Leo and Mars

Wide-field shot of the area around Leo. The bright dot low and right of center is Mars, and I think next to mars is the open cluster M44 (a.k.a. "the beehive cluster" or "Praesepe"). These pictures really need to be taken on nights without the moon. There's a huge gradient from dark to bright towards the direction of the moon.

I tried to add some lines and text for constellations, but it's fairly difficult because so many stars are showing in the picture:


A 32 minute exposure at iso200 through a Canon 17-40/4L (17mm @ F/5.6) of Cygnus and surrouding constellations with the milky way in the background.

There is a tree at the bottom right, and some local light-pollution bottom left, otherwise I am quite happy with this first serious go at a wide-field milky way picture. A dew-heater will allow longer uninterrupted sessions, and the fine focus could be improved slightly. Perhaps I should use a higher iso setting?

Update: after some discussion it seems that the red problems in the lower left corner may be due to amplifier-noise in the camera. Stacking a number of shorter exposures, for example 6x 10 min, is a better way of achieving a long total exposure with a DSLR. Cooled CCD cameras made for astrophotography are better for very long exposures - but also cost significantly more than consumer DSLRs.