The ever-dedicated Daniel Beaulieu won the Photo of the Week for January 10, 2020 with his image of NGC 1491.
Taking the image data September 13, 2019 in his backyard in Quebec City, Beaulieu said that in general, he sets up his telescope after work in his backyard when the skies are clear.
“The fun begins as soon as I put my tripod on the grass,” he said. “I don’t have an observatory in my backyard, so I have to deal with the same routine night after night, which takes me an average of one hour 15 minutes. But I like it.”
Beaulieu said NGC 1491 is located very close to the star Mirfak, in Perseus, a constellation perfectly accessible in his suburban sky. Living in Quebec City, he said light pollution has deteriorated the sky over the years.
“In 2018, I bought my monochrome Atik 383L+ CCD camera, with which I took this photo,” he said. “This acquisition allowed me to improve the quality of my images while imaging more efficiently, despite all this pollution. The result I get with this camera is very satisfying.”
Beaulieu said the telescope he used was a Schmidt-Cassegrain EdgeHD 800 with a Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro mount. He used a Lodestar X2 and the Atik 383L+ monochrome CCD camera. The filter wheel was an Atik EFW2, and the narrowband filters were SHO Astrodon 36 mm / 5 nm.
The focal ratio was 1,422 mm (F/d 7 with EdgeHD 800 0.7x reducer lens), and the total exposure was 315 minutes.
Beaulieu said images were taken with Ha, OIII and SII filters — seven at 900 seconds each, Bin 2. He added the camera temperature was -15C, and he used Atik Artemis Capture for the capture, DeepSkyStacker for stacking, and PixInsight for the treatment.
“Treated exclusively in PixInsight, after stacking in DeepSkyStacker with my darks, bias and flats, I got this result which is highly superior to that of 2016, when I first attempted,” he said. “When I select objects to photograph, I often choose those that are rarely captured. This is the case with NGC 1491. Another reason I was excited about this nebula is that it was present in the sky all night, an ideal target for September 13 last year, when I took this photo.”
Our judges also wanted to give a nod to Sam Sproule’s image of the Northern Lights taken with her Google Pixel 2XL in Churchill, Manitoba. They noted capturing an image “off of a cellphone, in a dress at -32 degrees in polar bear country is a great effort and deserves an honourable mention.”
“The weather was cloudy during my stay so I hadn’t expected to see the lights,” Sproule said, noting she had been visiting a friend who works at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre. “Fortunately, around 10:15 p.m. I was alerted the Aurora Borealis were visible, and I went outside in my dress and coat in -32 degree weather to see their beauty.”