Tuesday, October 17, 2017

M76 - Little Dumbbell Nebula

I captured the Little Dumbbell Nebula (M76) the other night which makes this the 108th Messier object I have imaged, just two more to go. This object lives up to its name as being little and is much smaller than the Dumbell Nebula (M27) . The Little Dumbbell is a planetary nebula that is estimated to be 2,500 light years from us and about 1.23 ly across (source: wikipedia).

I have seen some really spectacular images of the Little Dumbbell using very large telescopes. I was using my little ED80 so I was not counting on getting any fine detail so I focused more on getting a pleasant star field.  That being said, the Dumbbell turned out better than I expected and am very happy with the outcome.

M76 - Little Dumbbell Nebula
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 10-12-17
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 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: 69 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 16 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Saturday, October 14, 2017

NGC 869-884 - Double Cluster Revisited

I was not planning on imaging the Double Cluster but M34, my target, was still behind some trees some I had a little time. I imaged this almost two years ago (link) but I modified my equipment since then so I decided to revisit it.  The Double Cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884, often designated h Persei and χ Persei, respectively or Caldwell 14) are close together in the constellation Perseus and lie at a distance of 7500 light years.  They are very close to the Heart Nebula (last target) and the Soul Nebula.

This was also the first time I ever used flats in my processing. I took them the following day using a method described by Trevor Jones from Astrobackyard.com (link).  It definitely made a difference and have posted images with and without the flat frames for comparison.  The flats removed some of the vignetting but not all and seemed to have removed some of the smaller stars so I think I need to experiment with taking these.

Autosave

Autosave with Flats

Color Balance

Color Balance with Flats

Final

Final with Flats

NGC 869 and 884 - The Double Cluster
Location: Home Monroe, CT and CSP27, Goshen, CT
Date: 10-12-17
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 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: 40 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 16 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Saturday, October 7, 2017

IC 1805 - The Heart Nebula

The Heart Nebula IC 1805 or Sharpless 2-190) is approximately 7500 light years away from Earth and is located in the constellation Cassiopeia. This is an emission nebula showing glowing ionized hydrogen gas and darker dust. The very brightest part of this nebula (the knob on the western edge) is separately classified as NGC 896, because it was the first part of this nebula to be discovered. The nebula's intense red output is driven by the radiation emanating from a small group of stars near the nebula's center (source: wikipedia).

This was the last object I imaged at the CSP27 Star Party on 9-27-17 but I started imaging from my yard on the previous night (10 min) and finished on the night after.I would like to say this object was easy to image and easy to process and for some some this may be the case. However, I had crazy self inflicted troubles imaging at the star party.  Prior to imaging the Heart I was not using the UHC filter, however, since I was using it the previous night I wanted to continue using it. Unfortunately, I did not focus properly using on it but did not realize I had a problem until 40 minutes into it.  I then thought the problem was camera or the UHC filter so I decided to image it without the filter. I was then getting good data so continued imaging for another two and half hours.  It was not until I imaged the following evening (when it was not 2 am) that it dawned on me that it was a focusing  problem.

Processing was not any easier as I first had to decide whether to use the unfiltered data or not.  After stacking various sets of data and using different stacking techniques, I it was apparent that using both the filtered and unfiltered data yielded the best result. I also used stacked using the mosaic function in order get most of the nebula. The other difficulty in processing was keeping a decent star field while getting the nebula to show up.  To accomplish this I did one iteration focusing on the nebula and another iteration where I focused on the keeping the star field intact. I then blended images both by copying the nebula image onto the star field image using the following blend 60% opacity, 95% fill.  I do enjoy processing with PS, however, it was a bit tedious this time.

Overall I am very happy how it turned out with my equipment but my image really would benefit from Ha-filter data.  I would recommend looking at image Trevor Jones from Astrobackyard.com (https://astrobackyard.com/ic-1805-the-heart-nebula/) recently did on the Heart Nebula using an Ha-filter.  It is quite impressive and I used it for a model to process my image.

Happy imaging!

