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Monday, November 24, 2014

One Great Night of Astrophotography!

It's really hard sometimes to image during a weeknight if I have a full workload the next day. I still do, but I prefer imaging on weekends (I can sleep in!) Friday (11/21/14) was one of those great nights....

I started by collecting Luminance filtered images of M45, the Pleiades. In my last post, I had already done M45.

 My intention was to capture more of the surrounding dust with a mosaic. Each panel was hand assembled in Photoshop CS6.  The entire image is 2.54x2.29 degrees of the sky. It originally measured 6286x5819 pixels and was 209MB!

6 panels- 7x60 seconds for Luminance, 5x60 seconds through each RGB filter.

6 Panel Luminance Layer-   (42 minutes total)

6 Panel Mosaic with RGB (2h 12m total)

 A project like this would have taken me several clear nights to complete and close to 24 hours in images, pre-HyperStar.  This accessory has been one of the best AP purchases I've made!  A little over 2 hours for a 6 panel mosaic!

Annotated version on Astrometry

I moved from the 6 panel mosaic to NGC2264, the Cone Nebula. 17x60 seconds for Luminance, 15x60 each through RGB filters. 1h 2m total

Original image cropped

I ended the "great night of astrophotography" at 3am. I had 192 images to process.....I didn't want to overdo it :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hyperstar Imaging

When I chose the 11" Celestron EdgeHD in the spring I had a HyperStar conversion in mind. Well I received and installed my HyperStar about one month ago......

I had been using the Edge at a focal ratio of F/7. The HyperStar converts the setup to F/2, making image acquisition at least ten times faster. My first test image was IC1805, the Heart Nebula, done with narrowband filters. Prior to the HyperStar, narrowband images took upwards of 20-30 minutes per subframe. In the following image I used 5 minute subframes

Telecope:11" Celestron EdgeHD+HyperStar (F/2)
Mount: CGEM-DX
Camera: QHY23M CCD

HA- 10 subframes x 300 seconds each- mapped as green channel
OIII- 10 subframes x 300 seconds each- mapped as blue channel
SII- 10 subframes x 300 seconds each- mapped as red channel

2h 30m total

IC1805 aka the Heart Nebula is an emission nebula located in the constellation of Cassiopeia about 7500 light years away.
In the center of this image is a "knot" known as Melotte 15. I imaged this region using this telescope at F/7 resulting in a smaller FOV seen here:

The next image I chose was IC410, the Tadpole Nebula. I shot this the same night as IC1805.

Telecope:11" Celestron EdgeHD+HyperStar (F/2)
Mount: CGEM-DX
Camera: QHY23M CCD
HA- 10 subframes x 300 seconds each- mapped as green channel
OIII- 10 subframes x 300 seconds each- mapped as blue channel
SII- 10 subframes x 300 seconds each- mapped as red channel
2h 30m total
IC 410 is an emission nebula located in the constellation of Auriga. It is located 12,000 light years away.
The "Tadpoles" are the two knots of nebulosity seen in the center of the image, seen closer in this rotated & cropped image
My last image this month was a "hybrid" of sorts. I previously had taken many images of M45, the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus. I shot 30 subframes each 1 minute long using a Luminance filter with the HyperStar. I used this new Luminance layer with RGB from those previous images.
Telecope:11" Celestron EdgeHD+HyperStar (F/2)
Mount: CGEM-DX
Camera: QHY23M CCD
LUM- 30x60
RGB from AT65EDQ & QHY9M. 4x300 each color filter, binned 2x2 taken Aug/Sept 2013

Saturday, September 27, 2014

IC 1805 The Heart Nebula

The Heart Nebula is one of those objects I like to image every year. It's an emission nebula located in the constellation of Cassiopeia, and is about 7500 light years away.

