I was just reading some very interesting observers’ comments on viewing the unbelievably faint Leo II dwarf galaxy. Their attempts at visual observation of this elusive object brought back the memory that kicked off my imaging obsession, and relegated my beautiful eyepiece collection (and Binoviewers) to the storage cupboard.
When I first got my Celestron Nexstar GPS C11 scope back around early 2002 I only had visual observation in mind – I really didn’t see me moving into the imaging business – what’s the point? So I spent 2 years with this fine scope just observing, and it was great, except I found myself going back time and again to the handful of objects that look great visually. But I now remember what the real cruncher was that turned me to the dark side. Like any beginner, of course, I wanted to see the Horsehead nebula. I spent a long time convincing myself I was in the right area (which I now know I was) – but there was nothing to be seen. No matter, there were various filters advertised that promised to help see this difficult object – none worked for me 🙁 So for 2 years in succession, when Orion was well placed I looked in vain for the Horsehead nebula – no joy.
I must have had imaging back in the subconscious however as when I bought the scope, I also bought the original Hyperstar to go with it – for two years it had sat in the bottom drawer unused. But now its time had come. I bought a Starlight Xpress H9C one shot colour CCD camera in the Autumn of 2004 and was set up for imaging around November-December 2004 with the scope in Alt-Az mode (I knew nothing about needing an equatorial mounting at this point). So I was taking subs up to around 30-seconds (before trailing was apparent) and of course I went to the Horsehead nebula as one of the first objects to image. When the Horsehead was clearly visible with just a single 15-second exposure – that was it. The eyepiece never went back on, and I have only imaged ever since that fateful evening 🙂