11/30/2019 NGC 7331 comparison with 2009 version

It turns out that I had captured NGC 7331 once before in 2009. At that time I was using a Celestron C11 with a modified Digital SLR camera.

I thought it would be interesting to compare the details of the two images to look for changes over time. Here is the result of that comparison:

What do you think? Do you see any stellar changes between the 2009 version and the 2019 version?


11/30/2019 NGC 7331 and Stephan’s Quintet

This is an image that I had always wanted to do, but was never really certain if it would be possible with our imaging setup. Here we can see spiral galaxy NGC 7331 in one corner, and Stephan’s quintet in the other. (Note that Stephan’s quintet is a “visual group” of galaxies – they’re not actually close together in space.)

NGC 7331 and Stephan’s Quintet
Capture dates: August 27, 2019 – September 4, 2019
LRGB image using Astrodon Luminance, Red, Green and Blue filters.
Hutech IDAS light pollution filter was also used
10 minute subs for each L, R, G, B filter
At least 20 subs were used per filter
Imaging scope: Astro-Tech AT10RC Ritchey Chrétien at f/6.7 (native f/8)
Focal reducer: Astro Physics CCDT67 focal reducer
Imaging camera: QSI 583wsg monochrome
Guide camera: Starlight Xpress Lodestar
Mount: Astro-Physics 900 GTO
Capture in Sequence Generator Pro
Calibration and stacking in AstroPixel Processor
Final process in Photoshop


11/30/2019 Telescope-mounted computer update

I thought I would post an update on the telescope-mounted computer project. The project was a great success and this configuration was used for imaging throughout the summer. Here’s how it ended up looking fully installed:


6/2/2019 Telescope-mounted computer

It’s been quite awhile since my last post, and I thought I would share what I have been working on lately. Here are a few photos of what will be a telescope-mounted computer system. The idea is by locating the computer on the telescope itself, we reduce the number of wires that need to run from the OTA and thus eliminate wire drag issues with tracking.

This first image is the original whiteboard image plan for the project:

You can see that we are planning on mounting this system to the top of the telescope, and that it will consist of the Power Distribution Unit (PDU), computer, focus controller and a wifi dongle.

For this project I have selected an Israeli-made Compulab Fitlet2 with an Intel J3455, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB M.2 SSD. This unit has also been fitted with a “facet” card that provides four additional USB ports bringing the total to eight ports.

As part of this project I realized that I needed a better approach to power, and thus I came up with this simple PDU design based on a panel-mount automotive blade-fuse holder. I decided to use an XT-60 connector for the supply and 5.5×2.1mm barrel connectors to supply individual components:

The whole system is mounted together on an aluminum plate, which was fitted with two holes to allow it to be screwed to the top Losmandy plat of the AT10RC OTA:

I ran an initial power-on test yesterday, and the above system was pulling about 0.95 amps at 12.9 volts. I expect the system power requirements will be higher once the QSI 583wsg camera is added with its TEC consuming a fair amount of amps for cooling.

At this point we are waiting for the telescope focuser to come back from repair with Starlight Instruments before more work can be done. After that we need to fix the collimation on the AT10RC, which was knocked out of alignment during recent mirror cleaning. Once that’s all done we should be in good shape to start imaging!


12/14/2015 NGC7635 The Bubble Nebula

After taking almost a year off from astrophotography I decided to revisit some of the image data I collected in 2014 but never processed.  The image presented here is NGC 7635 otherwise known as the Bubble Nebula (for obvious reasons).  You can read more about the Bubble Nebula in the wikipedia article.

