Job 9:9

Job 9:9-10
9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
NIV

Sunday, February 23, 2014

IC443, The Jellyfish Nebula

I really didnt think I would be able to capture this.  By all accounts that I've seen online, this is an extremely dim object.  Although I didnt capture the entire nebula, I got a fair amount of it.

The skies have been cloudy, or the temperature has been way below normal this winter, I have been unable to image as much as I'd liked.  Because of that, I think I'm getting rusty.  Although this is a good image, I shot about a dozen frames to get 4 good ones.  I had a number of problems imaging this.  The scope was unbalanced, because the little refractor is so light weight that the tripod counterweights were too heavy to balance.  When I imaged with the object ascending the meridian, everything was fine, but when it was descending, the stars streaked.  Polar alignment was pretty good that night.  I was able to capture only 2 frames with the scope ascending before I had to do a meridian flip.  I did manage 2 decent descending frames out of 10.

This image was the raw monochrome, stacked and enhanced in Photoshop.



Here is the same image using Noel Carboni's  'B&W -> Ha False Color Black Space' tool in his toolkit.


I went back and reprocessed this with some dark frames.  Seems the darks increase the noise.  The only reason I used them was to eliminate the hot pixels.  I seem to like this image better than the above.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Imaging With a Guidescope

Anyone else except me have this genius idea to image using your guidescope ?  Well, I can tell you that if you use narrowband filters, it does work.  The only problem is... that if you want to guide, you need another guidescope, unless you have an off axis guider.  Therefore, I bought a very inexpensive 50mm guide scope from Orion.  Actually, the FOV of the little scope is pretty wide, and its brighter than the original 80mm Awesome Autoguider scope.  I found literally dozens of stars that were in perfect focus and plenty bright enough to guide on.  And the accuracy was just fine for the 400mm focal length imaging scope.  I'll let you know how it works with a longer focal length.

Now I'm using the old guide scope as an imaging scope.  It is not color corrected - its a simple doublet, and very inexpensive.  I think the price of the 80mm is something like $150, which does not buy a whole lot of refractor.  However, I was looking for a way to increase my FOV with the CCD, and it seemed like a logical choice.

Because it is not color corrected, I dont recommend any sort of wideband or one shot color imaging with one of these.  However, narrowband is a whole nother story.  Stars are pretty small in narrowband, because there is no color fringing on specific wavelength lines.

There is one quirk when imaging with this scope.  The FWHM readout during focusing is actually pretty worthless in obtaining focus.  I had to focus the scope for the roundest possible stars.    If I didnt focus that way, the stars sport a tail, all pointing in one direction.  It looks like a guiding error, but is, in fact an aberration in the low cost optics.  This occurred with MY telescope, yours may act differently.  This first image has oblong stars - caused by the way I focused.


Here you can see the stars are oblong.  It does look like a tracking error, however the next image is even farther South, and therefore farther from the NCP which would cause the stars to streak even more, however I made no changes to the polar alignment or guiding parameters.  In fact, I imaged longer frames - 15 minutes over the 10 minutes I imaged the above image.

In this image, the stars are nice and round.  I purposely focused on Alnitak, attempting to get it as round as possible, even if it resulted in a larger, degraded FWHM reading.  The FWHM actually wasnt BAD in this image, averaging around 1.75.  Best of all however, the stars are nice and round without the trails.  Could the focus be better?  I dont know - the nebulosity seems a little soft focus to me, but it is a pleasing image with the round stars.  But the point is...  I'm imaging using a VERY low cost scope.  Are the optics perfect?  Not by a long shot, but it still takes decent pictures.






Sunday, December 29, 2013

3 Days of Imaging

Actually had a little bit of scope time the past few days.  The sky was clear and the seeing was excellent on 12/25.  I had the 8" out and imaged Jupiter.  Finally I got the red spot.  Its a lot darker this tear.

When I was focusing, I used one of Jupiter's moons, and noticed a good deal of coma, but it was too cold and didnt have the ambition to collimate.  I shot video anyway.  Still got some good pictures.  This was the first image, shot an hour or 2 before the GRS started rising.



This next image was shot after the red spot came into view.  I used the mjpg codec in the camera.  I wanted to see if I could detect any sort of visual difference between mjpg and IVUV.  There is a minor improvement with ivuv as you will see.  This is the mjpg image:




And this next image is the ivuv image.  It seems to be a little cleaner and the contrast seems a little better with a tiny amount more detail present.


 Not too shabby for a scope slightly out of alignment!


Now for some narrowband deep sky stuff.

