Showing posts from January, 2015

1-24-2015-M42- Again

The clouds rolled in last night and I managed a 10-minute session through high, light haze before I was clouded out. I took some very quick pix of M42, aiming for a more natural-looking image with more subtle detail, including the four stars of the Trapezium (center of the image), which usually overexpose in the longer integrations.  Above is the result. Image was taken with 14 inch ACF, Mallincam Jr Pro, MFR-5 Focal reducer and Orion Skyglow filter.

By contrast, here's a more processed view taken from the batch I took earlier in the week:

As you can see, there's more detail visible in the nebula itself, but at the expense of detail in the "blown out" core region. 
Sometimes, monochrome and image inversion can bring out subtle details that seem to be masked in the color images.  Below are the images above reprocessed in different ways to try to extract more detail:

I'm also going to try experimenting with the HDR stacking filter in the Milsoslick capture softwar…

M42 Reprocessed

Here is last night's image with some minimal Photoshop processing. The image gives a much better sense of the extent of the nebulosity.

M42--The Great Nebula in Orion 1-18-2015

M42 is well-placed at this time of year and tonight was a perfect night for imaging with a velvety-dark sky and great transparency.

These conditions are reflected in this image of M42 I captured with the Jr Pro and the 14 inch. While the Trapezium and other brighter stars are bloated by the integration effects, the detail in the nebula is better than I've ever been able to get before.

A close-to perfect night, indeed!

Comet Lovejoy and a Series of Unfortunate Events (Jan 16, 2015)

We finally had a break in the frigid weather here in Indiana, with temperatures in the balmy lower 30s F. After seeing Comet Lovejoy in binoculars, I was determined to image it,

My house is surrounded by a forested area that extends all the way down to the nearby Wabash River and the best place to observe is the driveway. I have my 14 inch Meade ACF on wheelie bars in the garage, but the ice was so thick in the driveway, that after 10 minutes of grunting and pulling (and moving cars), I could not get the scope out  (I should have bought the big wheels!).

Plan B was to use my little SmartEQ Pro mount that has so far been used exclusively to drive my PST. I took my ETX125 OTA with dovetail and and put it on the mount. I had to add a 2 pound weight from my barbell weight set to balance it, but it finally sat happy on the mount. More critically, I had to pick up my daughter from swim practice at 8 pm, and the fact I knew the clock was against me was a cause of anxiety. I really wanted to…

Comet Lovejoy 01-15-2015

I finally saw Comet Lovejoy tonight at 8:48 pm a few degrees west of Aldebaran--pretty much where the Sky and Telescope map said it would be (no surprise!), I was using some very inexpensive 7x50 binoculars. The sky was clear, but with a slight haze that scattered the lights of the town. The comet was fuzzy with a brighter, starlike nucleus. I could not really see the tail and the comet itself was barely visible against the background of the sky.

Unfortunately, snow and ice prevent me from getting a scope out to take a closer look and perhaps capture an image. That's the tough part of Indiana astronomy--it's always bitter cold and snowy during the best part of the year for observing.

Sun Dogs

The recent mass of arctic air over Indiana has kept me away from the scope, but there are still interesting things to see in the sky. This image was snapped last Friday while I was driving southbound. The sun is low in the SE and  the sun dogs and arc are clearly visible, despite the fact my camera insisted on focusing on the windows, rather than at infinity. Hexagonal ice crystals in the atmosphere act as prisms and bend the sun's light. The geometry of the crystals bends the light witha minimum deflection of 22 degrees. Random orientation of the crystals produces the 22 degree halo that can be seen extending from the dogs.