Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Elusive Horsehead Nebula--At Last!

I have never been able to image the Horsehead Nebula, but I finally succeeded last night with the DS 2.3+ and 8 inch Newt combo. This is an uncropped image, showing the wide field captured by this combination. Part of the Flame Nebula is visible at the upper right of the image. Amp glow is fairly strong (top, bottom, and left edge--though some could be reflection from local lighting) as I had to stretch the histogram to bring out the nebula. I'm very happy with this image!

Flame and Running Man 2-27-16

Here are images of the Flame and Running Man nebulas. I have never been able to image the Running Man, but this time I managed to capture some of the faint nebulosity that makes up this nebula. The Flame looks very good with this scope/imager combination (Mallincam DS 2.3+ and 8 inch f/4 Newt).

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Feeling Crabby!

I imaged a number of objects with the DS 2.3+/8 inch Newt combo.  Here is a heavily cropped image of the Crab Nebula. Even though this is just a tiny part of the full frame, I'm very pleased with the level of detail in the nebula. This is a stack of 6-25-second integrations.

Here's a more processed version with color corrected:

My best M42: Mallincam DS 2.3+, Mallincam 8 inch newt F/4

Mounted on the ZEQ 25, my new 8 inch f/4 Newtonian astrograph is a spectacular performer when paired with the DS 2.3+.  Here is an image of M42 with this combination; this is a 25 second exposure at gain 35, 8 images stacked in Nebulosity.  An amazing result for this modest platform!

An adjustment to the curves produces an image that really brings out more subtle detail in the gas clouds. This is the real beauty of digital astronomy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Comparison of stacked images of the Orion Nebula using Deep Sky Stacker and Nebulosity

I took the same set of images and stacked them in DSS and in Nebulosity. There were some star registration problems due to mount alignment, but the clear winner in terms of optimizing this imperfect alignment is Nebulosity. Here are the images:

The first image was stacked in Nebulosity. The second (below) was stacked in DSS:

The difference in image color is due to the color "normalization" algorithm in the auto adjust for Nebulosity and Photoshop.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mallicam DS2.3 Orion Nebula image stacked

Here is a stacked image of 6 frames (using Astortoaster/DS Stacker) from the Orion images captured yesterday (see the last blog post). I think it really shows what this camera can do!  The star registration is a little off, but the image is overall pretty decent.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Orion Nebula with the new Mallincam DS 2.3+

I just received my new Mallincam DS 2.3+. Unlike other Mallicams, this camera uses a 1/2" 1920 x 1280 progressive scan CMOS chip. While the chip has less sensitivity than many of the other Mallincams, it offers a combination of good sensitivity and high resolution. Tonight, I tested it out under a fill moon on the Orion Nebula.

This image was taken with the VRC 6, the DS 2.3, a UHT filter and .5x focal reducer. While moonlight was a factor, this 40-second integration shows a lot of fine detail in the nebula that is not captured by the more sensitive, but lower resolution cameras (compare it to my last Jr Pro EX image). However, the video cameras offer superb "live" performance capabilities, so this camera will never replace my Xtreme, Jr Pro EX or DSm. Instead, it gives me the ability to do imaging more like standard CCD astro photography, but with a much shorter exposure.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Messier 78

M78 is a reflection nebula in the Orion Molecular Cloud (OMC). The two stars in the center of the nebula in this image are 10th magnitude and it is the reflection of these stars in gas and dust that makes M78 visible. M78 is a stellar nursery, like much of the OMC. The nebula contains 45 T Tauri variable stars in the process of formation, as well as 17 Herbig-Haro objects (gaseous jets of nebulosity associated with new born stars).

In this image, the nebula itself is barely visible above the skyglow background. I had to process it heavily to achieve this image.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Look! No Filters!

Last night provided an hour or so of cloud free skies for imaging. Sky glow was very faint and I decided to follow some advice I was given and to try imaging without a UHC filter. The results were interesting--exposures were a little more than half the length of those with the UHC filter. I had to adjust the histogram during capture to darken the sky background, but the results were interesting. Overall, contrast was improved, and detail, too, on very faint objects. Here is a "before and after" image of the Flame. The first image is a processed version of the second. The second is a 12-second integration with the histogram dark point adjusted to darken the sky.  I may try "filter free" imaging on clear, dark nights more often.

Compare these images with the 20-30 second integrations of the 1.27.16 post in this blog.

Equipments was VRC 6, DSm, and 0.5x focal reducer.

Processed 12-Second Integration of Flame Nebula

Original Capture with Histogram Adjustment

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Crab Nebula 2.1.16

The Crab Nebula (Messier 1) is one of my favorite objects in the sky. The nebula is the result of a bright supernova explosion recorded by Chinese astronomers in 1094. John Bevis, an English astronomer, observed it in 1731. It is the first astronomical object to be associated with a supernova. The Crab is about 6,500 light years from Earth in the Perseus Arm of our galaxy. At the center of the nebula is the Crab Pulsar, which pulses about 30 times a second.

This image was taken with the same setup as the earlier images posted from the 2.1.16 imaging session. This image is a 2-minute integration and has been heavily cropped as the Crab itself is rather small with the focal reducer in use.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Flame Nebula 2.1.16--Raw vs Processed Image

Below are 2 images of the Flame Nebula (part of the Orion Molecular Cloud). The first image shows a heavily processed version of a 2-minute exposure taken with my VRC-6, 0.5x focal reducer, and UHC filter. The imager was a Mallincam Jr Pro EX. The second image is the original, "raw" capture. Notice that the nebula is all but invisible

The Flame Nebula--Processed Image

I used Photoshop to adjust the histogram and the curves, which enabled me to "pull out" a fairly noisy image of the nebula (the glow in the upper left corner is amp glow from the imager electronics). The Flame is not bright and, at the time of imaging, Orion was on the edge of the skyglow "band" from Lafayette, across the Wabash River.

The Flame Nebula--Raw Image

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Orion Nebula 2.1.16

This image is a 30-second integration taken with my Mallincam JrPro EX. Scope was the VRC6; .5x focal reducer and the UHC filter. This is a pretty decent image taken under reasonable seeing, although Orion was in the "sky glow" zone. Note how much longer the integration took than those with the DSm--about 3 times longer, due to the relative insensitivity of color imagers when compared to monochrome chips.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Here's another shot of the Great Nebula captured on a moonless night.  I used dark field correction to reduce noise. The image shows a good amount of the dark clouds and gas surrounding this complex object (VRC 6; DSm; 0.5x focal reducer; UHT filter).