July 30, 2007

M31, Andromeda Galaxy

First imaging session on this, as it has started to poke its nose over the top of my house. I knew it was big, but not quite this big! I need the focal reducer on it for next time. This session was more of a investigation for when I get a better/longer view.

Canon 350D (unmodded), Only 10 x 120s @ ISO800, 10x darks, NS8GPS @ f/10, OAG+PHD+DSI, DSS, PSCS2 + Noels AstroTools

Not great, but its a baseline to work from next time (damn the moon glow! but at least I got out 🙂 )

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July 26, 2007

M11 (Wild Duck Cluster), M16 (Eagle Nebula)

A clear night, and I wasnt going to waste it. A few (predicted) clouds as the sky was darkening:

Jupiter top left, Antares below left, moon to right

Once this band had passed, I powered on and did the usual alignment dance for 20 minutes or so.

First target, M11, the wild Duck Cluster.

OTA: NexStar 8 GPS @ f/10
Guiding: OAG + PHD + DSI-C
Images: Canon 350D, 10 x 60s @ ISO800 (+5 darks) via DSLRFocus
Processing: DeepSkyStacker, Photoshop CS + Noel’s AstroTools
Note: Last time I tried imaging this, I also got “redish” background stars. No idea why, might be light pollution but not 100% sure

Next, the tricky one, that went bad, but I learned a lot from it – M16, Eagle Nebula.

Being an emission neb meant that it has plenty of Ha… but my 350D is *UNMODDED* and so most of the Ha is blocked by the inbuilt Canon filter. Even so, I needed to have a go, “just to see” what I could manage. I knew I had to get as much data as possible because of the Canon filter issue, and so used my CLS filter to reduce the effect of LP…. but in the end I over did the exposure time, and the subs and darks started to show a lot of random hot pixels when processed, which destroyed the stacking process. Still, I managed to salvage a final image from it, and learned something new…

Here is a rescaled (but unprocess) RAW:

If I do a basic curves on it, you can start to see the hot pixels starting to create a lot of noise in the darker areas (well, everywhere actually)

After imaging for nearly an hour (plus the darks), I just had to salvage something from the subs, so here is what I managed to retrieve (no darks, they just made things worse)

OTA: NexStar 8 GPS @ f/10
Guiding: OAG + PHD + DSI-C
Images: Canon 350D, 6 x 600s @ ISO800 (no darks) via DSLRFocus
Processing: DeepSkyStacker, Photoshop CS + Noel’s AstroTools
Note: No Darks, so Amp glow quite prominant in lower right. Bright red “hot pixel” upper right quarter.

The clouds rolled in across the horizon as the last light was being taken, so it was time to pack up while I left the Canon taking the 10 minute darks. I will definitely be back for this fantastic Nebula, more subs, but (and a first for me) shorter exposures.

Things learned last night:

– Emission Nebs can be captured on unmodded Canons… just!
– 10 min subs is too much for ISO800
– The CLS filter effectively halves the amount of light coming through, but it does remove the LP
– My autoguiding works fine
– My polar align routine seems ok (no field rotation in the images that I can see)
– Need “smoother” darker subs that I can stretch, rather than “brighter” noisey subs that just get even more noisey as they get processed

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July 19, 2007

Wide Field Cygnus (Revisited)

A while back, I tooks a wide field image of the Cygnus area with my Canon 350D, piggybacked on my NexStar 8 GPS. Well, I managed to get *some* detail out of those images, but after the kind Mr Peonic told me how to actually use Noel’s AstroTools Light Pollution Removal (“You did read the readme.txt file, didnt you?”), this allowed me to pull an amazing amount of detail out of the raw images

Here is one of the unprocessed subs

Then I had a stab at pulling the detail out of it by hand

and then todays amazing image that popped out of the screen at me (excuse the crazy dayglo house colour!)

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July 18, 2007

M57 (again)

Another M57, another evening of problems (almost all self induced*)… but it was clear, and the skies were darker than I last remember 🙂

Scope: Celestron NexStar 8 GPS @ f/10
Camera: Canon 350D (unmodded)
Guiding: OAG + PHD + DSI
Imaging: 3 frames (300s @ ISO800), 2 darks (see below*), ImagesPlus Camera control v3 beta, DeepSkyStacker, PSCS + Noel’s Tools

*Problems included:- the NS8GPS being powered down for so long that the GPS wouldnt link for 30 minutes and the handset started playing up
– saving the images as jpg (8bit… doh!)
– gently nudging/kicking the tripod during the last image, hence the slight trailing
– the Canon batteries dying halfway through my dark taking

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July 11, 2007

M57 and a good Jupiter

Started the imaging session with Jupiter, which has moved past the house next door and is in a good position for early imaging. I had spent about 20 minutes before the recollimating my NexStar 8 GPS, and the results speak for themselves (considering how low in the sky Jupiter is from UK this year).

I then moved on to M57, and managed to squeeze this one single shot out of the Canon 350D before the patchy clouds rolled in and ruined any chance of a decent sequence.

I`ll be back for more subs on this, because this is a very clear image for a single sub.

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