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/

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/