Aaahhhh… late April in Cumbria! Sunny days turn into clear nights, and we had two in a row for a change.
On 19 April, I returned to an old favourite location at the top of the Shap Road. Like the previous night, my first target was the comet C/2012 K1, which I will try and capture at each session with identical exposure and processing in order to observe the comet’s development. It was a windy evening high on the Shap Road, with the electricity pylons and their cables making some strange wailing sounds.
Job done on the comet, now I can relax and tackle a couple of other targets.
First, the Whirlpool galaxy M51, an iconic feature of the northern night sky and one of the “must have” shots in any astrophotographer’s portfolio. I’ve seen it many times in books, magazines and online but believe me, the first time you take this yourself is a very special moment. It is a faint object, at magnitude 8.4 it is way beyond naked-eye visibility, and individual frames show very little even at 60 seconds exposure. But when it emerges from the processing software…
Then another iconic target, this time quite low over the southern horizon towards Kendal, the Sombrero galaxy M104. Another WOW! moment when this comes up on my processing screen.