Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Solar Eclipse 8-21-17

Had a great time observing this amazing event.  I was also able to get some images as well by automating the whole thing.  I did have a scare, however.  The camera control software, Backyard EOS, that I have been using successfully for over two years would not work.  I was unable to change settings or even set up to record images.  Fortunately I was imaging at a hotel where I could calm down, after 45 minutes of doing many things and trying to download a new version on a slow internet connection, I simply restarted the computer (at the suggestion of my wife) and it worked.  I did let BYE what happened and they are looking into it.

Same Exposure at different spots during totality

Same Exposure at different spots during totality

Diamond Ring: Crop of Loop1-1 (1/2000 sec) 

Crop of Loop3-2 (1/200 sec + 1/2000 sec)

Loop3-2 (1/200 sec + 1/2000 sec)

Loop3-3 (1/20 sec)

Wispy cloud: Loop4-3 (1/20 sec) - Color adjustment

Wispy cloud: Loop4-3 (1/20 sec

https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Thursday, August 17, 2017

First Images Using a PST

I apologize to all the super solar-imagers out there for the poor quality but this this is my first attempt using my QHY5L-II-M camera that I use for autoguiding with the new PST.  I was playing with EZPlanetary to obtain the images.  Eventually I would like to use APT for controlling the QHY but that will be down the road.  I basically took one longer exposure to get the flare and a shorter exposure to get the surface detail.  I added color and played with the settings in PS for each image.  After I was satisfied, I combined the two images (copied the surface detail image on to the longer exposure).  Of course I will have do something about the image size - focal reducer - and collect more exposures so there is no overexposed central portion.

I guess this is a prelude to the eclipse as well.  I will be going to Bowling Green, Kentucky for viewing and imaging although not with this scope.  I ordered for my astronomy class and thought it might be more useful than another night-time telescope especially since I teach during the day.  I am pleased with what I see through scope and think this will be much more exciting to the students than the normal solar filters. I really did see the flares although the surface detail was not that great but for the price, it is definitely worth it.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

M16 - The Eagle revisited

This is a new version of the Eagle Nebula that I captured last week.  I am happy with the outcome and it is much better than the image from last year when my processing skills were not as good. In addition I used a UHC filter and focal reducer.  Also, I was able to get a more time with it this time around.  I would have liked to get another hour on it but clouds and the moon are working against me.  If I had a narrow band Ha-filter I would have been able to get some luminosity data even during a full moon - I think I know what my next gift request is.

Also, the dark spots that have been infecting my images as of late was not present this time around.  I did three things as a precaution: 1) covered the viewfinder of my camera so no light could find its way back into the camera while taking dark exposures (I should cover it during lights as well - next time), 2) after putting the telescope cap on I put a bag over the telescope end, and 3) I took bias exposures.  I have not taken and bias exposures in almost 6 months as I read that they are not needed if you take dark exposures but there are easy so might as well do them.  I had a few dark spots, which I have always had, but the image was much cleaner than other images have been for the last couple of months. 

M16 - The Eagle Nebula is a popular summertime target for astrophotagraphers and is home to the "Pillers of Creation" in the central portion of the nebula (active star forming region). Hubble has a famous image of this region far superior to my, little scope and most other ground based scopes as well.  The nebula is about 7000 light years away and 90 light years across.  For reference, the nearest star to our sun is Proxima Centuari which is 4.3 light years away.

https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/


M16 - The Eagle Nebula
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-29-17
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-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik UHC
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 34 x 180s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Beta Test 3 - Equipment

I was out again checking set up time and doing another test.  
- Ten minutes to get all set up.

Essential Equipment

The rest of the test consisted of checking camera automation plan and the sun drift caused by using a fixed mount.

Automation plan - 
Exposure 1/2000 sec, ISO 200

Exposure 1/200 sec, ISO 200 

Exposure 1/20 sec, ISO 200 

Exposure 1/2 sec, ISO 200

I plan to set this sequence do a continuous loop starting 2 minutes prior to totality until 2 minutes after totality.  Total time of 5 or 6 minutes depending on our exact location.  

Things Learned
- The sun is in the rough center of the field of view (FOV) for over 2 minutes, therefore, only 1 or 2 adjustments are necessary to keep the sun in the center.

- The Explore Scientific Twilight I mount is very sturdy and able to preform fine adjustments.

- Using a fixed tripod with a 400 mm focal length telescope limits the exposure to 1/2 second.  I tried a 1 second exposure and the sun started to look oblong.

- The 4 exposure sequence takes approximately 16 seconds using Backyard EOS saving to the camera.

- The sun is really bright!  No kidding Sherlock.  Notice the first 3 exposures compared to the 1/2 second exposure.  I did not change the size or zoom in, brightness is just that it masks the surface.  That's why you need solar filters to look at the sun.

