My attempts at astro imaging


Sorry about the lack of updates….

Hi Folks…..

I’m still here! Not posted for ages as it’s been summertime here and not too bad it was either!  It’s now getting dark again so I have been out and swapped scopes over ready for winter.  This year I’m determined to make a go with the 8″ SCT, sitting at it’s native 2m/F10 so expect some planetary and possibly galaxy shots.

I also got me a visual scope – a lovely 12″ Goto dob! Fantastic bit of kit, really looking forward to some nice views from this when winter really sets in.  Here is my boy having a wee peek through it tonight.



Kielder Star Party report

Last week was the Kielder star party, just over the border in England, in the Kielder Forest.  As usual the weather in the run up to the party was pretty dire with large parts of the site flooded, so I did not exactly have high hopes!!! Anyway, myself and Euan arrived on Friday and although it was dry there was a lot of cloud around. We quickly set up the caravan, unpacked the scopes and headed to the castle for a talk on imaging, came back down around 4pm and set up the scopes properly.  Martin, the other guest in my caravan had arrived a short while earlier and was waiting in his car. As it was by now nearing dinner time we headed down the Anglers Arms for dinner, having been told that it was supposed to clear after 10pm……

Well, we came out the pub around 7pm and guess what?  It was crystal clear!  The milky way was nicely showing and we hurried back to get everything polar aligned and ready for a night of imaging!  I had my HEQ5 Pro with my Netbook control box (Containing the PSU, voltmeter, current meter and thermometer, all in one nice box) and the imaging scope was going to be my Altair Astro 8″ Newt (as always!  I really need to get my William Optics ZS70 hooked up!). Anyway, I did a collimation, then a polar align (With the excellent EQMod Polar Align feature) and away I went – First up was a run of 17X 10 min subs of NGC281, the Pacman nebula, then I went for a longer run, again 17 subs but this time 15mins each, and the target was the Iris Nebula. Meanwhile, Euan had setup my other rig – A borrowed HEQ5Pro and my 8″ SCT and we spent the night (while the main rig was imaging) doing a wee tour, along with Martin and his ED120 on an EQ6.  I have lost count of what we saw that first night!  Neptune, was nice, small but very definitely a planet – first time for me, and very satisfying.  We also saw loads of Messier and quite a few nice small NGC galaxies. The other great view was of the Viel Nebula, we popped in an OIII filter and it popped out at us!  Just shows how dark the kielder skies are!  I am not much good at observing reports, because to be honest I think this night was about my first observing session!!!!  We had a great night anyway, and went to bed around 3:30 after waiting for Orion to rise – I got back up at 5am and powered down the scope after the run on the Iris Nebula finished.

The satruday night was pretty much a normal Kielder star party evening – loads of cloud, loads of beer and an early night as we were shattered….. We did have a couple of pints in the Anglers again after the talks up at the castle and I was pleased to see the data I had gathered was looking good……Packed up Sunday morning and came home.

Start of the new season and a status update!

Well folks, it’s not getting dark around 11:30 at night so that gives a couple of hours of darkness before bed……

I have some new equipment for the season – Namely the Telescope Services Off Axis Guider and an SX Lodestar guide camer (This is one sensitive guide cam!).  I was out a couple of night ago and managed 8, 10 min subs and after stacking I can see all the hot pixels are stacked slap bang on top of each other, confirming that I am getting sub-pixel guiding, just need to up the focal length and see if the same can be achieved with my 8″ SCT at it’s native 2m focal length – that will be a challenge!  The advantage of the OAG over a ‘piggy-back’ guide cam setup is that differential flexture is removed and also the camera is working at the same focal length as the imaging scope and ‘seeing’ the same stars that the main imaging camera sees. The disadvantage is that somtimes due to the small field of view (The Off Axis Guider, has a small pick off prism that captures a small portion of the light and directs it to the guide camera) there may not be many stars to guide on – hence why I bought the sensitive SX Lodestar and this may be an issue when working the the SCT but time will tell.

Anyway, other news…… I think my first posting said I was an Moderator on Stargazerslounge, this is no longer the case and although I do sometimes visit, I now tend to post on I wont go into any details here (As I will likely have my account removed alltogether) but I do miss the place, it is certainly a popular forum and I dont want to put others off,  I just thought I better update my status.

Other new equipment, I have a 2″ Ha (Hydrogen Alpha – the gas that gives astro images the red light) but have not used it yet and am actually wondering if it will be of any use – it will need to sit at the front of the image train, before the OAG and the Guidecam and this may mean that the guide camera does not get any suitably bright stars to guide on, again time will tell…. It was bought primarily so I could still image when the moon was around.  I also have comepleted a control station that I made for my setup, it contains a laptop and has voltage, current and a temperature guage, and allows me to setup the imaging run then close the lid, keeping everything in the dark and dew free. It also makes taking my kit to astro parties and meets a bit easier as I have the case with the laptop and the dew controller, USB Hub and PSU for the QHY8 all velcro’d to the mount. So in theory, I uplift the case, battery and mount/scope and then I’m ready to so, no more jumble of cables and multiple boxes of stuff to go in the boot (as I invariably forget something!).

Anyway, thats enough of an update for now – the next post will show my first image of the new season M27

Well that was a pity……

As usual the scottish weather spoilt things!  No danger of seeing the transit – bloomin typical!

I did at least watch it starting live from the Keck observatory so that was good, I even got the kids out of bed around 11:30 to see it, although they were totally unimpressed (as was my wife).


Not exactly astro but nighttime shots none the less!

Took these last night from Blackford Hill in Edinburgh, it was the annual Festival Fireworks show.


Hello Everyone

Hello everybody and welcome to my astronomy/astroimaging blog. I have finally decided it’s time to find somewhere to display my attempts at astro imaging!

So, a bit about me and my kit…..

I live in Edinburgh, Scotland and have been actively imaging for a few years now.  I started with an 8″ Newtonian reflector and over the years have had a few different scopes and setups but have finally got myself a little observatory in the back garden with an 8″ SCT and an ED80 mounted on a pier with a roll off roof above.  I have also been imaging with a DSLR until recently when I got hold of a QHY8 cooled CCD camera.   All the new images on this site (with the exception of planetary as I use a DMK camera for planetary imaging) will be taken with this camera

I will post my images as and when I take and process them but due to living in Scotland it can be weeks in winter due to the weather and months in summer due to the light nights, between images!  Anyway, stick with me as it’s winter here now so I will hopefully have some images soon……