Astro Arash

Bortle 4 GALAXIES

I usually image from suburban areas with a fair amount of light pollution, roughly Bortle 7 class skies. I recently had the chance to do some imaging from Bortle 4 class skies, and I was excited to take advantage of it!

Unfortunately, I only had one clear, moonless night, and my view was fairly obstructed in some directions. With these limitations, I wanted to get the most I could out of this opportunity, so I decided to image a few different targets.

I first set my sights on Markarian’s Chain. This is a target I’ve done before, but I wasn’t fully satisfied with my previous results. Light pollution and the limited optics of my kit lens were limiting factors of my previous attempts. So, with my prime f/2.8 lens and darker skies, I decided to spend some of my precious time that night on this target again. I am very glad I did!

I got about 30 minutes of integrated exposure of Markarian’s Chain. Normally I’d like to get a lot more, but with a fast lens and far from light pollution, I was able to get away with it. I was blown away with the single subs I was seeing, and the final result did not disappoint!

Markarian's Chain - Bortle 4
Markarian’s Chain – Bortle 4

There’s still some visible noise, and some chromatic aberration, particularly in the top left (not quite perfect focus? tilt issues?). But overall, I think this is a massive improvement over my previous attempt, which had 6 hours of integrated exposure. Lots of finer details are visible!

I would have kept going on this target, but it quickly became obscured behind a large tree, no matter how much I tried to adjust my positioning. So, I decided to switch to a different galaxy target, M51. I was actually fairly happy with my previous M51 result, but it was my last image with my kit lens so I thought I could do better.

This time, I only had 19.5 minutes of integrated exposure. That sounds insanely low to me, but even in a single sub I was seeing lots of fine details. In less than 20 minutes, I was able to generate a picture that I think is better than my old result that took 4.5 hours of exposure.

M51 - Bortle 4
M51 – Bortle 4

I spent most of my time under clear dark skies on a different target, but that’s for a future post!

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