March 17, 2014

An end of some sort…

As you can see by the woeful number of updates recently, my interest in astronomy has pretty much disappeared. Lives change, priorities change, interests come and go, and there is no point in doing something if it is no longer interesting and fun. I think the biggest issues that wore me down was the constant fight with the cloud cover, and that the actual challenge of obtaining enough good data to improve the images I was creating. My partial OCD allowed me to set up every time, plug it all in, and it would work without an issue (much to the annoyance of others). Knowing that I couldn’t do much more to get better data (other than throwing more money at better OTAs or moving to somewhere like New Mexico) made me realise that I had come about as far as I could come, and suddenly the challenge of getting all the kit talking to each other and working was not enough to sustain the interest.

I still look up at the sky when its clear, see some familiar friends passing overhead across the sky, but at no point in a long time have I had the urge to grab all the kit and set it up for a session…. and so its time to close this blog. Well, when I say “close”, I really mean just stop posting to it in any way, not that any/many will notice this change give the lack of any updates anyway. I`ll be taking a look at my astronomy kit this weekend, ensuring it all works OK, and then pricing it all up for sale in the near future. A couple of bits need to go back to First Light Optics, who have helped me immensely over the year, supplying me with scopes and cameras to help push that edge required for improving image data, but I would imagine all the rest will get sold in the near future.

It has been fun over the years, but now its time to move on.

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March 28, 2012

M42 quickie with C11 Edge, SX H9, Optec reducer (@f/6.0)

After helping get Jon’s Obsy set up, and finding/fixing plenty of related issues along the way, I think his imaging rig #1 is about ready to go The final piece of the puzzle was fitting the Optec Lepus reducer for the C11 Edge last night, taking it from its native f/10 to somewhere near f/6.2 (actually nearer f/6.0 from the results below!)

So, this is his data from his setup, but he has allowed me to have a play with the data and post the image here. Please note that this is just 20 minutes of data (10 x 2mins), was against a blue sky (8.30pm until 8.50-ish), and was sinking rapidly into the East (PHD was having fits with the guide star movement!)

So long M42, we shall see you again next year… we will be ready!

Mount: EQ6 via EQMOD
OTA: celestron C11 Edge + Optec Lepus reducer @ f/6.0
Guiding: Celestron OAG + DSI + PHD
Imaging: Starlight Xpress H9 + MaximDL, 10 x 120s, Ha Filter
Stacked: DeepSkyStacker
Post Process: PSCS5 + PixInsight

(Click on image for larger version)

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October 2, 2011

4 hours on M33, my first image for over 180 days!

After some issues that have prevented me from getting outside and imaging since early spring, I finally got the kit out on Friday night to grab what was supposed to be 7-8 hours on M33, but due to my meridian flip and failed to find the target again, plus my lighter socket thinging blowing a fuse and stopping my dew strap from working, I`m happy with what I have here :)

Its been a whiole, so I do apologise if the image looks odd… I have moved from XP to Windows 7 64bit, been through two laptop reinstalls (Win7 to Win7) and a new desktop PC (hardware failure on old one), so hopefully the screen calibration is OK, but I can never tell…

Mount: EQ6 via EQMOD
OTA: Skywatcher 190 MakNewt @ f/5.3
Guiding: TS OAG + SX Lodestar + Maxim
Imaging: Starlight Xpress M25C + MaximDL, 16 x 900s, Hutech LPS filter
Orchestrated: CDD Commander
Stacked: DeepSkyStacker
Post Process: PSCS2 + PixInsight

(Click on image for larger version)

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May 12, 2011

A small hiatus….

Sorry about the lack of updates recently, I have been waiting for (and now recovering from) surgery, so my astroimaging has kind of slowed down over the last few months. Hopefully I`ll be back out under the stars and imaging in the next few weeks… I have missed it so much!

 

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April 4, 2011

Markarian’s Chain and friends from SGL6

Managed to pre-script a 4-pane mosaic using CCD Commander on Saturday morning, and got a chance to grab some images for 2 of those panes on Saturday night at SGL6. The skies had thin cloudy rolling through, and it was a bit murky, so I wasnt expecting much from this. Its OK, not great, there is a lot of noise in the full size version, and some worrying hot pixels that have started appearing in the FITs files.

