Thursday, January 4, 2018

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in Ha

I was not planning on imaging this as I did it just last year and really want to go after the Witch Head Nubula.  However, it was finally clear, the temperature was somewhat tolerable, and the moon was out so I decided to image this gem again.  I was not totally happy with my image from last year as the Flame Nebula appeared to have the same color the Horsehead Nebula.  I believe this was a result of using the UHC filter.  It did bring out a great amount detail but I think it messed up the color a bit.  This time around I will try out my new Baader Neodymium Moon & Skyglow Filter for RGB data and combine it with this Ha data.

I have been converting my raw exposures to tiff and then stacking them in DSS as I get better star fields, however, I believe I am getting better nebula detail by stacking the raw Ha exposures in DSS. It would be great if there was some photo expert who knows why and what the best way to process these but after doing this stuff for the last few years I believe there is no "best" way.


Horsehead Nebula IC 434 and Flame Nebula NGC 2024
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 12-30-17, 1-2-18
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: 30 x 150s, 30 x 150s
ISO: 1600
Temp: -12 C, -10 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Astronomy Tools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Combining Astronomy Images in Photoshop: Waxing Gibbous Moon-Pleiades-Aldebaran

Thought this would be an interesting image - the waxing gibbous moon, Pleiades, and the orange giant Aldebaran.  They were in this arrangement Friday 12/29. Fortunately I did not have to be outside for very long since it was so cold.  To get this shot I did a 2-second exposure for Pleiades and Aldebaran but the moon was overexposed so I took another 1/4000-second exposure to get the detailed moon. 



I wish I would have taken longer exposures as I believe the star field would have been richer, but I was not sure how much overexposure would have compromised the star field.

Details in Photoshop:
2-second image:

1) create second layer same as 1st
2) select Filter > Noise > Dust and Scratches. I used a radius of 25 pixels, with a threshold of 0.
3) select and copy this layer and apply to original layer. Use subtract function.
4) adjust the newly created background star layer as needed.

1/4000-second image:

1) adjust the moon as needed.

Combining:1) copy moon using the Magic Wand or Lasso on to the background star layer.
2) you may have to line it up if it does not show up in the proper location.
3) do final adjustments.

Moon-Pleiades-AldebaranLocation: Home Monroe, CTDate: 12-29-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a)
Lens: 50mm Canon f/1.8 (nifty fifty)
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 50mm
f/3.2
Focal Reducer: none
Mount: fixed
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: none
Exposure: 1 x 2s, 1 x 1/4000s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 8 F, -15 C
Post Processing: Photoshop.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Drifting through Space - California Nebula

Finally done with the California Nebula (NGC 1499) after a month of waiting for clear weather.  I started acquiring Ha-data in late November but the weather turned for the worse in CT so it wasn't until mid-December that I was able to collect some color using my UHC-clip.

Like our own sun the California Nebula is drifting through the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.  By chance it happens to resemble California on the west coast of the United States.  It is about 1,500 ly from Earth in Perseus and approximately 100 ly long (source: APOD).  For reference, the closet star to our sun, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 ly away.  As any chemistry student knows, the red color is caused by excited electrons from ionized hydrogen falling from the 3rd energy level to the 2nd energy level - that transition releases red photons...


NGC 1499 - California Nebula-HaRGB
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 11-28-17, 12-20-17
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, Astronomik Ha Clip-filter, UHC-clip
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 29 x 120s, 60 x 120s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 8 C, -2 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Astronomy Tools, Lightroom.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Flaming Star Nebula and Friends

Finally got a complete HaRGB image of the Flaming Star Nebula and friends last Saturday night. It was not clear at first but by 11 pm it was pretty clear (and cold) so I managed to get a couple hours. I did not use a filter to capture the RGB data as I wanted to keep some of the colorful star field that I have seen others capture. Also, I used a 0.8 focal reducer with my f/7.5 ED80 in order to get IC 410 although a an f/5 80mm or less scope would have given a better FOV.

The Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405) is composed of red and blue colors created by different processes. The bright star AE Aurigae is so hot it is blue, emitting light so energetic it knocks electrons away from surrounding gas. The two regions are referred to as emission nebula and reflection nebula, respectively. The Flaming Star Nebula, officially known as IC 405, lies about 1500 light years distant and spans about 5 light years. Close by is another nebula, IC 410, surrounding the open star cluster NGC 1893 (source: skyfactory).


IC 405 - Flaming Star Nebula and IC 410
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 11-29-17 Ha, 12-16-17 RGB
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, RGB none
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: Ha - 32 x 120s, RGB - 90 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: 8 C, -7 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Astronomy Tools.
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/

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/