February is the month when Canadians see the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex above the horizon for the first time after a winter hiatus. Having captured a handful of deepscapes (telephoto photographs of the landscape that include different space objects as they rise or set around the horizon) over the past year, I was anxious to head out into some of Saskatchewan’s dark skies to capture one that included my favourite night object as it rose above the horizon in the early morning hours. So, I set my alarm for 2:45 AM so I could be in position for it’s ~4:30 AM rise. This left me with an hour and a bit to shoot before astronomical twilight began. In my excitement for what I hoped would be a fun morning, I didn’t sleep a wink as my mind thought through every aspect of the shoot. So when the time came to finally leave my home, I was tired but ready.
Upon arriving at the location, I set up exactly where I placed my Google pin from the night before so that the trees aligned at 140 degrees (Azimuth) while Rho was sitting at 143 degrees (Azimuth) and ~ 5 degrees (Elevation) high in the sky. This would hopefully place the dark horse nebula on the left side of the trees with the Rho Ophichi cloud complex on the right. I took my foreground exposures first as the sky moved into position. After setting up my tracker and starting my sky exposures, I noticed that my chosen focal length had cut off a large part of the dark horse. It looked like I had made an error while planning my field of view. For the photo I wanted, I should have been closer to 100mm instead of the 125mm I was at. Unfortunately, I knew I didn’t have the time that morning to reset and start over so I continued with my existing focal length, taking 8 two-minute exposures for the foreground and 32 two-minute exposures for the sky (Rho went from ~ 5 degrees elevation to ~ 11 degrees elevation during this time). After stacking both, I blended my sky exposure into the position it was in when I first set up and processed to bring out the rich detail and colours in the night sky.
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