Sunday, September 28, 2014

A bit more detail

After the last post it occured to me that M45 should be showing a little more detail at least. So armed with GIMP I set to work....


Oh Mr. Messier....

To keep the ball rolling so to speak, I have been out again this weekend and got these images. I am still getting to grips with the processing.
All taken at prime focus with Orion ST80 and Canon EOS 300D and processed with Deep Sky Stacker and GIMP.


M13 The Great Globular Cluster (ISO 400 total 6 min.)

M31 The Andromeda Galaxy (ISO 800 total 14min.)

M45 The Pleiades (ISO 400 total 4 min.)

M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy (ISO 400 total 7min30sec.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Getting to grips with it

So, just a quick post to update you with my recent Astro Photography shots.
After the previous post it was clear that no decent images could be taken with a moon in the sky at the same time. Fortunately this week brought such a night. I spent a good half-hour or so making sure the tripod and mount were setup correctly and that the SynScan was slewing the scope to targets properly. All good here.
As this was only my second proper try, I needed a target or two that would be bright enough so that I knew what to expect (i) on the camera preview screen and (ii) once I came to process the images.
I decided on M13 (Globular Cluster in Hercules) and M31 (The Andromeda Galaxy).

And here they are:

Canon EOS 300D ISO400 Total of 3 min. Processed using Deep Sky Stacker and Paint.NET.
I kept the Iridium Flare (not purposely photograped) as I think it adds to the image.

Canon EOS 300D ISO400 Total of 6 min. Processed using Deep Sky Stacker and Paint.NET.
You also have M32 (top) and M110 (bottom).

Both images are taken at Prime Focus using an Orion ST80 400mm f/5.

Obviously if I had gathered more data these images would show much more detail, but for my 2nd outing I think they hold-up.
I also tinkered with FITS Liberator (the NASA imaging tool) but I need to spend more time with this.

Clear Skies.

UPDATE 25-SEP-2014: I realised when processing that GIMP only works in 8bit even though it can read 16bit files and that is why I did not use it. I have just found today that Paint.NET is the same. So I really need to get PhotoShop!!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Back on it

After the summer hiatus we are now back on it! (Not that we were ever off it, but you get my meaning!).

During the summer months I had decided to upgrade my mount to give me the full go-to experience. Essentially the CG-4 head is the same as the EQ3-2 and to this end I purchased the Skywatcher EQ3-2 GoTo upgrade kit and boy was it worth it.
So, not only do I get to find my objects around the sky more easily and quickly I also have a superb platform on which to base my Astro photography and get a fully motorized mount to boot.

It must be noted here though that there is a very steep learning curve with this equipment. It is essential that the mount has a Polar Scope and that this is properly set-up. This in turn enables you to align with the North Celestial Pole (near Polaris) - essential for any decent Astro photography.

I also purchased an Orion ST80. I had read good things about this scope and even though it is simply an achromat, the optics are superb for the money with little to no chromatic aberation. I will use this as my prime photography scope for the time being and later if I have the money I will use it as my guide scope. But that's for the future...

With all these tools at my disposal I decided to choose M81/M82 as my first targets. This was kind-of forced upon me as the nearly full moon was in the south at this point. I know that any seasoned Astro photographer would not even venture out on such a night, but I was keen to try out all the equipment and put to work what I had read.

And here it is:

Taken with a Canon EOS 300D at prime focus, a total of four 60 second exposures at ISO 800, stacked in Deep Sky Stacker with 1 dark frame and processed in GIMP.

M82 (Cigar Galaxy) at top, M81 (Bode's Galaxy) at bottom and also NGC3077 to the lower left.

It can only get better from here and can't wait for those clear dark skies.