SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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Uranus

Image Details:

Camera: Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k)
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Celestron C9.25-SCT (9.25" f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain)
Configuration: Negative Projection (Barlowed)
Additional Optics: TeleVue 2x Barlow
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 4700mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/20
Exposure: 256 @ 10 frames/second
Date: 9/04/2004, 11:40pm PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: Philips VRecord
Focus: Manual
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: Registration, stacking, best-frame selection, color alignment, wavelet processing
  • Photoshop: Levels, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is my first planetary image using a webcam as the imaging platform. We used my CG-5 mount, fellow Saratogan Rich Schuppert's 9.25" SCT as the imaging scope, and my Televue 2x Barlow to increase the effective focal length to roughly 4700mm. Jim Shuder was driving the ToUcam's control panel and capture software. Uranus is a tiny target that reveals little to no detail to even the largest earth-bound telescopes, especially on nights of awful seeing which this night most certainly was. In fact, the Hubble Space Telescope struggles to pull out any detail in "true color" images of Uranus. This was a 2min AVI with 1053 total frames, of which I let IRIS select the best 256 for stacking. The result was slightly better than what Registax was able to accomplish. This is the full-size frame, though I did increase the canvas size in Photoshop to be the same dimensions as my other images. I think North is up but I'm not positive.

 
B33 (Horsehead Nebula)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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B33 (Horsehead Nebula)   [obsolete]

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

Image Details:

Camera: Mofidied Canon Rebel XT (350D): Hutech Type I Filter Replacement
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Orion ED80 (80mm f/7.5 APO Refractor)
Configuration: Focal Reduced
Additional Optics: William Optics 2" APO 0.8x Reducer/Field Flattener
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 480mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/6
Exposure: 21 x 8min @ ISO 800
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 48min
Date: 2/21/2006 7:35:35 PM PST (start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: GADFly 1.0.5
Guiding: GuideDog via Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k) through Orion ST80 w/ Celestron 2x "Kit" Barlow

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, registration, gradient removal
  • JimP: Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Compositing, Levels, Desumdging, cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is B33, aka the Horsehead Nebula in the constellation of Orion. Photos of this stunning object captivated me as a kid, and were among the many things that kindled my interest in astronomy. In that sense, capturing this image is satisfying at a number of levels, even though it could probably use another several hours of exposure. There was a nasty internal reflection from Alnitak that I had to de-smudge-i-fy in Photoshop in order to remove. Not sure what caused it, but it most certainly involves interactions among the Hutech Type I UV/IR block filter, the WO reducer, and the ED80 objective. Time for some science to figure out the culprit.

This is my second attempt at the Horsehead. My previous attempt from last year just ain't all that great. This one is much better. Funny what happens when you triple the effective exposure time. <grin> Mouse-over the image above to see the annotations, and see the link to last year's image for more information about this target. A higher-resolution image is also available. North is left.

 
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: Nikon D100
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: 1 x 60sec @ ISO 1600 (nebula), 1 x 10sec @ ISO 1600 (trapezium)
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 1min
Date: 3/22/2004, 8:45 PST
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: Manual
Focus: Manual
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • Photoshop: Dark subtracktion, registration, compositing, levels, color balance, image scale (1/4 x), JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is my first ever DSLR image! Thanks much to Jon L. for letting me borrow his Nikon D100.

Some interesting notes about this image. The vertical "trail" at the bottom, center of the image is a diffraction spike from the bright, mag 2.5, star, Iota Orionis, which is just south of the field of view of this photo. The faint, horizontal line in the lower-right portion of the image is a meteor trail or a photographic defect. Not sure which. The distinct nebula above the main one is M43.

 
M78 (Reflection Nebula)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M78 (Reflection Nebula)

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

Image Details:

Camera: SBIG ST-2000XM
Mount: Astro-Physics 1200GTO
Scope: TMB 152/1200 APO Refractor
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: Astrodon RGB I-Series Filters
Effective Focal Length: 1200mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/7.9
Exposure: {15 R, 13 G, 12 B} × 8min @ -20°C
Total Exposure: 5hrs, 20min
Date: 2/09/2008 10:08 PM PST, 2/10/2008 07:24 PM PST (Start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: CCDSoft
Focus: FocusMax
Dithering: CCD Commander
Guiding: Self Guided

Processing:

  • IRIS: Registration, gradient removal
  • JimP: Dark subtraction, Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Neat Image: Noise reduction
  • Photoshop: Neil's Trick, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is M78, a reflection nebula n the constellation of Orion. This was shot over two really horrible nights, with awful transparency and a bunch of high clouds. This object requires tons of exposure on pristine nights to do it justice. The colors do look pretty cool though, even in this modest attempt. A higher resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
The Moon
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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The Moon

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: 10 x 1/90 sec @ ISO 100
Date: 8/24/2004, ~8:30pm PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: Manual
Focus: Manual
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: Registration, stacking
  • Photoshop: Cropping (65%), image size, JPG conversion

Image Description:

I was just testing out my new JMI focuser and MPCC coma corrector and thought I'd snap a few of the moon. It came out ok, so I thought I'd post it. Check out this interesting color-enhanced version, using the technique described in How to capture the color of the Moon. It's definitely worth a look. The lunar phase here is a 70% waxing gibbous. North is up.

 
Jupiter Moon Animation
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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Jupiter Moon Animation

Image Details:

Camera: Mofidied Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k): Color RAW Hack
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Orion ED80 (80mm f/7.5 APO Refractor)
Configuration: Focal Reduced
Additional Optics: William Optics 2" APO 0.8x Reducer/Field Flattener
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 480mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/6
Exposure: 256 x 1/500 sec @ Gain = 10% (Jupiter), 48 frames of 45 x 1/25 sec @ Gain = 27% (Moons)
Date: 7/7/2006, 9:52 PM PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: Philips VRecord
Focus: Manual
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: AVI conversion, CFA conversion, Registration, Best-frame selection, Drizzle Stacking (2x), Wavelet processing, FFT filtering
  • Photoshop:Compositing
  • Image Ready: Animation

Image Description:

This is a time-lapse animation of Jupiter's moons. Each frame in the animation is separated by 2min of "real time", and consists of a stack of 45 exposures. Properly exposing the moons, however, resulted in an over-exposed Jupiter. So, I shot separate exposures of Jupiter and composited the whole mess in Photoshop, then used ImageReady to assemble the animation. Earth's north is up.