- I may miss Bailey's Beads or the diamond effect as the sun enters totality due to the amount of time it takes for the exposure sequence but I am very familiar with this procedure and it is automated so I can enjoy seeing the eclipse (HOPING NO CLOUDS GET IN THE WAY)!

(Previous test)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Last Three Sagittarius Objects

M54, M55,  and M75 represent the last three Messier objects in Sagittarius (that I captured for my catalog).  M54 and M75 are both very small resembling a big star more than a globular cluster.  In fact I thought my go to was out of whack when it took me to M54.  I spent about 20 minutes verifying I was on it.

M54 was thought to belong to the Milky Way, however (1994 research), it turns out that M54 belongs to the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy making it the first globular cluster formerly thought to be part of our galaxy.  M54 is approximately 87,000 light-years from Earth and has a radius of 150 light-years across. It is one of the denser of the globulars, however, not resolvable into individual stars even with larger amateur telescopes (source: wikipedia).

Messier 55 can be seen with a pair of 50 mm binoculars, although resolving the individual stars requires a medium-sized telescope.  It is at a distance of about 17,600 light-years away from Earth (source: wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messier_55).

M75 is at a distance of about 67,500 light years away from Earth and its apparent size on the sky translates to a true radius of some 67 light years. Like M55 it is one of the more densely concentrated globular clusters known.

This makes only four Messier objects left...

M54

M55

M75

M75 Crop

M54
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-30-2017
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 EQ/AZ Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 22 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 22 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

M55
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-30-2017
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 EQ/AZ Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 22 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 26 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

M75
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-30-2017
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 EQ/AZ Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 26 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 22 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

M4 revisited with Antares

This is a replacement image for M4 because was not satisfied with my original 5-minute image I captured two years ago when I was just starting out.  I was not planning on imaging this, it was a last minute decision. I would like to come back to it and really put in some time as there is a lot more nebulosity than the 'hints' that appear in my new image.  I tried to keep more of it but I was not on it long enough to make it look good.  I was under a time constraint in order to get other Messier objects which are also not visible from my house.   M4 is very easy to find being so close to Antares and you can see it with a small telescope pretty well.

Antares is an enormous supergiant star with a radius 883 times that of the Sun. If it were in the center of the Solar System, its outer surface would lie between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.  Antares is approximately 550 light-years from the Sun (source: wikipedia).  I would have liked to get rid of orange secondary halo around Antares (or not have it show up at all - limitation of equipment) but everything I tried really did not work.  I am sure there is some Astrobin superuser that could probably get rid of it but I couldn't.  Feel free to comment if you know how.

Addendum:
I believe the red halo is due to the modified camera picking up more Ha light.  Knowing this I tinkered with the image RGB balance in PS and subtracted it out.

M4 and Antares 

M4 and Antares (halo subtracted out)

M4 crop

M4 and Antares
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-30-2017
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 EQ/AZ Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 21 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 22 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Thursday, July 27, 2017

UHC & OMB Filter Test With M18 & M17

I did not plan on doing this test it happened because I wanted to image M18 and thought I would redo M17 while I was at it since I never imaged it with the Astronomik UHC (Ultra High Contrast). Previously I did it with the Astronomik CLS (link to image).  Unfortunately I put the Astronomik OWB (Original White Balance) filter in my camera (modified Canon T3i/600D) and the UHC filter.  So I had to go back on another night to do what I wanted to do in the first place. 

Results:
Figure 1 shows the the enter image using the OWB filter used for turning a modified camera back factory white balance. 

Figure 2 is the same image using the UHC filter.  The UHC allows for more Ha light to pass with less light pollution, thus more contrast and more of the nebula.  The UHC filter allows the transmission of nearly 100% of the radiation from both O-III and the H beta lines. UHC filters are mainly used for emission nebula and not recommended for star clusters and such as it blocks some of their light. Notice the smaller size of the stars.  I like how the OWB has a better star field.

Figures 3 and 4 are a combined image of both the UHC and OWB images.  I wanted increase the star field but keep the increased nebulosity.  I used different blending methods to achieve this.

Figure 5 is the open cluster, M18. 


Figure 1 - M17 - OWB

Figure 2 - M17 - UHC

Figure 3 - Combined 55% UHC - 45% OWB Normal Blend 

Figure 4 - Combined 55% UHC - 45% OWB Luminosity Blend

Figure 5- M18 - OWB

Image Details:

OWB
M17 - M18
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 6-24-17
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-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik OWB
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 18 x 180s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

UHC
M17 - M18
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-16-17
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-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik UHC
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 22 x 180s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/