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.

Monday, February 27, 2012

C6-NGT First Light

The sky finally cleared, it was a warmer evening than its been, and my new C6-NGT was just waiting to get outside to focus some photons on the Canon Rebel T3's sensor.  I would have attempted to autoguide, but I left my USB to serial dongle at work, so I had to run unguided for these images.  The first image I captured was that of the Horsehead and Flame nebula.  I wanted to image subjects that I've imaged before with the camera lens.

Theres a substantial amount of noise as I took these from my backyard, where the light pollution is bad enough to show up.   This scope is fast - these images are only 1 min subs.  Both are running about 20 frames.

The second object I photographed was M42, and it came out incredible.

I hope you agree with me.  These are by far the best I've taken so far.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

M42, Orion Nebula

A rare, reasonably clear night occurred last night which I decided to take advantage of.  I set up at my dark sky site and took a few pictures.  I also photographed through the telescope (my 70mm f/10 Meade refractor), which I have never done before.  Granted, the exposures were short, but M42 is bright.  I shot about 20 or so 15 second exposures and produced this image:

Not great detail, but if you look closely, I believe I successfully resolved the trapezium in this image, which I believe is a first for me.  Whats up with the funky little tail on the bright star at the bottom of the frame.

I have placed the raws of the images on my webserver, at

I also shot the old fashioned way, using the 300mm zoom camera lens, which seems to have more detail in the nebulocity than the one above.  I used about 200mm of focal length, also about 20 raw frames, each 30 seconds in exposure, f/8.  I also drizzled 3X in Deep Sky Stacker.

The one artifact I always seem to get with this object while using the camera lens is the dark halos around the stars.  I havent figured out how to get rid of it yet.  Also, its funny how the colors are so different between these 2 images.  I used the same camera settings and I did not alter the colors, except to enhance the colors that the camera picked up.  I did no weird color balance or no changing of colors.

I have a 6" Newt and a CG5 mount on order, and should be here this coming Tuesday (Feb. 21).  I will be looking forward to using it to photograph some DSO's.

I have also been learning new processing techniques.  There is an excellent yahoo group out there that teaches astro processing in Photoshop.
It appears to be a new group, and seems to be growing quickly.  These guys will help you get those textbook quality photos, and I hope that you begin seeing improvements in my work.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

California Nebula Under Relatively Dark Skies

I went and visited the site where I had taken the Pleiades which I wrote up in an earlier post on Feb 9, except this time I imaged NGC1499 (The California Nebula).  I had imaged this nebula before from home on a couple of occasions.  What a difference it makes when photographing this stuff from a clear sky!  I took a set of 18- 2 minute subs at iso 800 and tried a couple of different processing techniques to try to get the most detail and produce as pleasing an image as I could.

These are, by far the best I've been able to take so far.  I only wish I had more time to take more frames before the clouds started rolling in.

This is the first image.  This was shot using the Canon T3 using about 200mm of a 300mm zoom lens.  I had tried a couple of different ways of processing this image.  I'm having about as much trouble processing as I am acquiring the images.

Here I brightened the image a little.  I'm not certain what is causing the haze in the  upper part of the image.  I'm kind of leaning towards lens vignetting.  These were cropped, and the nebula was in the lower 1/3 of the frames.  The site was not totally dark, but much darker than my home location.

This one I think is my favorite image.  I did some work on the brighter stars (perhaps too much), but I like the contrast on this one the best.

I need to do some reading on post processing.  I'm also thinking that once I'm able to shoot through a telescope (which will be very soon), I'll get far better images.

Monday, February 6, 2012

M33 - The Triangulum Galaxy

For my next trick...  on 2/5, I photographed the Triangulum galaxy under an almost full moon.  Transparency was quite good, as it didnt seem that the moon affected the outcome of the following images that much.  I was able to manage just under 40 frames, each 2 minutes in length, which is about the limit on my clock drive and mount.

Trouble I'm having is in processing.  I have 3 images which were processed slightly differently, and each has their own merits.  I'm really uncertain which I like the best.

This is the first processed image.  Uncropped and small.

This was done next.  Cropped and enhanced the contrast over the first one.

This one I re-stacked.  This one appears to show more detail, but is blurrier when its blown up to actual size.
I'll let you decide on which you like best.
All images produced from the same stack.  I used a 300 mm camera lens, 3X drizzle upon stacking.  Stacked 36 frames on the 3rd image, 22 frames on #1 & 2.  All frames 2 minutes each for 1 hour, 12 minutes total exposure.  I also used 10 darks.  ISO 800, f/8.

This galaxy is about the same distance from the Milky Way as the Andromeda Galaxy, however, the galaxy is about 1/3 the size.