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.

mceusb + H97 chipset + Linux

I had to upgrade my MythTV/Kodi machine today due to a motherboard fault that prevented my GT640 from working, and was causing some VERY strange issues with the GT220 I was using. The HDMI audio would drop out and only come back with a reboot, the network would be “up” but wouldn’t actually work. Probably some other issues too, but they aren’t really the point of this post.

I upgraded from a Gigabyte GA-EP45T-UD3LR to an ASUS H97-PLUS – and in the process from a Q6600 to an i5-4460. This was a straight swap – just upgraded the motherboard, CPU and graphics card (since I had that GT640 laying around…). Ubuntu didn’t mind at all, it just worked.

I really only had one thing that wasn’t functioning – the IR remote control! Pretty vital for a media centre PC :)

The receiver was detected fine, it shows up in lsusb, the correct modules are loaded, there is an input device created, but none of the LIRC diagnostic tools would show anything, and Kodi didn’t react at all to my key presses. I tried a bunch of different devices but still, nothing. About to give up and just use an Android phone as my remote, I found some information about xhci vs ehci on the Kodi forums. It turns out switching the USB options in the BIOS from xhci to ehci fixes the problem!

The problem with this “fix” is it will essentially turn the USB3.0 ports into USB2.0 ports. For me this isn’t a problem – I don’t currently have anything but TV tuners and the remote plugged into them.

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.

Star field around NGC6565

ngc6565

Single 5 minute exposure just to see what it might look like :)

  • Date: 23/05/2014
  • Location: Adelaide, South Australia
  • Camera: Canon 450d, modded with IR filter removed
  • Mount: HEQ5PRO
  • Scope: GSO 8″ f/5 Newtonian
  • Autoguider: Orion Starshoot AG

Tweaked a bit in Photoshop.

NGC6565 is a planetary nebula, but I can’t see it in this field. Astrometry identifies its location based on known information about the field, it’s a bit hard to read the text, but it’s right in the middle.

M8 – Lagoon Nebula

Six 5 minute frames stacked using DeepSkyStacker & Photoshop.

  • Date: 23/05/2014
  • Location: Adelaide, South Australia
  • Camera: Canon 450d, modded with IR filter removed
  • Mount: HEQ5PRO
  • Scope: GSO 8″ f/5 Newtonian
  • Autoguider: Orion Starshoot AG

m8-lagoon

I then tried playing with the image using PixInsight to see if I could make it look any better:

lagoon-1920-reprocessed

 

M83 – Southern Pinwheel Galaxy

m83

I have misplaced the processing information behind this shot, and I think I can do it better. The stars look a bit dim so I suspect I messed up when stretching this one. I’ll be sure to update this post when I’ve got something better!

NGC 253 – The Sculptor Galaxy

I think this is actually my first galaxy shot! I was still very new to using the equipment when I shot this target, but I think it worked out OK.

sculptor

This is a stack of five 1 minute exposures, stacked in DeepSkyStacker.

  • Guan Sheng 8″ f/5 telescope
  • Skywatcher HEQ5PRO
  • Canon 450d with the IR blocking filter removed

oldhardware