My attempts at astro imaging

Posts tagged “nebula

M42 (December 2016)

It’s just too good a target not to image each year – the great Orion Nebula, Messier Object No.42….. This year it really was just a test that everything was working, I have cleaned the mirror (scary!), drift aligned(was off by a small amount which was affecting my guiding), collimated the scope and finally cleaned my CCD (scarier that cleaning the mirror!).  Thankfully everything went as planned, the previous week the powerpack on my laptop blew, then the PSU for the USB hub managed to come loose) and I got 1.5hrs in 15min subs on Orion before moving to another target but shortly after it clouded over….

Pretty pleased with the image, guiding looks good, collimation as well, so all I need is more clear skies!




Season 2015/2016 Orion

I say it every year – but you have got to image M42 every season, it’s such an amazing object and really lens itself to imaging.  This is not my best attempt, the weather this season has bee terrible, this was imaged during a nearly full moon but it was so long since I had the scope out that I had to take mu chances!  It’s just under an hour in 5 min subs, back on the 8″ F4 Newt again (I love this instrument, just pulls the photons in!). Processed in Pixinsight – DBE, a little HDR Wavelets to bring out the core and the slightest of touches of LHE…..


6Hrs @ 2metres on the Dumbell Nebula

I tightened up the worm end float on my EQ6 Pro and this seems to have sorted the guiding, quite a few of the subs in this image are 30 min subs. I also sorted the collimation, last time it was slightly off, I made a final tweak visually to a de-focused star to center the ‘Airy disk’.  This is the longest integration time, longest individual sub time and longest focal length image I have taken!

The scope is my 8″ SCT running at it’s native 2m, so the image is a crop due to horrible stars in the corners! I’m intending to get some images of the smaller targets this year, things like the Snowball & Eskimo nebulas and maybe the Crab nebula as well.  The SCT is F10 the subs need to be long, there is a further outer shell to this image that is very, very faint and just shows in this image, a faster scope would probably have pulled a little more of this out but I don’t have the money for an 2m F4 scope!

Messier 27, also known as the Dumbell or Apple Core nebula is a supernova remnant in the constellation of Vulpecula at a distance of 1,360 light years. The central star (or whats left of it) went supernova around 14,600 years ago, all thats left now is a white dwarf star(you can see this star in the center of the nebula).

It is relatively bright and easily seen in binoculars although something like an 8″ telescope is really needed to get some detail out of the nebula.

I think this one is better – the one below was a 1st attempt and I think I overdid the sharpening around the stars, had some dark halos I did not like…





This years Orion – Nothing amazing though!

As I have said before, each year you need to go image the Orion Nebula, it’s such an amazing object and always makes a nice image.

This year I left it a bit late and as a result Orion was really low in the sky, thats why you can see the reflection of some lights in the bottom corner.  It was taken this time with my wiefield setup – the William Optics ZS70, last year was a lot closer in with the big newt.  Also due to the clouds rolling in this was cut short and is really only 4 X 20min exposures, with a load of shorter ones for the core (Orion is so bright you need to take 2 sets of images so as not to overexpose the core).



The Rosette Nebula in Ha

This was taken on the 28th of December, I have wanted to grab another image of the Rosette for years but due to its large size I needed to wait till I got another short focal length refractor.  I did take 5 hrs of images in 20 min subs but something went wrong with the guiding after only 4 (That will teach me to check on progress!) so thats all this image is made of.  So I need to go back and get more Ha and also grab some RGB – This is in Ha as the moon was around, it also allows me to get a  good bit of contrast in the clouds of the Rosette.

The nebula then, the Rosette Nebula lies some 5200 light years from us, it’s not really clouds of course, the cloudy areas are hydrogen gas glowing in a deep red, the gas is excited by the light from the cluster of stars in the centre of the nebula.Star formation is also occurring in the region due to the stellar winds from the same stars.

Hopefully this is just a work in progress and the new year will bring some nice clear nights…..


California Nebula

This is another one taken the other night when the moon was around. Im not happy with it as its quite noisy – I really need 15-20 minute subs rather than the 10 this was taken with. Also the stars are not great, especially at the edge, Im still trying to get the reducer spacing correct and not cant remember if this was before or after the last adjustment!  It really is very critical but Im sure with enough tinkering I will eventually get there!

Califronia Nebula Ha

Another go at the Horsehead & flame nebulas

I was not happy with my last attempt and so went out and re-shot – this time in 15min subs as opposed to 5mins, I also grabbed 4 1/4 hrs worth of data, in RGB only….. I was intending to shoot some more Ha but that will have to wait!


LatestVersionwith sharper horsehead

The Horsehead and Flame Nebulas

The horsehead nebula is my all time favourite object – it really does look like a sea horse’s head!  It’s a very tough target to image and even tougher to see (I have heard of people seeing it visually through 20″ scopes but I think even that is rare and only from very dark and transparent sites).  The Horsehead Nebula is a dark nebula, it is just some dust, sitting in the way of the light from a nearby bright star, the Flame nebula is similer, ultraviolet light from the brightest star in the image, is knocking electrons out of the Hydrogen gas and causing it to glow the characteristic red colour.

The Horsehead & Flame nebula is located in Orions belt, the really bright star in the image is the leftmost/bottom of the three stars in Orions Belt – Alnitak.

The imaging kit was my usual setup of F4 8″ Newt, QHY8 and a Lodestar for guiding, I tool about 1hr of RGB in 5 min subs and 2 hrs of Ha data in 10 min subs.  I think I really should have gone for more RGB but with the weather here is Scotland you have got to grab the skies while you can and move on to the next target….



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.


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.