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Thursday, December 27, 2012

M42 on Orion's Facebook page

Another Flickr member informed me that my M42 image was chosen as one of the 4 "nice astophotos from their customers for the end of 2012" on Facebook.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pacman Reprocess

NGC 281 Pacman Reprocess & HST palette
 Reprocessed the Pacman using new Ha and colors from DSLR narrowband version to create the HST palette.
Images taken Nov 17,2012, Dec 12,2012 & Dec 23,2012

Camera QHY9M &w/ Starlight Express Filterwheel, LRGB & NB Baader filters
Telescope: Orion ED102CF & Sirius Goto Mount
Ha-2 x1200 sec 1x1 bin
L-5x1200 sec 1x1 bin
R- 3x1200 sec 1x1 bin
G-3x1200 sec 1x1 bin
B- 3x1200 sec 1x1 bin
Acquired with Nebulosity 2. Dark frames subtracted and DDP applied to each channel
Post-Processed in Photoshop CS6

Previous attempts seen at last blog entry:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pacman Nebula.....1 year progression

Not quite 1 year ago I took my first picture of NGC 281 The Pacman Nebula in the constellation of Cassiopeia. This was taken with my Canon T3i & Orion ST-80T refractor. I used 12 stacked frames, 10 at 2 minutes and 2 at 6 minutes:
Taken on January 18,2012

Shortly after I bought a Canon T3 and modified it myself by removing the stock IR filter. I took this with the modified T3 and  the same Orion ST-80T. 16 stacked frames, 11 at 2 minutes, 5 at 5 minutes.

                                                        Taken February 3,2012

Late in the summer I purchased 3 Astronomik clip-in filters(Hydrogen Alpha,Oxygen III and Sulfur II) and attempted narrowband imaging using both of my Canon cameras and 2 telescopes.
Orion ST-80T & modified Canon T3 for Ha & SII
Orion ED102CF & Canon T3i for OIII
R=SII 6x600 ISO800
G=Ha 6x600 ISO800
B=OIII 7x600 ISO800
3h 10m
Taken September 7,2012
It was my first attempt at narrowband imaging and I used the Hubble Telescope palette in processing. I found the Canon DSLR produced alot of noise and started debating on whether or not to get a CCD camera.

After considering everything, I decided to get a QHY9M CCD camera. This was one of my first attempts with the new CCD.

Camera QHY9M
Telescope: Orion ED102CF
L-5x1200 sec 1x1 bin
R- 3x1200 sec 1x1 bin
G-3x1200 sec 1x1 bin
B- 3x1200 sec 1x1 bin
Images taken Nov 17,2012 & Dec 12,2012

Although I really like the Hubble palette, I don't have the correct filters to image narrowband with my CCD. So in photoshop, I used the colors from the previous DSLR version(the Canon cameras) to create this "hybrid"
It's basically a stack of the DSLR narrowband and current image. I used the blending mode of "colors" in the layers tab after aligning and scaling the DSLR image to the current image.
Hopefully soon, weather permitting I can re-image the Pacman in narrowband with my CCD

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Orion's Nebulas

Brushed the dust off of my Canon T3 and used a 75-300mm lens to make this project. 4-10 minute subs with and without the Astronomik Ha clip-in filter makes up the background. Overlayed 3 of my past images M78,M42 and NGC2024. I actually imaged the background for this while finishing up gathering subs for my M78 image. That was the one and only clear night in weeks.

