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/

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Four M's in One Night!

I had a very productive night last week and managed to get four more Messier Objects all globular clusters for my catalog of Messier Objects.  I only have eight left after working on it for over two years now.  It did not start off very well as clouds soon moved in and blocked Polaris so I could not polar align.  I thought it would clear up but it got worse even though it was supposed to be clear.  After an hour I was ready to pack it it in but then it started to clear - I am glad I stayed.

M28 is at a distance of about 17,900 light-years from Earth and is 60 light-years across. It has a combined 551,000 times the mass of the Sun and is 12 billion years old and near the star Kaus Borealis. M62 is at a distance of about 22,500 light-years from Earth and measures some 100 light-years across. M69 is at a distance of about 29,700 light-years away from Earth and has a spatial radius of 42 light-years. M70 is at a distance of about 29,300 light years away from Earth and close to the Galactic Center. It is roughly the same size and luminosity as its neighbour in space, M69 (source: wikipedia).

M28
M28
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-19-17
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 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: 27 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 22 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

M62
M62
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-19-17
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 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: 25 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 22 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

M69
M69
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-19-17
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 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: 24 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 22 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

M70 - crop

M70 - wide field
M70
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-19-17
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 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: 23 x 30s, 11 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 22 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Round Two - The Eclipse

My plan has evolved to since the first beta I did a couple of weeks ago (Beta test).


After trying several different mounts, including Celestron's Heavy Duty Tripod, I have settled on a mount that I already have, the Explore Scientific Twilight I.  I was trying to use a lighter duty mount as I am flying to the location but I could not find one that has the fine adjustment that this one has.  It breaks down to about 29.5 inches which is only 4 inches longer than my camera tripod.

Main EquipmentBackyard EOS (BYE)
Orion ST80 80mm Refractor
Canon T3i/600D
Explore Scientific Twilight I
Mylar Solar Filter
Adapter - T-adapter for Canon cameras to telescopes
Computer - HP Envy
Computer Shade - LapDome

Test
I also tested the time it took to complete a six frame capture plan and a four frame capture plan with my equipment.

Results are as follows:

6 frames download to the computer
- exposure 1/2000, 1/200, 1/20, 1/8, 1/4, 1
- 46 sec to complete the circuit and download to the computer

6 frames download to the camera
- exposure 1/2000, 1/200, 1/20, 1/8, 1/4, 1
- 28 sec to complete the circuit

4 frames download to the camera
- exposure 1/2000, 1/200, 1/20, 1/2
- 18 sec to complete the circuit

Discussion/Conclusion
Based on the results, I will use the four frame capture plan and download to the camera only since it is the faster than downloading to the computer.  It is possible to get much faster frame capture (up to 3 frames per second) using a serial cable in addition to the USB cable with certain eclipse capture software as described by Jerry Lodriguss (Catching the Light).  I actually purchased one of these cables from Hap Griffin (Imaginginfinity), however, I don't want to pay for and learn a new program at this point and my computer does not have a serial port anyway (although I probably could use an adapter).

Using BYE I will set the 4-frame exposure plan to loop (repeat) a couple of minutes prior to totality and continue until after totality.  Since I am using a fixed frame, I decided to cut out the 1 second exposure which would have been affected most by Earth's rotation.  If I were using a lower focal length lens/telescope the rotation problem would be less.

We are going to Bowling Green, KY or Nashville, TN to witness this event so we will have at least 1 minute of totality.  Using my capture plan I will have a minimum of 5 frames per exposure during totality.  I hope some the just before and just after frames pick up something cool.  Also, it is very important to have a quick release filter for your lens or telescope.

Also, Fred Espenak, aka Mr. Eclipse, has great advice on how to take pictures of the eclipse, How to Photograph an Eclipse.

