This is an old post from my early adventures in deep sky astrophotography before I had a backyard to call my own. From 2011 through 2014, I spent a lot of time at my local astronomy clubs observatory.
It took me about 45 minutes to drive there each way, and I set up all of my gear and tore it down each time. During those years, my future wife worked at a restaurant in the evenings and weekends. As hard is this was on our relationship, it provided the perfect opportunity to keep busy with my new hobby during those lonely nights.
A fantastic night at a dark sky site
I spent my second night at the CCCA Observatory in Chippewa Creek on Dec 26th, 2012. Believe it or not, this was 1 of only 3 clear nights the entire month of December! This can be particularly painful when you have a new telescope you want to use.
I brought my own equatorial mount this time, rather than using the Sky-Watcher NEQ6 mount that lived at the observatory. My mount is a Celestron Advanced Series CG-5 GoTo mount, which can effortlessly carry my Explore Scientific ED80 and all of my imaging gear.
I use an Orion Mini 50mm Guide Scope to autoguide this rig, and it does a great job of improving tracking accuracy with the Meade DSI II camera attached. You can learn more about the software I use for autoguiding here, called PHD guiding.
M1: The Crab Nebula
I was able to capture about an hour of overall exposure time on Messier 1, The Crab Nebula. I fiddled with the focus quite a bit, but I never really got it right. You may notice that the stars are a bit bloated. This is likely due to my focus issues, and how tight I cropped in the image.
The Crab Nebula is quite a small target as well, so a telescope with a longer focal length and magnification would probably be a better fit for this nebula. Additionally, capturing some narrrowband images of this nebula would help reveal the structure.
You can see the rest of my astrophotography images (many of which using the telescope used here) in the Photo Gallery