This image is a 2x1 mosaic, taken over 4 cold winter nights (well, cold for Northern California standards :-)
I started this project with a lot of expectations. I knew I had selected a field that could be very nice if done right, but very very difficult to process for broadband (RGB), due to the overwhelming amount of stars in the field, to the point there's almost more stars than sky! Those days transparency had been average at best, and the seeing hadn't been thrilling either (three of the nights it was really soft). At these short focal lengths, seeing usually doesn't bother me much, but I feel that when so many stars are competing so much for "sky space", a combination of poor seeing and poor transparency are only going to add to the problem.
Multi-scale processing with PixInsight has been key in getting this image to where it is, working at both large and small scale structures to keep the stars from eating up the field and the image. I love the framing though! I think it's the highlight of the image, showing a field that hopefully gives the image its unique appeal. As always, I hope you like it!
This image was selected as NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day on March 19th, 2010
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DATEMarch 10th, 2010
PHOTOExposure for each mosaic frame: L: 10 x 10', RGB: 5x5' each
Total: 5.8 hours
Focal: 385mm, f/3.6
EQUIPMENTImaging Scope: FSQ 106 EDX w/Reducer
Guide Camera: StarShoot Autoguider
Imaging Scope: EM-400
SITE & CONDITIONSDinosaur Point and DeepSkyRanch, California
Processing: PixInsight & Photoshop