Andromeda (M31)

On a recent trip to the United States I felt that this was a perfect opportunity for me to image some constellations and other deep space Whilst Andromeda (M31) is visible from the southern hemipshere it is better placed to be observed and photographed from the northern.

I had no idea where Andromeda was in the sky, so using Stellarium on my laptop and recently acquired 18x50mm image stabilised Canon binoculars I was able to get my first glimpse of this beautiful object. Now I knew what to expect when looking through the binoculars. Do not expact anything like the pictures that you see but expect fuzzy grey object. But seeing it clear as day got me excited for what I could capture through a camera.

It was not until the last evening of the RV trip that I got the chance to do some serious imaging. The moon was not expected to rise until early morning so had plenty of time to setup, locate and then image one of our closest galaxy partners. After roughly aligning the iOptron Skytracker to Polaris, I setup the my 15mm (effective 24mm on full frame sensor) lens first to ensure I had M31 in the frame. I then zoomed in and adjusted the position of the cameras direction on the ball head mount. Once I was happy with the positioning I then swapped the 15-85mm lens for the 100-400mm lens. I tried a different combination of exposures and ended up choosing taking 10 shots @ f/4.5 for 30 seconds at 100mm with an ISO of 6400.

Probably not the best combination but once stacked in Deep Sky Tracker and then tweaked in both Photoshop and Lightroom I arrived with the following image. Given it is still very much early days with this type of photography, I am extremely pleased with the result. Click on the image below for a higher resolution version.

The IOptron SkyTracker performed just as I wanted, handling the weight of the ball head mount + Canon EOS 7D + 100-400mm lens.