These are from 12/26.  I did something a little different.  I used the guidescope as the imaging scope, plus I used the focal reducer, which I dont think does much good widening the field.  It also introduces coma.  You'll see it in some of the brighter stars.

I never was able to image the Heart & Soul Nebula.  I couldnt fit it in the FOV of the main scope even when using the dslr.  Interesting that I was able to do something with the CCD and guidescope.  The Soul Nebula was shot first, and was able to fit the entire nebula in one frame.  These images were shot in Hα only.  First the Soul Nebula:

 You can see the fan shaped brighter stars in this image.  This is being caused in the reducer.

Next is a 2 panel mosaic of the Heart.  Its a bit bigger than the Soul.

If I get the chance to image this again, I will try doing it without the reducer.

Then, on 12/27 I had the scope out for a nicely clear sky.  However, the seeing was pretty bad.  I did attempt to shoot Jupiter, but it was really very bad.  After seeing this, I came in for a couple hours to wait for Orion to rise high enough to try to get the core of M42.

I was using the 8 inch, unguided.  I shot some 30 second exposures in Hα which came out quite bright.  Here is a nice closeup in Hα:

I shot a series of 10 second exposures  after shooting the above image because about half of the 30 sec frames were bad due to periodic error and slight wind.

The 10 sec exposures were almost as good as the 30 sec exposures, so I shot 30 - 10 sec in Hα.  I shot in all 3 narrowband wavelengths.  10 sec in Hα, 10 sec in Oiii and 15 sec in Sii, 30 frames each.

For some reason, my Sii frames I had a lot of bad ones, so I only had  about 15 or so useable frames.

First I will share my Hα and Oiii 2 color image.  Hα is red, Oiii to green and blue...


I really like the look of these 2 color images over RGB sometimes, and this is one of those times.

I also did a Hubble palette in which I mapped the Sii to red, Hα to green and Oiii to blue.  Interesting as to the dispersal of the different elements.  Seems as tho all 3 are present in the core but look what happens as you move away from the core.

Lots of oxygen below the core, hydrogen and some sulfur especially to the left.  I'm going to have to do a full frame Hubble palette image of the entire nebula sometime!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Productive Evening

Winters in Ohio are a tradeoff.  You get a lot more telescope time in the evening, but it's not clear out very often.  Tonight was actually mediocre, I guess the correct term would have been 'mostly clear'.  We had a little bit of decently transparent skies, but most of the time, there were thin high clouds overhead.  Fortunately they weren't so thin that it prevented me from imaging.

The first object was something I had imaged before with the Canon T3 a year ago.  The Canon really did a good job with this object, and I dont think this image is really any better, but it served as a warmup to better things to come later in the evening.

NGC891 which has been called 'The Outer Limits Galaxy', due to it being part of the opening credits in the TV show, The Outer Limits.  It is a galaxy that is located about 30 million light years away in the constellation Andromeda.  It is a spiral galaxy viewed edge-on, and is thought to resemble the Milky Way if viewed from this angle.  The size and brightness is about the same, and the Milky Way has a dust lane similar to this galaxy.

This was imaged with the Orion Starshoot G3 monochrome behind red, green and blue filters, 5 of each.  No luminance frames were shot because there were clouds moving in at the time this was finishing up.   I actually thought my night was going to be cut short, but a half an hour later, the sky cleared.

When NGC891 was finished, I slewed the scope towards Jupiter and came inside to process the above image.  I happened to look up at the VPN screen of the laptop, and I could see Jupiter on the edge of the autoguider, saturating the screen.  I centered the object, threw in the barlows and the webcam and shot a couple series of Jupiter.  Trouble is, I shot them too dark, so they were a bit noisy.  I did get some decent stacks, this one being the best:

It didnt turn out too bad actually.  I had wished that I had taken this at the correct exposure, it really would have been exceptional, but its not a BAD image.

When I finished up taking Jupiter, I noticed that Orion was clearing the trees.  I threw in my hydrogen alpha filter in the CCD and skewed over to the Horsehead, IC434.  IC434 is much dimmer than I thought.  I've imaged this a number of times, wide field with the DSLR, but never imaged it in Hα.  What a treat this turned out to be!  I framed it using a 2X drizzle at 60 sec exposure, rotated the camera to get more of the nebula in the frame and went ahead and shot 5 - 10 minute exposures and 1 15 minute exposure.  10 minutes really isn't enough exposure time for this object - it really is pretty dim.  15 minutes is better, and even longer exposures wouldnt be a bad idea either.  I honestly can not figure out how people have been able to see this through an eyepiece!  It really is a dim object.

