Sunday, February 25, 2018

NGC 2174 - The Monkey Head Nebula - HaRGB

Finally a new image!  This is NGC 2174 or the Monkey Head Nebula named because of its resemblance to a monkey's head. It is an a star forming Hydrogen emission nebula located in the constellation Orion and is associated with the open star cluster NGC 2175.  The nebula lies approximately 6,400 light-years away from Earth and would take up an area larger than the moon if you were able to see it with the naked eye.  

It was pretty easy to locate and imaged the Ha around the same time I did the Jellyfish. Because of the strong Ha component, I decided to use the UHC filter to collect the color rather than a broadband filter. 


NGC 2174 - Monkey Head Nebula
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 1-25-18(Ha), 2-8-18 (RGB)
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik Ha Clip-filter, Astronomik UHC Clip-filter
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 27 x 180s (Ha), 90 x 120 (RGB)
ISO: 1600
Temp: -8 C, -4 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Astronomy Tools, Lightroom, GE.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Monday, February 19, 2018

Messier Objects Using an ED80

Many star catalogs were in existence since the Babylonian star catalog came out in 1800 BC, however, none these catalogs focused on other objects. The Messier Catalog, first introduced in 1771 AD, maybe the first astronomical catalog of astronomical objects that focuses on nebulae and other oddities. Interestingly, French astronomer, Charles Messier whom the catalog is named after, made the catalog as a list of what not to look for as he was interested in searching for comets. He began his life-long search for comets early on in his career sparked in part by Halley's comet. He would eventually discover 15 of them. While searching for comets he began keeping a journal of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters which could resemble a comet through a small telescope (source: http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-messier.html and wikipedia).

This entire image is 17000 by 11000 pixels (17 inches by 11 inches) so it should be printable as a small poster. Note: I have not tried to print it yet. Each individual image is 1200 pixels by 857 pixels (1.2 inches by 0.857 inches) and with a resolution set at 1000 pixels. You should be able to zoom in and still maintain a certain amount of high resolution.

Making this poster was a very tedious and time consuming operation for me as I am not a graphics person or photographer by training. I created in Photoshop and learned plenty of new PS actions along the way. I had to resize everyone of my images in order to make this image. I was horrified  opening some of these images which were processed years ago and seeing how bad I processed them. At the recommendation of Gary Imm (https://www.astrobin.com/315674/?nc=user), I have equalized the background to roughly the same shade of black. Some of my older images were so bad I had to start from scratch. The image is huge and the original PS - PSD file was over four GB (my computer has only 6 GB of RAM) when I only had 30 images uploaded so I save it as a PDF file which was 10x smaller but I was still able to keep it layered.  It is still huge at 911 MB and takes 5 minutes to open 15 minutes to save edits.  I have various JPEG versions which range from 90 MB to 5.5 MB.  The 5.5 MB version looks as good as the 90 MB version on a cursory review.

All of these images were taken using the same Orion ED80 80mm Apochromatic Refractor Telescope and Canon T3i/600D camera. This setup works well for large objects such as the Orion Nebula but not so well for very small objects like small globular clusters or far away galaxies. Because of this, I had my limits as to how far I could enlarge objects without sacrificing resolution so they are not to scale. For an interesting comparison Gary Imm made two versions of his catalog:  1) not to scale and 2) to scale (https://www.astrobin.com/315674/?nc=user).


Note: A higher quality image can be viewed and downloaded from the following site:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

IC443 - Jellyfish Nebula Ha, RGB, and HaRGB!

Recently, I shot the Jellyfish Nebula (IC 443) in the constellation Gemini.  It is located near the star Eta Geminorum (Propus) and lies approximately 5,000 light years from Earth.  It is suspected of being the remains of a supernova that occurred 3,000 - 30,000 years ago. Also interesting is that the same supernova event likely created the neutron star within this nebula (source: Wikipedia, APOD).

I first imaged it in Ha since the moon was out.  This is what I am doing these days during full moon phases.  I was able to get some RGB data this past week.  I decided to use my Astronomik UHC clip-in filter since I have had good luck with these types of emission nebula.

This was a pleasant object to image as it is easy to locate being so close to Eta Geminorum (Propus). Also, since I imaged the RGB over to nights, I basically just had to open the shed and point to the nebula as I left everything as is, that is already focused. That being said, this was one of the most difficult images I ever processed. The Ha was easy enough but the color image was a big pain. The color of the main part nebula was highly differentiated and not in a good way, Propus and Tejat (the two large stars) had horrible halos, and the secondary tail (left hand side) barely was visible. Also, My Ha image did not frame up as well as I thought it would. I spent many hours bouncing back and forth between PS and LR2, usually I do PS then LR2 and a final touch in PS. This object is one where a really good monochrome camera would be preferable as opposed to a DSLR. Most of the really good images of this object were taken with a dedicated astrophotography camera. Anyway, I am happy with how it finally turned out.
Ha

RGB

HaRGB-V1

HaRGB-V2 (less noise, looks better on lower quality monitors)

Jellyfish Nebula IC443
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 1-24-18(Ha), 2-5-18 (RGB), 2-6-18 (RGB)
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik Ha Clip-filter, Astronomik UHC Clip-filter
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 45 x 180s (Ha), 66 x 120 (RGB), 72 x 120 (RGB)
ISO: 1600
Temp: -8 C, -4 C, -2 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Astronomy Tools, Lightroom, GE.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

M79 - Not a Glorious Finish

I began this quest to image all 110 Messier Objects with the same camera (Canon T3i/600D) and telescope (Orion ED80 f/7.5) over three years ago.  Like many astrophotographers my first deep sky image was that of M42 - the Orion Nebula.   The image was only a 7-second shot but it was good enough to see the nebulosity and I subsequently re-imaged it for the catalog.  I am currently creating a collage with all of my images and will post once it is complete.

