Thursday, September 29, 2016

September 28, 2016 Wide Field Photography with Canon 40mm lens

The weather was fantastic this evening and so I headed out to the observatory just to do some tests with my Canon 40mm "pancake" lens.

At f/2.8 it is very "fast" but the best images came when I stopped it down to f/4. Using my Canon t2i camera and Celestron NexStar 4SE mount (I removed the telescope and put the camera in its place) and put the mount in the equatorial mode.

I was able to get up to one minute exposures (at least) though I chose to limit most of my images to 30 secs each, choosing instead to stack the photos with Deep Sky Stacker Live. The camera is "unmodified" so it is not as sensitive to infrared, thus it does not get as much redness in nebulas as a result. But this evening was about testing, not creating.

But here are a few results:

Wide Field around Andromeda Galaxy (full view):

20 -30 sec exposures at ISO 1600
40mm at f/4
stacked for a total of 10 minutes
post-processed with GIMP 

This is a "cropped in" image of the same...

 Wide field image around IC 1396 (centered)
6 - one minute exposures at ISO 1600
40mm at f/2.8
stacked for a total of 6 minutes
post-processed with GIMP

Wide field image around Cassiopeia (slightly upper left)...
17 -20 sec exposures at ISO 1600
40mm at f/4
stacked for a total of 5 1/2 minutes
post-processed with GIMP 

All images were stacked with Deep Sky Stacker Live and post-process with GIMP photoprocessing program using Levels

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


This speaks for us amateur astronomers!
...and it makes it possible to do some astronomy
in the morning later too !

First Photo Session with the Belt and Sword Region of Orion

Got up early (4:30 am) and headed out to the observatory in the backyard to photograph the region around the Belt and Sword of the constellation Orion (due south at that time of the morning). This region is one of my favorites in the night sky! In it you can see the Great Orion Nebula, the "Running Man" nebula, the "Flame Nebula" and a hint of the "Horsehead Nebula".

I had a little trouble getting started (roll-off roof was stubborn, the camera connection to the computer was inconsistent) so I did not get as many images as I wanted to... but Orion will be with us through the winter so I will have many opportunities to do even better astrophotography of it.

Here is a stack of 44 images (approximately 25 secs each at f/5.6, zoom set at 70mm, ISO 1600, Canon t3i, DeepSkyStacker Live, Celestron 4SE mount. Total effective time of exposure: 17 minutes then post-processing with GIMP.

A Brief Photo Session on Andromeda Galaxy

Last night's sky was awesome! This is a brief attempt at capturing the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). It is a stack 0f 60 - 30 sec images for a total time of 30 minutes. (More info below the photo) Enjoy His creation and worship the Creator!
30 minutes (30 sec each exposure, total 60 images)
Take with a Canon XS w/ 250mm zoom lens
Processed with DeepSkyStacker Live and GIMP

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Great video of the Solar Eclipse's Path in August, 2017

First you RETHINK, then you SELL, then you UPGRADE!

I have put my Celestron NexStar 8i SE telescope up for sale on craigslist today.


I have had to reevalutate my passion astronomy, specifically astrophotography. Visual astronomy isn't my bag anymore as my eyesight isn't up to par (floaters, near-sighted, not as sensitive to low light, etc.) And astrophotography is limited by my location (southern skies blocked by my neighbor's tall pine trees) and limited by weather, age, and equipment. And also I am likely to post to craigslist my Meade 12 inch Dobsonian scope (more on that in a later post)...

As much as I want to produce quality astroimages, the reality is that I would have to invest the cost of a new car to get them... and I am NOT that passionate about that, nor do I have the money to achieve it.

So I while I am planning on upgrading my primary telescope and mount, I will have to learn contentment and not allow my happiness to be dependent upon my images rivaling those who have invested far more into this hobby.

Because though my NexStar 8i SE is a great scope and mount for alt/az visual astronomy it is not the best for astrophotography due to the way Celestron "permanently" mounted the scope on its mount.
I say "permanently" with quotes because it is possible (and I have done it) to remove the scope from its mount, add a dovetail bar, and put it on another mount (i.e. a German equatorial mount hence GEM). I have done that with some success.

However, at the Oregon Star Party, the very first night the declination motor on my LXD-75 mount got smoked, over-heated, and burnt out. Apparently I was not careful about doing a meridian flip and the declination motor housing pinched up against the RA housing too long and poof, no working motor. Stupid me.

I did pick up another used Celestron GEM when I left the OSP but have not been satisfied with its "goto" ability... as in not even close.

So I believe it is time to a NEW mount and scope, a GEM that has reliable "goto" ability AND has the scope on a dovetail bar... OR a scope on an alt/az mount that will allow reasonable astrophotography ability with a reliable "goto" feature.