This was one of my first attempts at this target, November 10,2012

QHY9M & Orion ED102CF refractor 11/10/2012
R-3x900 binned 2x2
R-6x300 binned 2x2
G-4x300 binned 2x2
B-5x300 binned 2x2

Images acquired, aligned and stacked with Nebulosity V2.0
Guiding with Orion 50mm mini guider, SSAG and Phd
Combined & post processed with Photoshop CS6

My next attempt, almost 1 year later November 5,2013. This time I tried the HST or Hubble Space Telescope palette instead of tradition RGB. Different telescope as well, an AstroTech 65mm refractor

QHY9M & AstroTech AT65EDQ refractor

HA- 5-20 minute subs as Green
OIII- 3- 30 minute subs as Blue
SII- 2-30 minute as Red
Images acquired, aligned and stacked with Nebulosity V2.0
Guiding with Starlight Xpress Off-Axis guider, QHY5L-II and Phd
Images acquired with APT
Align & Stacked with Nebulosity
Combined & post processed with Photoshop CS6

My latest attempt, taken September 25 & 26,2014, also in HST palette. This image centers on the central core region called Melotte 15

This panel shows Melotte 15, highlighted in light blue.
The 11" Celestron telescope provides a much smaller field of view.
The left panel has a radius of 1.5 degrees & the right .2 degrees

QHY23M &  Celestron 11" Edge HD 
R-10x120 binned 4x4
G-10x120 binned 4x4
B-10x120 binned 4x4
Ha-10x300 binned 4x4
OIII-10x300 binned 4x4
SII-10x300 binned 4x4

Images acquired with APT
Aligned and stacked with Nebulosity V2.0
Guiding with Starlight Xpress OAG, QHY5L-II and Phd
Stacked & DDP applied with Nebulosity
Combined & post processed with Photoshop CS6

Sunday, August 31, 2014

NGC 281 The Pac Man Nebula

NGC 281 The Pac Man Nebula is a HII region roughly 9500 light-years away located in the constellation of Cassiopeia.  The constellation of Cassiopeia is well known for it's "W" shape seen in the northern skies. The location of the Pac Man is designated by the circle in these photos:

I first imaged NGC 281 in January 2012 shortly after starting astrophotography. I found out soon enough that a modified camera was needed to pick up the HII regions. This image was taken with a unmodified Canon T3i and Orion ST-80T refractor telescope. 10 frames were taken, 2 minutes each

My next attempt was in Sept 2012, this time with a modified camera and special narrowband filters. This image consists of 6 frames 10 minutes each taken through each of these filters (Ha,OIII,SII) for a total of  3 hours. The modified camera was a Canon T3 and the filters were Astronomik clip-ins. 2 telescopes were used and the results combined, an Orion ST-80T & Orion ED102T CF:

Shortly after this image, I decided to get a camera dedicated for astrophotography, a QHY9M mono CCD . One of my first test images was of the Pac Man. This image was 3 test frames taken with a Ha filter, 20 minutes each. The telescope used was my Orion ED102T CF refractor. The 3 images were combined with the previous Canon T3 image seen above. The new image was used as a luminance layer and the T3 image provided the color.

Last week I decided to revisit the Pac Man with my newest gear, a 11" Celestron EdgeHD SCT telescope and QHY23M CCD camera. This image is a comparison of a previous image and the newest version seen on the right:

This new image was taken on August 28 & 29,2014......finally some clear skies!!! It consists of 3 frames 10 minutes each taken through each narrowband filter, 1.5 hours total exposure. Also I added Red,Green & Blue filtered images for better star colors. 6 frames 2 minutes each through each color filter for an additional 36 minutes

This is a picture of my mobile observatory :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

M16 Eagle Nebula Experiment

One of my favorite summer targets has been the  Eagle Nebula or Messier 16 (M16). This was one of the first targets I can remember seeing images of  from the Hubble Space Telescope, the "Pillars of Creation" Detailed information on the Eagle can be found on Wikipedia :

Over the past 3 years I've imaged M16 with 4 different camera and 3 different telescopes, due to upgrades in gear. Since it's been mostly cloudy, yesterday I decided to collect and combine all my images into one .

