Seems so long since I last posted -- I think this reflects the lack of clear nights to be honest. Early Feb i was away on business in Melbourne and just a little south at Lorne. Whilst there i managed to take my camera and tripod for a session of imaging. For this trip i also purchased a iOptron Skytracker which i will write about on another day. I found a nice dark spot which only had Antarctica south of me and started to Image.
Large Magellanic Cloud

Large Magellanic Cloud

The first things that comes to mind is that the skytracker requires a polar alignment which in the northern hemisphere is easy but int he South - Oh boy..... It took me about 2 hours to get to this point and ready to start snapping away. After a short while i noticed that the sky was amazingly dark. In the sky about 40 and 30 degrees of sea level were 2 fuzzy patches of light. It had been a little cloudy earlier and I though these were cloud. But when i pointed the camera at the "none moving" patches i was amazed. The image of the LMC to the left is a combination of 5 x 5 min bus frames at ISO 800. The lens is set to about 200mm zoom. The first thing to say is that i was blown aways by the image and the combination of the sky tracker and also the clarity of the night sky. After processing the image in PS I was able to enhance the red regions of the LMC a little and bring out the full glory of this object. Besides this object i was also able to snap 2 other images whilst listening to the sea lap against the shore. I was intrigued by the small patch of light which i could make out dew south almost. The line of the milky way was really prominent in the sky and within this there was a clear patch of either nebulosity or a star cluster. southerncrossThe view of the milky way itself was amazing. this was the first time i was able to see the Milky way to the ground. The image to the right shows the region of the milky way which was visible to me in the southern sky. The clarity in the dark lanes which are visible in the photo were easily seen with the naked eye as well as the bight nebulosity which is seen in the middle top of the image. I broke out the iphone and started to look up what the nebulous region was. Within this image is a wealth of stars and nebulae. Firstly it is farily easy to see the southern cross which is in the middle left of the image. Moving up from here we move into the eta Carnae region which its nebulae being see clearly at the top middle of the image and also a raft of other clusters which are illuminating the sky like clusters of diamonds.   et_02 After the view which was breath taking i aimed the camera which about 200mm Zoom again and started snapping the eta Carnae nebulae (EC Neb) more. the image to the left is a stacked series of 5 minute exposures which show the nebulosity in the region and also the beauty of the sky in this region. below the EC Neb. there is a smaller nebulae which is visible. In this image it is much clearer to see the EC Neb and also the southern Plaedies which are see on the middle right of the image. The cluster on the left of the EC Neb is called Caldwell 91 and is Mag 3.0 in the sky. The nebulae which is in the lower half of the image is probably associated with IC2948.   The images taken were only possible by the use of the skytracker and its great performance. This will dramatically increase the enjoyment again once the main scope is set up it will be out with the tracker....