If only it had stayed wind-and-rain-free for longer, I could have broken out the C11 Edge I had on loan from Ford Prefect…

Mount: EQ6 via EQMOD
OTA: Borg 60 @ f/3.8
Guiding: SW ED80 + SX Lodestar + Maxim
Imaging: Starlight Xpress M25C + MaximDL, 11 x 600s, Hutech LPS-V2 filter
Orchestrated: CDD Commander
Stacked: DeepSkyStacker
Post Process: PSCS2 + PixInsight

(Click on image for larger version, or click >>HERE<< for the HUGE version!)

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March 9, 2011

M81/M82 in RGB

Given that most of my images are wide field, when the winter objects start to slide slowyly into the western horizon, its time to bring out the 190 Mak Newt again, and try to find something a bit smaller to image.

My last attempt at M81/M82 was a dismal failure… it was focussed and on target, but with a side by side bar and a seperate guidescope, differential flexure limited my exposures to 5 minutes, and the final image lacked any real colour other than grey/green :)  This time round, I am armed with a TS 9mm OAG, so less weight on the mount and much better tracking.

So here it is! I still think its a bit noisy (both in the background and the finer detail), especially at the larger size, but I was able to extract and enhance much more colour information this time round. The image below is a crop from the central region, as there is an odd gradient on the left and right sides of the full size image. Could be a flats issue, but more likely ligh pollution or sky glow gradient caused by imaging on either side of a meridian flip. (Had the same issue with M101 at SGL5 last year)

Mount: EQ6 via EQMOD
OTA: Skywatcher 190 MakNewt @ f/5.3
Guiding: TS OAG + SX Lodestar + Maxim
Imaging: Starlight Xpress M25C + MaximDL, 28 x 600s, Hutech LPS filter
Orchestrated: CDD Commander
Stacked: DeepSkyStacker
Post Process: PSCS2 + PixInsight

(Click on image for larger version)

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January 11, 2011

More media coverage

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Gallery

Gizmodo (and its various country specific affiliates)

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January 7, 2011

Some media coverage today

Some of the papers have picked up a story about my astronomy obsession hobby today. The papers have “inflated” the story a little, comparing my meager M31 image to the latest M31 from NASA, but I am generally happy with the article. First time in the papers, so its a new experience for me

Daily Mail Online

Metro

Many thanks to Joanne Riley (BAV Media) and Geoff Robinson (Geoff Robinson Photography) for suggesting and working on the article.

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January 4, 2011

Solar Eclipse from Cambridge (awesome cloud effects!)

I was fortunate enough this morning to grab my DSLR and tripod, point it out the window, and grab this amazing looking image… looks like I was viewing the eclipse through the Jupiter cloud layers!

Its a composite of two images (longer one and a much shorter one), but I stupidly shot them in jpg and nopt RAW, so processing them has caused some hard to remove banding :(

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October 11, 2010

NGC7000 + IC 5070 in Ha/OIII/OIII

I`ve been waiting for a clear moonless sky for many months now, just so I could give my latest filter a proper test. I purchased a Hutech IDAS LPS-V4 Nebula filter earlier this year (link to filter here) to see if a One Shot Color CCD could do a decent job of recording Ha and OIII at the same time. The theory was that as the OIII wavelength falls almost exactly half way between the green and blue pixels (at a lower sensitivity though), I should get be able to stack the 2 green channels and the blue channel all as one large stack, and therefore grab 3 times the exposure of OIII compared to the single red pixel collection Ha data. Well, it kind of worked. The Ha data is nearly sharp as previous sessions with a 13nm Ha filter, and certainly usable, but not as good as my current Baader 7nm Ha filter. The OIII data (even after stacking) seems a bit washed out, and I believe this is because of the wide passband around the OIII wavelength (50nm wide at the very top of the peak), allowing in additional noise that a real narrowband filter would block.

Even so, as an Ha/OIII/OIII combined image, taken from a moderately light polluted area in one single session without having to change filters, I would say it was worth the time to do this test. The real question will be what happens to the OIII data when the moon fills the skies, as OIII tends to be washed out from moonglow far more than Ha data.

Mount: EQ6 via EQMOD
OTA: Borg 60 @ f/3.8
Guiding: SW ED80 + SX Lodestar + Maxim
Imaging: Starlight Xpress M25C + MaximDL, 16 x 900s, Hutech LPS-V4 Nebula filter
Orchestrated: CDD Commander
Stacked: DeepSkyStacker
Post Process: PSCS2 + PixInsight

The Ha/OIII/OIII version

(Click on image for larger version)

or the version created using the Steve Cannistra Modified Bicolor Technique for combining Ha and OIII images (link)

(Click on image for larger version)

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