The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293)

While my C8 was busy last week grabbing photons from the NGC 7331 Group of galaxies, my travel imaging rig was busy staring at the Helix Nebula. This setup, a Sky-Watcher Evolux 82ED refractor (with reducer) on an iOptron GEM28 mount, is quite a bit more portable than my other equipment and is something I can tuck into our RV for travels. I can shoot either mono or color with it, even narrowband. This shot was taken using an Optolong L-eXtreme dual narrow-band filter with an ASI533MC Pro OSC camera. I managed to grab 7.5 hours of 5-minute exposures over two evenings (I can only shoot this target for about 4 hours a night from my location). I processed it in PixInsight and Affinity Photo, but I didn’t try to do any pseudo-Hubble palette this time. It’s not an ideal target for a small refractor but it turned out okay.

The Evolux 82ED seems like a serviceable refractor, although it’s only a doublet. I think the optional 0.9x corrector is really required equipment for imaging, and shooting narrowband helps to hide any remaining flaws. The iOptron GEM28 is a nice little mount. I initially had some intermittent problems with it (it would stop tracking for no reason) but I think a faulty USB cable was to blame. Guiding isn’t perfect but I can generally get 1 arc second or better.

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