Heart

IC 1805 - The Heart Nebula
Location: Home Monroe, CT and CSP27, Goshen, CT
Date: 9-22-17, 9-23-2017, 9-24-17
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 Atlas Pro EQ/AZ Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik UHC
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 3 x 240s, 22 x 210, 39 x 210
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C, 22 C, 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Iris Nebula

The Iris Nebula (NGC 7023, Caldwell 4) is a beautiful reflection nebula resembling an iris flower in the constellation Cepheus. NGC 7023 is actually a cluster within the nebula nebula that is lit by a bright star SAO 19158). It lies 1,300 light-years away and is six light-years across (source: wikipedia).

I have been wanting to image the Iris nebula for quite a while now and the CSP27 event I attended on September 23rd was the perfect opportunity.  All nebulae are better to shoot at a dark site, however, some nebulae are more forgiving especially if filters are used. The Iris is not so forgiving so it is better done at a dark site rather than my yard (it is not visible from my shed). 

This was the second object I imaged during the evening, the first was M30.  As it turns out I should have spent the rest of the night on this object as I had it centered and focused perfectly.  However, I decided to go to the Heart nebula but had some problems of my own doing that I will discuss when I post it.  I did learn about the importance of taking the time to ensure proper focusing!  With that said I was very happy to get three hours on the Iris and I am satisfied with how it turned out. It has an interesting blueish tint with dark areas surrounding it and to the right side of the image.  The dark areas are actually dust that blocks the light from the stars behind it.

Crop

Wide Field

NGC 7023 - Iris Nebula
Location: CSP27, Goshen, CT
Date: 9-23-2017
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: 49 x 210s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Monday, September 25, 2017

M30

And then there were three.  After two other failed attempts I was finally able to image M30 at the Connecticut Star Party (CSP) in Goshen, CT put on by the Astronomical Society of New Haven.  Now that I have captured this I only have three Messier Objects left, two of which are visible from my yard.

M30 or NGC 7099 (Jellyfish Cluster) is a globular cluster in constellation Capricornus. It is located about 27,100 light-years from Earth, and is about 93 light-years across.  Interestingly the cluster is following a retrograde orbit through the inner galactic halo, suggesting that it was acquired from a satellite galaxy rather than forming within the Milky Way (source: wikipedia).

The object came out better than I was anticipating as it is low in the sky for this latitude and I only approximately 30 minutes of usable exposures.  I think being in a dark location is what really made the image better.

Crop

Wide Field

M30
Location: CSP27, Goshen, CT
Date: 9-23-2017
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: 19 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

NGC 6633

NGC 6633 is an open cluster, in the constellation Ophiuchus.  It is almost as large as the full moon, and contains 30 stars and its age is approximately 660 million years (source: wikipedia).  I imaged this object as we had a couple of somewhat clear nights last week and the moon was not coming out until later in the evening.  This cluster was in the perfect location so I went ahead with it.  I wanted to practice with APT rather than BYE but was I did not trust the focusing so I went back to BYE.

This may be surprising to most but I used dithering for the first time on an object.  I like the quality of what I obtained, however, it took up to 50 seconds between exposures.  Dithering while shooting with long exposures, three minutes or more, is definitely worthwhile.  However, for shorter exposures, 90 seconds or less, it adds a significant amount of time which may be better spent collecting more sub frames.

Wide Field

Crop

NGC 6633
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 09/10/17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Filter: None
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 38 x 90 sec
ISO: 1600
Temp: 15 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, StarTools, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astrophotography Tools, HLVG
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

M72 - revisited

I imaged this object last year and thought it was the best I could do with my equipment and small size of the globular cluster (Link to post).  I was waiting for M30 to emerge so I decided see take some exposures of this object again.  Turned out to be a good decision as the old image looks embarrassing compared to the new image.  The only difference in equipment was the addition of 0.8 Focal reducer.  The other changes may be my improving processing skills and ISO at 1600 rather than 800. 
Even the sub-frames look better so it looks like the sky might have been better as well.  

Side Note: I got a couple of 1-minute exposures of M30 and that is all, therefore I will have to go offsite to image it.  

Wide Field

Crop

M72
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 09/9/17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Filter: None
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 20 x 60 sec (20 min)
ISO: 1600
Temp: 15 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, StarTools
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/