Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Moving along, M10 and M107

I have two more Messier Objects for my Messier Objects with an ED80 collection captured during my recent imaging spree, M10 and M107.  Both are relatively close to each other viewed from Earth, however, M10 is 14,300 LY away, has a magnitude of 6.4, and 41.6 LY across while M107 is 21,000 LY away, has a magnitude of 8.5, and 39.5 LY across thus M10 is a bit easier to view and image.

M10 - Close Up


M10 - Wide Field

M10
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 6/24/16 11:30 pm
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
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 26 x 90 sec (39 min)
ISO: 800
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom


M107


M107
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 6/25/16 00:30 pm
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
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 34 x 60 sec (34 min)
ISO: 800
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

Monday, June 27, 2016

M12, Another Messier Checked Off

After imaging the Mars and the very dim globular cluster NGC 5897 the other night, I focused on the globular cluster M12. Located in constellation of Ophiuchus M12 is bright enough to be seen with a pair of binoculars and is only a mere 15.7 LY from us.

Wide Field


Close Up

M12
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 6/24/16 00:30 pm
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
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 44 x 80 sec (59 min)
ISO: 800
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mars with NGC 5897

For the last few nights Mars has been very close to the globular cluster NGC 5897 in the constellation of Libra. It is 46,000 light years from us and is dim compared to other globular clusters but I thought I would try to get both in one shot.

Mars is plenty bright but you need a telescope to see NGC 5897 which is on the right side of the image.

Mars and NGC 5897
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 6/23/16 11:00 pm
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
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 36 x 80 sec (48 min)
ISO: 800
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

Monday, June 20, 2016

Building a Concrete Telescope Pier and Mount Adapter

I thought about building a permanent telescope pier since February of this year (2016) as I was wasting a lot of time constantly setting up and taking down my equipment.  Unfortunately, my yard has a lots of trees, however, there is a small clearing in the front and Polaris is visible from two locations.  I talked my wife into putting the pier in the front near our walkway.  In March we noticed that one of the big trees on the side of the driveway had big holes from woodpeckers and a second tree was rotten at the bottom.  The arborist recommended removing both trees.  With the trees gone, I could move the pier to the side of our property and rather than just a pier, there was room for an observatory.

This portion just deals with constructing the concrete pier and mount adapter. I chose concrete pier over the a steel pier because I did not see any advantage for the greater cost.  The mount adapter was made from a modified Orion SkyView Extension with the gracious help of Michael Stock, the industrial arts instructor at Seymour High School.

PART 1 - THE PIER

STEP 1 - Choose a Location (4/6)

The area I chose is not the ideal, however, it is the best I have in my yard.  I have a decent view to the North (and Polaris) and to the South where it opens up somewhat.  Also my neighbors shed shown in the second pick blocks his outside lights.

Figure 1 - looking south


Figure 2 - looking north


STEP 2 - Dig the Hole (4/29)

Figure 3 - 12" by 38" hole dug, bottom is flared to 16"
Here in southern Connecticut they recommend digging to 42 inches to get below the frost line.  I did not get to 42 inches, too many large rocks and roots, but I came close at 38 inches.  I had to cut through very large roots with an electric hacksaw as well removed many large rocks.  The hole was about 12 inches in diameter.  I flared it to a bell shape near the bottom to  about 16 inches so it will serve as base (a.k.a. the footing).

STEP -  Build Form Tube Support Frame (4/29)

Figure 4 - Form tube support constructed (the base for the SkyShed is being constructed)
Forms usually come in 4 foot sections, however, longer ones can be found at masonry stores.  I ended up getting a 10 in diameter 12 foot piece and cut it down to my desired 6 feet.  It is possible to combine two smaller forms to make a longer form.  This is where planning comes into play, you should have a predetermined height for the pier prior to starting the project. Since I was building an observatory (SkyShed plans), the height had to be high enough for the telescope to see over the wall. In my case, the bottom of the mounting plate had to be between 29 and 32 inches above the base. That is why I partially constructed the floor of the SkyShed before putting the pier in.

I  attached three 2 x 4's to the form using 5/16 inch galvanized anchor bolts so the form sat 6 to 12 inches above the bottom of the hole and the top was 30 inches above the floor.  I put a mark 1 inch below the top of the form for the concrete top.

