Ivan Hancock's Lagoon Nebula

A few weeks ago, Ivan picked up his new Sky-Watcher Esprit 100 and a Sky-Watcher EQ6-R go-to mount. The Esprit is an awesome scope – a triplet refractor, especially designed for imaging. The EQ6-R is a heavy-duty belt-driven computerised equatorial mount. Together they make an instrument capable of very high precision astrophotography.

After a few weeks of testing and getting to know the equipment, he started producing images. This one is the Lagoon Nebula, and was his first image with the new equipment.

The photo was taken with his Canon 5D MKII DSLR. The camera attaches to the scope with the field flattener and a Canon adapter. The flattener ensures that the focus is sharp across the whole of the field. Without one, the stars at the edges get a bit fuzzy.

To get this image, Ivan took 20 two-minute photos at ISO 3200. He gave the images to a free program called Deep Sky Stacker, which combined these into one high quality image. This quality means he can process it further in Photoshop without the image degrading.

Ivan also got a shot of the Trifid Nebula (and one with both the Lagoon and the Trifid) and the Carina Nebula. I like the Trifid, but Ivan says that he preferred this image because it was the scope’s first light.

Ivan tells me that he isn’t using the hand controller for the EQ6-R at all. Instead he’s got a Wi-Fi dongle working with his iPad. The iPad battery lasts all night, and he likes the app. The stars it selects for alignment are more intuitive, he says. The first one it chose was Jupiter. Easy!

Ivan says that he was pleased at how quickly he was able to come to grips with the new equipment and techniques. He made a lot of use of YouTube tutorials.

Next, Ivan is going to start autoguiding the mount so he can get longer exposures for dimmer dark sky objects. He already has the equipment he needs. He’s also picked up a light pollution filter, so is looking at imaging from inner city Melbourne.

Great start, Ivan, but you're setting a high bar!