SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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Moon, Saturn, and The Twins

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

Image Details:

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel (300D)
Mount: None
Scope: Canon EF 28mm - 80mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 IV USM lens
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 80mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5.6
Exposure: 8 x 1 sec @ ISO 100; 3 x 1/125 sec @ ISO 100
Date: 1/23/2005, 7:36pm PST
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: Manual
Focus: Manual
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: RAW Conversion, Registration, Stacking
  • Photoshop: Compositing, Levels, Image Size

Image Description:

This is a widefield shot of a 98.33% full Moon near Castor (upper left), Pollux (lower left), and Saturn (lower-right). Castor and Pollux are the two brightest stars in the constellation of Gemini, The Twins. Mouse-over the image above to see annotations and to see the outline of the Gemini constellation. This is a composite of a stack of 1" exposures for the background stars and Saturn, and a stack of 1/125" exposures of the Moon. Compositing was done in Photoshop. Zenith is up (North is roughly in the direction of the line connecting the Moon to Castor).

 
M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy)   [obsolete]

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: 16 x 60sec @ ISO 400 + 16 x 60sec @ ISO 800
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 32min
Date: 5/13/2004 ~3am, and 5/19/2004 ~1:30am
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: Manual
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, flat field, registration, and stacking
  • Photoshop: Noise reduction, color balance, crop (1/2 x), image scale (1/2 x), JPG conversion

Image Description:

My first attempt at M101, with too little exposure time and no guiding.

 
Mars
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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December: Test shots with new scopes/mounts

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Mars

Image Details:

Camera: Mofidied Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k): Color RAW Hack
Mount: Astro-Physics 1200GTO
Scope: TMB 152/1200 APO Refractor
Configuration: Negative Projection (Barlowed)
Additional Optics: TeleVue 5x PowerMate
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 6000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/39.5
Exposure: 256 @ 1/25s, 5fps, gain=0%
Date: 12/21/2007 1:45 AM PST
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: IRIS
Focus: Manual
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • Registax: AVI Conversion, Registration, Best Frame Selection, Stacking
  • IRIS: Wavelets
  • PhotoShop: Unsharp Mask, JPG Conversion

Image Description:

This is my first planetary image with the new TMB 152/1200 APO Refractor. I used a (also new) 5x PowerMate to crank up the focal length to 6000mm. The 7th of the 15 AVIs I captured this night produced the best stacked image, which is shown above. The other ones had worse seeing, worse focus, or some combination of the above. Interestingly, the insertion of a Baader UV/IR filter yielded a worse result than without it, indicating that the TMB 152/1200 is well corrected into the IR and UV wavelengths. Cool!

This animation consists of 15 frames, each of which is a stack of the "best 128" of the frames in the respective AVI. (Each AVI consists of roughly 1000 frames). Note how bad the seeing gets toward the beginning of the animation. The UV/IR filter is present during the last 5 captures (frames). I refocused after the 5th and before the 6th capture. Note how quickly Mars rotates in this animation, which spans only 1.5 hours of Earth time.

Earth's North is up, which means that Mars' North is leaning roughly 23.5° to the right.

 
M16 (Pillars of Creation)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M16 (Pillars of Creation)

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 SII, Hα, OIII 6nm Filters
Effective Focal Length: 2160mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/12
Exposure: {6 Hα, 11 OIII, 13 SII} × 15min @ -20°C
Total Exposure: 7hrs, 30min
Date: 8/16/2007 10:30 PM PDT (Start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: CCDSoft
Focus: Manual
Dithering: Manual
Guiding: Self Guided

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, registration
  • JimP: Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Sharpening, cropping, JPG conversion
  • Neat Image: Noise reduction

Image Description:

This is M16, aka, the “Eagle Nebula”, an emission nebula in the constellation of Serpens. This is my first Narrowband (aka “Tricolor”, aka “False Color”, aka “Emission Line”) Image with my new SBIG ST-2000XM camera and Astrodon SII, Hα, and OIII 6nm emission line filters.

These filters pass only an extremely narrow band of wavelengths which, respectively, correspond to the dominant wavelengths emitted by ionized Sulfur, atomic Hydrogen, and doubly ionized Oxygen gas. Images taken in this fashion therefore show the distribution of these gases in the emission nebula cloud.

The emission lines in the image above are mapped to RGB as per the so-called “Hubble Palette”, where red is SII, green is Hα, and blue is OIII. This is the same palette used in the famous Hubble Pillars of Creation photo, so named because this region of the Eagle Nebula is an active region in which star formation is occurring. The Hubble has a slight aperture advantage over me, and a slight altitude advantage as well. <grin> But I'm pretty pleased with this as a “First Light” foray into narrowband imaging.

Note that by mousing over the image, it will change to a pseudo-“True Color” image, in which those narrowband emission lines are mapped to their approximate color as seen by human vision. Specifically, the red SII and Hα wavelengths are mapped to red, and the aqua (blue-green) OIII wavelength is mapped to both green and blue. Also, a smidge of Hα is added into blue to simulate the Hβ wavelength.

A higher resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
M57 (The Ring Nebula in Lyra)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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December: Test shots with new scopes/mounts

Dec 21: TMB 80/480 Arrives!

Dec 3: AP1200 Arrives!

Nov 30: TMB 152/1200 Arrives!

Links:

M57 (The Ring Nebula in Lyra)   [obsolete]

Image Details:

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel (300D)
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Celestron C8-N (8" f/5 Newtonian)
Configuration: Negative Projection (Barlowed)
Additional Optics: TeleVue 2x Barlow
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 2844mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/14.2
Exposure: 13 x 1min @ ISO 3200
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 13min
Date: 6/23/2004, ~3am PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

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

Image Description:

This magnification pushes the limits of my mount, especially without [auto]-guiding. Only 13 of the 32 frames were useable. The rest showed severe smearing/trailing and had to be tossed. This is a crop of the full-size frame. North is up.

In the "trip down memory lane" category, here is an old image I captured back when I first got my scope and borrowed a friend's Nikon D100. This was 20mm eyepiece projection (1910mm, f/9.6), 1 x 2min exposure @ ISO 1600, dark-frame subtracted and processed in Photoshop. I think my technique has come a long way since then!