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.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rosette Nebula (Caldwell 49)

After imaging Jupiter on 11/21, I waited until around midnight to start imaging the Rosette.  This is one object that I imaged back in January when I first got my T3.  I didnt have the C6 yet, nor did I have the 300D.  This time, I imaged it with a modified camera at f/5.  The autoguider was a little unstable, and that might have been because my polar alignment might not have been perfect.  I had plenty of stars in the field.  It tracked good enough, however to do a set of 5 minute exposures at iso-800.

One thing that I've not done yet is post a single frame as taken from the camera.  This picture was converted to jpg from the raw.  I stacked 20 frames that look identical to this one to create the finished image.  I figured it would be interesting to see what a single unprocessed frame looked like in comparison to the finished product.

Here is the raw frame.

Can you see the Rosette in this image?  Its there, but it is really faint.  This is what I had to work with starting out.

Now, after stacking 20 frames, using a set of flats, darks and bias frames, and some heavy duty histogram stretching and some color balancing, this is what I finally ended up with.

Pretty crazy, huh.  As you can see, there is very little noise in this image, even in the dim areas.  There was a small amount of noise in the stack, but the software can get rid of small amounts of noise.  A single frame wouldnt have been near this detailed and smooth.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Worked on the collimation again, I was not happy with my planetary images.  I found the secondary inward too far, which I remedied.  Star testing using a 9mm eyepiece with a 3X barlow showed near perfect alignment, so I ran a couple of avi's of Jupiter.  These are a few of what I got.

 Notice on the last image, the moon, Ganymede, and the dark area going from the top right, down to about the center of the moon.  Yes, its pretty small, but it is definitely there.  This is the first time I've ever had the resolution to capture detail on one of the moons.

Equipment used:  C6NGT (6", f/5), cascaded, Celestron 2X barlow, then a Meade 3X barlow feeding into the QC Pro 4000.
Stacked in Registax, wavelet sharpened, increased color saturation, adjusted brightness and contrast.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Orion Awesome Autoguider First Light

Received my Orion Awesome Autoguider a week ago, but last night was the first clear night to try it out.  I must say, the name lives up to its performance.  Although the mini guider probably would have been adequate for my small setup, for the small amount more money, I figured I would just get the full size scope, in case I would ever upgrade the imaging scope.

My first image taken using the guide scope was of M33.  The guider was able to lock on some pretty dim stars, I believe to be dimmer than 7th magnitude.I had 3 to pick from in the field of the guide scope.  I did not have to re-aim the guidescope whatsoever, on 4 different objects. 

This is an image of the complete setup in operation.  As you can see, the wiring setup has doubled, but the guidescope is permanently connected to the main scope, so the scope assembly is torn down and set up as one piece.  The only additional steps I have to do is hook up the usb to the camera and the cable going to the guide port on the mount.

Now for a couple images taken with the guidescope and 5 minute exposures.  The first thing I learned after the imaging session was over was that 5 minutes at iso 1600 was too much for the brightness of my sky.  The next set of images that I take will be at iso 800, but of the same duration, hopefully that will bring the background brightness down enough for the stacker to handle the images better.  Using some careful processing, and by also using a bicubic stacking method in deep sky stacker, I was able to generate this quite acceptable version of M33.

I'm not sure if this is my best yet image of this object, but it's got to be close.  I was able to resolve the major emission nebulosity in the galaxy.  This image consists of 19 frames.

The next object I chose to photograph was M77 in Cetus.  This is a composite of only 4 frames.

M77 is in the center. the galaxy at the top is NGC 1055.  NGC 1072 is also in the frame, but it is too small to resolve.  M77 is 7 arc seconds across.  M77 has a really bright core, but if you look closely there is darker nebulosity around the core.  The stars near this object are dim, and are tiny pinpoints which is showing that the guiding worked very nicely.

The next object I imaged was the Pacman Nebula, but I only shot 3 frames.  It does not measure up to the last Pacman I took, but it is an acceptable image.

I believe if I had taken 10 - 15 frames of this, it would have been a VERY good image.

The final image I took was of the Crab Nebula, M1.  This would have been a good image, but somehow, the camera focus got disturbed.  I must have bumped the focuser or something like that.  I was able to enhance it and I got some detail, but it could have been better.

The 2 bright stars in this image, especially the red one above and to the left has a tiny dark hole in the center, indicating the focus was out a bit.  This object might have been better had that star had been a pinpoint.

All of these images were shot using 5 minute subs.  I believe this guider will let me get much more detailed images, and will really shine the next time I get to darker sites.