Sunday, November 28, 2010

M33 "Pinwheel" Galaxy

I spent a nice Thanksgiving weekend in Arkansas this past weekend. My wife's father owns a goat farm up there. Lots of great food, and it was nice to see my wife and children reconnect with him and his his wife. Other than splitting wood, chasing goats and engaging in some interesting political discussion, he let me use his land to set up my imaging rig while we visited. Friday night was cold (around 33F), still and crystal clear. I set up my rig at sunset and shot for a while, M33 being my primary target for the evening. I had never imaged it before and was keen to do so given its high altitude. I got about just over an hour's worth of data before tiredness and coldness kicked in. I was also having issues with PHD Guiding. Not sure what the deal was, but it wasn't doing a brilliant job and kept losing its guide star (I think the "Auto Guide Star Select" option sometimes picks hot pixels on the guide camera as opposed to actual stars). I also had battery issues and had to switch to the car battery half way through my session. Ah, fun and games. Anyway, pretty chuffed with the result! You can see some nice color and spiral action going on there. My only reservation is the "blueness" of it. Not sure if that is something going on in my saturation processing... I may rework this later in the week.

Image Details
  • Imaging Scope: Astrotelescopes 80mm ED Refractor
  • Imaging Camera: Nikon D7000
  • Guiding Scope: William Optics 66mm Petzval Refractor
  • Guiding Camera: Meade DSI-C
  • Mount: Celestron CGEM
  • Exposures: 10 * 7 minute lights, 4 * 7 minute darks, 30 1/2000 second bias frames
  • ISO 1250
  • Aligned and Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker
  • Post-Processing in GIMP (contrast, saturation and unsharp mask)


Roberto said...

Hi Phil!

Great photo! It's amazing! You're improving every day. Congrulations


Phil said...

Thanks a lot, Roberto! Really appreciate the feedback. More clear nights coming up, so we'll see what we can capture... :-)


Anonymous said...

Great shot Phil! Haha I had fun with the same target on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, October 10th!

Also up north at my aunt's place, it ended up being near perfect seeing conditions. Unfortunately for me, I left taking my subs until almost 4am, and most of mine were recked by the sunrise, so I only had 6 x 3min subs worth stacking.


RoryG said...

That's a beautiful image, Phil! The dust lanes stand out nicely, and I think that the color looks good. (Mine turned out bluish, too.) I think you did a great job!

Yes, PHD will lock onto hot pixels. I've struggled with that one before, too. Keep that little search box small, and pick a star that's away from any hot pixels. Also, creating a dark frame helps.

Phil said...

Thanks, Rory! Maybe it's just a blue galaxy :-) I have seen other, more glorious images where the bulk of it is white, with red splotches here and there.

Thanks for the tip on the PHD software as well. I'll try and take a dark shot tomorrow night during my next imaging session...

Polaris B said...

Yes! Excellent shot! Nice depth! Nice round stars! Focus is dead-on! A very nice image! Congratulations.

Phil said...

Thanks PolarisB! Appreciate that!