Andromeda Galaxy by Marc-Etienne Rousseau

Photo of the Week for December 27, 2019

As Marc-Etienne Rousseau noted in his description, capturing the Andromeda Galaxy produces a pretty classic shot, taken a million times.

With tight stars and delicate gradations in the arms and integrated flux nebula, Rousseau’s image of M31 won this week’s Photo of the Week.

Rousseau said he has been dabbling in astrophotography for about a year, adding that he was surprised how nice and sharp the photo came out just after basic pre-processing.

“I did not even have to crop the frame,” he wrote in an email. “Now I feel that I can obsess on other targets without feeling that I left things half done!”
Taken in Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, QC, judges noted the pride in his work and determination to keep going.

Rousseau said he has attempted the image before.

“The first time, I rushed my setup and ended up with sub-optimal focus and framing, resulting in almost useless data (as I explained, I am still pretty new at this),” he said. “In other attempts, my setup was much better, but from my house near downtown Montreal, the light pollution is quite bad, so the signal to noise is not great, even with a LP filter.”

Rousseau also said he used an Explore Scientific 80mm, a William Optics Flat6IIA field flattener, and a stock Cannon SL2 DSLR (240-second exposures at ISO 800) mounted on a SkyWatcher HEQ5. He added there was about two and a half hours of total exposure, and the image was processed in Pixinsight, “trying as much as possible to keep things ‘real.’”

When asked what he learned taking this shot, Rousseau said “it is important to keep the basics in mind.”

“It should sound very obvious to seasoned astrophotographers,” he said. “Dark or darker skies do matter. Sure, we have wonderful filters and assistive processing, but nothing beats decent data.

“Choose your target well. It should suit your scope, your location, the time of year and your skill level. If you are a beginner like me, yes, it’s OK to take yet another shot of M31; don’t get ahead of yourself.”

Enter the Photo of the Week Contest

Do you have a superb night-sky photo that you think might be Photo of the Week material? Click here to find out how to send your photo submission to us.

You could win one of five great prizes from Celestron, iOptron, Sky-Watcher, Mallincam or Meade.

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