My oldest image used was taken with 2 DSLR cameras and my Orion ED102T, Sept 2012

 Ha(Hydrogen-Alpha 7nm)- 8x600 iso 800 modified Canon T3
OIII(Oxygen III 7nm)-12x600 iso 800 Canon T3i
SII(Sulfur II 7nm)-11x600 iso 800 modified Canon T3

I really liked the color blend from this image, so I incorporated it into the new image.

In August 2013 I shot a few subframes with my Astro-Tech AT65EDQ and QHY9M camera.

Ha 2x30 minute                                                            OIII 2x30 min

 These frames were also used in yesterday's image

In May 2014, I had taken a close up image with my relatively new 11" Celestron EdgeHD and QHY23M camera.
This image consists of a single 10 minute image shot through 3 filters: Hydrogen-Alpha, Oxygen III and Sulfur II. This image makes up the "core" of the newest image.

On July 17,2014 I managed only 3- 10 minute frames taken through a red filter. Taken with the QHY23M & Astro-Tech AT65EDQ. This image was also used, to "tame" the final image

After combining the above 5 images using various techniques in Photoshop, this was the result:

And after cropping and tweaking even further, this is the final result

There's not a ton of data in this image, every year I seem to come up short due to weather. In a nutshell there is only 6 hours worth of images here, collected over 3 years. The individual subframes from each image were not stacked together, just blended in Photoshop CS6.
 I just hope to someday have a string of good weather and put together a good image of M16 using the same telescope & camera!
But I am pleased with this result, considering my first image of M16 taken Sept 16,2011:

I have a larger version of the new image on Astrobin, (still in .jpg format however)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July Imaging

June 30,2014

Imaged a quick 3 panel mosaic of the moon using my Orion ED102T 102mm refractor @F/7, QHY5L-II mono w/ red filter
(telescope shown here with QHY9M & filterwheel)

July 1,2014

NGC6960 The Witch's Broom +
 Red- 3x600 (1x1 bin)
 Green- 3x600 (1x1 bin)
 Blue- 3x600 (1x1 bin)
 Ha- 3x900 (1x1 bin)
 OIII-3x900(1x1 bin)

"Starless" Version
"HST Palette"

These images show the "Witch's Broom" or NGC 6960, the western part of the Veil Nebula complex in the constellation of Cygnus. These are remnants of a supernova explosion that occurred some 5,000-8,000 years ago. The entire complex now covers nearly 3 degrees of the sky or roughly 6 times the size of the full moon. Astronomers estimate the Veil Nebula is 1470 light years away.

 July 12,2014

It was clear long enough to image a few frames of the Sun with my Coronado PST and QHY5L-II camera. A large detached prominence can be seen on the right of both images.

Orion ED102T(the black refractor) with Coronado PST(gold refractor) piggybacked

Celestron 11" Edge HD with AT65EDQ piggybacked

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Solar Imaging 6/27/14

When I was young I had a 60mm refractor that came with a special "sun filter" which screwed into the eyepiece. I used to enjoy viewing the sunspots from time to time. Nothing else was really visible, just a green sun disk and sometimes a couple of sunspots. Still it was pretty cool to a 10 year old. Jumping forward a few decades.....two years ago at Cherry Springs, Pa., I had my first opportunity to view our Sun with a telescope designed for hydrogen alpha emissions. I was stunned by the large prominences and surface features this telescope revealed. I knew one day I'd have to own one of these......

 I have probably the most basic setup for solar imaging...... a Coronado PST coupled with my QHY5L-II mono.

Yesterday (6/27/14) I gathered a few videos of the sun which I processed into several images. This first is a 2 panel mosaic taken with the PST and QHY5L-II. On the right hand side can be seen 2 sunpots named 2096 & 2097. A large filament or prominence can be seen on the surface just below center of the image and several other prominences are on the left edge of the disk.

