to build up the very new telescope setup and take some pictures. The chosen target was the Messier 45 or better known as Pleiades here in Europe.
or Sevens Sisters - are one of the most beautiful open star cluster and the most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. The name of Pleiades comes from Ancient Greek. In the mythology it was the name of seven divine sisters, whose name was imagined to derive from that of their mother Pleione, effectively meaning 'daughters of Pleione'. This celestial object has been known since antiquity to cultures all around the world, including the Celts, Māori, Aboriginal Australians, the Persians, the Arabs (who called them Thurayya), the Chinese, the Japanese, the Maya, the Aztec, the Sioux and the Cherokee. In Hinduism, the Pleiades are known as Krittika and are associated with the war-god Kartikeya (Murugan, Skanda), who derives his name from them. In the Hungarian culture they are known as "Fiastyúk".
The cluster is located about 444 light years away on average and dominated by hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Dust that forms a faint reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars was thought at first to be left over from the formation of the cluster (hence the alternative name Maia Nebula after the star Maia), but is now known to be an unrelated dust cloud in the interstellar medium, through which the stars are currently passing. Computer simulations have shown that the Pleiades was probably formed from a compact configuration that resembled the Orion Nebula. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood.
About the image:
This image was my next step toward the "comfortable astro-shooting". The Astronomik CLS Filter allowed me to shoot from the backyard of our house without transporting the heavy instruments and staying the whole night far away from home. The next step was to build up such a system which I can leave alone after setting up the instruments and perform the image acquisition from my desktop - a so called remote shooting. To achieve this the original setup had to be modified.
Blue-print of the whole modified system:
The main modifications were the fully computerised mount control with planetary software and the Remote Desktop Control between the Tablet PC connected to the telescope and the Notebook on my desktop in the living room. To have a visual feedback about the whole setup I installed a Wifi night web camera which is connected also the Notebook in the house.
Diagram of computers and softwares of the remote shooting system:
After 2-3 failed tries on the 3rd of December finally succeed to setup everything correctly and take a beautiful photo about the Pleiades.
23x5min, ISO 800
Altair Astro 200/800 imaging newtonian telescope
Skywatcher NEQ-6 GOTO mount
Canon 700D mod
Baader MPCC MkIII image flattener
Astronomik CLS-CCD light pollution clip-filter
Orion StarShoot Autoguider camera
PHD2 Guiding for autoguiding
ASCOM - Stellarium for telescope control
DeepSkyStacker and Photoshop CS6 for image processing
Overview of M45
Finding Chart - Stars and Nebulas (b&w)