SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M8 (Lagoon Nebula)

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

Image Details:

Camera: Mofidied Canon Digital Rebel (300D): Hutech (no filter)
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: 24 x 4min @ ISO 200
Total Exposure: 1hrs, 36min
Date: 8/3/2005 9:52:18 PM 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
  • JimP: Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Levels, cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is another Team Saratoga™ image, using Rich's modified 300D and my C8-NGT. This is a pretty spectacular object and one of our better images, in my humble opinion. Compare the current image with the one I captured a year ago with an unmodified camera, and before I knew what I was doing. No camparison. This is the full frame, shrunk for display on the web. A full-resolution image is also availble. North is up.

 
NGC 6772 (Planetary Nebula)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 6772 (Planetary Nebula)

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: 9/13/2007 9:04 PM PDT (Start)
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
  • Neat Image: Noise Reduction
  • Photoshop: cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is NGC 6772, a planetary nebula n the constellation of Aquila. Maybe this one should be called “The Ugly Planetary” — or maybe it just needs more exposure or less binning. <grin> This is an LRGB composite, with the Luminance binned 1×1 and the color data binned 3×3. I probably won't bother to bin the color data in the future. North is up.

 
M11 (Wild Duck Cluster)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M11 (Wild Duck Cluster)

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: n/a (Prime)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 26 x 20sec @ ISO 400
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 8min
Date: 7/21/2004, 12:10am
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, flat frame, registration, and Kappa-Sigma stacking
  • Photoshop: Sligth crop, image scale (1/4 x), JPG conversion

Image Description:

The Wild Duck Cluster is a fairly interesting Open Cluster (as opposed to a Globular Cluster) in the constellation of Scutum. It makes for a very nice view through the eyepiece of a decent telescope, where, apparently, the stars take on the "V Shape" of a flock of flying ducks. Ummm, yeah.

I was careful in the aquisition and processing chain not to clip (saturate) any of the stars in order to preserve their color. This is a crop of the full size frame. A higher-resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
PLN85+4.1 (HII Region)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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PLN85+4.1 (HII Region)

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

Image Details:

Camera: SBIG ST-2000XM
Mount: Astro-Physics 1200GTO
Scope: AP Starfire 160EDF APO Refractor
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: Astrodon LRGB I-Series Filters
Effective Focal Length: 1200mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/7.5
Exposure: 9 × 32min @ -20°C (Hα); 8 × 8min @ -20°C (RGB)
Total Exposure: 8hrs, 0min
Date: 7/23/2010 (Hα), 8/4/2010 (RGB)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: CCD Commander
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
  • Photoshop: Hα and RGB combining, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is PLN85+4.1, an HII region in the constellation of Cygnus. I thought this was a Planetary Nebula, cuz that’s what TheSky said it was, but upon further review and research, including Anthony Ayiomamitis’ excellent image and writeup, it's just a glowing cloud of HII. Oh well. Hα and RGB combined in Photoshop using the “Lighten” method, which worked better than the other methods I tried. Mouse over for the Hα-only version. A higher-resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
SH 2-27 (Emission Nebula West)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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SH 2-27 (Emission Nebula West)

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

Image Details:

Camera: Mofidied Canon Digital Rebel (300D): Hutech (no filter)
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: 33 x 4min @ ISO 200
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 12min
Date: 7/6/2005 10:33:03 PM 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: Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Levels, image scale, cropping, clone tool, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is the Western portion of SH 2-27, a very large but very faint emission nebula in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Thanks much to Rich S. for bringing over his Modified 300D and 200mm lens.

Move your mouse over the image above to see annotations of the various dark-nebula regions, or click on the image for a higher-resolution version. The image above is the full frame, shrunk for display on the web. Check out the Eastern portion of SH 2-27 as well. North is right.

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

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M42 (The Great Nebula in Orion)

[Hα+R G B]

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: Hutech Hα Front Filter (HA-FF)
Effective Focal Length: 480mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/6
Exposure: 31x4m, 11x30s @ ISO 400 (RGB); 21x8m, 10x1m, 10x15s @ ISO 1600 (Hα)
Total Exposure: 5hrs, 10min
Date: 2/20/2006 (RGB); 1/7/2007 (Hα)
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, high dynamic range compositing
  • JimP: Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, HαRGB combination, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Levels, cropping, JPG conversion
  • Neat Image: Noise reduction

Image Description:

This is an update of my previous M42 image, with 3hrs of Hα exposure added to the existing RGB data. The Hα really helps bring out many of the features in this busy field.

To create the HαRGB composite, I used the original RGB data for Hue and Saturation, and used the equivalent of Photoshop's “Screen” blending mode to combine the luminance of the original RGB data with the (grayscale) Hα data. This Screen-blended Luminance, along with the Hue and Saturation of the original RGB image, was then converted back to RGB. This method seemed to preserve details in the non-Hα-emitting regions, provide excellent detail in the Hα regions, and preserve the colors.

Processing M42 provides a significant challenge because its dynamic range is so enormous. Long exposures are required to bring out the faint wisps of nebulosity, but those long exposures have the core/trapezium region completely blown out. So, short exposures are required to capture the detail in the bright, core/trapezium region. The typical method to combine the short and long exposures is using layer masks in Photoshop, as described well by Jerry Lodriguss. But for this image, I used IRIS's merge_hdr command to automatically merge and blend the various exposures into hdr (High Dynamic Range) images. The technique worked extremely well throughout the entire Hα image, as well as in the core region of the RGB image. However, it struggled to merge some of the clipped stars in the RGB image (away from the field center), perhaps due to registration imperfections. All in all, though, I'm extremely happy with this technique, and kudos to Christian Buil (author of the IRIS software) for this implementation of HDR.

Mouse-over the image to see the Hα image in grayscale. Mouse-off to see the HαRGB composite. A higher-resolution image is also available. North is up.