Steve Miller’s Antares

This is what you can do with a small star tracking device. Steve from Tassie recently got himself a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer, which is like a small equatorial mount designed to carry a camera and normal lens.

Steve used his Lumix G9, a micro four-thirds camera with a 200mm f/2.8 lens. This gave him the equivalent of 400mm focal length for a full frame. Using ISO 1250, he took 12 30 second exposures, which he stacked using Affinity. Final touches he did in Apple photos.

As to the photo, it’s one of my favourite areas in the sky, the end of the Rho Ophiuchi dust trail. There’s so much there. Just for fun, I've put an annotated version of the photo at the bottom.

The bright yellow star is Antares, the eye of the Scorpion. Above and to the left is the globular cluster M4, but between them is the smaller cluster NGC 6144. Continuing anti-clockwise, Alniyat is next, and then the smaller star HIP 80079 to the left of the shot.

Below this is (for me, at least) the star of the show, Rho Ophiuchi, the star that gives the whole area its name. Faintly seen around Rho is its nebula, which shines blue in reflected light. Finally, back towards Antares is the star HIP 80815.

The whole area throughout the shot is dusted with nebulosity, visible in reflection and emission. Apart from the blue around Rho Ophiuchi, there’s yellow reflected from Antares and red from ionised hydrogen around Alniyat. These are contrasted by the Great Nothingness of the dark dust lanes running from the bottom of the shot. Not far from the Galactic Core, this is one of the most colourful areas in the sky.

With his setup Steve has a field that most telescopes just can’t reach, it's way more than what I can get!

For polar alignment, Steve used a phone app and compass. He’s clearly done a good job – those stars at the edges are good and round.

You know, you can also add a small refractor to the Star Adventurer. Officially, it’s rated for 5kg of payload, although I think it’d probably struggle with balance if you loaded it up that much.

Great work, Steve!