M31 with a Meade DSI Pro II

The weather was just too clear last night to avoid the temptation, so I dragged out my equipment and started taking pictures. Admittedly, almost anything done from here in Brooklyn, "pretty-picture" wise, has to be considered practice since it rarely works out unless its the moon or planets. But I thought I would try either the Veil Nebula or something in Cygnus with a deep red filter, which blocks most of the city lights, and use it as a black-and-white image.

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After taking about two hours worth of images of the area around Sadr (Gamma Cygni), I thought I might try a few shots of M31, the Andromeda galaxy, since at that time (going on 3 AM), it was high in the sky.

It was a spontaneous decision to take these with the Meade DSI Pro II since that was nominally the guide scope; I was going to take the images using my Canon 350D with a deep red filter as I had been doing. But there it was in the field of view of the guide scope, so I centered the image and started taking frames.

There was absolutely no filter, so the stars are bloated due to the unfocused infrared and contrast is compromised due to the sky background plus the "telescope" is a lowly 10x50 finder with the eyepiece removed. In spite of taking dark and flat frames, there are some remnant of dust spots and some dark pixels that couldn't be removed with normal calibration. I suspect that's becuase I should have shortened the exposures of both the image and the flat-field calibration frames to make sure I stayed in the linear region of the CCD's sensitivity. It's also possible it was a temperature effect as the ambient temperature was changing during the night.

Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised. Now to go dig that UV/IR filter out of the closet and try again!