Monday, December 11, 2017

Get More Detail with DSS (embed settings without applying)

The reprocessed Ha-image of the California Nebula shows a bit more detail than my previous version.  I have been processing the autosave file that DSS creates in Photoshop for over two years as I thought the autosave file was not stretched.  However, after getting advice from Astrobin users Victor Van Puyenbroeck and Trevor Jones (also with Astrobackyard.com), I saved the image with the DSS settings embedded but not applied.  I then turned up the exposure in order to view the image and then did my normal stretching with curves and such.  I reprocessed my Ha-image of the Pacman Nebula and of the Flaming Star Nebula with similar results.

So does this mean I am going to reprocess every image I have done?  Perhaps when I retire...

Reprocessed California Nebula

Original California Nebula

Reprocessed Pacman Nebula

Original Pacman Nebula


Friday, December 8, 2017

NGC 1499 - California Nebula HaRGB

This is the California Nebula (NGC 1499) and is my Second attempt with HaRGB processing. 
I believe the Ha image shows more detail than the Pacman Nebula Ha image although it does not show as much detail is Trevor Jones (Astrobackyard.com) Ha-California version. He seems to have mastered Ha processing.  Once again this was taken when the moon was out which I find really cool.  I decided take 2 minute exposures using the Ha filter but only managed collect about 1-hour of data.  The color will have to wait as the cold winter weather is taking a turn for the worse.   


NGC 1499 - California Nebula-Ha
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 11-28-17
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
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik Ha Clip-filter
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 29 x 120s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 8 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Astronomy Tools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Navi & Company IC-63 and IC-59)

More from the Cassiopeia region. I have been wanting to capture this stunning object since seeing a few images of this lately.  I was not sure of how best to image this, i.e. use a filter and what kind. I checked what others did but it seemed there was no best way, so I decided to not use any.  It was a clear night and I have relatively dark skies directly above me.

IC59 & IC63 are emission and reflection nebulae that lie approximately 600 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. IC63 (the red nebula in my image) is sometimes called the "Ghost of Cassiopeia." The very bright star in the image, Navi (Gamma Cassiopeia), illuminates the clouds of gas and dust (source: Astronomy).

IC63 & IC59
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 11-20-17
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
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 120 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 10 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Pleiades (2017)

It has been a couple of years since I last imaged Pleiades (M45) which is surprising since it is my favorite open cluster especially because you can see it well with the naked eye.  This was taken over four nights.  I am happy with how it turned out overall but the star halos around the four largest stars were driving me crazy so I made a revision after tweaking them somewhat.

Original

Tweaking Halos

M45 - Pleiades
Location: Home Monroe, CT and Boothe Hill Park, Stratford, Ct
Date: 11-13-17, 11-16-17, 11-17-17, 11-19-17
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
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 68 x 90s, 28 x 90s, 16 x 90s, 47 x 90s,
ISO: 1600
Temp: 10 C, 10 C, 10 C, 10 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pacman Nebula using HaRGB processing

I completed my first HaRGB image.  For those not in the know, that is combining Hydrogen Alpha (Ha) exposures with regular color (RGB) exposures.  I pretty much followed the method described in detail by Trevor Jones from Astrobackyard.com (HaRGB Tutorial).  Since he already went over what to do I will just show you my results and give you my thoughts.  Long and short, my results are not as good as I had hoped.  I was expecting better Ha detail but this may be due to my inexperience with Ha-processing.  However, the results are promising and I should improve with more experience.  The other thing is it was really cool shooting a nebula during nearly full moon, I really enjoyed that and just being able to shoot exposures when the moon is out is worth perfecting this technique.

The following are my results:

Image 1 is the normal color (RGB) image which consists of 81 x 90 second exposures over two days stacked using DSS.  There were 10 darks, 10 bias, and 14 flats taken each night for support.


Image 2 is the Hydrogen Alpha (Ha) image which consists of 38 x 180 second exposures over two days stacked using DSS.  Again, there were 10 darks, 10 bias, and 14 flats taken each night for support.


Image 3 is the HaR image (Ha + red channel RGB) produced by copying the red channel RGB on to the Ha image.


Image 4 is the enhanced RGB image.  An HaR image (Ha + red channel RGB) is produced and copied into back into the red channel of the RGB image.


Image 5 is the final HaRGB (enhanced RGB + HaR).

Image 6 is the new final HaRGB using a new H-alpha processed image (Ha-nebula portion merged with RGB star field).

