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Andromeda Rising 2 | by Rick Whitacre
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Andromeda Rising 2

I went up to Mount Shasta on Friday specifically to try to create this image. Inspired by a picture I saw from Paul Schmit and thanks to a suggestion from a friend, I figured out I could get Andromeda rising from behind Mount Shasta and decided to give it a go.

 

 

 

This picture took everything I have learned in 12 years of photography. I used an equatorial tracker to find and stay locked on Andromeda starting from when it was still behind the volcano. As the tracker slowly turned, I kept watching the LCD on the camera to see if and where Andromeda would show up. At 10:56pm on Friday night, it peaked out from behind Shasta, right on schedule. I was literally dancing!

 

 

 

I kept tracking Andromeda for another 35 minutes to get enough exposures to bring out the details in it's spiral arms and to bring out M110 and M32, Andromeda's sister galaxies.

 

 

 

I then rotated the tracker back to center Shasta and took several images of it without the motion of the tracker. All of these images were stacked in Siril and composited in Photoshop. The relative size and placement of Andromeda is exactly as it appeared. I did not enlarge Andromeda to make it stand out. Andromeda is actually 6X wider than our moon, but so faint that the human eye can barely see it.

 

This is a reprocessing of the first version I posted. I used better astro processing techniques, corrected the color cast, and cropped in more.

 

 

Sony A7Rii, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, 180mm, f/3.2, ISO1600. Approximately 60 images total

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Uploaded on September 1, 2020