M42/M43, then and now

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!


Circa 2004:

Meade SN6

Meade DSI Pro (Mono camera, LRGB filters)



Dec 30, 2008:
Meade SN6

Canon EOS Rebel (300D)



Jan 20, 2013

Meade SN6

Canon 20D (I think)

The Great Orion Nebula


Dec 16, 2016

Celestron EdgeHD8 (0.7x Focal Reducer)

Orion StarShoot Pro CCD (Color)


M13 – Hercules Cluster

Short and sweet while waiting for M27 to transit.



14 x 2min

EdgeHD 8″


0.7x Focal Reducer

Hutech IDAS-LPS light pollution filter (with diminishing returns now that wideband LED street lamps are becoming popular)

Messier 27 – some good data FINALLY!

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

M57 revisited

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.



A Rosette by any other name . . .

Caldwell 49 is one of the objects in my catalog of images that I’ve wanted to capture for a good long while.  It is absolutely massive and generally lends itself well to grab and go wide field imaging.  Polar alignment is less critical than at high f/ratio and field rotation is thus less obvious.  I still strive for zero rotation and translation and in this case I got that.  I only got to capture 35 minutes of data before it disappeared behind a tree so there is still much to be desired.  Another attempt at this will be made next year.

Caldwell 49 2016-03-13

Caldwell 49

7 x 5 minutes

Celestron Advanced VX mount

AstroTech AT65EDQ APO quadruplet

Orion StarShoot Pro v2 CCD


Site: Albany, Texas – Fort Griffin State Historic Site – 2016/03/13

(C) 2016 Tim Schuh

You’d think I’d by sick of Orion by now . . .

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

M103 and M1, the addiction renewed

M1, the Crab Nebula.  M103, the Christmas Tree Cluster.  Two of my favorite objects.  I’ve imaged the M103 cluster several times before but it remains one of my favorites.  The obvious grouping of this open cluster gives it a triangular shape and the varied color remind many Westerners of a Christmas Tree.   Given that it reaches its highest point in the winter months that naming is fairly obvious.


The Crab Nebula is an object that has eluded me for many years.  The star exploded about 7,500 years ago but we only saw the light in 1054 AD as recorded by Chinese astronomers.  Capturing the excited Hydrogen ribbons running through the gas cloud has always been difficult for me but I finally got it with 5 hours of data on a nearly perfect night in the middle of the work week.  Thank goodness for automagically guiding telescopes and mounts that don’t need constant tinkering!


M103 taken October 10, 2015.  32 frames of 5 minutes.

M1 taken October 13, 2015.  150 frames of 2 minutes.

Both with a Celestron EdgeHD 8″ Schmidt-Cassegrain, Celestron 0.7x focal reducer, Orion StarShoot Pro v2 CCD camera, Hutech IDAS-LPS light pollution filter.




LED Light Pollution begins its slow Intrusion

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.