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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weeks of Cloudy Skies... the Blog

Since Thanksgiving I've had 13 nights which were at least partly clear. That's roughly 1 clear night a week. Factor in a full moon & nagging equipment failures (user error) the imaging nights have been slim. I managed to put together my Orion Mosaic, this is the latest version:


24 frame mosaic consisting of 3-20 minute frames and 3-10 minute frames(bin 2x2) of Hydrogen- Alpha(Ha) per frame for a total of 19 hours Ha. Images were taken over the course of 7 nights Jan 7,8,18,19,20 & Feb 10,12 2013

 27 hours 33 minutes of images
 
Along with the mosaic, I started imaging M65,M66 & NGC 3623 the Leo Triplet & Thor's Helmet.  Cloudy nights cause these 3 images to remain incomplete.
 
CLOUDY NIGHT PROJECTS

I've taken the 24 frame mosaic and blended it with some older DSLR widefield images, to see what would result:



The DSLR background is from a modified Canon T3 with and without a hydrogen-alpha clip-in filter, for 80 minutes of exposures. I just purchased a lens adapter for my QHY9M and can't wait to try some widefield CCD images.
 
I revisited my older website which contains DSLR images and created a few new pages. One of which is a new Messier album page. I managed to image all 110 Messiers for a contest on Astronomy Forum.net. Some of these I plan to redo, they were done in haste. The shortcut can been seen under my banner at the top of the page "Messier Album" or by clicking HERE  I'm still importing all the images, but this is a good cloudy night project.
 
I created a before & after post, demonstrating what can be accomplished with a years worth of experience. I hope to add new versions so I titled this post part#1
 
I switched my image aquisition software from Nebulosity back to APT, now that it supports the QHY CCD. APT will allow control of RA & Dec & the Starlight Express filterwheel from the same software. I was previously running seperate software for imaging,mount & filterwheel control. In addition I can create an imaging "plan" with various exposures and automatic switching of the filterwheel. I had to re-calbrate the gain and offset of the QHY9M and shoot a new dark library to match. Hopefully the next clear night it all works ok.
 
I also reprocessed my Leo Triplet image. I cropped it to feature NGC 3623. I used StarTools to help shrink the large stars due to the crop. Once that was done and noise was reduced, I tweeked the image in Photoshop.
 
 
 
I hope I can add some hydrogen-alpha and some longer luminance subs for the entire Leo Triplet.  The weather forecast doesn't look good for that to happen anytime soon.