1/6/11 Surprising Flares in Crab Nebula

Science Daily has an interesting article on newly-detected gamma-ray flares being emitted by the Crab Nebula (aka M1).


M1 12/31/10 – 1/1/11

Hello Everyone,

Here in Seattle we have had three months of constant rain. Now that’s a long time since I’ve had the telescope out!

During the rain I did a lot of maintenance work on the CGE mount, including replacing the DEC and RA electrical connectors with DIN plugs – a major project!

As you can see below, the work paid off!  The scope is working great, and the new finder-guider scope is doing a great job.

This particular image of M1 is the result of two nights of imaging combined into a single image.  Here are the specifics:

M1 (aka the “Crab Nebula”) is a supernova remnant
58 exposures, with 5-minute subs at ISO 1600
Imaging scope:  Celestron C11 on CGE Mount
Reducers:  Celestron f/6.3 focal reducer
Filters:  Astronomik CLS
Imaging camera:  Canon XS/1000d with heatmirror replace with Baader filter glass
Guide scope:  Modified Celestron 9×50 finder scope
Guide camera:  Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Captured with Nebulosity
Background Flattened with Fitswork
Stacked in DSS
Guided with PHD

Some facts about M1:
“The Crab Nebula (Messier 1), located in the constellation of Taurus, is a supernova remnant (SNR), the result of a cataclysmic supernova explosion in the year 1054. This explosive death of a star was so bright that it could be seen in the daytime sky for 23 days, and was documented by astronomers throughout the Far East.”


M33 11/04/10 12:32am

We had a brief opening in the clouds last night and I was able to capture about two hours worth of M33 subs.

I thought this came out pretty good considering it was taken from downtown Seattle, Washington.

Enjoy!
M33 – Galaxy
27 exposures, with 5-minute subs at ISO 1600
Imaging scope:  Celestron C11 on CGE Mount
Reducers:  Celestron f/6.3 focal reducer
Filters:  Astronomik CLS
Imaging camera:  Canon XS/1000d with heatmirror replace with Baader filter glass
Guide scope:  Vixen ED80SF
Guide camera:  Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Captured with Nebulosity
Guided with PHD
Stacked in DSS

 


Jupiter 9/22/10 12:47am RRGB

Last night we had a nice break in the clouds, and along with unusually good seeing conditions for the Seattle area I was able to capture the following image of Jupiter.  This is one of our best Jupiter images to date.  Enjoy!

The above image was captured as follows:

30fps

2:30 of captures for each R, G, B

Stacked using Registax

RRGB image composited using WinJUPOS


Jupiter 7/15/10 4:50am RRGB

Here’s our latest Jupiter photo.  We had a great night of seeing and I was able to do a better job collimating the telescope.  More on this one later…


Jupiter 7/9/10 4:39am RRGB

Jupiter is currently rising and getting larger in the sky, and we should expect to see better and better images of Jupiter as the year progresses. In addition to the improvement in the altitude and visible diameter of the planet, I have also made some improvements to the technology we use to capture images.

The biggest new additions are the use of Point Spread Function (PSF) deconvolution in Fitswork, and compositing LRGB images in WinJupos using their cylinder mapping functionality.

PSF deconvolution allows me to reverse some of the imperfections in the imaging train. In this case, the scope was slightly out of collimation. I was able to reverse (some) of the collimation issues by using the shadow of Jupiter’s moon Io as the Point Spread Function for deconvolution.

The use of WinJupos for compositing images is a further enhancement. Using WinJupos I can shoot up to 2 minutes and 30 seconds of video for each R,G,B channel. Using WinJupos, each processed RGB channel is wrapped on a cylinder model of the planet, then rotated into the correct position for composition. This is a major technological advancement, as without the cylinder model I could previously only shoot about 40 seconds for each R,G,B channel. If I had filmed any longer than that, the planet’s rotation would have made it impossible to align the RGB channels into a single final image.