NGC 7635 is presented here in Hubble palette (Red = S II, Green = HA, Blue = O III)

NGC7635 – The Bubble Nebula
Capture date: July 9, 2014 – August 5, 2014
LRGB image using Ha for Luminance, SII for Red, OIII for Blue and Ha for Green
Astrodon filters: 5nm HA, 5nm SII and 3nm OIII
22 exposures of OIII, with 20 minute subs each
23 exposures of SII, with 20 minute subs each
60 exposures of HA, with 20 minute subs each
Imaging scope: Astro-Tech AT10RC Ritchey Chrétien at f/6.7 (native f/8)
Focal reducer: Astro Physics CCDT67 focal reducer
Imaging camera: QSI 583wsg monochrome
Guide camera: Starlight Xpress Lodestar
Mount: Celestron CGE hypertuned by Deep Space Products
Capture and stacking in Maxim DL
All other processing in Photoshop

Over 35 hours of starlight exposures went into this project.

NGC7635-LRGB3_flattened_crop_copyright


2/20/2014 M16 astrophoto to appear in Sky and Telescope’s May issue

Hello Everyone,

I recently learned that my astrophoto of M16 (aka The Eagle Nebula) will appear in Sky and Telescope magazine’s May issue!

I’m told that the image will appear in the gallery section and will be about  a half-page in size.

Getting an image published in Sky and Telescope is one of the top honors for an amateur astrophotographer, so I was pretty thrilled to hear the news.  Since they will be paying me $50 for the image perhaps I can now say that I’m a “pro astrophotographer”?

I think I need a bigger telescope.  🙂


10/13/2013 M16 The Eagle Nebula

Hello Everyone!

After several months away from the world of astrophotography and image processing we are back with our first major imaging project of the summer.  The image presented here is that of the Messier 16 (M16), also known as the Eagle Nebula.  It is located approximately 6500 light years from Earth in the constellation Serpens.  The center area of this region of space was the site of the famous Hubble Space Telescope photo, “Pillars of Creation.”  While I do think my colors are slightly better, the Hubble image does seem have the edge on image detail.  😉

To the left and down from the pillars is located a fantastic stellar spire.  As with the pillars, this area is also a likely star forming region.

M16 is presented here in Hubble palette:

Red = S II (ionized sulfur)
Green = HA (hydrogen alpha)
Blue = O III (doubly ionized oxygen, having two electrons removed)

Here are the technical details:

M16 – The Eagle Nebula
Capture date: July 8, 2013 – August 5, 2013
LRGB image using Ha for Luminance, SII for Red, OIII for Blue and Ha for Green
Astrodon filters: 5nm HA, 5nm SII and 3nm OIII
17 exposures of OIII, with 20 minute subs each
18 exposures of SII, with 20 minute subs each
26 exposures of HA, with 20 minute subs each
Imaging scope: Astro-Tech AT10RC Ritchey Chrétien at f/6.7 (native f/8)
Focal reducer: Astro Physics CCDT67 focal reducer
Imaging camera: QSI 583wsg monochrome
Guide camera: Starlight Xpress Lodestar
Mount: Celestron CGE hypertuned by Deep Space Products
Capture and stacking in Maxim DL
All other processing in Photoshop

Over 20 hours of starlight exposures went into this project.

M16(en)


2/10/2013 NGC6888 Reprocessed

Hello Everyone,

I also spent some time today reprocessing a set of data from 2011.  Below you will find a completely new processing of NGC6888 (The Crescent Nebula), using LRD fat tail deconvolution for sharpening.

Enjoy!

LRGB2_flattened_final


2/10/2013 NGC 6992

Greetings Everyone!

After taking a few months break from image processing I decided to jump back into this past weekend.

Since the weather in Seattle isn’t exactly perfect for imaging in February, this latest image was produced from data which I captured September – October, 2012. This particular object is called NGC 6992, otherwise known as the Eastern Veil nebula.

This is my first attempt to capture the veil nebula. It’s quite a large structure, so it isn’t possible to capture the entire object with my scope. The good news is that many sections of the nebula are fantastic and beautiful just on their own, and I do plan to image these other parts of the nebula in 2013.

