Imaging Vesta Challenge, March 2024

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So, for this months Astrophotography challenge I set “imaging the Asteroid 4 Vesta”. Now vesta is magnitude 8 at the moment, a bit dim, but visible in binoculars and potentially image-able with fairly ordinary cameras using stacking, a powerful software technique where multiple images and be combinted to enhance dim objects.  

The biggest challenge is actually aiming your camera, even though the horns of the bull, Elnath and zeta Tau
(Tianguan) are fairly obvious, they did not really show up well in the back of my canon IXUS not the mobile phone. So I had to do a bit of guess work in aiming and do a number of test shots to get Elnath and zeta Tau in view.

For the Canon IXUS “point and shoot” camera I took 10 x 1 second exposures at ISO 3200 and stacked them in Deep Sky Stacker, This wasa simple “drag and drop” procedure. I was limited to 1 second exposures because Canon messed up their long duration exposures (anything over 1 second defaults to 50 ISO, which is useless). The stack revealed several of the expected guide stars (and a couple of satellites) but no unambiguous Vesta. I’ll try again with a deeper stack (20 + images, and some dark frames for noise reduction if the weather clears up before the Moon comes out again (around the 12-13th).

For the Samsung s24 I took a single 10 second shot at ISO 3200, this *just* revealed Vesta (see image above), so if the clouds go away I will try stacking multiple shots with the S24. 

Free Stacking software includes Deep Sky Stacker and Autostakkert for Windows,  and StarStaX for macOS.

Labels: 4 Vesta, Asteroid, astrophotography

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