Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Sword of Orion Region - B&W


This is, again, the Sword of Orion region in the Orion Constellation. It contains the Running Man Nebula to the left and the Great Orion Nebula to the right, both being massive star forming regions. Without a doubt, one of the most amazing visual and photographic night sky objects.

This is a combination of data taken several days ago, processed with data taken last year. I decided to leave this in black and white as it tends to illustrate the detail in the nebulosity much better than color.

 About 75 minutes (7, 4 and 1 minute frames)
- 5 * 3 minute dark frames
- 10 bias frames
- ISO 800
- Imaged with a Nikon D7000 and Astrotelescopes 80mm ED Refractor
- Guided with a Meade DSI and Orion SSAG through a William Optics 66mm Refractor
- Mounted on a Celestron CGEM
- Stacked in DSS
- Post processing in GIMP
- Mild tonemapping in Photomatix Pro
- Noise reduction in NeatImage

Thursday, February 19, 2015

M45 Pleiades Cluster



Current work in progress for this year. Guiding seems great. I think I have a lot to learn about post-processing though.

- 42 minutes (7 minute frames)
- 3 * 7 minute dark frames
- (no flat frames used)
- ISO 1000
- Imaged with a Nikon D7000 and Astrotelescopes 80mm ED Refractor
- Guided with a Orion SSAG and William Optics 66mm Refractor
- Mounted on a Celestron CGEM
- Stacked in DSS
- Post processing in GIMP
- Mild tonemapping in Photomatix Pro
- Noise reduction in NeatImage

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Flame and Horsehead Nebulas



A work in progress, but another better test with my new guiding setup from last night. The Orion Starshoot Autoguider is a BREEZE to use. Also using PHD2 Guiding which continues to give me live feedback of my guiding status and offers recommendations for improvement. Outstanding!

Could still do with some work. Need to add darks and bias frames.

  • Image: 80 minutes of ten minute exposures @ ISO1000
  • Imaging: Astrotelescopes 80mm ED Refractor and Nikon D7000
  • Guiding: William Optics 66mm Refractor and Orion Star Shoot Autoguider
  • Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, GIMP and Snapseed

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Yes! I can guide again!!!!

Over the past year or so, I have had serious autoguiding issues with my setup. I had suspected that it was soemthing to do with my Serial cable adapter that sits between the laptop, which runs PHD Guiding, and the Celestron CGEM hand controller on my mount. So, I purchased an Orion Star Shoot AutoGuider (SSAG) which connects directly into the autoguiding port on the CGEM mount itself.

Installation of the SSAG drivers was fairly straightforward. I also downloaded the newer version of PHDGuiding (PHD2) which, I must say, has a slicker interface and a lot more options to explore.

So, before the moon came up last night I set up at a local dark sky spot and tried it out. After spending an hour-and-a-half wondering why nothing was working and finally figuring out that I had plugged the SSAG guide cable into the wrong port, the system worked flawlessly. I ran a test of several 5 minute exposures on M42, with this image being the result. No fancy processing here, just a few test captures to make sure my guiding was back on track.

The SSAG camera is great. Sensitive, love plugging directly into the guide port on my mount, and just super easy to use. I'm looking forward to getting back out there this year and shooting some more stuff!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Getting back into it, new binoculars and a view of Comet Lovejoy

Well, hello there!

It's been a LONG time since I have posted here. Life, work and bad weather made for a rubbish astronomy year for me last year. Plus, guiding issues persisted which added to the misery. I'm working on replacing my autoguiding setup, and should be ready for some more long exposure astrophotography by February.

I did score some nice new binoculars for Christmas this year. Celestron 15*70s, which offer great views but require a tripod for extended use. They offer some great vews of the Orion Nebula, and the Double Cluster looks pretty good through them as well.



In the meantime, enjoy this 10*30 second exposure of Comet Lovejoy, shot at ISO2000 with my Nikon D7000.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lunar Eclipse of 2014

We got very lucky in Austin, Texas yesterday! The day started off with severe thunderstorms, wild winds, hail warnings, fire and brimstone type stuff! Magically, the skies cleared beautifully and when I peeked out at 1:30am this morning, voila! Great view of the eclipse from my front garden.

Here are a few shots!