This image contains part of  the Constellation of Orion. On the right the long red nebulosity is called Barnard's Loop. At the top the blue nebulosity is Messier 78, a reflection nebula. The Horsehead Nebula and Flaming Tree Nebula can be see by the 1st "belt" star Alnitak. The 3 belt stars are nearly midway down running up towards the right. Below the Horsehead can be seen the Running Man Nebula and the Orion Nebula



NGC 2024 The Horsehead Nebula

The Running Man and Orion Nebulas

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dec 8,2012 works in progress

It's been cloudy for weeks.My handbox for the ED102CF is in for repair and I haven't received my new filterwheel yet. Also ordered a Williams Optics Flat4 focal reducer. In the meantime decided to work on several projects I had going even though I haven't collected enough data yet:


Images taken Nov 10,2012
Camera QHY9M
Telescope: Orion ED102CF
R- 3x900 sec 2x2 bin
G-1x900 sec 2x2 bin
B- 5x900 sec 2x2 bin
Acquired with Nebulosity 2. Dark frames subtracted and DDP applied to each channel
Post-Processed in Photoshop CS6. Used the "channels" mode to enhance the green & red channels. The image needs alot more data....hopefully soon.

                              NGC 281 The Pacman Nebula
Camera QHY9M
Telescope: Orion ED102CF
R-3x20 minute sub 1x1 bin
G-1x20 minute sub 1x1 bin
B- used green

Acquired with Nebulosity 2. Dark frames subtracted and DDP applied to each channel
Post-Processed in Photoshop CS6.

NGC 2264 The Cone Nebula
Camera QHY9M
Telescope: Orion ED102CF

This is a single 20 minute Luminance subframe. Had a focuser issue as the weight of the CCD camera caused the focuser to move.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Astrophotography M42

Decided to start a blog about Astrophotography per several requests from members of Astronomy I am by no means even close to an expert and I have tons to learn. I am just flattered by the request and thought I could help some others,

I started Astrophotography August 2011 with my 8" SCT and brand new Canon T3i DSLR.  I had never even used a DSLR camera before....alot to learn. My goal was astrophotography.

I had dabbled with astrophotography with a Pentax 35mm film camera when I purchased my 8" Meade LX-50 SCT in the mid-90's. This is one of my first images of M42 with the SCT and 35mm
A roll of film would yield 20-24 pictures and probably only 1 or 2 were worth keeping. I would manually guide on a dim star using an "off-axis guider". It's a T-shapped device which picks off part of the image the telescope captures. A special illuminated eyepiece with crosshairs was inserted, a guide star found and centered. The trick was to keep the star in the crosshairs using the telescope's handbox controller. An image as above would require me to stare into this eyepiece for 20 or more minutes. Boy has technology changed this.

Since last August I've imaged M42 more than any other deep sky object.
Apparently I'm obsessed with M42, this is my 12th version. It's only the 2nd with the new mono CCD however ;) .

Image taken with QHY9M & Orion ED102CF refractor 10/21/2012,10/22/2012, 11/10/2012 & 11/18/2012

LIGHTS:Multiple images were taken through each filter and saved in the FITS or RAW format. These are called "lights" . More on RAW and FITS formats below.
DARKS:"Darks" are created with the shutter closed and telescope dust cap on. Each image matches the exposure times,settings and temperature of the "lights".These are designed to subtract noise found in almost every camera, the white specks seen on the black background once they are taken. This is "thermal noise" generated by the heat of the sensor. That is why it is importaqnt to have the temperature match. Noise varies as the temperature does.  The "darks" are then stacked directly on each other to average out the noise,creating a "Masterdark". The masterdark is then subtracted from each light. This is called pre-processing.

                                         A.  20 minute "FIT" light frame
                                          B.  "Masterdark" 3 stacked frames 20 minutes each
the white "speckles" are sensor noise, usually a product of  heat, the longer the exposure more heat is generated. 20 minute subs demonstrate this well. I might mention these exposures were taken with my cooled mono CCD camera.(-30 degrees C) Imagine what a 20 minute sub from an uncooled camera on a hot summer night might look like.

                                          C. "pre-processed" light frame    (C=A-B)
                                          Sensor noise has been virtually removed.

To be honest, when I first started astrophotography I did not use darks. They work best when(light) images are saved in RAW or FITS, and I had been saving the images in a .JPG format. FITS and RAW are formats with which the camera saves an image. I don't really know technically the differences, I just look at the formats as containers to transport images, with RAW and FIT being the luxury models. Each camera is different and many software programs have utilities to convert a cameras images to FITS or RAW.

