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M81 & M82 (Galaxies)

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: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: Celestron/Baader Multi Purpose Coma Corrector (MPCC)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 47 x 4min @ ISO 400
Total Exposure: 3hrs, 8min
Date: 4/5/2005 9:05:31 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, flat field, registration, gradient removal
  • JimP: Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Levels, cropping, JPG conversion
  • Neat Image: Noise attenuation on M82 closeup

Image Description:

This is M81 and M82, a famous pair of galaxies in Ursa Major. M81 is also known as Bode's Nebula. See also the full-resolution image. North is left.

 
NGC 6946 (Spiral Galaxy)
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NGC 6946 (Spiral Galaxy)

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: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: Celestron/Baader Multi Purpose Coma Corrector (MPCC)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 30 x 4min @ ISO 800
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 0min
Date: 9/16/2004, ~11:10pm 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, flat field, registration, normalized Kappa-Sigma stacking, background fit, cropping
  • Photoshop: Levels, image size, JPG conversion

Image Description:

In the lower left is NGC 6946, a spiral galaxy that straddles the border between the constellations of Cygnus and Cepheus. In the upper right is NGC 6939, an open cluster in Cepheus. This is two full hours of total exposure time and is one of my best images to date. This is the full frame, scaled for display on the web. A full-resolution image is also available. North is up.

NEWSFLASH!! Supernova 2004et occurred less than 6 days after this image was taken! Mouse-over the image below to see the supernova discovery image. Note how there's absolutely no sign of that star in my image, yet six days later it's as bright as some stars in our own galaxy!

 
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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Moonrise over Los Gatos
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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Moonrise over Los Gatos

Click to see high-res version.

Image Details:

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel (300D)
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: 1/60 sec @ ISO 100
Date: 8/8/2006 8:18:06 PM PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: Manual
Focus: Auto
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • Photoshop: RAW Conversion, Image Scale, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is an unprocessed shot of a 99.75% full moon rising over the Los Gatos mountains. The two bright dots in the upper-right are airplanes. A higher-resolution image is also available. Up is up. <smile>

 
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 7008 (Planetary Nebula)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 7008 (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: 9/4/2007 11:25pm 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: cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is NGC 7008, a planetary nebula n the constellation of Cygnus. Love the purple hues in this nebula, a color that is relatively rare in deep space objects. 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.

 
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 1499 (California Nebula)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 1499 (California Nebula)

[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: 26 x 8min @ ISO 800 (RGB); 33 x 8min @ ISO 1600 (Hα)
Total Exposure: 7hrs, 52min
Date: 1/9/2007 (RGB); 1/8/2007 (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
  • JimP: Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: HαRGB combination, Levels, cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is NGC 1499, aka the California Nebula in the constellation of Perseus. (Tilt your head to the right if this nebula doesn't resemble the State of California in the USA.) Unlike previous HαRGB composites, I did all the combining of the Hα and RGB in Photoshop. First, I used the Hα in “Linear Dodge” mode to pre-saturate the Red (33%) and Blue (3%) channels, and then used the Hα as Luminance at 50%. The result looked better than I could do with my own software in “trial and error” mode.

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.

 
Mercuryset over the Pacific
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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Mercuryset over the Pacific

[Hα+R G B]

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

Image Details:

Camera: Canon 5D
Mount: None
Scope: Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS USM lens
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 82mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/4
Exposure: 4 sec
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 0min
Date: 5/6/2008 8:59 PM PDT
Location: Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
Acquisition: Manual
Focus: Auto
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: RAW conversion, Dark subtraction, Bayer interpolation
  • JimP: Flat field, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Shadows/Highlights, Levels, Resizing, JPG Conversion

Image Description:

This is a shot of the Moon, the planet Mercury, and the bright star Aldebaran (α Tauri) setting over the Pacific Ocean, captured with my friend Rob's Canon 5D and EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS USM lens. (Thanks Rob!) The Marine Layer can be seen covering the Pacific Ocean and the foreground coastal area. The camera is facing roughly in the direction of Half Moon Bay from where the tripod was set up. See also my image of the Sunset that preceded this shot by about 50min.

The Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens is nice and sharp, but it vignettes substantially at 82mm f/4 over the Canon 5D's full 35mm-sized chip. But any astrophotographer worth his salt will immediately think “Flat Fields!” in order to correct such things. And, sure enough, the image shown above has been corrected by Sky Flats. Mouse-over to see just how much vignetting was present before the Dark- and Flat-Fielding operations corrected it.

To capture this shot, I ventured up to the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, as it presented a perfect angle to the WNW and was sufficiently above the marine layer to prevent a fog-out. Of course, I had no business being there after sunset, and a not-very-amused Ranger kicked me out shortly after this image was taken. He did me a huge favor in so doing, however, as I was too brain-dead to remember to bring a flashlight with me and it was getting real dark at this time. Here's a map of the approximate place I set up my tripod to capture the shot:


View Larger Map

A higher resolution image is available. North is as indicated on the mouse-over.

