A few weeks ago my neighbor was commenting that he hadn’t seen anything new on my site for a while. Sadly, I’ve mostly been posting to astrophotography forums on Facebook and completely neglecting what I deem my primary personal repository for higher quality images. So here goes.
I never thought I’d be able to pull this out of the soup we call urban light pollution but I did manage it. There was significant effort put into it and I know there is much more detail that could be gathered but this is what I’ve got. A touch over 5 hours of data collected on two nights while M31 was near zenith and well before sunrise. Taken with the aid of Sequence Generator Pro automation software, PHD2 autoguiding, DeepSkyStacker, Nebulosity 4, and a little GIMP thrown in for good measure. This is probably a decent way to contribute to my addiction.
Taken on my Celestron Advanced VX + EdgeHD 8″. Camera is a QHY 8L running at -15C.
105 subexposures of 180 seconds
Taken from my back yard in Allen, Texas.
A friend of mine, Kush, has recently discovered the addiction know as astrophotography. He posted a picture of M42/M43 that made me think of my first images of that target and how I’ve progressed since then. Here we go!
Meade DSI Pro (Mono camera, LRGB filters)
Dec 30, 2008:
Canon EOS Rebel (300D)
Jan 20, 2013
Canon 20D (I think)
Dec 16, 2016
Celestron EdgeHD8 (0.7x Focal Reducer)
Orion StarShoot Pro CCD (Color)
FINALLY got some good data on the Dumbell Nebula (Messier 27). The last few days have been clear and calm-ish but at night it has still been pretty turbulent. I intended to just knock the cobwebs out since I haven’t been able to use the scope for a few months and the first few nights were exactly that. Setup was straight forward, do some ancient photon collection, take the glass and silicon inside in the morning. Wash, rinse, repeat. Last night I was going to take the whole thing down and get a good night’s sleep but it was close to calm all day so I held off until after sunset to check conditions. I’ve seen better but it has generally been much, much worse. Throwing caution to the wind I set the glass back out on the mount, wasted time until my target got where I wanted it and set the software in motion. I knew it could run all night so I turned in. I checked the data this morning and I was very excited about the quality I was seeing. This is the result of 4 hours of exposure time and several pieces of very clever software.
Celestron Advanced VX
Celestron EdgeHD 8″
QHY 8L cooled CCD @ -15C
Hutech IDAS-LPR light pollution filter
48 subframes of 5 minutes
I tend to not enjoy going out in the summer thanks to the mass of biting insects, hot and sweaty conditions and a multitude of other things. Unfortunately some of my favorite objects are out in the summer months. M57 is one of them. Easily seen in modest telescopes this small but bright nebula really sparkles in the northern summer sky.
But I’m not. M42/43 continues to make me smile. The new-ness never seems to wear off even after 15 years of imaging the same region of space every (cooperative) winter. Even from the backyard in the North Dallas suburbs you can get reasonable detail with enough exposure time and a good light pollution filter. That will change as outdoor LED lighting becomes more prevalent in the city.
37 frames of 300 seconds
30 frames of 30 seconds (to get some detail in the central Trapezoid region)
Celestron Advanced VX mount
AstroTech AT65EDQ w/Orion StarShoot Pro v2. Exposure control by Nebulosity 4
Orion Mini-Guider w/Meade DSI Pro operated by OpenPHD2
Cities are the bane of the amateur astronomer. Light pollution continues to grow at an astonishing rate as our cities increase in size and population. That doesn’t mean astronomy is impossible, just more challenging. The use of filters designed specifically to quench low pressure sodium and mercury vapor lights has gone a long way. Enjoy the days of these ionized lamp because they are coming to an end. I’ve begun to see the impact of LED lighting in my own back yard. These next few years will likely be the last I’ll be able to capture nebulae from inside the city so I better enjoy it while I can.