I managed to get out last night in a suitably dark sky for the first time in over two months. Fortunately, all the kit still seemed to be working! I didn’t try anything too difficult – just my annual shot of M27 (18 x 5 min) and a quick go at open cluster NGC6940 in Cygnus (7 x 5 min). Both through the 190MN with the Atik 460.




It wouldn’t be summer without trying a quick shot of the Dumbbell Nebula, M27, in Vulpecula. This is from 10 x 5min frames with the Atik 460ex through the MN190.


A Widefield H-alpha Dumbbell

Last night I was confronted by a sky of two halves. The east, where I wanted to do some imaging, seemed to be perpetually covered in cloud, but somehow the west (where the moon was!) remained clear. So I swung the mount round and pointed in the direction of Vulpecula. I had the 200mm f/2.8 lens attached to the Atik 314L+, and captured 9 x 5min exposures of M27 through a hydrogen alpha filter.

First light…

for an Atik 460ex OSC. I ‘ve tried LRGB imaging with the monochrome 314L+, but been generaly dissatisfied with the results; bloated star images through the blue filter, difficult to get good alignment of the different colour frames. So I’ve plumped for a one-shot colour camera. These images, taken last Friday (7 Sep) are my first attempts. The camera itself has worked very well, but I think I still have a lot to learn about theprocessing, particularly with regard to getting good colour saturation. All were taken through the MN190.

First up is M13, the great globular cluster in Hercules. This is a stack of 12 x 5min exposures.

Next is planetary nebula M27 in Vulpecula, also known as the Dumbbell nebula. This is comprised of 24 x 5 min exposures.

Then there was the Double Cluster, NGC 869 and NGC 884 in Perseus; a stack of 25 x 30sec frames.

Next up was NGC 891, an edge-on spiral galaxy in Andromeda; just 6 x 5min exposures.

And finally, the last quarter moon; 10 x 0.004s exposures:

A Narrowband… Dumbbell!

I’ve just acquired Baader OIII and SII filters to go with the 7nm Ha filter I already had, and grabbed a few minutes of clear sky last night to try them out. I know I’ve spent a bit of time on M27 recently, but as it was high in the sky, and nice and bright, I thought I’d give it a shot. The first image is one that was created using just 2 x 2min exposures with each filter, and then combining them using the Hubble palette: R=SII; G=Ha; B=OIII.

There’s virtually no SII response from M27, hence the blue-green colouration. Another common way of displaying narrow band images is to use Ha for the red channel, OIII for the blue channel, and an average of Ha and OIII for the green channel. This gave the following image:

This doesn’t, of course, show any more detail, but the colours are perhaps not quite as harsh. Not too bad given the very limited exposure time; I’m looking forward to spending long winter evenings with a full moon high in the sky taking images of faint nebulae!

More Dumbbell

I shouldn’t have really, because it’s such a common subject, but I couldn’t resist another go at M27. This is an RGB image through the ED-80, comprised of just 5 x 2min each of R, G and B frames, processed in ImagesPlus, with a couple of small diffraction spikes added using Noel Carboni’s Photoshop actions.

Not too shabby really, considering it’s just 10 minutes exposure for each colour 🙂

Two views of the Dumbbell

Last night’s target was M27, the Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula. This is a much photographed object, because it’s so big and bright, but this was the first time I’d had a go with the Atik. This image is taken from 10 x 2min luminance exposures through the CLS filter, and 10 x 1min each for RGB. It was taken through the LX200 without the focal reducer attached.

At the end of the session I decided to try a shot through the hydrogen alpha filter, and took a single 5min exposure. I used this as the luminance frame, along with the RGB frames from above, and the result is shown below, and gives a slightly different perspective on the structure of the nebula.

More Dumbbell!

I’ve added a few more frames to my Dumbbell, and this image is a stack of 41 x 5 min frames at ISO800 taken through the LX200R with Meade f/6.3 focal reducer. As ever, images were acquired and processed with Images Plus, although some post processing was carried out using a custom routine written in Matlab to reduce the effect of light pollution.

Who needs a telescope, anyway!

After a long break from the blog, during which I’ve got a permanent observatory put together, had lots of collimation woes with the SCT (still not resolved), and got married (!), I’ve finally got round to taking a few more pictures, now that the nights are getting a little bit darker. We’ve also had one or two clear ones!!At the moment, I have my Equinox 80mm refractor mounted on the EQ-6 side-by-side with my Canon. All the pictures below have been taken over the last few nights with either a 105mm or a 200mm lens, autoguided using the Lodestar through the telescope. It’s amazing what you can pick up with just a camera lens!

First up is the Dumbbell nebula, M27. This used the 105mm lens, and is a stack of 30 x 30 sec exposures at ISO 800.

Next comes M31, the Andromeda galaxy. This is a stack of 25 x 30 sec and 5 x 120 sec exposures, all at ISO800.

And finally, NGC7000, the North America Nebula. For this, I really pushed the boat out with a stack of 20 x 2 min and 5 x 5 min exposures. All those photons make a difference!

In all cases, the images were acquired and processed in ImagesPlus.