My attempts at astro imaging

Posts tagged “astronomy

Lunar Eclipse – 28th September 2015

BloodMoonIt was pretty misty but I left the scope tracking and taking an image every 2 minutes for the duration of the Eclipse, this is the result…




The Flaming Star Nebula

I took this from a friends house in Galloway, it’s amazing to visit these dark sky sites and great to image from them, there is no need for any light pollution filters as there are no towns of any real size nearby.

So, the target – the Flaming Star nebula or IC405, is an emission nebula in Auriga, the blue comes from the bright star AE Aurigaeis illuminating dust in the surrounding area. The red, as always, comes from Hydrogen gas, having an electron ‘blown away’ by the energy emitted from the star.

The image, was 3 hrs of 15minute exposures, taken with a QHY8 camera and the telescope was the usual 8″ F4 Newtonian Reflector.


Makarians Chain from CSOG2013 event

A few of us from the ScottishAstronomers group hired a house in the Scottish Borders for the weekend, unusually for us we had a clear night!  I have been wanting to get a bit of a closer view of Makarians Chain for a couple of years, the last attempt was with a William Optics ZS66 and the galaxies (although numerous) were just too small for my liking. This time I got the F4 Newt on the job and with it’s focal length of 800mm got a bit ‘further in’ so to speak!

Makarians Chain of galaxies, is a ‘chain’ of galaxies that forms part of the Virgo Cluster, at least 7 of the galaxies are moving coherently but there are a lot more than tha in this image! M84 and M86 are the 2 large galaxies in the centre.

I also caught 2 Minor Planets that can be seen to move across the frame but in the image below they are removed due to the stacking method involved – I will get a little animation of them up here shortly – once I have caught up with my sleep!MakariansChain-GlebeHouse

M42 HaRGB v2

I re-shot the Ha data as the previous version was pushed way to far (A constant danger with Pixinsight!) and added it to the RGB I shot a few days ago. I am a lot happier with it now, I deliberatly underprocessed it to get a softer and more natural look to it.


First post in 2012 – IC410

This was actually taken before the end of the year but I never got round to processing it – it is very faint and could do with more time on target but you make do with what you have eh?  Its around 3hrs in 15min subs, with my Altair 8″ F4 Newt and QHY8, guiding was with an OAG and Lodestar. All stacking and processing done in Pixinsight.

So, what is IC410????  It’s an area of glowing hydrogen gas, the reaosn it’s glowing – there is a cluster (NGC1893) that is exciting the gas with the energy from it’s hot young stars.  IC410 is in the constellation of Auriga (The charioteer) and is nice and high in the sky at this time of year making it a perfect winter target. The most interesting thing in the image is the ‘Tadpoles’, these objects are around 10 light years long and are created by the stellar winds and radiation from the cluster – the tails point directly away from the clusters central star.


A bit of heart…..

This is the Heart nebual, or should I say a bit of the heart?  I wanted to do a mosiac if the Heart and Soul nebulas (The Soul  neb data is still waiting to be procesed) but I could not get them both framed correctly.  Anway, this is pretty good even though I chopped a bit off…..  It’s around 3hrs (The usual exposure time I aim for now) with an Ha filter on the front of the QHY8 – imaging scope was the trusty Altair Astro 8″ F4 Imaging Newt. All processing was done in Pixinsight, applied some deconvolution, noise reduction and some HDR Wavelets.


The Heart Nebula is another large expanse of Hydrogen gas being excited by the light from the central cluster of stars (Melotte 15), it is around 7,500 Light Years away in the constellation of Cassiopeia.



The Jellyfish nebula


Well, this aint good!  It is only 7 subs of 15mins each and judging by how faint the signal is I think I need at least 3 times the amount of data….. Still, an image is an image!  Due to the lack of signal and subs I have not pushed things too far, did a bot of star reduction and noise reduction but thats about it.  The scope was a William Optics 70mm with a TeleVue flattener on it – this works a lot better than the William Optics FF Mk2 that I own (The TV is borrowed from a fellow amateur).  If you look back through this blog you will find another image of this target taken a couple of years ago with a Skywatcher Ed80, this gives a closer in view of the nebula but alas it is also lacking in data – Need to make a note to go back and do this ‘properly’ next time!!!

So, the Jellyfish nebula – as can be seen this is a huge mass of glowing hydrogen gas, it’s a supernove remnant in Gemini roughly 5,000 light years from us.  Estimates vary between 3,00 and 30,000 years for the date of the supernova.






Orion in Ha

This is a Pixinsight HDR composition of 2,5 and 15min subs – The camera was rotated at another angle when I took the 15min subs so I have had to crop it to just the main Orion Nebula. I will go back and get some 15min subs at the correct angle soon though…..

Orion in Ha

The Crab Nebula in Ha and RGBHa

This is my first proper attempt at Ha imaging, I have had the filter since March but have never really got round to giving it a good workout! Last Tuesday I fitted it again and had another go. With the Ha filter in place things get a bit trickier……. I needed to refocus but the Ha filter cuts down on the light from stars making this a lot harder – I use plate solving to centre on my targets, this involves taking an exposure, the computer then looks at the various patterns of stars and matches them to known patterns, thereby solving where the ‘scope is pointing. As the Ha filter cuts down on the light reaching the camera, I had to inrease this from 5 seconds to 60.  Next problem is focusing, same issue as before, as stars are so much fainter it took about 10 mins to focus as my exposures for fucusing had to increase as well. Finally, as I use an off axis guider, it is much trickier to find a guide star with an Ha filter in place, luckily this time I found a guide star around M1 but I have an adapter so that I can use a standard finder scope to guide with but this then introduces flexture between the guide scope and the imaging scope so I was very happy to see guide stars pop up on the guide screen with the Ha filter in place.

So, M1, see the earlier image for details of what this target is –

The image below is the Ha image, composed of around 3 hrs in 5 minute subs and the same in 15 min subs, combined in Pixinsight, I also got deconvolution working well on this image to really sharpen it up.

Here is the same image bit this time I added the Ha data to the original RGB image as a Luminance layer


Here’s one thats been sitting on the hard drive for a couple of weeks – NGC891, I took it from the back garden observatory, it’s 17x10min subs,processed in Pixinsight and Photoshop (Setup was the usual, Altair F4Newt, QHY8 and Lodestar/OAG for guiding). Was a bit of a pig to process as I seemed to have a red halo round the middle third of the frame, I have seen this before and it appears to be some of the red light in the observatory leaking on to the CCD Sensor of the QHY8.

NGC891 is an edge on galaxy in Andromeda, it’s around 30 million light years away! Hubble has also had a look at this galaxy, it got a little closer in…….