Friday, January 29, 2016

#20 - Friday, January 29, 2016 - I Can Only Image the Orion Nebula

I did honestly try to image other things!  But it didn’t quite work out.  My focus wasn’t perfect, so it took some real tweaking of DSS’s settings to get the Orion pictures to even stack.  It was kind of weird.  It was quite dark at the state park that night, so I got a rather fantastic image.
[It was a while before I started reliably recording the capture and processing information for my images.]
M42 Orion Nebula, Nikon D3100 on my C8, ISO-3200, N<34x20s

I tried the Crab Nebula, which wound up being a dim splotch.  I can’t remember what else I tried (I’m writing this a few weeks after the fact).  While this image of Orion is great, it’s still not quite what I want for getting printed on canvas.  That will have to come later, when I get fancier equipment, I think.  Or get better at this.  It’s still kind of grainy, which I’m trying to figure out the cause of.
Some other interesting phenomena occurred, however – in two of my Orion frames, there is a streak of light that moves across the lower right-hand corner of the frame (they weren’t good enough to keep in the stack, so they’re located in the "UFOs" folder).  

It moved far too slow to be a satellite [I thought at the time] – the images are 20s long, with a 5s pause in between to write to disk, so it took 45s to cross the corner of the frame.  Too slow to be a meteor too, and too small and dim to be an airplane.  Aliens!  Haha.  One of my college astronomy professors gave an explanation, however – there are some satellites that orbit at highly elliptical orbits (mainly communications), which allows satellite constellations to cover much larger portions of the Earth.  At the farthest-out parts of their orbits, they are moving rather slowly, much more slowly than the ones you usually see.  So, that’s what it is.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

#19 - Sunday, January 24, 2016 - #RidiculouslyPhotogenicNebula

More Orion!! [Out at the state park.]  I just can’t stop photographing it.  I came up with a hashtag: #RidiculouslyPhotogenicNebula (based on a meme from a while back, about a marathon runner who just happened to have the most perfect shot taken of him during the race).  There were some clouds out though, so I got about 21 good exposures, 20” long at ISO-3200.  I did a mass stack with ones from last week, and got a rather bright background but lots more detail!
[Again, unfortunately, I didn't record how many frames were actually stacked by DSS.]
Nikon D3100 on my C8, ISO-3200 & ISO-1600

I’m slowly getting there.  But I’m still not quite satisfied.  I’ll keep trying.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

#18 - Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Since it was really cold, I decided to give backyard astronomy a try.  I only have view of a slice of the sky, but the Orion Nebula was visible until around 11:15 PM before it slid behind the roof of the apartment building.  The skyglow from the city is much brighter in at my apartment than at the state park, but since the Orion Nebula is so bright (+4.00), it didn’t much matter, and this experiment worked out much better than the Bode’s Galaxy images I tried to get last summer.  I did both 20-second and 30-second images, and discovered that my ratio of keeping vs discarding images is much higher with 20-seconds, like 50% or more.  The background is brighter, but the image is sharper with the additional images.  It’s probably sharper because I used ISO-1600 rather than 3200.  This one combines the 20 and 30 second sets.

M42 Orion Nebula, Nikon D3100 on my C8.
[I didn't record how many of the 20 and 30 second images were stacked.], ISO-1600

Imaging from the front porch went well, but it’s just not dark enough to do much else besides planets, the Moon, and Orion. 
The Orion Nebula is truly something else.  It’s mind-blowingly beautiful.  I love the fact that the colors are real – a part of me always wondered if the colors in those beautiful Hubble images from NASA were real, or added for effect, and now it’s clear to me that they are, indeed, real.  (At least, most of the time – sometimes, IR light is added to the image as well, and sometimes UV).  The red is from hydrogen-alpha (Hα) emission, and the blue is from oxygen (the OIII ions, I guess).  Yup, they’re real!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

#17 - Saturday, January 2, 2016 - The Great Nebula of Orion

I didn’t think I’d get to go out again until the spring time, but I sucked it up and battled the cold!  (I also hid in the car).  I drove down to the state park I've been going to for a while first, but the gate was closed to the parking lot, so I drove all the way back up to the other state park.  I was not to be deterred!

Since it’s winter time, the Great Nebula of Orion was finally above the horizon!  You can see it even in the telescope as a greenish thing with some structure.  It doesn’t take a very long image to get color and structure though!  And WOW is it something else!  Unfortunately, it was windy, so I only got six good images of the 180 I took that night, but here is the stack, at ISO-3200 for 30-second images:
M42 Orion Nebula
Nikon D3100 on my C8
6x30s, ISO-3200