SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 2359 (Thor's Helmet)

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: 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: 34 x 8min @ ISO 400
Total Exposure: 4hrs, 32min
Date: 3/21/2007, 3/22/2007
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: Sharpening, levels, cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is NGC 2359, aka Thor's Helmet, in the constellation of Canis Major. NGC 2359 glows from the energetic winds from a so-called Wolf-Rayet Star, HD 56925 (see label in the mouse-over feature). As described in this APOD, “Wolf-Rayet stars are rare massive blue giants which develop stellar winds with speeds of millions of kilometers per hour.” The blue-green color is mostly [OIII] emission. Pretty cool. The RGB data was collected over two fairly horrible nights. This image could definitely use some Hα exposures to improve the contrast, but that will probably need to wait until next year. A higher resolution image is also available. North is left.

 
M16/M17/M24 (Widefield)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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December: Test shots with new scopes/mounts

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M16/M17/M24 (Widefield)

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: 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: 8 x 4min @ ISO 200
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 32min
Date: 8/24/2005 9:28:26 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, image scale, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is "Second Light" for my new, modified, Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D). (First Light is available as well.) I was only able to get 8 exposures in before the marine layer (fog) wiped me out, but the modified camera captured a decent amount of Hα from these relatively bright targets in that relatively short window. This is a well-traveled field in Sagittarius containing several of the showcase Messier objects of summer: M16 (the Eagle Nebula), M17 (the Omega Nebula), and M24 (Sagittarius Star cloud), plus some other goodies. This is the full frame, shrunk for display on the web. A full resolution image is also available. North is right.

 
NGC 6804 (Planetary Nebula)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 6804 (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: 9/14/2007 9:27pm 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: Neil's Trick, cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is NGC 6804, a planetary nebula n the constellation of Aquila. Had some tracking/focus/both problems in the acquisition of this image, but Neil Fleming's Star Trail Removal trick worked very well, after applying a generous dose of deconvolution in CCDSharp. 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.

 
M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy)   [obsolete]

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: 4 x 4min @ ISO 400
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 16min
Date: 8/10/2004, ~10pm 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, background fit
  • Photoshop: Noise reduction, cropping, image scale, JPG conversion

Image Description:

One of my favorite galaxies, this is M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy in the constellation of Ursa Major. M51 is the main, large galaxy, which can be seen to be interacting with the smaller NGC 5195 North of it (above it in this photo). The very faint galaxy, IC 4263, can be seen South-West (below and to the right) of M51. This image could have used more exposure, but it took me a while to get used to the guiding setup, and to drift align, and, and, and, so that I only had about 20min to acquire frames before the object set behind my house. This is the full frame, scaled for display on the web. A higher-resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
NGC 7009 (Saturn Nebula)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 7009 (Saturn 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: LRGB: 1 × 4min (binned 1×1)
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 16min
Date: 8/9/2007 11:48 PM PDT (Start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: CCDSoft
Focus: CCDSoft
Dithering: None
Guiding: Self Guided

Processing:

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

Image Description:

This is NGC 7009, aka the Saturn Nebula, a planetary nebula in the constellation of Aquarius. Not only does this PN resemble the planet Saturn, but is also approximately the same apparent, angular size as the ringed planet as seen from Earth (roughly 45 arc-seconds). Deep Sky photography of such tiny targets is extermely challenging, because webcam-based techniques — such as taking thousands of very short exposures to “freeze” the atmospheric turbulence — are not possible. I'm pretty happy with this result, though, since it was really more of a test shot than anything else. I used Richardson-Lucy deconvolution in IRIS to tighten up the stars and the nebula. Surprisingly, it actually worked better (more sharpening with fewer artifacts) doing the deconvolution after contrast stretching, as opposed to running the algorithm on the linear (unstretched) image. This is an LRGB composite, with both the Luminance and color data binned 1×1. I also added the color data to the luminance exposure to create a meta-luminance before doing the LRGB combine and subsequent processing. That seemed to work better than using only the RGB data or doing the straight-forward LRGB combine. The image above is a full-resolution crop. There's nothing else in the field of interest. North is up.

 
M31 (Andromeda Galaxy)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M31 (Andromeda 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: 10 x 5min @ ISO 100
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 50min
Date: 8/16/2004, ~3am PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: None
Guiding: GuideDog via Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k) through Orion ST80 w/ Celestron 2x "Kit" Barlow

Processing:

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

Image Description:

This is M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, a "close" neighbor of our own Milky Way. I was still experimenting with autoguiding when I shot this object, so I really didn't capture enough frames to bring out the faint detail in the galaxy's outer arms. It was also in a fairly light-polluted portion of the sky on a night of lousy transparency. Finally, the 1000mm focal length of my 8" Newtonian is too large to fit the entire object in the field of the Digital Rebel's sensor. Sounds like a job for the ST80. Ok, enough whining. The reasonably well-defined fuzzball at the bottom of the image is M32, and the half-a-fuzzball at the top-right is M110, both elliptical galaxies. This is the full frame, scaled for display on the web. North is up.

 
M16/M17/M24 (Widefield)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

Search

Latest news

December: Test shots with new scopes/mounts

Dec 21: TMB 80/480 Arrives!

Dec 3: AP1200 Arrives!

Nov 30: TMB 152/1200 Arrives!

Links:

M16/M17/M24 (Widefield)

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: 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: 8 x 4min @ ISO 200
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 32min
Date: 8/24/2005 9:28:26 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, image scale, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is "Second Light" for my new, modified, Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D). (First Light is available as well.) I was only able to get 8 exposures in before the marine layer (fog) wiped me out, but the modified camera captured a decent amount of Hα from these relatively bright targets in that relatively short window. This is a well-traveled field in Sagittarius containing several of the showcase Messier objects of summer: M16 (the Eagle Nebula), M17 (the Omega Nebula), and M24 (Sagittarius Star cloud), plus some other goodies. This is the full frame, shrunk for display on the web. A full resolution image is also available. North is right.