Here’s a picture of my new setup. My bank balance is lighter, and Italy’s trade balance has improved significantly!
Operationally, the Avalon Linear Fast Reverse is an EQ6. The interesting bit is that the EQ6′s worm gear has been replaced by a belt & pulley reduction drive. The manufacturer claims very accurate guiding is possible using this system. The mount is controlled using either a Synscan hand control or EQMod on the computer. As the bits to make a direct computer connection haven’t arrived I’m using the handset in pass-through mode.
I haven’t got the backend for my 60mm finder scope guider yet so I’ve got my QHY5 attached to a Canon 75-300 lens via a Geoptik adapter. I’ll need to source a lighter counterweight as the 3Kg is too much for the Zenithstar.
Comet Panstarrs has not put on the display that was hoped for earlier in the year but it has given a photo opportunity as it makes a close pass of the Andromeda galaxy on it’s way out of the Solar System. There’s no risk of collision here, the comet is in our Solar System and the galaxy is 2.5 million light years away.
The images were acquired using a Canon 350D with a 75-300mm zoom lens at f/4.5. Eleven 2 minute exposures were stacked in Maxim, had the light pollution gradients removed in PixInsight and final processing carried out in Photoshop.
Tonight was unexpectedly clear when I got home from work so I picked up the Canon, 18-55mm lens and tripod and headed for the end of the lane.
One patch of stubborn cloud remained anchored over the comets position for what seemed like ages, but eventually the sky was dark enough and the cloud permitted a view.
Single 10 second exposure at 55mm, f/5.6, ISO 200
After imaging comet Ison I moved on to a small galaxy in Gemini (picture to follow) and NGC 2264 in Monoceros. The 20″ seemed to be behaving itself, and, with a nice bright star in the cluster, guiding was straight forward. 20 thirty second exposures were acquired and most were good enough to stack. Stacking was performed in Maxim and the resultant floating point fits file was transferred into PixInsight for further processing.
This image would benefit from longer exposures as the nebula is pretty faint. However, it’s one of the better 20″ pictures that I’ve produced.
Last night the objective was to take a picture of comet Ison on it’s way into the inner solar system later this year. Using the 20″ I took 3 sequences of images spaced over 35 minutes. I’ve animated the sequence using Maxim DL.
(Repeat mode recommended)
We’ve had a few clear intervals over the past couple of weeks and I took some pictures of Orion with my Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 lens during one of them. I managed an hours worth of 10 minute frames and rejected one for an airplane in the image. After stacking, a simple stretch showed the light pollution that’s in my southern sky from the local town. Limiting magnitude was about 4.8.
Both automatic and dynamic background removal tools were run in Pixinsight. Despite this, some glow remains in the bottom left corner where the gradient was most severe. A star reduction procedure reduced the intensity of the field stars and then the large scale structures were isolated and increased in saturation and lightness to emphasize Barnard’s Loop.
This is another reprocess of old data, this time of IC405 and IC420 along with the bright stars 16, 17, 18 & 19 Auriga between the nebulae.
The original post was here. Using Pixinsight, with final levels and saturation boost in Photoshop this is the new result.
Halfway between Perseus and Cassiopia and embedded in the Milky Way is this double nebula. This is the result of 4.5 hours of exposure gathered over two nights on my Astrotrac. Individual exposures are 10 minutes each through a Canon 75-300 lens at 135mm.
Processing was done in Maxim DL and Pixinsight. The image suffers quite badly from chromatic aberration and the stars have red halos that I’ve not been able to fully supress.
On Friday night the skies were actually clear for a while so I set the Astrotrac up for some images to test my Baader IR block filter under a sky with no Moon. The session was cut short by cloud but I did manage some images, pictures to follow.
Looking at the Society website I noticed that I’d imaged M83 using a Global-Rent-A-Scope system (now iTelescope) some time ago. A quick search of my hard disk turned up the original frames so I restacked then in Maxim DL and processed the L & RGB images in PixInsight.
Telescope: RCOS RC-10
Camera: SBIG ST-10
Luminance: 20x 2 minutes
RGB: 6x 2 minutes binned 2×2 (each colour)
I came across a folder on my computer hard disk called ‘Pending’. This contained 16 images (each of 5 minutes) I’d acquired in November 2011 of M33 and never got around to processing past the initial stacking. Several attempts at trying out some PixInsight processes later and this is the final result. I’m particularly pleased as the Ha regions (NGC 604 & NGC 595) are well defined even with just the OSC camera frames.
Telescope: WO Zenithstar 70