Milky Way over Powderhorn, Colorado

Milky Way over Powderhorn, Colorado at dawn; 18 June 2023

Capture Notes

We FINALLY got clear skies during the New Moon – it had been since September 2022 – 9 months of clouds, bitter cold, rain or other disagreeable weather. We decided to explore some of the area we drove past during our drive to Gateway in October 2022. Paul found potential summer dark skies locations on BLM land near Powderhorn, Colorado.

While the Southern Cross was capturing data on SH2-129 Flying Bat, I set up the Canon EOS Ra on the star tracker to capture the Milky Way. I imaged from about midnight until dawn – relearning the lesson that you can’t leave the star tracker on its own, because while it will continue to track at the sidereal rate (if you remember to turn it on after composing the image!) the image composition will go from good-to-bad-to-useless over the course of an hour or so… I captured two different landscape views while the MW was just beginning to rise, then rotated the camera to portrait orientation at about 0100 when it was more vertical in the sky. The two images here are the first portrait aspect and the last, as dawn was beginning. The portrait #2 series showed the triangular shaped foreground getting more and more triangular as I left the star tracker to its own devices over more than an hour…I decided it wasn’t worth the time to process.


Imaging stream: Canon EOS Ra on Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Star Tracker in sidereal mode.  Sigma 14mm 1:1.8 DG lens, manual focus, f2.0.
Sequence Control: Pixel Pro TW-283 N3 Wireless Shutter Remote Control Timer and Shutter Release

Capture & Processing

Exposure Settings:
Portrait#1: 21×60 seconds, ISO800, f/2.0.  Captured 19Jun2023, 0115MDT-0140MDT.
Portrait#3 (Dawn): 22×60 seconds, ISO800, f/2.0.  Captured 19Jun2023, 0313MDT-0339MDT.

Capture: 18 June 2023
Shooting location: Powderhorn, Colorado
Processing: Stacked using Sequator by composition (and grouping of common attributes within each composition). Processed initially in LR (using AW presets and custom mask actions). Used PS for blending foreground and Milky Way images, spot healing, star reduction, and other PS tools. Decided after the first save/export that I wanted to do a star reduction to bring out the Milky Way from the mass of stars. Tried to remove stars using StarXterminator. It took an extraordinate amount of time and was very ineffective, leaving a grouping of stars in the top left-hand corner of the image. So, I went back to Starnet++ and created a starless and stars version and brought them back into PS to create a star reduced image.

Milky Way over Powderhorn, Colorado; 18 June 2023