Saturday, March 15, 2014


As this blog drifts more into the black arts of astrophotography I thought I would impart a little of what I have learnt about processing.

Using a couple of images I have posted within the last couple of months and armed with a couple of hours reading tutorials on the internet I thought I'd give it ago.

My first target was the purple "noise" in the corner of some of my earlier shots.  This was removed using both the Chromatic Aberration sliders in Lightroom and also boosting the colour on the noise reduction slider in the same software.  Finally the last thing I did was change the white balance to as shot, rather than the custom settings which were being added as standard.  This was the result;

As you can see there is still a little "blow out" at the line of termination and that is due to me trying to sharpen it as best I can although I may sacrifice the extreme detail in future shots for a more rounded image.

The above is two pictures joined using photoshops automate feature.  It's OK but has the "natural" appearance and we all know the moon is grey, right?  Again I have my red hue down the line of termination.
As the last couple of blogs have been focusing on Mare Imbrium I thought I would steer towards that.  Using the above image I heavily adjusted the colour sliders in the hope that I could lose that redness;

As you can see I almost succeeded! By adjusting the colours, even though the image is black and white, it has bought out a little more contrast.  I particularly like the "wave-like" formation at the top left which is the area with the most unfortunate name of Mare Frigoris.

The starting images weren't my best so with a better starting point I'm hoping to improve on the above.

I'm quite happy I just need to spend as much time with the pc as I do with the telescope!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The game is a foot ....

OK, so more Moon I know, but what a Moon it is with a bit of The Belt of Venus thrown in ....

Belt of Venus

Mare Imbrium. Sinus Iridum (top left with the Montes Jura), Plato (top right), Eratosthenes (bottom - and bottom of the Montes Apenninus), Archimedes (centre right) moving more right to Autolycus (bottom) and Aristillus (top).
Cassini lies at the bottom end of the Montes Apenninus.
The Russian probe Luna 2 landed to the left of Autolycus.
Luna 17 landed below and to the left of Sinus Iridum.
Apollo 15 landed on Rima Hadley which is to the "top" of the Montes Apenninus in the darker area.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Never Get Enough

Feeling a bit of healthy competition I thought I would try for the moon tonight, since it is absolutely perfect viewing.

I took about 30 pictures but my 2X barlow, while good means that the moon will not exactly fit onto my camera sensor.  Luckily Photoshop has the automate feature which stuck these twon together withouy me having to align anything, think I'll try a mosaic next!!

This clearly shows Mare Imbrium towards the top and Tycho at the bottom. The picture is a bit washed out because a) it was taken as a jpeg, b) it was taken in Mono c) it was taken at 1000ISO 1/250sec.  This was due to the fact I hadn't changed the settings from last time!

Next is almost the same image taken in RAW, stitched and converted jpeg.

Notice the redness creeping in along the line of termination.  This is something I need to work on in my processing.

Finally we have the Mare Imbrium with Sinus Iridum on the left hand side, Pinto at the top and the Apennines on the right of the sea.

 The three craters toward the Apennines are Archimedes (the larger lower one), Autolycus (small middle) and Anstillus at the top.  And finally the crater at the bottom of the mountain range is Eralosthenes.

A fine evening in all.


Monday, March 10, 2014

We're getting there now....

Spurred on by our foray to the Sheffield Astro Society's dark sky meeting I have just come in from taking some shots of the moon. I just had to get these on the blog ASAP. Both are taken at prime focus with a 2x SkyWatcher barlow.
The top image shows crater Clavius (large crater at bottom) with craters Rutherfurd (bottom) and Porter (top) sitting on it's rim.
The lower image shows Mare Imbrium with crater Plato clearly seen (top). Montes Alples (to Plato's top right) and the Vallis Alpes (to Plato's bottom right) are clearly seen.

Canon EOS M ISO100 1/15sec manual focus. Cropped and processed.


Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sheffield Astro Society

Last night, 8th March, saw the Sheffield Astro Society visit one of their preferred dark sites at the car park for Surprise View, Derbyshire.  MJ and I decided to go as I had never been to an "event" like this before and MJ had only been to a meeting of the Baker Street Irregulars before and what a night.

The event was to showcase the Moon, Jupiter and Orion and judging by the ooh's and aah's by the 30 or so people who attended they succeeded in their goal.  It was great to see so many people, all of whom were very interested, MJ's telescope was getting quite a bit of attention, and the Society's staff were knowledgeable and polite.

The pictures above were taken on a Olympus Pen E PL1  using a one minute exposure and have been processed to get rid of some of the orange light

There was some cloud cover around 7pm which lifted slightly during the night but the Moon, Jupiter and Orion were visible.

 The Moon with Orion clearly visible to the left centre of the picture
 A rare shot of MJ and Al together.  MJ's Vixen scope is in the foreground and Orion over our heads.

Whereas I didn't bring my telescope I did bring my Celestron 8-24mm zoom eyepiece and camera, obviously.  So using my T-adapter we connected the camera to the scope and took the resulting images.  To say neither of us have combined each others equipment before we were reasonably happy with the results.  There were regulars of the Society there with laptops who were filming Jupiter, stacking and processing the image there and then.  Oh, to have such kit!

 The Moon. 1/80sec ISO 250
 An attempt at the Orion Nebula (from previous pictures you can see the moon was bleaching out a lot of the light)

Overall it was a great night, in fact MJ said it was his best night out with a telescope ever!   I think to be with like minded individuals who don't mind getting cold can only be a good thing.

The Dark Site (the idea for this comes courtesy of a gentleman called Karl I met at the event who's version was a lot better!)


Saturday, March 08, 2014

Still Here!

After a month or more of cloud cover during all the optimum night viewing times the skies have eventually cleared over the last day or two.

I've been roaming the skies rather than constantly trying to take pictures.  With my new eyepieces I had a great view of the Orion Nebula (tried to take a picture but still suffered from movement) and Orion in general.

The moon has looked great for the last week and viewing it last night using my #21 orange filter was an absolute joy.  I have found this only works best when the moon is at least half full as it does take away a lot of light but the extra detail it brings is amazing.  I have tried to capture this but due to different exposure settings needed and extra focusing tweaks I haven't quite got it set up to use as an aid to astrophtotography.

I have included a picture from Monday 3rd March 2014 when the moon was in it's first quarter.