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.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Time Lapse video of comet 168P/Hergenrother

A few days ago, I imaged 168P/Hergenrother and today I created a time lapse video using the frames I had stacked to produce the image I created a still with.  Deep Sky Stacker for some reason didnt like the comet too much, as it still tried to leep the stars round.  I therefore attempted a time lapse video using the 21 frames I had taken.

It really wasnt as difficult as I thought.  I'll explain what I did to create the video.

First, I opened the frames in Deep Sky Stacker.  I used no darks or flats, although one could use calibration frames.  I just chose not to use any.  There is a setting in DSS to "Create a registered / calibrated file for each light frame.  Its located in Settings > Stacking Parameters > Intermediate Files.
I let DSS stack, and it added a tiff of each light frame in the source folder.  When DSS was done, i discarded the stacked image and closed DSS.

I then opened photoshop and loaded the first frame in it.  Created a new action.  I ran some simple processing - curves and levels, some sharpening - nothing too complex, cropped, and finished by saving as a jpg.  The cropping works because the frames are all aligned.

I then ran a batch process on all of the frames using the action I created.  It created a numbered sequence of jpg's, all cropped and nicely enhanced.

I moved all the finished jpg's to a different folder.  Then I loaded the first jpg in Virtual Dub. It made a video out of all the files in the folder.  I copied the frames several times back to back, appending to the original video, so the sequence repeats 6 times in this video.  Set the frame rate for 10FPS, so it will run slow enough to see it move, but not so slow for it to chop.

After it finished, I uploaded the video to youtube and ended up with this:

Now you know how to create an aligned video of a small celestial object.  This method should work for small objects, such as a distant comet, the outer planets, or possibly an asteroid as it moves thru space among the stars.  The longer the imaging session, the farther the object will move.  Being this video was experimental, the number and duration of the imaging was really too short to do a project such as this.  I didnt even think of doing a video until someone from my local club did the same thing with a 3 hour duration.  Theirs came out really cool, so I thought I would see if I could figure out how to do it, and I'm pleased with the results.  I want to do more of these using images of other objects.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Recent Images

We've had a few clear nights in the past couple of weeks and when conditions are good, I'm outside with the telescope and cameras.  I'm going to share a few here, as my facebook friends all seem to like what I've taken.

This image of Jupiter was taken on October 1 at 0926Z.  Seeing appeared to be pretty decent, but a little bit of coma was detected still during a star test around the time this was taken.    I had just had the optics adjusted with a laser collimator, but I have yet to fine tune on a star before this was taken.  I have since tuned out the remaining coma, but I have not has the chance to image Jupiter again after this was taken.

One week later, on 10/8, I imaged the Iris Nebula.  It seems that everytime I've imaged this object in the past, its always been done during a bright moon.  This time I imaged it on a moonless night.  It seems there is a bit more nebulosity than I've captured previously.

After imaging the Iris, I thought I'd take a crack at Andromeda.  I did not spend a lot of time on this, but it seemed to come out pretty decent.

 On 10/9 I imaged 2 emission nebulae.  The first is the Wizard Nebula, NGC 7380 in Cepheus.  NGC 7380 is actually an open cluster, but it is surrounded by nebulosity.
This is a very dim object.  I am surprised to have gotten anything at all from my light polluted sky.  I used 3 minute exposures at iso 1600 with the Digital Rebel on this one.

Just after imaging the Wizard, I thought I'd try the Pacman Nebula in Cassiopeia.  This image fared a bit better.
Although not as deep as I probably could have gotten with 3 minute shutter, I switched back to 2 minutes after imaging the Wizard.  I just wasnt sure what kind of quality I was getting with the 3 minute exposures.  I will have to attempt 3 minute exposures on this one sometime.

Then on 10/11, at 5AM I imaged the Horsehead again.  I wanted to see the difference between what I could get at home versus what I got from Cherry Springs.  I was surprised actually when I processed this one, as there really wasnt that much difference.  I just wonder how much better my Cherry Springs image would have been had my mount been working properly.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Triangulum Galaxy (Messier 33)

Among some of the images that I took from Cherry Springs was an under exposed image of M33.  There were a number of images I wasnt happy with, but after working on the image some, and using calibration frames that I made after the fact, I was able to produce this image of M33.

I spent several hours processing this image, and I think it paid off.  Most of the frames (30 or so) were only 1 minute frames.  The only things I had going in my favor is that for a galaxy, this one is on the bright side, and I had the dark skies at Cherry Springs.