47 TUC

47 TUC

 

Seven 5-minute light frames, calibrated, registered, stacked, and post-processed using PixInsight.

  • Date: 25/10/2014
  • Location: Adelaide, South Australia
  • Camera: Canon 450d w/ IR filter removed, GSO coma corrector
  • ISO800
  • Mount: HEQ5PRO
  • Scope: GSO 8″ f/5 Newtonian
  • Autoguider: Orion Starshoot AG
  • Imaging: BackyardEOS w/ PHD dithering
  • Guiding: PHD2
  • 50 bias frames, 20 dark frames, 20 flat frames.

NGC 253 – The Sculptor Galaxy – one year on…

sculptor_final_2_32

It has been almost exactly one year since I first shot NGC 253, and I’ve managed to acquire some new hardware and software in the past year that has made a huge difference. What better way to test my new gear and software than to re-shoot one of my first targets!

Registration and stacking was performed in DeepSkyStacker, post processing in PixInsight, and some tweaking in Photoshop.

  • Date: 17/10/2014
  • Location: Adelaide, South Australia
  • Camera: Canon 450d w/ IR filter removed, GSO coma corrector
  • ISO800 & ISO1600
  • Mount: HEQ5PRO
  • Scope: GSO 8″ f/5 Newtonian
  • Autoguider: Orion Starshoot AG
  • Imaging: BackyardEOS w/ PHD dithering
  • Guiding: PHD2
  • 50 bias frames, 20 flat frames, 28 light frames (300 second ISO 800, 150 second ISO 1600)

The original from a year ago:

sculptor

NGC7293 – Helix Nebula

helix_nebula

Twenty-seven 5 minute frames stacked using DeepSkyStacker, processed using PixInsight

  • Dates: 21/08/2014 & 27/08/2014
  • Location: Adelaide, South Australia
  • Camera: Canon 450d w/ IR filter removed, GSO coma corrector
  • ISO800
  • Mount: HEQ5PRO
  • Scope: GSO 8″ f/5 Newtonian
  • Autoguider: Orion Starshoot AG
  • Imaging: BackyardEOS w/ PHD dithering
  • Guiding: PHD2
  • 50 bias frames, 20 dark frames, 20 flat frames.

This is my first planetary nebula! I’m not counting NGC6565 since you can’t see it in that image. Once again I utilised TGVDenoise in PixInsight, which improved the image quite a bit.

To focus I used a Bahtinov mask:

bahtinov

M8 – Lagoon Nebula – Take 2

m8-august

Nine 5 minute frames stacked using DeepSkyStacker, processed using PixInsight

  • Date: 14/08/2014
  • Location: Adelaide, South Australia
  • Camera: Canon 450d w/ IR filter removed, GSO coma corrector
  • ISO800
  • Mount: HEQ5PRO
  • Scope: GSO 8″ f/5 Newtonian
  • Autoguider: Orion Starshoot AG
  • Imaging: BackyardEOS w/ PHD dithering
  • Guiding: PHD2

I’ve shot this target before, but this time I’m using a coma corrector. If you compare this shot with the previous one, it’s upside down! This is because my first attempt was done when M8 was quite low in the eastern sky, whereas this time it had passed the meridian and the mount has gone through a meridian flip.

I also did noise reduction in PixInsight using a relatively new tool called TGVDenoise, it takes a bit of trial and error but the results are great!

M17 – Omega Nebula

M17

  • Taken on 06/08/2014 – Moon was about 70% illuminated.
  • Ten 3 minute exposures
  • ISO800
  • Skywatcher HEQ5PRO Mount
  • GSO 8″ Newtonian f/5
  • Canon 450d w/ IR filter removed, GSO Coma Corrector
  • Orion starshoot autoguider
  • Imaging: BackyardEOS
  • Guiding: PHD2
  • PHD dithering switched on in BYE

Initial registration and stacking performed in DeepSkyStacker. The image is then saved in FITS format, and opened in PixInsight. I then followed some of this tutorial to do the post processing.