Link to my current images of Messier Objects:

It took a while to get this object because it was one the twenty five objects that was not visible from my yard.  My intent was to image this object on one of our regular meeting nights at Boothe Park, however, the season was getting closer to end an ideal night was going away.  Last Friday (2/2/18) was a good visual night but it was extremely cold with 20 mph gusts. Also, Boothe Park has lots of light pollution (Bortle 7, maybe 8) and the moon was out, although it was low.  I had to limit exposures to only 30 seconds.  Special thanks goes to Mark Holden, President of Boothe Memorial Astronomical Society, for braving the conditions with me. 

M79 (NGC 1904) is a globular cluster in the constellation Lepus and is at a distance of about 42,000 light years away from Earth and 60,000 light years away from the Galactic Center (source: wikipedia).  M7 looks pretty small in my little refractor but larger scopes can resolve individual stars.  Also, this globular cluster is thought to be a captured cluster from a close encounter with another galaxy.


M79
Location: Boothe Hill Park, Stratford, Ct
Date: 02-02-18
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Atlas Pro
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 51 x 30s
ISO: 1600
Temp: -12 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in HaRGB

I'm done playing with the Horsehead for now.  I am a little dissatisfied with the image in particular with the coarseness of the Ha data (see previous post: link).  As others have stated, Ha-filters on a DSLR collect only on the red channel so you have collect 4 times the amount than you would using a monochrome camera so this may be a reason for the coarseness.  On the other hand, it did bring out more detail than I ever could with just the RGB and for that I am pleased.  That being said here is my final image along with some others:

Final HaRGB - I like this the best

HaRGB - with addition of the HaR Channel Boost - I did not like this 

RGB - no Ha Data - OK

Horsehead Nebula IC 434 and Flame Nebula NGC 2024
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 12-30-17(Ha), 1-2-18 (Ha), 1-13-18 (RGB), 1-14-18 (RGB), 1-20-18 (RGB), 1-24-18 (Ha)
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik Ha Clip-filter, Baader Neodymium Skyglow 2"
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 30 x 150s (Ha), 30 x 150s (Ha), 78 x 120 (RGB), 20 x 120 (RGB), 32 x 120 (RGB), 80 x 150s (Ha)
ISO: 1600
Temp: -12 C, -10 C, -15 C, -10 C, -5 C, 0 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Astronomy Tools, Lightroom.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Monday, January 29, 2018

Ha Processing Difficulties

I have recently been shooting Ha-images with a 7 nm Astronmik clip in filter and a Canon T3i/600D modified camera. The setup is attached to an Orion ED80 f/7.5 refractor.  I have seen other Ha images with quite stunning results and my images look much less impressive.  There is more detail than the RGB image I took but I hopping for more.

Here are images of 5.8 hrs (140 x 150s, ISO1600) on the Horsehead Nebula:
Image 1 - DSS raw exposures default settings
Image 2 - DSS raw exposures super pixel mode
Image 3 - DSS tiff exposures default settings

I have been converting all of my RGB images to tiff and then stacking them as I like the way the stars look better.  The Tiff method does look smoother, however, stacking raw images seems to give more detail in Ha.  It is just the crunchy look that I am concerned with. Not sure if it my camera or if my processing is horrible.  I should mention my camera is a 5-year old work horse and I plan on getting a new monochrome CMOS as soon as finances are available.  If any one has any thoughts I would appreciate them. Cheers Kurt 

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Witch Head Nebula - Best I can do at my location.

Not hard to find a better image of the Witch Head Nebula.  Just look at any one else's.  I did learn that I need to head for darker locations when shooting dim reflection nebulae if they are less than 45 degrees looking south, at least with my equipment. Looking overhead my sky is a 5 on the Bortle light pollution index but looking south it is more like 8 given that Bridgeport is than 7 miles, Stamford is 25 miles, and Manhattan is 50 miles as the photon flies.  I thought I could get a better image since I have had pretty good luck with emission nebulae using the Astronomik UHC filter.  I did use the Baader Skyglow filter (UHC does not work well for reflection nebula) but this nebula is especially dim so I had no such luck.  So I had some fun turning up everything in order to see the nebula with all these wacky colors.   I feel defeated I could not get a better image but oh well, I thought the star field looked pretty cool.


NGC1909 - Witch Head Nebula
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 1-18-18, 1-20-18
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Baader Skyglow
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 82 x 120s, 25 x 120s
ISO: 1600
Temp: -5 C, 4 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Astronomy Tools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/