Warm Nights in Sagittarius: Astrophotography from a Light Polluted Backyard!

M8 - Lagoon Nebula, M20 - Trifid Nebula - Photo by Trevor Jones

Summer would not be complete without spending a night enjoying the dazzling beauty that is the constellation Sagittarius. The "teapot" asterism just clears my fence to the south of my backyard in central St. Catharines. From my latitude, August is my last chance to image the many star clusters and nebulae that populate this area. Last night, I set out to gather as much light on the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae as possible before they dipped below the trees.

Look for the "Teapot"

I should mention, that the third-quarter moon rose at midnight last night. (I ended my imaging session at 11:30pm) Enhanced detail and better contrast would be easier to pull out of this image if I were closer to the new moon. Light pollution is also a major factor where I live. My backyard lies within the border of a red/white zone for LP! Surpringly enough, however, I can still just barely pick out the Milky Way with my naked eye. To compensate for this unfortunate reality, I use an IDAS Light Pollution Filter to help block out the unwanted light from the street lights and porch lights that surround me.

With my breif window of opportunity, I was able to take 14, 210 second exposures at ISO 800. Once stacked, the total exposure length equaled a whopping 49 minutes! Despite the challenges mentioned above, I still think I was able to produce an acceptable image of this summertime treat.

Photo Details
Telescope: Explore Scientific ED80 with WO Flat III 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro Synscan
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro II and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: Orion Mini 50mm
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Modified)
ISO: 800
Total Exposure: 49 minutes (14 x 210 seconds)
Processing Software: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop CC
Support Files: 9 darks

My backyard astrophotography gear

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