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November 6th, 2011

From the Pleiades to the Hyades

Posted: November 6th, 2011

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Here's one of the projects that kept me busy the month of October.

It's a 12 pane mosaic of the area that goes from the Pleiades (M45) all the way to the Hyades. An area that we know well it's quite "dusty" around M45, in part contributed by the Taurus molecular cloud, but that as this image shows, and as expected although not commonly imaged, it really extends all the way to the famous V-shaped open cluster that lies behind the red giant Aldebaran.

I wasn't quite sure in which section I should post it: Star clusters or nebulae. Clearly the reference objects are two open clusters - M45 and the Hyades - both of which are in fact visible naked eye even from moderately light polluted skies. Yet, the predominant structures in the image are the dusty clouds that swirl across the entire field of view. I guess that's the problem with very wide field views: they get a bit of everything!

My favorite presentation is vertical (portrait), as this is how I get to see this part of the sky as it comes from the eastern horizon, although for presentation purposes, the smaller version up there is shown in landscape orientation.

As usual, capturing this data required me some "unusual" amount of driving to dark sites, this time reaching over 1,650 miles.

Data was rather minimal almost by design (click on the "Show image details" below to see the number of subexposures, etc). On top of that, transparency was quite poor during the whole month, and I was getting barely 21.1 ~ 21.2 SQM readings every night at the dark site I usually go to capture the data, while the average at the site is around 21.5, and all the way to up to 21.8 on exceptional nights. Still, despite all that, I think the image came out okay in general, and pretty good considering the amount of data and transparency conditions. More data wouldn't have hurt, particularly color data, but what's new? :-)

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