When I stacked this, I was blown away at the detail.  I think I was a little bit out of focus too (not much tho).  The detail in the ionized hydrogen was more than I expected.

I was so impressed with this image, that I thought I would go with a 2nd processed picture, not quite so bright, and add star spikes to the brighter stars in the field.  I did the spikes in a separate layer and changed the opacity so as to not overdo the spikes.  I think this image is really pretty.  This might be one I may just have printed.  Trouble is, I didnt drizzle this image, but perhaps a bicubic resize will look good.


Well, there you have it, a good night of imaging.  I wish we had more of these, but it might be clear again tonight, and if it is, you might see another post tomorrow.  Until next time....  Clear Skies, all!



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Couple Forgotten Images

I forgot, but I also was able to capture a couple objects that I had forgotten about.  The first image is a deep M57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra.  I imaged this using 15 minute frames, and was able to capture the outer halo. 

This image was done in narrowband, Hα and OIII, with the Hα mapped to red and OIII mapped to blue and green.  The Hα was stretched slightly to help bring out the outer halo, but it was obvious in the raw unstretched frames.  I took this image on 9/18/2013.

The other object I would like to share was taken on 10/27/13.  This object, NGC206 is a star forming region and cluster located within the Andromeda Galaxy.  Taken with the CCD with no filtering, the area of interest is just left of center.  The galaxy core is off the screen towards the bottom right.  Some stars are resolved in the cluster.  Not bad for resolving stars 2.5 million light years away....


This was imaged with no filters, so it is black and white.  I didnt care as far as how pretty the picture was, I was more curious to see if I could image this object with any detail.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Latest Images

OK, I admit it... I've been bummed because of the weather we've had for much of the summer.  I have been imaging, but perhaps once every couple of weeks.  Either its just been cloudy, or the evenings have started out cloudy and cleared late at night, and I've just been too tired to do anything with the scope.  I like to set up before the sun goes down, but if it's cloudy, I dont bother.

We have had a few good nights, and I've gotten pictures that I've been too lazy to post here.  This is one reason I put up the facebook page - you'll see many pictures just hours after I take them.  The blog usually goes into more detail about the objects that I image, so the two kinda go hand-in-hand.  If you have a facebook account, I suggest you like the page that that is linked on here to get the full story and a sneak preview of what I'm doing.

Now on with the images I've missed...

First, I'll start off with a Hubble Palette of NGC7380, the Flying Horse Nebula.

This is the one and only image that I've taken using  Oiii, Hα and Sii.  Sii is mapped to red, Hα to green and Oiii to blue.  all 10 minute exposures, 5 each.  This was imaged on 9/5/2013.

A little earlier (8/23/13) I imaged NGC7635, the Bubble Nebula in Cassiopeia.  I also did this in narrowband using 10 minute exposures.  This was shot in Hα and Oiii only.  I created 2 images, one a "realistic" and a false color version.


Here is the "Realstic" version, Hα mapped to red and Oiii mapped to blue and green.


The false color image, with the Hα mapped to blue and Oiii mapped to red and green with different histogram stretching applied to the red and green.  I also took a few star cluster images that evening, but there was haze, and the clusters were far to the south, and were not real impressive.

On 9/10/13, I got an impressive Hα of NGC6888, the Crescent Nebula.  I imaged this one before using 5 minute subs, but this time I used 10 minute subs and the image showed far more nebulosity.


I'm VERY happy as to how this one turned out.  It is one of the deepest images that I've seen of this object.

Then, on 9/28/13, I went to an astronomy club meeting, and the weatherman called for clear skies, so I imaged the Helix Nebula (NGC7293) with an audience present.  This one came out very nice also.


This too has been in narrowband.  Hα mapped to red, and Oiii to Green and Blue.

Also imaged Jupiter on a couple of occasions when the sky cleared late.  this was the best one.....



I have yet to get the more interesting side, showing the Great Red Spot.

Oh, and on 10/1/13, I imaged NGC6946, the Fireworks Galaxy which came out pretty good using LRGB.

On 10/18/13 a penumbral lunar eclipse occured, of which I got a picture towards the tail end of the event.  Note the bottom right is slightly darker, and the moon has a yellowish tint.  I did no color enhancement, only a little sharpening in Photoshop.  I took this using the Canon T3 and 70-300mm zoom at 300mm, f/9.


OK, I think this brings us pretty much up to date.  I did do some imaging, but not a great amount, being this post covers about 2 months or so.  The weather hasnt been that great, a clear night here and there, and its been like that all summer.  I hope this winter, this trend changes.