The Pleiades

Pleiades_8x30sec_ISO200_f5.6_105mm_nikonD90_small
It is not easily possible to make pictures in my backyard through a telescope because of the ever-present strong wind. So as an alternative I tried to make pictures just with the camera and lens. Some time ago I have built a small wedge with motordrive that, after it is polar aligned, compensates the rotation of the earth. On Friday January 29, 2011, I have pointed that guiding platform roughly North with a compass. The wedge was still at an angle of 12 degrees from a previous experiment. The alignment is not very critical because of the relatively short exposures.
With the Nikon D90 and the standard 18-105mm zoomlens I have made several pictures of the Pleiades. 

That is easier said than done. With the focus ring turned to infinity I had hoped to get sharp star images. That is not true. You have to turn the focus ring a bit back to get a better focus. And because the stars are not visible iin live view on the LCD-panel you need to take a number of pictures while adjusting focus.

The above picture consists of a stack of 8 individual exposures of 30 seconds with the zoomlens at 105mm. The sensitivity was at 200 ASA and the aperture was F/5.6. The processing is done in ImagePlus 3.75 (convert from Nikon Raw, normalize, grade, align, combine and then digital development, star reduction and smoothing, increase  brightness and contrast).

Stars till magnitude 10 are visible and there is even a hint of nebulosity around some of the bright stars in this open cluster. For a larger version of the image click here.
All in all a result that is good enough to try different parts of the sky from home with just the camera and lens.