The Pleiades in Taurus - Mk II Picture

Full view for maximum effect.

The Pleiades (M45) in Taurus - Mark II

One of my all time favourite objects, both, visually and imaging-wise.

10-minute exposures on an uncooled DSLR are not the way of the future. Though, I am reasonably pleased that the G-11 is capable of carrying the 5" APO as well as the 80mm ZenithStar with heavy mounting plates, camera and guide camera.

I will re-attempt this leading up to, and, after, culmination, with half the exposure length but with many more sub-exposures.

So, please ignore the noise if possible. I think the faint stuff towards the middle may be galactic dust? I'm not sure.

The Pleiades (Seven Sisters in Greek mythology) are the most famous of all the open star clusters. Approximately 500 stars adorn the black velvet sky. This first magnitude cluster is quite young and is easily visible to the naked eye. It somewhat resembles a smaller version of the Big Dipper. At least 6 hot blue stars are readily visible; those with trained eyes can see more.

Because of its large diameter (2 degrees), M45 is best seen in binoculars, or through a medium focal length telescope. A faint veil of nebulosity surrounds the brighest stars in the Pleiades, with the most easily seen patch being the Merope Nebula (IC 349), which surrounds the star Merope.

These reflection nebulae are not remnants of the gas cloud where the Pleiades were born, rather, they are just passing through interstellar dust and cloud.

The major stars which comprise the Pleiades have some beautiful names (Seven Sisters); Maia, Taygeta, Merope, Alcyone, Electra, Asterope and Celaeno.

In some ancient cultures, people would engage in ceremonies to honour the dead when the Pleiades had reached the highest point in the sky at midnight. Ancient Aztecs believed the Pleiades would be overhead at midnight the day the world would end.

This composite consists of one set of images; one set of 15 images taken at ISO-400.
Each individual image was a 600 second exposure.
IRIS was used to calibrate each image (dark subtraction [median combined master dark] and flat field division [median combined master flat {lights and darks}]), to register, align, stack, white balance, and stretch.
Photoshop CS3 was used to adjust levels, curves, saturation, colour balance, local contrast, sharpen, miscellaneous editing, frame and resize the final composite.

Target: Pleiades (M45) in Taurus - Mark II
Date: Friday, October 16th, 2009
Time: First image: 11:24 PM
Time: Last image: 02:20 AM
Location: Lostock, NSW, Australia
Camera: Canon EOS-40D (modified: Baader UV/IR filter)
Telescope: ED127 triplet APO refractor f/7.5
Focal length: 952mm
Mount: Losmandy G-11 (Gemini)
Guiding: Meade DSI-C through William Optics ZenithStar FD80 f/6.9
Exposure: 15 x 600 seconds (2 hour 30 minutes) @ ISO-400 (RAW)
Software: Canon EOS Utility: capture and framing; PHD Guiding: autoguiding; IRIS: calibration, registration, stacking, stretching; Adobe Photoshop CS3: post-processing and framing
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