These are single preprocessed 20 minute "light" frames taken through each filter of the mono CCD
A "masterdark" consisting of 7x20 minute darks was subtracted from each:

                                                         Luminance Clear (1x1200 seconds)
                                                                 Red (1x1200 seconds)
                                                                Green(1x1200 seconds)
                                                                  Blue(1x1200 seconds)

Multiple images were taken with each filter preprocessed(darks subtracted) then stacked using Nebulosity2 software. 4 "stacks" were created.(LRGB) 2 stars are selected from each image so the software knows how to align rotate and scale each image for the stack. Once the stack is complete it is saved as a .bmp. Next Nebulosity's DDP is used. Below is an example of the "blue" stack (using 4 aligned,rotated and stacked 1200 second images) before processing with DDP
                                                               Blue (4x1200)
Nebulosity's DDP is used. Although I never have tried this before, Photoshop's or GIMP's "curves" can be used to "stretch" the image as DDP has done here
Once I use DDP on all 4 stacks, I import them into Photoshop as "layers" Each stack is then colorized to match the filter they were aquired through
At this point I tweek each layer, perhaps using curves to enhance a layer,sharpen a layer, remove noise,etc.etc.
Each colorized layer is then combined using the"screen" or "lighten" tabs defining the layer. GIMP and Photoshop are similar. I'll decribe more in detail some steps I used to correct the core area of M42 and combining the colorized layers next time

Totals 8 hours

L- 7x10min 4x20min
R-3x10min 4x20min
G-3x10min 4x20min
B-3x10min 4x20min
(5x2 seconds for the core area)

L,R,G &B Images acquired,aligned and stacked with Nebulosity V2.0
Guiding with Orion 50mm mini guider,SSAG and Phd
Combined & post processed with PS6 and StarTools

Reprocessed on 11/27/2012:

Reprocessed 12/1/2012
Used RGB subframes before DDP processing as a seperate layer in an effort to clean up some of the relections caused by the filters

M42 APOD Astrobin on Facebook

My image of M42 was selected as APOD by Astrobin on Facebook. Another member of Astrobin informed me. It was a complete suprise!
I was really hoping to start re-imaging M42 by now, my new filterwheel has not arrived yet. To make matters worse my handbox for my mount no longer works. My polar alignment has been poor and focusing has been an issue. I really want to resolve these issues and have another go a M42.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Astrophotos selected!

On 10/31/2012  two of my images won the's 3rd quarter competition:

I've entered since last August, never won before and I was shocked to win twice.
The images can be seen below:

Waxing Gibbous Mosaic 7/29/12

 mosaic 11 frames
Used ED 102mm CF & 25mm eyepiece coupled afocally to Canon T3i& 18-55mm lens (@18mm)
Used this configuration in order to use Canon polarizer filter
Shot 11 30-45 second movies used @ 300 of @ 1400 frames per "movie" stacked with Registax. Processed with StarTools and GIMP2


M 08 The Lagoon Nebula in HST palette/DSLR narrowband

R=Ha 5x300 5x600 3x900 iso 800 Canon T3(modified) with Astronomik Ha clip-in filter
B=OIII 4x600 iso 800 Canon T3i with Astronomik OIII clip-in filter
G=SII 5x600 iso 800 Canon T3(modified) with Astronomik SII clip-in filter
Orion ED102T CF Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescope. OIII
Orion ST-80T "guide scope"-Ha & SII
Orion Sirius German-equatorial Computerized Goto Mount
Images aquired using APT
Guided with Starshoot Autoguider and 50mm guide scope
Budget software processing:(I should just get photoshop!)
Aquired with APT
Pre-process and demosaic with Nebulosity
Scaling and stretch using FITS Liberator
Reduced noise and converted to BMP using
Aligned and scaled manually with GIMP
RGB combine with StarTools
Post-process with StarTools, GIMP & Windows Live Photo