SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 6384 (Spiral Galaxy)

Image Details:

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel (300D)
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Celestron C8-N (8" f/5 Newtonian)
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 15 x 4min @ ISO 400
Total Exposure: 1hrs, 0min
Date: 8/11/2004, ~12:30am PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: None
Guiding: Manual through Orion ST80 w/ Celestron 2x "Kit" Barlow

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, flat field, registration, Kappa-Sigma stacking
  • Photoshop: Noise reduction, cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

NGC 6384 is a small, faint spiral galaxy in the constellation of Ophiuchus. This image could have used a lot more exposure time and also should have been shot at a higher ISO setting, since this image shows signs of quantization noise. You live, you learn. North is up.

 
NGC 6946 (Spiral Galaxy)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 6946 (Spiral Galaxy)

Mouse-over to see annotations. (Requires Javascript) Click to see high-res version.

Image Details:

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel (300D)
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Celestron C8-N (8" f/5 Newtonian)
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: Celestron/Baader Multi Purpose Coma Corrector (MPCC)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 30 x 4min @ ISO 800
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 0min
Date: 9/16/2004, ~11:10pm PDT (start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: Manual
Guiding: GuideDog via Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k) through Orion ST80 w/ Celestron 2x "Kit" Barlow

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, flat field, registration, normalized Kappa-Sigma stacking, background fit, cropping
  • Photoshop: Levels, image size, JPG conversion

Image Description:

In the lower left is NGC 6946, a spiral galaxy that straddles the border between the constellations of Cygnus and Cepheus. In the upper right is NGC 6939, an open cluster in Cepheus. This is two full hours of total exposure time and is one of my best images to date. This is the full frame, scaled for display on the web. A full-resolution image is also available. North is up.

NEWSFLASH!! Supernova 2004et occurred less than 6 days after this image was taken! Mouse-over the image below to see the supernova discovery image. Note how there's absolutely no sign of that star in my image, yet six days later it's as bright as some stars in our own galaxy!

 
M4 & IC 4604 (Antares / ρ Ophiuchi / M4)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M4 & IC 4604 (Antares / ρ Ophiuchi / M4)   [obsolete]

Image Details:

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel (300D)
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM lens
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 200mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/2.8
Exposure: 16 x 2min @ ISO 400
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 32min
Date: 5/11/2005 1:31:15 AM PDT (start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: Manual
Guiding: GuideDog via Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k) through Orion ST80 w/ Celestron 2x "Kit" Barlow

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, registration, gradient removal
  • JimP: Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Neat Image: Noise reduction
  • Photoshop: Levels, annotation, cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is my second "test photo" with my new Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM lens. This is a spectacular field at the border of the constellations of Scorpius and Ophiuchus; one that I need to revisit when it's better placed. (It was low to the horizon, in a light-polluted portion of the sky, at the time this was shot.) This image also could use much more exposure time.

Here are the highlights of this colorful region of the Milky Way:

  • Starting in the lower right-hand corner is the red-giant star Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius. The yellow reflection nebula surrounding Antares is IC 4606, and the small globular cluster within that nebula (toward the center of the frame from Antares) is NGC 6144.
  • Directly above Antares is the large, globular cluster, M4.
  • Above and to the left of M4 is another bright star, σ Scorpii. Surrounding σ Scorpii is the blue reflection nebula Ced 130 and red emission nebula Sh 2-9.
  • Continuing counter-clockwise, on the middle-left side of the frame, is the triple star ρ Ophiuchi. Surrounding ρ Ophiuchi is the blue reflection nebula IC 4604. To its right is the blue reflection nebula IC 4603.
  • Below and to the right of IC 4603 is 22 Scorpii and the blue reflection nebula IC 4605.
  • Finally, the dark regions throughout the left half of the image are various and sundry dark nebulae; i.e., clouds of dust which block our view of the stars and other objects behind them.

North is to the right in this image.

 
NGC 7008 (Planetary Nebula)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 7008 (Planetary Nebula)

Mouse-over to see annotations. (Requires Javascript) Click to see high-res version.

Image Details:

Camera: SBIG ST-2000XM
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Scope: Takahashi Mewlon 180
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: Astrodon LRGB I-Series Filters
Effective Focal Length: 2160mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/12
Exposure: L: 6 × 16min (1×1); RGB: 6 × 4min (3×3)
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 48min
Date: 9/4/2007 11:25pm PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: CCDSoft
Focus: CCDSoft
Dithering: Manual
Guiding: Self Guided

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, registration, gradient removal
  • JimP: Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, LRGB combine, ASINH stretching
  • CCDSharp: Richardson-Lucy deconvolution
  • Photoshop: cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is NGC 7008, a planetary nebula n the constellation of Cygnus. Love the purple hues in this nebula, a color that is relatively rare in deep space objects. This is an LRGB composite, with the Luminance binned 1×1 and the color data binned 3×3. A higher resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
M42 (The Great Nebula in Orion)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M42 (The Great Nebula in Orion)   [obsolete]

Image Details:

Camera: Mofidied Canon Digital Rebel (300D): Hutech (no filter)
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Orion ED80 (80mm f/7.5 APO Refractor)
Configuration: Focal Reduced
Additional Optics: Celestron F/6.3 Reducer/Corrector (0.63x)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 420mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5.2
Exposure: 16 x 4min, 15 x 30sec @ ISO 200
Total Exposure: 1hrs, 11min
Date: 2/28/2005, 8:31:23 PM PST (start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: Manual
Guiding: GuideDog via Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k) through Orion ST80 w/ Celestron 2x "Kit" Barlow

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, flat field, registration, cropping
  • Photoshop: Compositing, levels, image scale, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is a new image of M42, captured almost one year to the date after catching the astrophotography bug with this old image of M42. This is also my first image taken with a modified Digital Rebel. For this I used fellow Saratogan Rich Schuppert's camera (Thanks Rich!) which has been modified to remove the IR blocking filter. That filter blocks much of the red H-alpha color in emission nebulae. See the old image for comparison, even though, well, there's really no comparison between this new image and the old one. <g> The transparency was pretty poor the night this was shot, but the Modified Digital Rebel did a great job of capturing the H-alpha.

The objects in this image are as follows (left to right):

  • NGC 1981, Open Cluster
  • NGC 1977, Open Cluster and "Running Man" Nebula
  • M43, Bright Nebula
  • M42, The Great Nebula in Orion
  • NGC 1980, Open Cluster

Together these objects make up the "sword" region of the constellation of Orion (imagine this image rotated 90° clockwise), which looks like a fuzzy blur to the naked eye but looks stunning in binoculars or almost any telescope.

There was a bizarre anomoly in the original image which I removed using the clone tool in Photoshop. Need to run down the cause of that.

Update: The cause was an internal reflection off of the ADPT2THREAD adapter I used between the ED80's 2" socket and the Celestron focal reducer. Replacing that with the barrel half of an Orion 2" T-adapter removed the problem.

North is to the left.