Another M31…

Over the last couple of nights I’ve collected some frames of M31 using an Astronomik CLS filter. In total, the image below was made from a total of 34 x 5 min exposures at ISO800 through the Equinox ED80. I haven’t got the white balance sorted out yet, so I converted the final image to a greyscale image.

The North America Nebula – again!

The moon was up, and washing everything out somewhat, but having got my SCT somewhat close to collimated – good enough for guiding, at least – I thought I’d have a play around with NGC7000 again.
This is a combination of 13 x 2 min and 6 x 4 min exposures at ISO 800, taken through the Equinox ED80, captured and processed with Images Plus and Adobe Lightroom.

A bit more exposure would have helped, but I was quite pleased by how much detail I was able to tease out of it, nevertheless. Guiding worked flawlessly, possibly helped by the fact that I’d spent a bit of time improving my polar alignment.

Full Moon

The moon was a bit bright last night, and obliterated pretty much anything else of interest, so here’s a quick shot of the full moon.

20 x 1/200 second shots at ISO100, stacked in Images Plus, and wavelet processing applied with Registax 5.

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.


More Galaxies

As last night was such another beautiful clear night, I had another go pointing the camera at the Virgo/Coma border. This time I got set up to autoguide the Canon with its 200mm lens, but although the autoguiding worked, I couldn’t get long exposures working with a parallel cable, so was restricted to 30 second sub-exposures. The image below is a stack of 40 such exposures at ISO400. There was some appreciable light pollution coming from the south, which contributed to noise and banding on the image. My aim was also a little off… Nevertheless, I picked up three eleventh magnitude galaxies – from top left to bottom right, NGC4710, NGC4689 and NGC4659. The faintest stars visible on the image are fourteenth magnitude.

Next time, I’ll try and get the parallel port connection working so I can collect a few more photons.

A Glut Of Galaxies

I went out tonight and decided to have a go and see how many galaxies I could capture in the Virgo cluster in one wide field shot. Unfortunately, the clouds rolled in after a mere seven minutes worth of exposures!

Nevertheless, if you look closely enough it’s possible to identify 18 galaxies, including eight Messier objects, for sure. I’m going to have to spend a lot more time in this region over the next few weeks!

Canon EOS400D with 200m f/2.8L lens, ISO800, mounted directly on EQ6.

Lulin and the Beehive

I thought I’d have a go tonight at capturing Comet Lulin as it passed below the Beehive cluster (aka Praesepe or M44) in Cancer – this was despite a gibbous Moon being just 30 degrees or so away in neighbouring Gemini.

The picture below is a composite of 50 separate 30 second images taken at ISO400 using a Canon EOS 400D with a 200mm lens at f/2.8. The moon was so bright that I couldn’t do 30 seconds at ISO800 – the images was just completely washed out. It’s only a shame that I didn’t remember to take the frames in RAW mode – so I ended up with a load of jpgs 🙁

Flats and darks were applied, and subsequent processing performed using Images Plus. Images were stacked on the comet, producing the trails of the stars as the comet moved past.

How to remove the bright lights of Royston…

Well, we finally got a clear night on Sunday, but as I was half way through rebuilding my laptop, I was unable to do any real photography, so decided to take one or two wide-field images using just the camera, with 200mm lens, mounted on the EQ6. The reason for this is that although I have a very clear south south-eastern horizon, I do have to put up with the bright lights of Royston in the distance, and I wanted to see if a gradient removal algorithm I’ve been working on was any good.

Below on the left is a shot of the Southern Orion region. It’s a stack of 10 x 30sec exposures at f/2.8, ISO1600, and as you can see, it’s very badly affected by the lights in the distance. I’ve been playing about with some code written in Matlab to see if I could come up with anything that would be able to model the gradient satisfactorily, and remove it, and the result is shown below. on the right. Hey presto, it works!!

It’s not perfect, and still needs a bit more work, but it’ll be something to do on a rainy night!

More Moon Images

Having recently moved house, tonight was the first chance I’ve had for a few months to get outside and do some imaging, but of course, the brightness of the Moon was just washing out all the interesting deep sky stuff. So I had a go at the Moon, but the seeing was pretty bad, and some of the avi files I let Registax work its magic on were not of the best quality. Nevertheless, here are three of the better images.
All were taken using a TouCam through the 8″ LX200R. The image of Bettinus et al. also used a 2x Barlow.

Zucchius, Bettinus and Kircher