Most Important
I plan to watch the eclipse which is why I am doing all this to automate the imaging.  It is going to either work or not.  I will set all this all up press the button to start the sequence, check finder scope once or twice to make sure the sun is in the center of the FOV, and that is it.  If a don't get anything, oh well, if I do, it is icing on the cake!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

M8 - Lagoon Nebula

M8 - The Lagoon Nebula (NGC 6523) is a giant interstellar cloud in the constellation Sagittarius. It is between 4,000-6,000 light-years from the Earth and is 110 ly across by 50 light years wide. Although this is a Messier object it does not change my current status as I have already imaged this two years ago.  However, it was only 5 minutes total exposure taken when I was just learning.  In that image you really could not see the outline. This is far from perfect but it is a huge improvement over the image from 2015.


M8 - Lagoon Nebula
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-15-17
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 clip
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 21 x 180s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Decent Night with some difficulties to start (NGC 6569 & NGC 6558, M19)

So why am I shooting these two obscure globular clusters (NGC 6569 & 6558) when I could be imaging the final Messier Objects in my catalog?  I was having go-to problems with my go-to mount during the beginning of the evening, my polar alignment app on my cellphone was not behaving properly and I though I fixed it but I don't think I did which is why my alignment was off.  Once I located an object it tracked perfectly.  I was looking for M69 in fact I originally thought this was it. Oh well.  I did better with M19.

NGC 6558 is a globular cluster, located about 24,000 light years away in the constellation Sagittarius NGC 6569, also a globular cluster located approximately 35,000 light years in the constellation Sagittarius (source: wikipedia)

Messier 19 (NGC 6273) is a globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus. It is about about 28.700 ly from Earth and is near to the Galactic Center (source: wikipedia).

NGC 6569 & 6558 Wide Field

NGC 6569 & 6558 Crop

NGC 6569 & NGC 6558
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-15-17
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: 22 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

M19 Wide Field

M19 Crop

M19
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 7-15-17
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: 24 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Thursday, July 13, 2017

IC 4665

IC 4665 is one of the brighter Milky Way clusters missing not only in the Messier Catalog, but also in the NGC, because it is so loose and coarse. This cluster, located in Ophiuchus, is a good object for binoculars or wide-field telescopes such as the ED80. The cluster is estimated to be 36 million years and at a distance of 1,400 light years. Also, IC 4665 is heading towards us at 12 km/sec (source: messier.seds).

So I imaged IC 4665 from the Happy Frog while waiting for M24 to appear from behind some trees. I think selecting objects to image will be much easier once I am done with the Messier catalog as I just have to point to whatever object happens to be visible at the time I am outside. That is pretty much what I did for IC 4665, I was not planning imaging it, I just had the time and it was in the right location for me to observe it.


IC 4665
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 6-27-17
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
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 15 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

M24 - Sagittarius Star Cloud

I think M24 is the only Messier object that is considered a star cloud.  It is referred to as the Sagittarius Star Cloud and is in the constellation of Sagittarius. It is sometimes known as the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud to distinguish it from the Great Sagittarius Star Cloud located to the north of Gamma Sagittarii, however, at 600 light years wide it does not seem small.

It is comprised of stars, clusters and other objects which are part of the Sagittarius arms of the Milky Way galaxy.  M24 fills a space of significant volume to a depth of 10,000 to 16,000 light-years. This is the most dense concentration of individual stars visible using binoculars, with around 1,000 stars visible within a single field of view (source: wikipedia).

This is the 97th Messier object I have obtained for my catalog, only 13 more to go...
https://sites.google.com/site/messierobjectsed80/


M24
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 6-27-17
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
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 24 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Monday, July 10, 2017

M22

Messier 22 (a.k.a. NGC 6656) is a globular cluster in the constellation Sagittarius and is one of the brightest globulars that is visible in the night sky. It is relatively close to Earth at a distance of about 10,600 light-years away and is has a diameter of about 100 light-years (source: wikipedia).

This is the first globular cluster I have imaged in 2017 and the first time I have ever taken a photo of this object.  It is very low in the horizon and not even visible from my yard which is why I never imaged it before.  I am quite happy with how it turned out being so low. 

I seem to have picked up a UFO while imaging M22 (see the cropped photo with the red circle). It could be the Vulcans wanting to make first contact but then deciding against it after seeing the state of affairs.  Maybe someone in Astrobin-land has an idea of what it is.  The actual date and time is:  6/27/17 at 00:49-01:28 EST or 05:49-06:28 GMT.  At first I thought it was bad tracking when I looked at the subframes before stacking them.  The object moves slightly relative to other stars in each subframe.  If you look closely you can see the overall movement.

