Updated: Oct 28, 2019
M2, is a globular cluster located pretty far from us, at 37,500 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius.
Messier 2 is one of the oldest and largest known globular clusters. It has a diameter of 175 light-years and a magnitude of 6.3.
The California Wildfires have been raging for weeks, making our Nevada sky very smoky day and night, but we decided to go image anyway, hoping for the best. We quickly got discouraged when single what our single shots looked like (scroll down!)
Camera: Canon 7D Mark II
Telescope: Orion 8" Astrograph f/3.9
Mount: Atlas EQ-G motorized Mount
Total Exposure Time: 1 hour
Exposure Time per frame: 3 minutes
20 lights - 15 Darks - 15 Bias
LOCATING MESSIER 2
Messier 2 can be seen towards the edge of Aquarius, where it meets Equuleus (the small horse) and Aquila (the eagle).
SINGLE SHOT & PROCESSING OF M2
Here is what a single shot of Messier 2 looked like on our camera. When zooming in, you can see a lot of noise and overall, what seemed to be a blurry, hazy layer. We had hopes that the smoke would not affect DSO's much, but seeing this, we decided to stop after just one hour of imaging.
Stacking our 20 images helped, of course, but it was obviously not enough, as you can see in the screenshot below, taken right after the basic stacking process. As you can see, it looks pretty terrible. Thankfully, we managed to use PixInsight's magic to get a final image that is not too terrible.
The night itself wasn't bad, we took photos of the Milky Way, and the planets so that our time wouldn't have been completely wasted. We packed hoping our work could be salvaged.
Here is a better view of the cluster.
Probably our worst one yet, we now realize that we should have continued the imaging instead of being discouraged by the smoke...
MESSIER 2 LOG ENTRY VIDEO
Messier 2 is a great looking cluster that does not seem difficult to image. We sadly did not get the best out of it, but we might revisit it in the future to properly capture all its beauty!