First, I want to say the cloudy nights forums have been very helpful. I am very thankful for all the posts that answered my questions up to this point.
Now, for my issue. I purchased a Celestron NexStar 127SLT for $313 during Amazon Prime Days. I later purchased a ZWO ASI224MC with intension of doing some lunar and planetary imaging. Considering they are both labeled as "planetary" equipment. Then, one night I decided to go through the DSO menu on the GOTO mount. Surprisingly, I could see nebulosity on even 1 second exposures from the preview mode. I then took a series of 10 second exposures, stacked them and was blown away. The image below is a stack of a minute and a half of 10 second exposures with only minor post-production. That image was taken from a Bortle 6 Zone shooting into a Bortle 7 Zone with a near full moon just to left of target. No black, flat, or bias frames. And no filters.
So, I was hooked. I began searching for better DSO equipment and landed on the Explore Scientific 127ed and the Skywatcher EQ-6R Pro mount. And after several clear nights and many, many hours of imaging, I have nothing to show for the new equipment. I would attach an image, but all I have are blown out, over-produced images with no nebulosity.
Any help would be very appreciated. I've tried to figure out what could be going on and what my next move should be. I may be way off-based, but this is what I've come up with:
1. Perhaps the ES127ed is just more susceptible to the light pollution and I need to invest in some filters.
2. Perhaps the Celestron NexStar127SLT and the ZWO ASI224MC are just a very good match. And although they are both labeled "planetary", they are far exceeding DSO imaging expectations. And perhaps the ES127ed and the ZWO ASI224MC are a very bad match and underperforming. I already had plans of upgrading to the ZWO ASI294 MC Pro cooled. Maybe that should be my next move. I just hate to spend another $1000, and get no results without a light pollution filter.
3. I haven't ruled out a problem with the ES127ed. The 2 extensions that came with it were not close to enough back-focus. I had to rig another 2 inches of back-spacing to achieve focus. Well, I guess another 1 1/2 inches. The 2 inches gives me enough space to not be fully extended at focus. However, I have been able to get pinpoint stars with what I've done. So I'm really not sure that could be the issue.
Thanks for reading. And I appreciate any input.
On a side note. Anybody looking for an inexpensive rig to get started with DSO imaging, I would definitely recommend the Celestron NexStar 127SLT and the ZWO ASI224MC. Contrary to them both being labeled as "planetary."