Here are the stats for this image:

Subject: Jupiter with shadow of Io
Date: July 9, 2010 4:39:18am PDT (11:39:18am UTC)
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Telescope: Celestron C11
Mount: Celestron CGE
Camera: Imaging Source DMK21AU04.AS
Filters: Astronimik Type IIc RGB
Imaging Train: C11 == NGFCM == Flip Mirror == Filter Wheel == Powermate 2.5x == DMK21AU04.AS
Recording exposure: 1/45 for all RGB
Recording framerate: 30 FPS
Recorded 4100 frames for each R,G,B
Stacked 800 frames of each R,G,B
PSF deconvolution in Fitswork
RRGB composition in WinJupos
Final processing in Photoshop


M27 6/7/10

Here is a photo of M27 (aka The Dumbbell Nebula) that we took just over a week ago from a dark sky site near Wenachee, Washington.  You can compare this against our earlier attempt at m27 from three years ago by clicking on the “Nebulae” tab and scrolling to the bottom of the page.  Clearly we have made some real improvements in our capture techniques, processing techniques and equipment.

We had some problems with passing clouds, so we weren’t able to integrate a whole lot of frames.  Total integration time was one hour and ten minutes.  Here are the details:

M27 – Planetary Nebula
10 exposures with 6-minute subs at ISO 1600
10 exposures with 1-minute subs at ISO 1600
Imaging scope:  Celestron C11 on CGE Mount
Filters/Reducers:  Celestron f/6.3 focal reducer (no filters used)
Imaging camera:  Canon XS/1000d with heatmirror replace with Baader filter glass
Guide scope:  Vixen ED80SF
Guide camera:  Imaging source DMK21AU04.AS
Captured with Nebulosity
Guided with PHD
Stacked in DSS
Post processed in Fitswork and Photoshop


M101 reworked

After spending so much time learning new imaging processing techniques on M88, I thought I’d apply some of those new techniques to the M101 image data from earlier in the year.

The results are what you see here.

For those who are interested, here is a copy of my image processing notes for Fitswork:

Load fits32rat of m101_9
Pixel Arithmetic -> Logarithmic
Use background flatten -> variable flatten
Blur Filter -> Median Blur 21,1
Color Image to B&W (Luminance)
Blur Filter -> Gaussian Blur Filter (Luminance) 10.4, 100
Pixel Arithmetic -> Multiply Value (Luminance) 0.05
(select color image)
Subtract Image (select gaussian blurred luminace)
Now take original Luminance image
Cutoff at high boundary 0.02
Cutoff at low boundary 0.02
for high boundary image, iter gauss sharp 4, 5, 400
for low boundary image, iter gauss sharp 2.4, 5, 400
Add low and high together
Image Combine -> L+RGB not scaled
Color -> Saturation


M88 5/7/10-5/8/10

Now that summer is approaching, we are starting to get more opportunities to do deep sky imaging.
The following was taken over two nights from Port Gamble, Washington – A fairly dark site that is near sea level.

M88 – Galaxy
30 exposures, with 6-minute subs at ISO 1600
Imaging scope:  Celestron C11 on CGE Mount
Filters/Reducers:  Baader UV/IR filter, Celestron f/6.3 focal reducer
Imaging camera:  Canon XS/1000d with heatmirror replace with Baader filter glass
Guide scope:  Vixen ED80SF
Guide camera:  Imaging source DMK21AU04.AS
Captured with Nebulosity
Guided with PHD
Stacked in DSS

Processing in Fitswork
* high/low cutoff to separate DSS stacked image into four layers
* iterative gaussian shapening on each layer
* wavelet NR on background layer
* add all layers together once sharpening completed
* star reduction
* rough histogram adjust

Color and exposure adjustments in Raw Therapee
* color boost/shift
* color NR
* exposure adjust, highlights adjust, midtones adjust

Final processing in Gimp
* final levels
* final crop
* star rounding (using Astronomy plugin)

I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how to process this data.  Really an education for me and I have learned a tremendous amount about image processing from this project.

Note that there are several smaller galaxies (aka fuzzies!) present in the photo.  The irregularly-shaped object in the center right of the picture is Galaxy IC 3476.

Enjoy!


M101 4/10/10 2:12am

Still very cloudy here in the great northwest.  We had a break in the clouds yesterday, and I took it as an opportunity to do some deep sky and planetary imaging from our home in Seattle, Washington.  Here are the results!

Subject:  M101 (aka The Pinwheel Galaxy)
Location: Seattle, Washington USA
Date and Time: April 10, 2010 2:12am
33 light frames @ 4 minute subs for 132 minute total exposure time
Modified Canon 1000d DSLR (heatmirror replaced with Baader filter glass)
Orion Skyglow Imaging Filter
Celestron C11 on CGE Mount
Guiding with PhD Guider using Vixen ED80SF and Imaging Source DMK21AU04.AS