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/

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/