RBA & AF Astrophotography

Polaris and the North Celestial Pole

Posted: November 10th, 2010

Click here for a larger version

Here's a 2x2 mosaic wide field of the North Celestial Pole, featuring one of the best friends of astrophotographers in the Northern Hemisphere: Polaris. In fact, for us nomadic imagers, Polaris is not only our friend, but at the beginning of each session, we get on our knees and what may seem as an imager doing polar alignment, we're in fact PRAYING to the Northern Star that the session goes well!

The image also features a copious amount of galactic cirrus (some of it displaying some very cool structures), one of the oldest known open clusters (NGC 188, at the bottom-middle), and Delta Um (middle right, the second star in Ursa Minor's tail)

If you'd like to see where the North Celestial Pole actually is, you can see it here:

The data was captured over the course of two nights next to the DARC Observatory under 21.3 mag skies (that's at the Zenith), average transparency and bad seeing, and the processing was roughly 75% PixInsight and 25% CS5. DARC is around 120 miles from my home, so that makes this a 480 miles image ;-) Not a lot of data (1h lum and 18m each color filter per frame) as I started the project when the Moon was already getting big and setting late.

The image is also a testimony of how nice the polar scope of the EM400 mount is, as that's the only method I used both nights to polar align (no drift, etc) and as many of you know, imaging near the pole requires a good polar alignment, but of course, this image is not near the pole but on the pole itself! The forgiving resolution of the FSQ does help, but still, not bad at all.

As a friend said, in this image "north is not up", "north is IN"! :-)

As always, I identify a number of "I shouldn't have done that" or "I should have done this that other way" during the processing, but overall, and considering how seldom this area has been photographed, I think it does it justice somehow as a display of how the area looks like, and I'm happy with the results.

Get a poster, t-shirt, mug, mousepad... with this image!



Louie Atalasidis (Contact, Page), November 23rd, 2010, 19:10
Hi Rogelio

The fluff of a galaxy! wonderful shot.

vivgogo (Contact, Page), December 11th, 2010, 0:42
Learn from you

Rajan Murkute (Contact, Page), December 24th, 2010, 13:12
Hi Rogelio,

This is one of the finest photographs of the region surrounding Polaris and the North Celestial Pole. Also I liked the technical details provided with the photographs. There is a lot to learn from shots like these for a novice astrophotographer like me. Keep up the good work.

Wilma Dyer (Contact, Page), December 24th, 2010, 14:35
A very nice job. And an area of the sky seldom paid attention to by astrographers.

Greg Parker (Contact, Page), March 15th, 2011, 10:10
Hi Rogelio,
Could you have a go at imaging CTB1 - a supernova remnant in Cassiopeia? I think your dark skies could give one of the best images available of this object.

RBA (Contact, Page), March 16th, 2011, 14:14
Hi Greg,

I haven't gone for it yet, because I think this object really shines in narrowband, and that requires a lot of exposure time, but I might go for it when it's the right season again. Too low in the sky now.
Thanks for the suggestion!!

Greg Parker (Contact, Page), April 30th, 2013, 12:46
I keep coming back to look at this totally stunning image Rogelio :)

Dave Bellamy (Contact, Page), December 12th, 2013, 19:07
Fantastic picture! So good to see where the North Celestial Pole really is, instead of looking on some badly drawn diagram. This is really helpful and actually artistic too.
I hope that it will be useful for me as a novice astrophotographer hopefully with some kind of telescope in the near future (C8 with German EQ mount maybe?) to find the NCP so I can make a few valiant attempts at taking a decent photo!

Post a comment
Your name:
Email: (we don't share this!)
Your web site:  (if you have one)

(you have 1000 characters left)