clear sky chart

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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Rosette Nebula

Well, the clouds finally broke after 2 weeks of no sunshine. Trouble is, it was quite windy, but I was able to finally get a decent image of the Rosette Nebula in Monoceros. This consists of only 7 frames at iso 800, and are 2 minute subs.

This is the best I have so far, out of about half dozen attempts. I shot 30 frames later but it was setting at that time, and this one actually shows much more detail.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Orion Nebula again

It was the first night without clouds in over 2 weeks, so I thought I'd try to get the Rosette Nebula.  Trouble is, it was windy...VERY windy.  Nothing came out well enough to post because of the blur caused by the wind.  After failed attempts to get enough stackable images, I turned to the Orion nebula.  I added a home made filter to add decorative diffraction spikes to the stars.

The filter was made from a UV filter and I added 2 black pieces of thread and glued them to the edges of the filter such that they made an X shape in front of the filter.  I screwed it on the 300mm lens, and took this image.

I actually got some detail on the nebula, but the Running Man is pretty much useless.  The haze around the brighter stars is the wind blur.

Monday, January 16, 2012

NGC1499, The California Nebula

The problem with eastern Ohio this time of year are the clouds.  All of the weather information says its clear out...but they didnt take into account I was going to photograph the sky.  After taking about 10 frames of the California nebula, it decided to cloud up.

Believe it or not, even with so few frames, I was able to enhance this image enough to see the nebula.  I couldnt believe how much I was able to enhance it.

This image was taken using the 300mm lens piggybacked to the 4 1/2 reflector on a low quality GEM.  I used 2 minute frames, and was able to capture 10 useable frames between the clouds.  I used an iso of 1600.

One thing that is interesting - When I was photographing, I couldnt tell if I had the correct star.  I could not see the nebula in the individual frames.  When I stacked the images in Deep Sky Stacker, then enhanced the contrast slightly in the basic processor in DSS, I was able to start to see it.  The bulk of the enhancement was done in Photoshop.  I used Lab Color and the curves to bring out the color.  Considering what I was able to get, I think this one came out quite well.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Pleiades, M45

Last night (1/10) I took the scope and camera to a reasonably dark location under clear, transparent skies and did some photography.  The Pleiades were almost directly overhead, well away from the city lights.  Because the Pleiades is so bright, and the sky was so clear and dark, I ran the camera at 1 minute exposures, but experimented with iso 1600.  I must say, I am quite pleased with the results.  Again, I used the camera lens at 300mm.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reprocessed Orion Nebula

I was playing with photoshop most of the day today, and I managed to reprocess the Orion Nebula today.  This is the new image, which I like better than the one I posted a couple days ago...

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this.  I used some Gaussian blur to get rid of some noise on the dim edges of the nebula, and the HDR functions in photoshop does some nice work on the colors.  I do notice some chromatic aberration occurring with this low end camera lens.

I also photographed the area around Alintak, and was able to capture the Flame Nebula, and I did capture the horsehead.  Neither came out well, but I do know now that its possible with the unmodified camera.  Trouble is, processing that image is proving to be rather difficult, being I didnt get enough good frames to make them bright enough, so theyre quite noisy.  I only was able to use 6 - 90 second frames, as it was getting breezy out, and many of the frames I had taken were blurry.

Actually, this didnt come out too bad, considering I used only 6 frames.  if you look closely, you can see a hint of the Horsehead below the bright star.  The red nebulosity is beginning to show up, but it is quite dim.  Remember also, this was taken durring a gibbous moon.  There isnt any detail whatsoever in the horsehead, as the area is about 50% noise.  Longer imaging time should produce an image.  This is a smaller nebula than I expected also, so I may not be able to get a good image of this until I figure out how I'm going to achieve focus with the Canon on the telescope.  I will probably have to cut the tube and move the mirror forward.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Andromeda Galaxy

Well, after my previously under exposed image of Andromeda, I decided that under transparent skies, I would have a better chance of doing a better job with the Andromeda Galaxy than the other night.

