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PhotoGav

M34 - Not Just An Open Cluster...

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Messier 34

Continuing my photographic tour of clusters through the autumn / winter sky, here is Messier 34, an open cluster about 1500 light years from Earth in the constellation of Perseus. It seems a fairly regular open cluster with its concentration of some twenty to thirty main stars, looking pretty in their shades of blue and orange. However, I couldn't help noticing lots of small faint fuzzies throughout the field of view. I think that these must be members of the Perseus Cluster - a massive galaxy cluster that stretches over 14º of the sky. M34 is only about 7º from the Perseus Cluster, so all these galaxies must be the outer reaches of the Perseus Cluster. Nice! Especially when my previous target to M34 was.... the Perseus Cluster - well a portion at the centre of the Perseus Cluster anyway!

 

M34-LRGB-09-Flat.thumb.png.46b8d622e5673cf1fc66ac0af095c7a0.png

 

Technical Details:

Skywatcher Esprit 100ED, QSI-683-WSG8, HEQ5 and Mesu 200, Baader 1.25" and Astrodon 31mm filters (more about the kit in a moment!)

LRGB = 36 x 300s each
TOTAL = 12 hours

The first thing to say is that this project sort of represents my first light with my new mount - a Mesu 200. One came up on Astro Buy & Sell and I just couldn't let the opportunity pass me by, so I grabbed it. The trusty old HEQ5 has served me really well for many years, but I have a feeling that I am going to like the Mesu very much. It has been easy to set up, despite my best efforts to make it complicated! I must thank @steppenwolf, @swag72, @RayD  & @Barry-Wilson for their immense help and encouragement during the set up process. You will notice that I also changed my filters during the project from Baader 1.25" to Astrodon 31mm. That was in progress before the mount came along. Basically, Christmas has come early this year to the River Park Observatory! The change of filters made this project a huge processing task. I shot the first hour in each filter with the Baaders, and their respective set of flats. I then changed to the Astrodons for the second hour of data, and their new set of flats. While shooting the new Astrodon flats I noticed an issue with the Ha filter, so had to open up the filter wheel and take remedial action. That meant that the third hour of data in each filter had to have a new set of flats. APP did a sterling job of coping with the multi-filter and multi-session processing with all those flats and processed it all together beautifully in one hit. I do like APP!

Anyway, enough of my ramblings, I hope you like the image and please do let me know what you think.

Clear Skies!

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Great to see that the Mesu is helping you to get some great results. The brighter stars in this image have a nice balance to them but unless it it just my iPhone (away from home at the moment) the dimmer stars look a little too red to me?

Nicely tracked and a most attractive object.

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Very nice Gav,  you know how to make an open cluster look very special.

Edited by MARS1960
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Great news, Gav, and a first light which proves the mount is working perfectly.

As noted by Steve, slightly red for me too, but control of the bright stars is spot on.

Very nice, I'm sure this is the start of good things to come with you in charge of this combination.

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Glad that you are happy with the Mesu Gav :) Nice image to start with..... as others have said I'm finding a bit of a red cast though.

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1 hour ago, PhotoGav said:

While shooting the new Astrodon flats I noticed an issue with the Ha filter, so had to open up the filter wheel and take remedial action

I love this.  I have visions of an astro version of John Cleese, whacking the filter with a branch whilst abusing it 😂

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Thank you very much for your comments. I see what you mean about the red tinge. I have de-redded it a bit. What's the consesus on this version?

M34-LRGB-11-Flat.thumb.png.fa7c35aa6e5f34fa97ea26f011c07707.png

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Ooh much nicer.  Great start with the mount, Gav.  Look forward to seeing many more :thumbright:

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Nice one, and congratulations on snapping up a used Mesu, I bet there were a few hot on your heels after that one.

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