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/

Monday, September 4, 2017

NGC 6960 - The Western Veil Nebula

The Western Veil Nebula (a.k.a. Caldwell 34, NGC 6960) also goes by the following other names: "Witch's Broom", "Finger of God", or "Filamentary Nebula".  The entire Veil Nebula complex is a cloud of heated and ionized gas and dust in the constellation Cygnus. It constitutes a large but relatively faint supernova remnant which exploded about 3,000 BC to 6,000 BC.  It is estimated to be at a distance of 1,470 light-years from the sun and has expanded to about 6 times the diameter of moon (source: wikipedia).

I imaged the Eastern Veil (NGC 6992) last year and decided to go on the other side this year.  The imaging session went pretty well and managed to get approximately four hours over two nights.  The difference in imaging between this and last year is I used a UHC clip filter which made the nebula stand out more than without the filter. 

https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Crop

Less Noise Reduction

Wide Field

Less Noise Reduction


NGC 6960 - The Western Veil Nebula, Witch's Broom, Finger of God, or Filamentary Nebula
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 8-25-17, 8-26/17
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: 19 x 180s, 66 x 180s,
ISO: 1600
Temp: 15 C, 14 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

NGC 6888 - The Crescent Nebula

The Crescent Nebula (a.k.a. NGC 6888, Caldwell 27, Sharpless 105) is an emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus, about 5000 light-years away from Earth. It has and interesting history as it formed by fast stellar wind from a star catching up and colliding with slower moving wind ejected by the star when it became a red giant around 250,000 years ago source: wikipedia).

The sky was pretty clear both nights I went out to collect images and I managed to get over two hours on an object.  I used my Astronomik UHC Clip filter which is very good for emission nebula with lots of ionized hydrogen especially in light polluted areas.  However, this really would have benefited with some 12nm H-alpha filter luminosity frames. Trevor Jones from Astrobackyard did great job recently with this nebula using an H-alpha filter and has commented on this on his website. As I write this tonight, it is clear outside but the moon out making it not a great night for nebula imaging unless, that is, you are using an H-alpha filter as they only let H-alpha light in and block everything else including moonlight.  I see one of these filters in the future.

Last thing, I have seen many other images of this and other nebulae where the star fields are quite reduced.  I did some reduction in Astronomy Tools with this nebula and could have done more but I actually like the stars so did remove as many as I could have.  Hope you enjoy...

Wide Field

Crop

NGC 6888 - The Crescent Nebula
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 8-24-17, 8-25/17
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: 30 x 180s, 14 x 180s,
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C, 15 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Thursday, August 24, 2017

NGC 6823

NGC 6820 (Sharpless catalog Sh 2-86) is an emission nebula that surrounds the open cluster NGC 6823 in Vulpecula.  The center of the open cluster is about two million years old and is predominantly represented by many young, bright blue stars.  Open star cluster NGC 6823 is about 50 light years across and is about 6000 light years away (source: wikipedia).

This was a tough object for me to shoot mainly because of location and weather.  I hoped to collect over two hours of total exposure but the astrophotography  gods wouldn't have it so I had to settle for an hour plus collected over two nights.  Most of the data was from the first night before clouds rolled in.  I went out again the next but clouds rolled in before I even started.  I went out a week later on a supposedly clear night only to have wispy clouds move in just as the autoguider was set.  I did wait and it cleared briefly for me to get six more usable subframes.

I experimented with different processing techniques using DSS.  I typically convert my raw images to tiff format and then stack using DSS (the older version of DSS would not read my raw files).  I stacked the raw images directly and thought it turned out well as the nebula looked pretty good. However, the star field looked dull or faded, especially the smaller stars.  So I converted the raw images to tiff files and stacked the images again.  The star field was much better but the nebula was not as good. Ultimately, in my opinion, the tiff stacked method gave me a better overall image.

If you are interested in the raw stacked image, click the link to my webpage:

Widefield - converted to tiff - stacked

Cropped - converted to tiff - stacked

Widefield - raw - stacked

NGC 6823
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 8-14-17, 8-16/17
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: 23 x 180s, 6 x 180s,
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C, 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/


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.