I was right.  Although the light of the moon messed up the right side of this image, I still think it came out pretty decent....
This is a stack of 22 frames, with a little bit of HDR toning done to the finished stack.

There is a lot more detail tonight, even though the bright moon faded the right side of this image somewhat.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

M42 The Orion Nebula

The moon was shining bright, so I wasnt able to correct my Andromeda Galaxy image I did yesterday.  I did put new batteries in my clock drive, and instead of imaging Andromeda, I opted for M42 instead, being it is brighter, and farther away from the moon.  Even though we had a nice high bright moon, I was able to capture this:

This image consists of 14 good frames stacked in Deep Sky Stacker.    Frames were taken at iso 800, with 1.5 minute exposures using the Canon Rebel T3 with the 300mm lens.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First Attempt at a Deep Sky Object - M31

My first attempt at a deep sky object, and it was filled with problems.  For one thing, the batteries running my clock drive were getting weak, and it began slowing down as I progressed.  What started with 20 frames ended up being only 3.  Deep sky stacker would only stack 3 out of 5 frames that I picked out as being "decent".  There was too much blur in the stars apparently.  The light frames were taken using an iso of 800, and exposures were 90 seconds in length.

This image was taken with a Canon Rebel T3 using a 300mm telephoto lens.  I took a series of light frames (5) after I found vignetting in the image.  I took no darks.

The clock drive on my dobsonian had died last night, so I mounted the camera piggyback on my refractor, as it's clock drive is working (if it has fresh batteries installed).  The mount is unguided, but I figured with the relatively low magnification of a 300mm lens, the unguided mount should be acceptable.

There is a dark dust lane clearly visible and M110 is also visible, as well as M32, but its difficult to tell if M32 is really a companion in this image.  I really wish I was able to take the 20 useable frames like I wanted.  However, I am happy with this image as my very first deep sky object.  It gives me something to improve upon.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Leo & Saturn

First light with the Canon Rebel T3.  Ordered a T ring and adapter, but until it arrives, I cant get anything close up, so I photographed the constellation Leo this morning.  Was cloudy all night, and it appeared to somewhat clear up between 3 and 4AM local (EST).  These images were shot between 0800 and 1000 UTC.  The first image was of Leo, which i used 10 frames each 90 seconds in duration, and stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, which by the way, does a really nice job stacking these images.  I used the camera control software that came with the camera to snap the frames.

It appears this camera is going to produce some interesting results.  The dimmest stars are about 11.5 magnitude.  I used the 50mm stock camera lens stopped down to f/6.5 at iso 1600.    The camera was riding piggyback on the dobsonian, which was not perfectly polar aligned, hence the slight elongation of the fainter stars (which you may not notice much in this image)

The next image was taken using the above image.  On a whim, I wanted to see if I could see the "Leo Trio" of galaxies.  The quality is not great.  Keep in mind, I used the 50mm lens, so there wasnt much magnification.  I cropped the area in photoshop, then resized what was left about 3X.  I did a little contrast enhancement, and also got rid of some of the background noise, and was able to discern 3 fuzzies in the image which I have labelled..

 They are quite small, but as far as I can tell, they are indeed the 3 galaxies.

I finished up the evening taking a 2200 frame webcam shot of Saturn at 32 degrees to the South.  The rings are definitely tilted more favorably this year than last, but the planet appears lower in the sky this year.  I used the dob and 2X barlow (f/l 2400mm).  There appears to be a wide, dark band in the northern hemisphere.  The Cassini division is pretty well resolved.

This image consists of about 2200 useable frames.  Camera was the Quickcam Pro 4000 webcam.

This was an image I had taken while I was setting up, which consists of about 600 frames.  Both show the Cassini division as well as the dark northern hemisphere.

Tonights conditions:  Seeing appeared about average to good, Transparency was not so good, as I was watching the histogram changing as I was photographing Saturn.  I did not use  the light meter while photographing Leo.  I let the bright stars saturate.