SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 6888 (Crescent 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 Hα 6nm Filter
Effective Focal Length: 1200mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/7.9
Exposure: 6 × 32min @ -15°C (Hα)
Total Exposure: 3hrs, 12min
Date: 6/12/2008 11:49 PM PDT (Start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: CCDSoft
Focus: FocusMax
Dithering: Manual
Guiding: Self Guided

Processing:

  • IRIS: registration
  • JimP: Dark subtraction, Flat Field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is an Hα image of NGC 6888, aka, the “Crescent Nebula”, an emission nebula in the constellation of Cygnus. This is a “work in progress”, as I will be adding other emission-line data in the future. Check out my color DSLR shot to see this object in color. A higher resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
Fire (Henry Coe State Park)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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Fire (Henry Coe State Park)

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: None
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: 410 x 6sec @ ISO 200
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 41min
Date: 9/4/2007 10:30pm PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, PIC to BMP Conversion
  • JimP: Flat field, White Balance, ASINH stretch
  • BMP2PNG: BMP to PNG conversion
  • Mencoder: PNG to AVI movie encoding
  • Photoshop: Image scale, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is a photo and animation (5 MB) of what threatens to become one of the largest wildfires in Santa Clara County history, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The images were captured from my house in Saratoga, roughly 35miles west of Henry Coe State Park, where the fire is centered.

While not really an astrophoto per se, the acquisition and subsequent processing of these images use the exact same process I've been using for DSLR imaging of the universe, including calibration (dark subtraction, flat fielding) and subsequent processing in IRIS and home-brewed software tools. Note, for example, the complete absence of checkerboard “pattern noise” in the background, as well as a complete lack of vignetting. In addition, Coe is one of the sites frequented by Bay Area astronomers seeking dark skies.

The animation (5 MB) is a time lapse, consisting of 410 stills taken with the DSLR, each a 6 second exposure with 5 seconds between them for mirror lockup (to avoid vibration) and for time to save the image to compact flash. Total time span is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

A higher resolution image is also available. The camera is looking almost due East in this picture, with San Jose between the camera and the fire, but off-camera to the left (North).

 
Abell 2199 / NGC 6166 (Galaxy Cluster)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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Abell 2199 / NGC 6166 (Galaxy Cluster)

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: Other
Additional Optics: Celestron/Baader Multi Purpose Coma Corrector (MPCC)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 40 x 4min @ ISO 1600
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 40min
Date: 7/11/2005 10:30:16 PM PDT (start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
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, cropping, JPG conversion
  • Neat Image: Noise reduction

Image Description:

This is a portion of Abell 2199, a rich cluster of galaxies in the constellation of Hercules. The largest galaxy in the center of the image is NGC 6166. Move your mouse over the above image to see annotations for just a small handful of the galaxies in this field, and then click on the image to get the full frame. There are an astounding number of galaxies in this field. A fellow imager once referred to one of my long exposures of a galaxy-rich region as the "Solomon Deep Field", a moniker I kinda dig. So, consider this part of the Solomon Deep Field Survey. <grin> The above is a full-resolution crop of the full-size frame. North is up.

 
NGC 6822 (Barnard's Galaxy)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 6822 (Barnard's Galaxy)

[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: Celestron C8-N (8" f/5 Newtonian)
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: Celestron/Baader Multi Purpose Coma Corrector (MPCC)
Filter: Hutech Hα Front Filter (HA-FF)
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 83 x 4min @ ISO 1600 (RGB), 22 x 8min @ ISO 1600 (Hα)
Total Exposure: 8hrs, 28min
Date: 8/23/2006 and 8/24/2006 (RGB); 8/27/2006 (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
  • JimP: Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, HαRGB combination, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Levels, cropping, sharpening, JPG conversion
  • Neat Image: Noise reduction

Image Description:

This is NGC 6822, aka Barnard's Galaxy, an irregular (as opposed to spiral or elliptical) galaxy in the constellation of Sagittarius. NGC 6822, a member of the Local Group, is a relatively close neighbor of our own Milky Way galaxy, along with M31 (Andromeda) and others.

This image was collected over three nights: two very dewy nights worth of RGB exposures, and a third night of Hα exposures. The Hα exposures really helped to bring out the star-formation regions at the top (North) of NGC 6822. Yes, that's correct, those emission nebulae are in NGC 6822, not in our own Milky Way!

Mousing-over the image will show the Hubble designations of those regions, and will switch the displayed image to the processed Hα-only image, shown in grayscale (which, trust me, is easier on the eyes than a redscale image). One of these regions, IC 1308 (aka “[H25] X” or “Hubble X”), is rougly 11 times the size of M42 in our own Milky Way.

This image is a do-over of this this old version. (By the way, I have no idea why that old version came out so green—the color in the current version is likely to be far more accurate.) A higher-resolution image is also available. North is up.