Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Good Night

Last night, 27th November, was the clearest night in the Sheffield skies for a long time.  Unfortunately clear nights doesn't always equate to good seeing and although it looked clear it was actually quite damp.  Jupiter looked great at about 30% in the North East and I also got my first glimpse of Betelguese in the South East.  There were even wisps and I mean wisps of the Milky Way.  Anyways I decided to try using the camera with the eyepiece projector on.  That is the a 15mm eyepiece in a 3X barlow giving me 129X mag.  Now I know I should stay away from planetary imaging and leave it to the big boys but when something is as bright as Jupiter it's just asking for a photo.

I'd be lying if I said I'd not try to touch these up but the truth is I don't know how.  Registax won't read the video I took and the image is that small that anything done in Lightroom blocks out the whole image.
 Olympus PEN EPL1 1/5 second 250 ISO  (129X mag)

The one thing I did do last night was align my finderscope correctly and this solved a lot of frustrating issues when working at this magnitude, the RA motor also did it's job.  Not the best image but it is 411 million miles away from a slightly damp Sheffield!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Nightscape redux

I realised that I could do better with the Nightscape once I had no moon to contend with. So here it is. Similar view to last time, but more definition to more stars ....

So we have Jupiter (left), Hyades in Taurus (top right), Orion and Nebula (bottom, right of middle) and if you look closely I have also captured two Open Clusters - The Satellite Cluster (NGC2244) left of Orion and M35 (NGC2168) approx. half way between Jupiter and Aldeberan (in Taurus).

Canon EOS M ISO3200 f/4 18mm 10sec.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Piggy Back Photography

As MJ continues to produce high quality wide field shots I thought I needed to get in on the act.  These are my first forays into this area and I am reasonably pleased with the first time results.  However, there are two things which I am especially pleased; a) I managed to capture Andromeda, my first time in 3 years of trying and b) the possibilities of Lightroom 3 editing suite.

As usual I popped out screwed the camera onto the fixing pin on the top of the telescopes support.  And that was it.  All the rules which MJ has spelt out in an earlier blog went out the window.  All I was interested in was ISO and exposure time (Don't get me started on the dark frames!).  The camera was even on auto focus, a definite no-no in all astrophotography.  Anyways to show you what I got and how Lightroom improved, purely by raising the noise reduction slider and the colour adjustment sliders both to enhance the noise reductions and get rid of the terrible light pollution.  These are still work in progress but given the starting image I was quite chuffed.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

For me the best thing about these pictures is that I can actually see constellations that I don't normally notice.  This is because the "lighter" stars have been bleached out so only the dominant ones remain.

 This is the original shot from out of the camera; f/8 40 seconds exposure 1600 ISO.  Below is the Lightroom version.  Cygnus and the Northern Cross is visible dominating the majority of the left hand side of the picture and Lyra at the bottom, with Vega at the bottom centre.

The Plough, at a strange angle due to slip of the camera.

Finally, Andromeda in the centre of the of the picture below.  As the galaxy was pointing straight up it was difficult to orientate.  As such I think I've found Cassiopeia on the left hand side of the picture and the Constellation of Andromeda showing just below the galaxy.

I'm in no way stating these are great pictures but both Andromeda and the Plough were both taken at 6o second exposures 1600 ISO (I can go a lot higher but wanted to capture as much natural black a I could) and on auto focus.  Next time I'll try and do them better but until Sheffield gets rid of all it's sodium filled streetlights they'll always show a lot of noise.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

A MOvember Nightscape

Well, what a night it was last night! Sadly it only cleared properly around 21:30 and I hadn't sorted any of my equipment out .... but I did manage a few shots with my new camera purchase.
I ditched the Nikon D40 in favour of a Canon EOS M, which, as far as I can gather, is the mirror-less version of the 650D and what a camera it is.
I quickly set up and took a few shots at different exposure settings and this was my best on the left.
Bearing in mind this was my first time out with this camera for astrophotography, I think the result is pretty good.

Moon, Jupiter, Hyades, Orion and Orion Nebula looking east at approx. 22:00.
Canon EOS M ISO1600 18mm f/4 5sec.


Practice Shots 2

I thought I'd keep updating the blog as knowing that they're may be an audience will keep me on my toes.

Last nights moon came up later and was still quite close to the horizon when I took this shot.
 I tried numerous methods to get rid of the movement in my picture.  The RA motor works a little but in the end I just reduced the exposure time to 1.6".  Unfortunately I still have movement but I think the main stars of the Pleiades are evident.
Finally I tried for Jupiter.  I'm particularly happy with shot because it is only slightly worse than my best shots with my old set up AND the photograph was taken using just the 3X barlow with no eyepiece.  Once I can get my hands on a better ep with a t-thread, which will take the need for a projection kit out of the equation I should get better results.
I would note that all these shots were taken pre 10pm and as such the objects (other than the Pleiades) were quite/very low in the sky.  I'm hoping my patience, or tolerance for staying up longer increases as the month / year progresses and as such the picture quality should improve.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Practice Shots

We've had a couple of clear cold nights so I've been busy practising with the new kit. 

Nothing groundbreaking and the same old moon shots but I wanted to see what I could get using the 3X barlow.

Below are my shots from the 18th and 19th November;

All different exposures and the bottom one, taken on the 18th November slightly touched up in Photoshop. I won't go into detail about ISO's and exposure times as I'm still not happy about them yet.

With reference to deep space I'm still struggling.  Here's my Jupiter with the dotted line beneath it a shaky moon or two.  I currently have a full pot of paint trying to solve the movement problem but no success yet.
Till next time..................


Friday, November 15, 2013

A New Scope

I purchased a Skywatcher 150P DS as it was slightly bigger than my old refractor.  Being a reflector I had no real idea what to expect as I hadn't used one before.

So I set it up and waited for a clear night.

A clear night came and I had the best view of Andromeda I have ever had.  Stars seemed slightly clearer and there was definitely more detail.  But me being me wanted to image all of this.  I won't go into detail but reflectors are renowned for their afocal focussing troubles. Never the less I thought I was up for a challenge.
The resulting nights saw me getting more and more frustrated until last night I found that the eye piece was loose so I checked it and found that the 2" to 1.25" adapter was in two sections.  So I unscrewed them and found I could screw my camera directly on the scope using the T-ring.

So these are my first "real" pictures.  Not much but a starting point.

 The Moon was nearly full and very bright, 91.71% luminosity and 240,393 miles away to be precise.  But it is still a moon picture.
 This is a streaky picture of Mirphak. It was windy, it was the only bright star not obscured by cloud and I wanted to try it out.  You can see the vaning on the star which is produced by the web holding the upper mirror in place.

Anyways, lets call this day one with the new scope and I'll hopefully be able to improve on the above.