M1 – The Crab Nebula in Taurus

Telescope: Meade 10” LX200 SCT (Wide Field) @ f/6.3, Orion Atlas EQ-G
Camera: ZWO ASI071MC, Orion Imaging Skyglow Filter
Sensor Temperature: -10C, Gain: 200, Offset: 50
Guide scope: Astro-Tech 60mm, Meade DSI Pro II, PHD
Exposure: 24x240sec saved as FITS,
Darks: 32x240sec saved as FITS
Flats: 32x30sec, LED tracing tablet covered with 3 layers of muslin
Average Light Pollution: Red zone, very poor transparency
Lensed Sky Quality Meter: 17.6 mag/arc-sec^2
Stacking: Mean with a 2-sigma clip.
White Balance: Nebulosity Automatic
Software: Nebulosity, Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop

This is M1, the Crab Nebula in Taurus (the Bull). M1 is a supernova remnant; the remains of a star that ended its life in one of the most violent events in nature. This particular supernova erupted in 1054 and the star became so bright that it was visible in broad daylight for 23 days. The resulting nebula is expanding so fast that it can be detected in images taken a few years apart. At the heart of the nebula is a pulsar; a neutron star spinning at over 30 revolutions per second.

I was very surprised that this image turned out okay. This was the last image for the evening and it was a bit of a squeeze between the setting moon, the rising sun, and a sky heavy with moisture. I selected the last 24 images (of 41) ending as the first blush of sunlight illuminating the upper atmosphere.

This was also my first night out using the QHY PoleMaster to align my Atlas EQ-G mount. The PoleMaster proved very easy to use and it worked great! I had to wait about 20 minutes later than I normally would using my polar scope in order for the sky to get dark enough to pick out the alignment stars, but it went quickly after that. I also found that my polar scope was off just a tad, but that was enough to make a significant difference in the quality of my guiding. I immediately noticed a much cleaner trace with PHD and excellent guiding all night long, a real bonus when imaging with my m10” SCT.

-John

M1 (9-9-2017)-1j.jpg