Leo Triplet

Over the past weekend, I again traveled to my dark sky observing site for some DSLR astrophotography. The nights of late January here in Ontario, Canada are long and cold.

My deep sky target selection is a collection of 3 galaxies in the constellation Leo.

The Leo Triplet taken with Explore Scientific ED80 Apochromatic Refractor and Canon XSi

The Leo Triplet of Galaxies

This Saturday January 21st was or members observing night at my local astronomy club. Only myself and one other member attended because of cold weather and a lot of cloud cover. After setting up my gear at sundown, it wasn’t until 3:30am that the clouds finally parted!

I started out by capturing light on M80 and M81, but because of its difficult position in the sky, and some technical difficulties, my fellow club member recommended that I try imaging the Leo Triplet.  I was able to capture over 1.5 hours on this subject, and I am very happy to have snuck some imaging time in on such a cold, cloudy January night!

(Leo Triplet)

35 x 165″ ISO 1600
For a total of 1 hour 36 minutes

Stacked with dark, bias and flats

ES ED80 Apo Triplet
Orion Mini Guidescope
Meade DSI II
Canon 450d unmodded
Stacked in DSS
Processed in PS CS5

View a more recent photo of the Leo Triplet.

The photo on the left is me sitting in the warm room between camera/computer adjustments trying to keep warm.  The photo on the right is an example of how the clouds were teasing us with brief, beautiful views of the stars between 5pm-2am.

This experience speaks to the dedication (and perhaps insanity) of amateur astrophotographers. Who else would spend a January night outside in the cold in the dark? Looking back, I think nights like this might just be the memories I treasure the most.

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