Tuesday, June 27, 2017

#91 - Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - What God hath wrought!

It cleared up Tuesday night, so I just had to go out!  It doesn’t get dark enough until 10:30 PM, however, so I didn’t have a whole lot of time.  I haven’t gotten a proper image of the Lagoon Nebula before, since it’s bigger than the FOV of my SCT, so I decided to image that instead.  As is usual for the memorial scope, it looked fantastic, and stacked even better.
Date: 27 June 2017
Object: M8 Lagoon Nebula
Camera: Nikon D5300
Telescope: Vixen na140ssf
Accessories: Astronomik CLS filter
Mount: Losmandy Gemini II
Guide scope: Celestron 102mm
Guide camera: QHY5
Subframes: 20x300s (1h40m)
Darks: 19
Biases: 20
Flats: 20
Temperature: 50-52 F
See on AstroBin
Buy on Zazzle

I’m in love!  This telescope is so awesome.  I called it quits at 1:30 AM because, y’know, work is a thing.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

#90 - Saturday, June 24, 2017

At Members Night - once it got dark-ish (9:45 PM), I snagged a few people who were interested in seeing the astrophotography demo I had planned.  Despite the clear sky and fantastic weather, not a whole lot of people came to this Members Night, so the three people I grabbed were all totally new, so I probably flooded them with too much info.  But hey, you also just learn through repeated exposure.  On the memorial scope, I showed them how to attach the camera and guide camera and how to guide.  Two of the people were young girls, someone’s kids, and one of them was interested in how I process my photos, so I pulled my laptop out of the car and showed her that as well.  After they left, I set up the memorial scope to image M101, since the Milky Way objects were still going to be too low (10-17 degrees) by 10:30 or 11.  I grabbed about 20 frames on it before packing up, since I needed to get Miqaela home, and I probably shouldn’t be staying out too late while my body is still focused on healing [I had jaw surgery May 31st, hence the long break after the Texas Star Party].  I actually had much more energy than I thought I would, especially after going out and doing stuff earlier that day, so that’s good.  Miqaela got some data on the Sombrero Galaxy and the Dumbbell Nebula.  We still need to find a way to attach her 50mm guide scope so she can guide, but we’re working on it.  By the way, tracking on the memorial scope was great (took a 1-minute sub of the Ring Nebula as an example during the demo, and it was rock solid with no guiding – was having some noise issues on the QHY5), and guiding was even better – look at this graph!
1-arcsec guiding!!

I need new flats for that scope, though, so sometime I’m just going to have to go out there during the day, or get out there early and remember to take them.  It’s got some dust that needs to be accounted for.  

The M101 stack came out well!
Date: 25 Jun 2017
Object: M101
Camera: Nikon D5300
Telescope: Vixen na140ssf
Accessories: Astronomik CLS filter
Mount: Losmandy Gemini II
Guide scope: Celestron 102mm
Guide camera: QHY5
Subframes: 21x360s (2h6m)
Darks: 11
Biases: 20
Flats: 21
Temperature: 57-62 (mostly 60-61)

M101 was a nice size for the Vixen (most galaxies would be too small for that FOV), and you can see several other galaxies there too.  White balance is really hard to the CLS filter, but I was at least able to get the galaxy to turn out white with red splotches, if not blue and yellow, which I think is more accurate?  Anyway, I love how nice and round the stars are on that refractor…and such a flat field, all the way to the edges!  Can’t wait to do some Milky Way stuff here soon.  I only stayed out until about 1:30 AM, unfortunately.

Friday, June 9, 2017

#89 - Friday, June 9, 2017 - Back at it!

I know I am crazy – only a little over a week after my jaw surgery, and I’m back outside!  But the sky was clear, and I couldn’t resist!  I wanted to try out the ZWO with Saturn.  But first, downstairs neighbor Rhonda’s grandkids were visiting, so we looked at the moon, Saturn, and Jupiter.  The seeing was pretty decent, but not spectacular. 

For imaging, I used Miqaela’s five-slot filter wheel, since I’d found the piece I needed to attach the camera.  The B channel looked fuzzy, so I re-focused and tried again.  I took 2-minute videos on each channel.  I had to use VirtualDub to convert them to an AVI format that RegiStax likes, but it took it then without complaint.  I followed some instructions online where you process each channel, save out a FITS file, and then stack the three FITS files.  You just have to add _R, _G, and _B to the end of the filename (or also _L if you do luminance), and RegiStax will color them appropriately for you.  I ended up not using the L channel because the result was weird.  It worked great, and the result is awesome!
Date: 8 June 2017
Object: Saturn
Camera: ZWO ASI120MM (Miqaela's)
Telescope: Celestron C8
Accessories: ZWO five-slot filter wheel with L,R,G,B filters
Mount: Celestron NexStar SE
Guide scope: N/A
Guide camera: N/A
L frames: 1836 (ended up not using)
R Frames: 1416
G frames: 1357
B frames: 871
Buy on Zazzle

Sooooo much sharper than my DSLR images.