I have a few images from the fantastic dark skies at Oregon Star Party which I will be posting over the next few days. I ranked the pictures in order of how much I like each of them, and will be writing them up in reverse order; this one is number 5.

This is M31, also known as the Andromeda Galaxy, one of our nearest neighbor galaxies at a distance of about 2.5 million light years. It is part of the local group of galaxies which includes the Milky Way and the Triangulum Galaxy, M33. (If you don’t see an image to the left, you may need to refresh the page; I uploaded this as a high resolution PNG file to show the detail, but browsers sometimes give up waiting for it to load due to size. Click for the full-resolution view)

Although I was very happy with the way this image turned out, I have to rank it number 5 because, as my astro-imager friends will know, this object is one of the easier objects to capture. The recommended list of objects to image first when you’re getting started in astro-photography (if you are in the northern hemisphere!) includes this one plus M27, M45, M13 and M42.

I had this on my pre-planned list of imaging targets for this year as my “system shakedown” test to check that everything was working correctly on the first night. As it happened, after arriving at the star party in the evening of last Tuesday, I ended up building my imaging rig in the dark and it really helped to have something relatively bright to image just to get everything checked out. I can control almost everything from a desktop PC inside my travel trailer (see the setup from this week below), but on the first night there’s quite a lot to do, getting the mount aligned and synchronized with the sky, followed by powering up and testing the various components one at a time.


Camera QSI583wsg
Optics Takahashi FSQ-106ED
Mount Astro-Physics Mach1 GTO
Luminance 6x 600s
Red 6 x 300s
Green 6 x 300s
Blue 6 x 300s