From the wikipedia artice, “The Veil Nebula is a cloud of heated and ionized gas and dust in the constellation Cygnus. It constitutes the visible portions of the Cygnus Loop (radio source W78, or Sharpless 103), a large but relatively faint supernova remnant. The source supernova exploded some 5,000 to 8,000 years ago, and the remnants have since expanded to cover an area roughly 3 degrees in diameter (about 6 times the diameter, or 36 times the area, of the full moon). The distance to the nebula is not precisely known, but Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) data supports a distance of about 1,470 light-years.”

From an image processing standpoint, I have been wanting to make some progress with coming up with better imaging sharpening techniques for quite some time now. Most techniques I’ve tried so far produce halos around stars, and many add a sort of blotchy noise to the resulting image. I have been trying to find something better. After some searching I ran across “Fat Tail” Richardson-Lucy Deconvolution and decided to give it a try. After spending some time learning how to adjust this new tool, I think the results were pretty good.

NGC 6992 is presented here in Hubble palette:

Red = S II (ionized sulfur)
Green = HA (hydrogen alpha)
Blue = O III (doubly ionized oxygen, having two electrons removed)

Here are the technical details:

NGC 6992 – The Eastern Veil Nebula
Capture date: September 19, 2012 – October 5, 2012
LRGB image using Ha+SII+OIII for Luminance, SII for Red, OIII for Blue and Ha for Green
Astrodon filters: 5nm HA, 5nm SII and 3nm OIII
39 exposures of OIII, with 20 minute subs each
24 exposures of SII, with 20 minute subs each
21 exposures of HA, with 20 minute subs each
Imaging scope: Astro-Tech AT10RC Ritchey Chrétien at f/6.7 (native f/8)
Focal reducer: Astro Physics CCDT67 focal reducer
Imaging camera: QSI 583wsg monochrome
Guide camera: Starlight Xpress Lodestar
Mount: Celestron CGE hypertuned by Deep Space Products
Capture and stacking in Maxim DL
All other processing in Photoshop

Over 28 hours of starlight exposures went into this project.

 ngc6992_LRGB2_flattened_final_1080p


8/26/2012 NGC 7380

Hello Everyone,

After nearly a year since our last post, I’m happy to be able to present our biggest project of the summer!

Back in 2011, one of the very first narrowband subjects I attempted was NGC 7380 – aka The Wizard nebula.  Unfortunately there were a number of problems with that original dataset, and I had always wanted to give it another try.  Presented here are the results of that effort.

From the wikipedia article, “NGC 7380 (also known as the Wizard Nebula) is an open cluster discovered by Caroline Herschel in 1787. William Herschel included his sister’s discovery in his catalog, and labelled it H VIII.77. It is also known as 142 in the 1959 Sharpless catalog (Sh2-142). This reasonably large nebula is located in Cepheus.”

As with my earlier attempt, this version of NGC 7380 is presented in Hubble palette.  Hubble palette is a popular scheme for using color to help astronomers identify the chemical composition of the different areas of the image.  Hubble palette is defined as follows:

Red = S II (ionized sulfur)
Green = HA (hydrogen alpha)
Blue = O III (doubly ionized oxygen, having two electrons removed)

And here are the technical details:

NGC 7380 – The Wizard Nebula
LRGB image using Ha for Luminance, SII for Red, OIII for Blue and Ha for Green
Astrodon filters (new for this year!) 5nm HA, 5nm SII and 3nm OIII
41 exposures of OIII, with 20 minute subs each
25 exposures of SII, with 20 minute subs each
45 exposures of HA, with 20 minute subs each
Imaging scope: Astro-Tech AT10RC Ritchey Chrétien at f/6.7 (native f/8)
Focal reducer: Astro Physics CCDT67 focal reducer
Imaging camera: QSI 583wsg monochrome
Guide camera: Starlight Xpress Lodestar
Mount: Celestron CGE hypertuned by Deep Space Products
Capture and stacking in Maxim DL
All other processing in Photoshop

Over 39 hours of starlight exposures went into this project.

The Wizard Nebula