 
Earth
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Earth

[Hα+R G B]

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: Tiffen 58mm Circular Polarizer
Effective Focal Length: 80mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5.6
Exposure: 1/400 sec @ ISO 100
Date: 6/15/2004, 1:40pm PDT
Location: Other
Acquisition: Manual
Focus: Manual
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • Canon FileViewer Utility: +0.3 Digital Exposure Compensation, RAW to 48-bit Tif conversion
  • Photoshop: Image Scale (1/4 x), JPG conversion

Image Description:

This picture was taken at the Filoli Center Rose Garden, in Woodside CA. The only "processing" that was done on this image was to increase the exposure by +0.3 when converting from RAW to Tif. No levels, curves, sharpening, white balance, nor other processing was performed. A full-resolution image is also available.

 
Milky Way (Summer Triangle)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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Milky Way (Summer Triangle)

[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: Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L USM lens
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 14mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/2.8
Exposure: 35 x 4min @ ISO 200
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 20min
Date: 7/31/2006 11:00:06 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, cropping, JPG conversion
  • PTAssembler: Panorama creation

Image Description:

This is the second in my series of ultra-widefield images of the Milky Way. This is the so-called “next frame to the left” from the shot of the Milky Way core. This one is centered, almost, on the “Summer Triangle”, formed by the bright stars Altair, Vega, and Deneb.

For more information about this image, check out my Milky Way (Core) image which was taken with the same 14mm lens. This one, however, was taken from my house in Saratoga, CA, and there was no need to mask out the horizon when stacking the frames. Also check out the panorama containing these two images

Mouse over the image to see constellation outlines and some other annotations. The image is oriented along the galactic plane, which is to say, the Milky Way's North Galactic Pole is up. Earth's North is inclined at roughly 27° with respect to the galactic plane (63° with respect to the North Galactic Pole), as can be seen by the direction arrows in the mouse-over. A higher resolution image is also available.

 
NGC 7331 (Deer Lick Group and Stephan's Quintet)
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NGC 7331 (Deer Lick Group and Stephan's Quintet)

[Hα+R G B]

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: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: Celestron/Baader Multi Purpose Coma Corrector (MPCC)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 15 x 8min @ ISO 400
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 0min
Date: 9/22/2004, ~12:40am 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, flat field, registration, normalized Kappa-Sigma stacking, background fit, cropping
  • Photoshop: Levels, image size, cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is a rich field of galaxies in the constellation of Pegasus. The two major groupings are the Deer Lick Group, in the upper-left, and Stephan's Quintet in the lower-right. NGC 7331 is the largest and most obvious galaxy in this picture, and is the "showcase piece" in the Deer Lick Group. The tracking seemed a bit better in the frames of this image versus previous ones, perhaps due to the insertion of the barlow lens in the guide scope, doubling its effective focal length. This is a composite crop of both galaxy groups at roughly 75% size. A full-resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
NGC 2903 (Barred Spiral Galaxy)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 2903 (Barred Spiral Galaxy)

[Hα+R G B]

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: Celestron/Baader Multi Purpose Coma Corrector (MPCC)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 35 x 5min @ ISO 800
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 55min
Date: 3/30/2005 8:56:31 PM PST (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, flat field, registration, gradient removal
  • JimP: Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Levels, image size, cropping, JPG conversion
  • Neat Image: Noise attenuation on galaxy closeup

Image Description:

The large galaxy in the lower right is NGC 2903, a rather photogenic Barred Spiral galaxy in the constellation of Leo. The smaller spiral galaxy in the upper left is NGC 2916. Those with good eyes might be able to pick out PGC 27115, aka UGC 5086, the (very) faint smudge just to the left of NGC 2903. (Hey, it's a dwarf galaxy, and it's Mag 16. ) Also barely visible is PGC 27249 (aka ZWG 122.022), the thin slit just below and left of NGC 2916 (Mag 15.7).

The seeing was pretty good the night this was shot. The transparency was pretty lousy. The image on this page is a slight crop of the full frame, scaled for display on the web. See also the full-resolution image. North is up.

 
Moonrise over Los Gatos
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Moonrise over Los Gatos

[Hα+R G B]

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: 0.7 sec @ ISO 100
Date: 7/1/2004, 8:52pm PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: Manual
Focus: Manual
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: Canon FileViewer Utility: RAW to 48-bit Tif conversion
  • Photoshop: Levels, Image Scale (1/4 x), JPG conversion

Image Description:

Taken from my deck in Saratoga, CA. This is a 99.72% full moon rising over the Los Gatos mountains just South of San Jose, CA.