NGC 281 - Pacman Nebula-Ha
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 11-06-17, 11-08-17
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
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik Ha Clip-filter
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 12 x 180s, 26 x 180s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 10 C, 10 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

NGC 281 - Pacman Nebula-RGB
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 11-13-17, 11-16-17
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
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 39 x 90s, 43 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 10 C, 10 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Pacman Nebula in Ha

This is the the first image I have ever taken in Ha with my new Astronomik Ha 12 mm clip-filter. I decided on the Pacman Nebula (NGC 281) since it was high up and visible from the Happy Frog astronomy shed). It twas really neat imaging when the moon was out and 80%. Normally I would never image a nebula under those circumstances. I hoped to get over an hour of exposure but only manged to get 12 usable 3 minute exposures. This is my first processing attempt and am not sure if I am doing well. The curve stretching seems to work opposite after I hit the red channel to make it black and white. I got some additional data last night but the guiding was not that great. I will process them when I get a chance. Hopefully, they will to the quality but will see if it does or not.


NGC 281 - Pacman Nebula
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 11-06-17
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
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik Ha Clip-filter
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 12 x 180s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 10 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cassiopeia Plus

For the past couple months I have been concentrating in the region around Perseus and Cassiopeia.  Three recent image appear in this wide field image.  They are: 1) the Heart Nebula, 2) the Soul Nebula, and 3) the Double Cluster.  All of these are located on the left side of the image.  As you can see, there are still plenty of other objects within Cassiopeia's reign.

I captured this around the same time I did the Soul Nebula but wanted to process that first.  I tried to use flats for this image however I must have done something wrong as they made the image much worse.  I successfully used flats with the telescope but this was taken using a Canan 50 mm camera lens (Nifty Fifty).

Cassiopeia Region Wide Field


Cassiopeia Region
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 10-18-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Lens: Canon 50mm f/2.8 (Nifty Fifty)
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 50mm
f/4.0
Focal Reducer: None
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: 60 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 15 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Monday, October 30, 2017

IC 1848 - Soul Nebula

The Soul Nebula (a.k.a. IC 1848) can be found in the direction of the constellation Cassiopeia.  According to Greek mythology Cassiopeia is the vain wife of a King who ruled the region around the upper Nile river. Located about 6,500 light years away, the Soul Nebula spans about 100 light years and is a neighbor to the Heart Nebula (IC 1805). The image appears mostly red due to the emission of a specific color of light emitted by excited hydrogen gas (Source APOD Feb 28, 2016).

I imaged the Soul Nebula for three consecutive nights last week.  The first night was excellent seeing conditions but I had autoguiding problems in the beginning of the evening so I used up a lot of imaging time.  Still I was able to use 33 x 180 second exposures.  In addition, I used flats after the imaging session using the light box as described in the previous post.  I had over 3 hrs worth of data on the second night, unfortunately very high thin clouds made all of the data useless.  I collected over an hour of data on the 3rd night after our regular open astronomy session with Boothe Memorial Astronomical Society at Boothe Park.  The conditions were good, for Stratford, however, I was unable to take flats because I forgot the light box controller.  I thought about driving back with the camera attached but decided that was a bad idea.  Oh well!


IC 1848 - The Soul Nebula
Location: Home Monroe, CT and Boothe Park, Stratford, CT
Date: 10-18-17, 10-20-2017
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, Astronomik UHC
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 33 x 180s, 23 x 180
ISO: 1600
Temp: 15 C, 15 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Using Flats in Astrophotography

So now I am a believer.  I know most are already using flats so this for those that are not.  They are pretty easy to take if you have a DSLR. After doing astrophotography for a couple years I have finally started using flats.  Not coming from a photography background they were always something of a mystery to of me.  I have read many directions on how to take them and tried them unsuccessfully last year.  For me what was missing was a video of someone actually doing it in the field.  That all changed a couple of weeks ago thanks to Trevor Jones from Astrobackyard.com.  His YouTube tutorial (How to take Flat Frames), as usual, was excellent especially since I was able to follow it.  Setting the DSLR on Av-mode and putting a T-shirt over the objective as he described worked o.k. on the Double Cluster image I took a few week back, however I don't think the sky was optimal.  He suggested getting a light box.  As luck would have it, Scott (https://www.astrobin.com/users/BigScott_27/) a user on Astrobin who happens to live really close to me saw my post and said he had a really nice light box (http://spike-a.com/flatfielders/) that is collecting dust.

The top image of the Soul Nebula is stacked without using flats and the bottom image is stacked with flats (taken using the light box).  I did about 5 minutes of the same processing on each for comparison, thus the only processing that was done after stacking was RGB set to 35, curve stretch, levels (except I used Gradient Exterminator on the image without flats).   The image is not done yet I still have much more processing left, however, it will be a lot easier to get a good image.



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

M34

And then there was one!  M34 (or NGC 1039) represents the 109th Messier object I have captured with my setup. It  is an open cluster in the constellation Perseus and is about 1,500 light years from Earth.  Viewing conditions were very good and I imaged this right aft after I finished with the Double Cluster.  I have really become a fan of imaging star clusters especially when some star colors show up.


M34
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: 39 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 16 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

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/

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/