STEP 4 - Prepare Mount Adapter and Rebar prior to Mixing the Concrete (4/29) 

I had two 1-foot pieces of rebar on hand to lay horizontally for the footing and three pieces of 4-foot rebar wired together to be placed in the form tube.  In addition, I prepared the mounting adapter so it could be set into the newly poured concrete. Also, the orientation of the adapter should be set so the mount points to the North Star.  To do this, I set a survey stake and aligned it to Polaris the night before we poured the concrete.

Figure 5 - pier adapter plate constructed
I used four 5/8" by 12" galvanized L-shaped anchor bolts purchased from the Nutty Company as a means of mounting the adapter.  I chose 4 bolts rather than the standard 3 for more stability and if I ever got a different mount.  I will discuss my mount and modified adapter at the end of the post.

STEP 5 - Pour Concrete (4/29) 

My son and I prepared one bag of normal setting 80-lb concrete in a plastic tub and poured half into the hole, then set the two pieces of 1-ft rebar horizontally and poured the rest of the bag into the hole. Next, we set the form tube that was already attached to the 2 x 4's into the hole then leveled and secured it.  Next we set the rebar into the tube, mixed and poured concrete until 1 inch below the top of the form tube. In all 5 1/2 bags of concrete were used. 

STEP 6 - Set the Mount Head into the Wet Concrete (4/29)

This was relatively simple as I set a directional stake towards the North Star.  I attached a piece of 3/4" plywood to the bottom of the adapter for more protection and the attached the four L-shaped anchor bolts.  The adapter was set into the wet concrete at the proper orientation so the threads of the bolts were just above the concrete.  I used a level to ensure the plate was level.  Lastly, I back filled the hole and packet it down.  I covered the top with two plastic garbage bags to keep in the moisture keep out the rain that was on its way.

STEP 7 - Remove the Form Tube (5/2)

I removed the plastic bags and the form tube was removed after 3 days using a knife.

Figure 6 - form tube is removed after 3 days

I left the adapter plate as the concrete needs at least a week to cure.  I removed the adapter plate four days later and let the pier cure another seven days.

STEP 8 - Freshen Up The Pier (5/19)

I first patched the holes and smoothed off the top of the pier with ready made Quickcrete concrete patch.  After two days of drying I put a coat of ultra pure white paint over the pier. I applied the paint not only for looks but also to seal the pier.

Figure 7 - pier is done with the improvements


PART 2 - THE MOUNT ADAPTER

Using the Orion SkyView Pro Telescope Mount Extension as an adapter
In order to use the pier, an adapter for the mount has to be used. There are adapters available from Dan's Pier Plates, however, I originally needed to remove the mount after each use and it appears that adapters such as Dan's aren't meant for on and off use.  I chose to make an adapter that will hold the polar alignment if the mount is removed out of a SkyView Extension (it is also 1/3 the price).

Figure 8 - The Extension with the completed bottom plate


I brought the telescope mount extension tube to Michael Stock, the industrial arts instructor at Seymour High School for modifications.  He had a student shave off the bottom plate to make it flush so  it could be attached to a 0.5 inch thick aluminum plate that I purchased on Amazon.  The aluminum plate had to be cut to an 8 inch round shape.

Figure 9 - The top and bottom of the extension along with the aluminum plate


Mike and his student attached the bottom extension to the aluminum plate with one 3/8 inch bolt and four 1/4 inch bolts.

Figure 10 - The bottom of the extension along attached to the aluminum plate

With everything all attached, the setup looks like this:

Figure 11 - The complete setup

I waited before posting this because I wanted to make sure it all worked.  I am happy to report the whole system works really well.  The polar alignment was not perfect when I took it off and reattached it days later however, it was very close.  There was a big savings in time with the setup even though I had to polar align it.  The pictures of the setup were taken when the shed was being constructed.  As of this post it is still in progress.

The following are images I took with the pier:
M53
Mars
M64 (Black Eye Galaxy)
M5 and Saturn
Mars with NGC5897
The Ring Nebula, M57, Revisited!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Another Messier - M5 (and Saturn)

 M5 is a large Globular Cluster located some 25,000 light-years from Earth and contains at least 100,000 stars.  It is 165 light-years across and about 13 billion years old making almost as old as the universe.  This represents the 24th Messier object on my quest of all 110 Messier objects with the ED80.  Note the very bright star near M5 is 5-Ser.