IC4628 – Prawn Nebula

ic4628

  • Taken on 06/08/2014 – Moon was about 70% illuminated.
  • Ten 5 minute exposures
  • ISO800
  • Skywatcher HEQ5PRO Mount
  • GSO 8″ Newtonian f/5
  • Canon 450d w/ IR filter removed, GSO Coma Corrector
  • Orion Starshoot autoguider
  • BackyardEOS to control the DSLR
  • PHD2 to handle autoguiding
  • Dithering switched on in BYE

Initial registration and stacking was handled by DeepSkyStacker. After that I saved the image as a TIF and imported that into PixInsight. All of the post processing was done in PixInsight – I really need to use it more, the results are worth the effort!

On the higher resolution image the focus looks a little off. I suspect the focus may have shifted slightly due to the dropping temperatures, or I just did a bad job of getting the image into focus.

M16 – Eagle Nebula

M16 - Eagle Nebula

23 5-minute exposures stacked using DeepSkyStacker & Photoshop. A mix of ISO400 and ISO800 frames were used.

No dark frames were used during processing – this time I switched on dithering in BYE, which tells PHD to move the mount slightly with each exposure. If you look towards the centre of the image you can see the Pillars of Creation.

I’m not super happy with the focus on this one – I could have done better. Oh well, I’ll just have to try again later!

  • Date: 02/07/2014
  • Location: Adelaide, South Australia
  • Camera: Canon 450d, modded with IR filter removed
  • GSO Coma Corrector
  • Mount: HEQ5PRO
  • Scope: GSO 8″ f/5 Newtonian
  • Autoguider: Orion Starshoot AG

Weather.

The weather recently has been absolutely rubbish, so I haven’t had an opportunity to do any astrophotography. The have been a few initially clear nights, only to have a thick fog roll in and ruin any chance of seeing the stars.

If it stops raining one cool yet cloudy night, I might attempt to capture some better dark frames at lower temperatures outside. My previous darks have been taken inside where it is much warmer, and the sensor quickly heats up to at least 30°C even on the coolest of nights.

Star field around NGC6556

starry-background.jpg

This is the first shot taken using my new coma corrector + adaptors! There is still some distortion around the outer edges of the image, but it’s a much flatter field compared to before.

This is a stack of twenty 5 minute exposures, but no dark/flat/bias frames were used. I have to take new flats since I’m now using the coma corrector, and I haven’t been able to take any darks at a cool enough temperature yet.

  • Date: 05/06/2014
  • Location: Adelaide, South Australia
  • Camera: Canon 450d, modded with IR filter removed
  • Mount: HEQ5PRO
  • Scope: GSO 8″ f/5 Newtonian
  • Autoguider: Orion Starshoot AG

Finding a good night for Astrophotography

On more than one occasion I have been tempted by the apparently clear skies, only to be disappointed by cloud cover as soon as I have my equipment set up. Figuring out the best conditions to do some imaging can be tough, especially leading into winter. Here’s a few websites and apps I use to try and work out which nights are going to be productive.

7timer

Super handy weather prediction website with a section dedicated to astronomy. I have had good results relying on the information from this website when planning a weeks imaging nights, usually using the Astro Panel app mentioned next.

Astro Panel

This Android app is based on the data from 7timer, so if 7timer is down this app might not work at all. This app is much easier to use than the website when you’re on the move, and it provides alerts when there is potentially good conditions coming up. Accuracy of the data has been reasonable for me in the time I’ve been using it, of course it’s only as accurate as the data on the 7timer website.

Weather Underground

Very comprehensive website that provides detailed world-wide weather information. WunderMap is a particularly cool feature of this website, you can enable different layers of information and even play an animation of things like the radar images.

Weather Underground app

Another Android app that I always have running. This provides the same information as the Weather Underground website, but in a format that is much easier to use on a phone or tablet. WunderMap is included as a part of this app, and in my opinion is much better than the dedicated Android app version.

BOM

Hey, I’m in Australia, so naturally our Bureau of Meteorology is a resource I often use! The MetEye page is a recent-ish addition and it’s super handy. It has a few annoying problems like it doesn’t save your location, and it won’t switch the time zone to match the location you search for, but it does provide an easy interface for looking up heaps of local weather information.