Testing the very fast, large field of view astrograph: first lights.

We recently installed a large field of view astrograph, working at a very fast f/2 ratio, under very dark skies. We are happy to present our very first lights.

The Rosette Nebula (NGC 2237) and surrounding region.

The Rosette Nebula (NGC 2237) and surrounding region.

Since the beginning of Virtual Telescope Project adventure, started in 2006, we never had a large field of view astrograph available. Those kind of optics make possible to cover large portions of the sky with a single image, something very precious in many cases (a bright comet with a long tail, a rich star field in the Milky Way and so on).

So, while setting up our advanced observing facility in Manciano, Italy, under very dark skies, we managed to include such an instrument, also adding a further innovation: the availability, on such an astrograph, of a full-frame, cooled, state-of-the-art CMOS camera. You can find some details about this setup on its specific page.

Needless to say, we were tremendously curious to capture a first light! At the time we finished setting up the instruments, the winter sky with its many splendors was setting soon, just after sunset, being very low above the horizon.

Despite those very unfavorable conditions, we could not resist and captured the stunning region around the famous “Rosette Nebula”. The result is visible at the beginning of this post. The nebula dominates an extremely rich region, with plenty of stars, and other nebulae all around. The image comes from the average of six, 120-second exposures and covers a field of 16 degrees x 11 degrees. Keep in mind that the image was obtained under poor sky conditions!

We also captured another quick image, this time showing the legendary Orion Nebula and the glorious Souther region of its constellation. Even a single 60-second justify, under poor sky conditions, captured stunning details (as the legendary Horse-head dark nebula), as visible below.

The Orion Nebula (Messier 42) and the rich surrounding region.

The Orion Nebula (Messier 42) and the rich surrounding region.

You will see more and more of these images, also because such a large field of view instrument is perfect to capture conjunctions involving the planets, the Moon and the most beautiful deep-sky objects. As an example, below you can find Venus shining beside the Pleiades star cluster.

Venus and the Pleiades. 12 Apr. 2023.

Venus and the Pleiades. 12 Apr. 2023.

Keep looking up with us!

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