Wide Field

Crop

Crop UFO

M22
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 6-26-17
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 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: 33 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Sunday, July 9, 2017

M7- Ptolemy Cluster

M7 (a.k.a. Ptolomy Cluster or NGC 6475) is an open cluster in the constellation of Scorpius.  I am really liking these summer open clusters as there is a tremendous amount of gas and dust associated with them since they are in the direction of the center of the galaxy.  The cluster is estimated at a distance of 980 light-years and is 25 light years across.  M7 is detectable with the naked eye and I was actually able to see it along with M6.  Also visible in this image is a small globular cluster, NGC 6453, located to the right of M6 (source: wikipedia). 

I am definitely seeing the end of the light as I have only 15 more objects Messier objects left to image for my own complete catalog.  


M7 - Ptolemy Cluster
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 6-26-17
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 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: 29 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Saturday, July 1, 2017

M6 - The Butterfly Cluster

The Butterfly Cluster (M6 or NGC 6405) is an open cluster of stars in the constellation of Scorpius gets its name from a vague resemblance to a butterfly.  I don't see it though.  The cluster is around 1,600 light-years from Earth and is approximately 12 light years across (source: wikipedia).

This was  getting pretty low and I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to image it at my location.  It came through pretty well with hints of nebulosity near the upper portion of the image.  I think getting the nebulosity is due to the modification of the T3i that Hap Griffin performed on it last year. 

Messier image 94, only 16 more to go...

M6 - Wide Field

M6 - The Butterfly Cluster
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 6-26-17
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 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: 31 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Thursday, June 29, 2017

M23

Messier 23 (NGC 6494) is a bright, large open star cluster located in the constellation Sagittarius.
It approximately 2,150 light years from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 6.9. The cluster has a radius of 15 to 20 light years and contains 176 confirmed members (source: Messier Objects).

This is one of the few Messier Objects that I have left that I can actually image from my yard. This object, being in Sagittarius, is in the direction of the center of the Milky Way and, therefore, has lots of gas, dust, nebulosity, and stars. The cloudiness appears faintly in my image.

This brings me up to 93 Messier Objects captured so far...



M23
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 6-21-17
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
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 19 x 60s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 18 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

M20 - Trifid Nebula and M21

The Trifid Nebula (M20 or NGC 6514) is in Sagittarius only a mere 5,200 light-years from Earth.  The object is made of an open cluster; an emission nebula (the lower, red portion), a reflection nebula (the upper, blue portion) and a dark nebula, the apparent 'gaps' within the emission nebula (source: wikipedia).  

This was the first night imaging with the the new Atlas Pro EQ/AZ mount.  I collected 3 min. subframes and the mount was tracking perfectly through the whole session.  I did have one mishap that cost 30 minutes of images but it was my fault.  The computer battery went dead during the session and my backup plan (connecting it to the Black and Decker power pack was also dead.  The third backup plan was to connect an extension cord to the inverter that came with the Rav4.  This worked but I had to have the car running.

When I processed the data I had a lot of scattered reds in the background.  Most often it simply noise in the image, however, there is a lot of nebulosity in this region.  I checked many other images of this region and there was no definitive answer to was it noise or real gas and dust that that my modified camera picked up.  Some images showed it and some did not.  I made the executive decision to lesson it's impact rather than process it away.  There are hints of nebulosity if you look closely.  I did use Fred Espenek's (Astropixels.com) image of this region a guide.


I love these two for one objects.  M21 is a tightly packed cluster of about 57 stars located about 4,250 light-years from Earth.   Since it was in the field of view I was able to pick up two Messier objects for my catalog with one imaging session.  With the addition of these two, I now have captured 92 Messier objects for my catalog.  Only 18 are left!



Trifid Crop


Trifid Wide Field


M21 Crop

M20 - Trifid Nebula and M21
Location: St. John's Cemetery, Monroe, CT
Date: 6-20-17
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 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:29 x 180s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 20 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/