Wednesday, May 9, 2018

M 101 galaxy taken with Explore Scientific AR127 scope

 M 101
24 - 60 sec images stacked with DeepSkyStacker
ISO 12800 with Canon t3i (unmodded) camera

Here is a single shot (one of the 24 images that were stacked above)
M 101
60 sec image - ISO 12800 with Canon t3i (unmodded) camera

The 127 mm f/6.5 Achromatic refractor from Explore Scientific is an air spaced doublet refractor telescope mainly for visual observing of celestial objects.

The Explore Scientific has 127 mm of Aperture
Focal Length - 826 mm
Focal Ratio - f/6.5
The Explore Scientific 127 Doublet comes with a 10:1 Dual Speed Focuser
Supplied with an 8x50 Finder Scope
Comes with a 2" Dielectric Diagonal
Backed By Explore STAR Transferrable Extended Life Warranty
The Explore Scientific is diffraction limited air spaced doublet refractor. This Doublet is an Achromat that yields amazing images. Perfect for moon, planets, and other celestial objects this refractor offers great value.

Here are some various shots of the Explore Scientific AR127 scope
on my Celestron Advanced GT mount 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Clear skies yield The North American Nebula

The North American Nebula !

The skies cleared so I was able to take this image last night (May 6, 2018) at about 1 am.

14 frames=10 minute exposure at ISO 12800
Canon T3i body (unmodded)
Daystar 80mm APO scope, 500mm
Stacked with DeepSkyStacker 4.0

Friday, March 16, 2018

Unexpected clear skies and a Messier mini-marathon

Last Sunday evening the skies cleared up, to my surprise, well enough to attempt some astro-photography. Of interest to me that evening was the fact that the portion of the night sky that is laden with galaxies was well up in the sky, the region around the constellation Leo, the Lion.
All images taken with a Meade LX200GPS 8" telescope and a Canon T3i DSLR.

First up to image were two globular star clusters:
(Note: click on the images for a little larger view)

Messier object: M 3 - globular star cluster
Notice the various colors of the stars.

Messier object: M 53 - globular star cluster

And then some "open" star clusters:
Messier object: M 35 - open star cluster

Messier object: M 44 - open star cluster
Notice again the colors of the stars

Messier object: M 67 - open star cluster

NGC 2158

Then a host of galaxies, various shapes and sizes!
Messier object: M 64 galaxy
aka "The Black Eye Galaxy"

Messier object: M 65 galaxy

Messier object: M 66 galaxy

Messier object: M 90 galaxy

Messier object: M 95 barred spiral galaxy

Messier object: M 96 galaxy

Messier object: M 98 galaxy

Messier object: M 100 spiral galaxy

The region around M 100 is filled with galaxies!
(satellite streaked the image)

Messier object: M 104 galaxy
aka "The Sombero Galaxy"

NGC 3628 galaxy

Not all galaxies are spiral in nature. Some are called "elliptical" or "lenticular" galaxies". 
They are without any spiral structure. Though not pretty to look at, they are part of the Messier collection of deep sky objects.
Messier object: M 105 elliptical galaxy (upper right)
and the region around it

Messier object: M 60 elliptical galaxy

Messier object: M 85 elliptical galaxy

Messier objects: M 84 and M 86 elliptical galaxies

Messier object: M 87 galaxy

Messier object: M 89 elliptical galaxy

After about 2 hours of imaging 20+ Messier objects and with frost building up on the telescope, I pulled the plug and headed indoors where it was warm!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Update: Super Blue Blood Moon photos and such

 I submitted this photo to the local TV station and was pleased that they made it the top image on their Facebook page the next day!
Then I was surprised again when another Facebook group AASP, which focuses exclusively on image of the Moon, selected my image of the lunar eclipse as one of the images of the Month for January, 2018!

I forgot to update the previous blog with more images. I promised so now I deliver.
This is the view across a meadow at the south end of downtown La Pine. This was at during totality. As you can see, light pollution from even our little town was enough to illuminate the meadow.
Exposure: 30 sec @ f/5, 18mm lens, ISO 800, Canon T3i body on tripod facing due west. The various colors on the horizon are homes with a variety of outdoor lighting reflecting up on a low fog. Just to the right of the moon is the open star cluster, M 44, the Beehive Cluster.

Here are the various telescopes and lenses I used that morning (from 4:30 am until 5:30 am)
Canon T3i with 55-250mm telephoto zoom lens on a Slick tripod.

Daystar 80mm telescope on Celestron CG-4 mount and Canon T3i camera body

Celestron 5 telephoto on Celestron CG-4 mount and Canon T3i camera body

Over-exposed image during totality to bring out M 44
The Beehive Star Cluster (on the right hand side)

More annotated images:

Finally a brief time-lapse:

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Test That Turns Into A 2 Hour Imaging Session!

I headed out to the obs with only the thought of breaking out my old Canon XS camera body that I had modded a few years back but was never satisfied with the results I got.
Since then I came to understand that the problem was that I was shooting on .jpg images, which are terrible to work with in astrophotography. RAW images, I learned, gave more latitude in adjusting colors, color balance and contrast.
So I thought I would take advantage of clear skies (which were going to get clouded over shortly) and run a few image tests with it... then get back indoors for the rest of the evening.
After a few shots and a brief effort at post-processing... I was hooked for two hours until the clouds started covering my subjects!
WOW, the images were impressive! And though I don't think the samples in this blog are anything like what they will be in the future (with more subs and better focus and more experience in post-processing) I was elated with the "test" results.

The first test shot was of the Orion Nebula (M42) region of the Orion constellation (which is in the southern evening sky now).
Wow! The reds just popped out! And a 3 minute exposure was all that was needed! Hit that EASY button!

What immediately captured my attention was the brevity of the exposures to grab the reddish portion of the nebula. In previous attempts over many years, the blues of the nebula stood out and the reds were harder to image unless I spent a lot of time with lots of sub-exposures. But because the camera was modded (the infrared blocking filter removed from the camera) the reds just plain POPPED out!
And that in just a few minutes compared to many times more than that in previous imaging sessions!
In fact, so much red that I had to combine the result with non-ir images to bring out the blues!

So I thought I would head on over to the Rosetta Nebula (just to the left of Orion). The previous night I had tried to image it only to be so disappointed in not capturing it that I didn't bother to post it on this blog. But just a 3 minute exposure with the modded camera and WOW! There it was!

Whoohoo! Hit that EASY button again!

And then, with clouds threatening, I slewed back to Orion, to the area of the star Alnitak and gave the Flame Nebula and the Horsehead Nebula a go.
Never before had I EVER captured the Horsehead Nebula with its deep reds without hours and hours of effort... and this was just a 3 minute sub! Hit that EASY button again and again!
Lessons learned:
1. An IR modified Canon camera body... DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT !
2. Shoot RAW or else go home!
3. Stack "normal" white balance images with the modified IR images to bring out all the colors!
4. Use the live stacking program AstroToaster to quickly live stack the images