I added my barlow lens (which doubles the magnification) and took several more videos. 
Solar Surface
Sunspots 2097 & 2096 (top left)

My friend Gary Varney posted my image on facebook and created a very well written description......

Gary Varney on Facebook-"My friend Chuck Manges captured this stunning image of the Sun. When you look at a setting or rising Sun with your naked eye, or through a White Light Filter like I use, what you see is the bottom layer of the Sun's atmosphere called the photosphere. That's where you find bubbling granules of plasma and darker, cooler sunspots, which emerge when the sun's magnetic field breaks through the surface, and the magnetic activity reduces the surface temperature creating a dark area.... Sunspots usually appear as pairs, with each sunspot having the opposite magnetic pole to the other. The 3rd and outer layer is the corona, which is what you would see during a total eclipse. What Chuck's image also shows here is that middle layer called the chromosphere thanks to a Hydrogen Alpha filter. Light from the chromosphere is usually too weak to be seen against the brighter photosphere, so you need a Hydrogen Alpha filter to capture a specific layer of the spectrum. What you are seeing are the emission lines created when the electron of the hydrogen atom transitions from the n=3 to the n=2 energy level. Those lines dominate that layer of the spectrum and what a beautiful sight it makes. "

Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Imaging Gear....QHY23M, First Light

Received my new QHY23M on May 22,2014 and finally had a chance to use it over the weekend. I started on M27, M57 & M16 on the 24th and added subs on the 25th.

                                                 M27 The Dumbbell Nebula

3x600s Luminance
3x600 Red
3x600 Green
3x600 Blue
6x600 Ha (2x2 bin)

Camera: QHY23M
Telescope: Celestron 11" Edge HD @ F/7
Mount: CGEM-DX
This was my first target, I figured the camera/telescope combination would produce a good sized image..... I wasn't disappointed. I'm currently limited to 10 minute subs, so I binned the Ha. I'm slowly getting used to the new CGEM-DX mount.
 This was the Dumbbell Nebula taken with my 102mm refractor and QHY9M last year. Quite the difference in field of view!

                                               M16 The Eagle Nebula

The Eagle Nebula is one of my favorite targets. Due to it's location in the sky and where I decided to set up my equipment, I only had about an hour to image it. So again I binned the subs and shot a single exposure through each of the three narrowband filters.

Ha- 1x600(2x2 bin)
OIII- 1x600(2x2 bin)
SII- 1x600(2x2 bin)

Camera: QHY23M
Telescope: Celestron 11" Edge HD @ F/7
Mount: CGEM-DX

                                     M57 The Ring Nebula

3x300 Red
3x300 Green
3x300 Blue
4x600 Ha (2x2 bin)

Camera: QHY23M
Telescope: Celestron 11" Edge HD @ F/7
Mount: CGEM-DX

I managed to capture some of the outer shell of this ancient supernova explosion. This image far exceeds anything I"ve ever captured before in detail and especially, object size. Below is M57 taken last year with the 102mm and QHY9M.

All of these images need more sub-exposures and attention, I was just excited about "first light" with the QHY23M. Even despite the lack of enough sub frames in all of these images, I'm quite happy with the QHY23 so far. None of the above images have dark frames applied, yet noise is almost non-existent. The sensitivity is amazing. The only problems I had were with the mount, mostly operator error, as I'm slowly learning how to handle a longer focal length. I can't wait until the next clear night!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Another Chapter of Before and After

I haven't done this in a while......

This is my most recent solar system images taken with a QHY5L-II and various telescopes since June 2013 until present.

Compare this to my DSLR composite August 2011-April 2012.

All the images on the left were taken with a Canon T3i. The images on the right with a QHY5L-II(mono) camera.
Back in October I had done a post on acquiring and processing planetary images: