The target of this image is NGC 2149, a small reflection nebula in the constellation Monoceros (the Unicorn). It is quite near the constellation Orion and often gets overlooked due to the more flamboyant objects in “The Hunter”. I routinely exclude images taken of deep sky objects when a satellite intrudes into the photo. The brightness of the intruder skews the desired object’s post processing. I must admit however, last night I intentionally chose NGC 2149 because of the impending satellite pass. The guilty party this time was the Hubble Space Telescope.
I decided to attempt the exposure knowing full well the Moon’s brightness would cause a strong gradient in the exposures. After all, the Moon was only a few hours from entering the Earth’s shadow and the resultant total lunar eclipse. Hubble would cross my FOV in just over one second. It takes 10 seconds to download an image from my camera, so in order to not miss the pass I set the exposure to 300 seconds and started it a couple of minutes before the expected arrival. I then joined family members in the front yard to watch the flyby. Hubble silently glided west to east and near the point where it disappeared, it did its best imitation of an Iridium flare. The scope’s solar arrays were at just the right angle to reflect the Sun’s light right back at us. It then faded as its orbit took it into the Earth’s shadow.
Luckily, the satellite’s orbital elements used to predict its path were right on and the 300 second exposure showed the very bright telescope streaking through the image. I then took additional images of the nebula to increase its brightness a little. The result is a stack of one 300 second image and 25 sixty second images.