I wanted to get a longer exposure of M4 and Antares than I did last year, however, it is just not high enough at only 23 degrees to be visible from my lawn.  However, Saturn was just above that and was absolutely stunning so I imaged it instead.

M5 Cropped

M5 Wide Field
M5
Location: Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 6/14/16 11:55 pm
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
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 47 x 60 sec (0.76 hrs)
ISO: 800
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom


 Saturn - Registax

Saturn - PIPP and Registax
Saturn
Location: Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 6/15/16 00:30 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: Explore Scientific 3x
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 3000 x 1/40 sec
ISO: 800
Post Processing: PIPP, Registax, Photoshop, Lightroom

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Milky Way from Connecticut

Well, although it is not Arizona (a place I used to live) or Acadia National Park, it it possible to get a single exposure shot of the Milky Way.  The following shots were taken on a recent Boy Scout trip to Housatonic Meadows State Park in Northwest Connecticut with a Opteka Fisheye Lens.

Unmodified

Photoshop


Photoshop/Lightroom

Picasa 3 - Labeling
 Location: Housatonic Meadows State Park, CT
Date/Time: 6/10/16 11:37 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i (600D)
Lens: Opteka Fisheye
Focal Length: 6.5mm
f/5.6
Exposure: 50 sec.
ISO: 1600
Post Processing: Photoshop, Lightroom2


The following pictures from the next morning near where I took the Milky Way images.



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Black Eye Galaxy (a.k.a. M64)

M64, the Black Eye Galaxy, is the second deep sky image I took with the new concrete pier.  The image has a total exposure of 1 hr and 45 minutes collected over two nights.  It took me while find the object on the first night so I lost a lot of time.  What really helped in locating it second night was looking at an image by Fred Espenak at Astropixels.com.   His image was very similar to what I was seeing and the orientation matched up pretty well.  His Field of View was 1.70 deg by 2.56 deg, thus I must have a similar FOV.  The pier held the alignment really well even though I removed the mount from the pier.  I hope to have the skyshed built soon so I no longer have to break down after each imaging session.

The galaxy is located in the Coma Berenices Constellation and is 24 million light years from Earth and contains a dark band of dust that absorbs light which gives it the "black eye" appearance.

Wide Field Image

First Crop

Second Crop - Closeup Image 

M64, Black Eye Galaxy
Location: Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 5/31/16 11:00 pm
Date/Time: 5/25/16 11:00 pm
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
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 70 x 90 sec (1.75 hrs)
ISO: 800
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Mars - Take Two

The previous blog post documents my first shot of Mars during the close approach to Earth.  I was able to image it but not with the 3x Barlow lens as I had done with Jupiter in April.  This time I was able to image Mars with the 3x Barlow lens.  Although the images are higher in magnification they are not as clear as I had hoped.  The atmosphere was very unstable and the image was going in and out of focus.  Unfortunately this may be the best I can do until December when Mars goes to an altitude of 35 degrees.  Alternatively I could go south where Mars will be higher in the sky.  When I took this image Mars was at an altitude of 27 degrees, when I got the detailed image of Jupiter, it was at 55 degrees.  The higher you go, the less atmospheric distortion.

Image 1 - 1/320 (5/31/16)

Image 2 - 1/500 (5/31/16)
Mars
Location: Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 5/31/16 00:30 am
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, 5X Planetary Mode
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: Explore Scientific 3x Barlow
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Autoguiding: none
Exposure: 1000 x 1/500s (jpeg/avi), 3000 x 1/320s (jpeg/avi)
ISO: 800
Post Processing: PIPP, Registax, Photoshop, Lightroom

Image 3 - 1/800 (5/26/16), cropped


Image 4 - 1/800 (5/26/16)
Mars
Location: Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 5/26/16 00:54 am
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, 5X Planetary Mode
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
Autoguiding: none
Exposure: 2000 x 1/800s (jpeg/avi)
ISO: 800
Post Processing: PIPP, Registax, Photoshop, Lightroom