Three years ago on one October night, I pondered life, the universe and everything.
The universe pondered back at me…
Several nights ago, the universe finally revealed to me that the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything is…
“Deep Thought” clearly needed a few more million years to calculate the ultimate answer but it wasn’t that far off with 42!
This ridiculously uncanny alignment of stars is referred to as “The 37 Cluster” (NGC2169). An open cluster in the Orion constellation which is becoming more sociable now in our evening skies.
It has been a year since I did any imaging so I had to dust off all the photographic equipment!
There were a couple of nights I got to take advantage of the clear skies, once from ahem…my living room window, which is where I snapped imaged the 37 cluster. But the other night was a week ago when Saturn and the Moon were in close conjunction. I wanted to enjoy this rare sight through an eyepiece, recalling how awesome it was to see Venus and Mars through the same eyepiece a couple years back. I took my 8″ cassegrain the common, near to the famous Tea Hut to take advantage of a cuppa hot chocolate (they brag they do the best hot chocco in London…their arrogance is justified!)
With a focal reducer and my lowest power wide fov eyepiece (Orion 38mm 70deg FOV) fitted, I was absolutely stunned. There in view was our re-assuring moon and further away in my eyepiece was Saturn. Moon-Saturn what a treat. Sure, Saturn and the Moon were at very low elevation around 15deg so neither were at their best but at low power, Saturn looked sharp enough albeit small with those unmistakable rings absolutely standing out. Once I enjoyed the sight enough, I thought I best take a momento photo of it before it worsened as they continued to set. And here is my memento.
Its a one shot photo, no stacking or anything apart from a brightening up touch in Camera Raw. But I did take several at different exposures to find the right setting that showed the crescent moon and Saturn with enough details and this was the best frame that showed both cleanly enough. But there is a compromise with over exposing the moon slightly to show saturn’s rings.
For the 37 Cluster, I captured the image at my living room window facing East in Peckham, on my Nexstar Alt-az mount sat on a table pushed against the window. The scope is my smaller equinox 80 apo refractor. 10 minutes worth of 3.2 second exposures. ISO 1600, Canon 650D. This is also heavily cropped as my 80mm frac has too wide a view for this small cluster to show clearly. I’m going to try image it again with my 8″ SCT for a hopefully more detailed view of the cluster.
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