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



More Cygnus

As we had another couple of hours of clear skies last night, I decided to capture dome more of the Cygnus region. The image below has combined the 15 exposures from Wednesday evening with another 20 from last night, and appears to have brought out a bit more detail in the areas of faint nebulosity, as expected. Total exposure time for this image is now 70 min at f2.8, ISO400.

The Glories of the Milky Way

Well, after a long summer break, when it was never really dark enough to do any sort of long exposure work, I finally ventured out last night, before the clouds rolled in, to have a go at the Milky Way in Cygnus.

The image shows the North America nebula, NGC 7000 on the left, with the Pelican nebula, IC 5070 close by. Also in the image, in the lower right, is the Butterfly nebula, IC 1318. The bright star just above centre is, of course, Deneb.

The image is a stack of 15 x 2min exposures taken on an a Canon EOS400D with a Sigma 105mm f/2.8 lens at f/2.8, ISO400. The camera was guided using PhD Guiding by the Lodestar through the Equinox ED80. Images were acquired and processed using ImagesPlus 3.0, with final tweaking done in Adobe Lightroom.

M13 in Hercules

At last, a half-decent image!! This is a stack of 19 x 2 minute exposures at ISO800 through the Meade LX200R. Autoguiding was done using the Lodestar through the ED80. Images were acquired and processed in Images Plus.

Just for once, the autoguiding worked flawlessly, and the end result shows it was worth the effort. Admittedly it’s a relatively easy target, but it’s nice to get something worthwhile for a change!

Leo Triplet

Well, I’m still struggling a bit with getting autoguiding working. It was behaving itself intermittently last night while I was trying to image the Leo Triplet of M66 (lower left), M65 (lower right) and NGC3628 (top). Unfortunately, the camera was sest to take low-res jpgs, instead of raw , so the picture isn’t great 🙁 15 x 2min exposures @ ISO800 through the ED80.

Young moon

As I was getting set up tonight, I noticed a very thin crescent moon lurking low down in the west, and managed to grab this image of it. The moon was about 32 hours old at this point. Canon 400D on ED80.

Autoguiding’s working!

Well, at long last I think I’m finally getting the hang of this autoguiding lark! The picture below is of M44, the Beehive cluster. It’s a stack of 16 x 2min exposures taken with a Canon EOS400D at ISO800 through a 8″ Meade LX200R witha a Meade f/6.3 focal reducer; autoguiding was done using a Starlight Xpress Lodestar guider through an Equinox ED80 refractor. Image acquisition and processing was performed using Images Plus 3.0.
M44 isn’t a particularly interesting subject, but it’s big and it’s bright – good for practising on! While I type this, the same set up is imaging globular cluster M3 in Canes Venatici. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Well, while M3 was being captured, the optics on both scopes started to dew up. I ended up with 10 x 2min images which were processed to give this image. It’s not as sharp as I’d like – more work on focusing required – but at least the guiding worked 🙂


Well, after a long break where both the weather and life got in the way of doing much astronomy, I got chance to go outside and have a play last night. This time of course, the Moon got in the way!!! Nevertheless, I took this shot of Copernicus (LX200R, ToUcam , Registax).

I also had a go at setting up and using the Starlight Xpress Lodestar autoguider that I recently bought. It’s certainly much more sensitive than the ToUcam for this purpose, but I still didn’t get the system tracking as I would have liked. More experimentation needed!

M35 and Autoguiding

Although we’ve had a few clear nights recently, I haven’t posted any pictures. That’s because I’ve been try to get autoguiding working properly on my system, but I’ve had a lot of problems! The first time I tried a couple of weeks back on M42 (see below) it worked fine, but never since. I won’t go into it all here, but after thinking it was working tonight, I set it going to image open cluster M35 in Gemini. Of course, as soon as I set it going, the guide camera lost the guide star! I ended up with this, which doesn’t look to bad when shrunk down, but the close up shows the degree of trailing I was getting 🙁

The faint smudge visible below and to the right of M35 is another open cluster, NGC 2158.

Equinox ED80, stack of 20 x 30s exposures, ISO800, Canon EOS 400D