Monthly Archives August 2013

Imaging Nova Delphini 2013 and NGC 6905

With all of the excitement of learning that a star went Nova, I rushed out to capture the celestial event with my telescope.  At first, I did not know how to find it in the sky so I opened up Stellarium and tried to figure out what stars were nearby so I could program them into my CG-5 mount and slew to them.  After discovering that my hand control does not allow me to enter HIP designations for stars, I looked for another solution.  I searched around the net and came across other people’s images that targeted the The Blue Flash Planetary Nebula (NGC 6905) so I did the same.  I was not sure that I would get the Nova in the shot but I tested it out (under a full moon on 8/21/2013)) and sure enough, I got it!  Since I imaged the Nova under a full moon, the image did not come out that great.  The star colors were washed out and I had to do a ton of post processing in Photoshop to make it look nice.  Since then, I imaged it again on 8/26/2013 with no Moon present and it came out much better.  Here are the results:

Nova Delphini 2013 and NGC 6905

Nova Delphini 2013 and NGC 6905

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First Light Takahashi Sky 90 ST-10XME CFW10 Astrophotography Set Up

Takahashi Sky 90 + SBIG ST-10XME + CFW10

Takahashi Sky 90 + SBIG ST-10XME + CFW10

For my 15th wedding anniversary, my wife bought me an SBIG ST-10XME, a CFW10, and a full set of Astrodon Series E Gen 1 filters (LRGB + SII, OIII, and Ha).  Here is my imaging set up, which includes the following:

Takahashi Sky 90II Refractor Telescope (f/5.6; 500mm)

SBIG ST-10XME Monochrome CCD Camera

SBIG CFW10 Filter Wheel

  • Inside the Filter Wheel are 1.25″ mounted Astrodon Series E Gen 2 Filters (LRGB + SII, OIII, and Ha)
SBIG CFW10 Astrodon E Series Gen 1 Filters

SBIG CFW10 Astrodon E Series Gen 2 Filters

To connect the CCD to the Telescope, I use the following combination:

1.  Camera Angle Adjuster

2.  Field Flattener/Reducer (f/4.5; 408mm)

3.  41.2mm Spacer (TCD0018L)

For Autoguiding, I use the following

  • Orion 50mm Guidescope
  • Orion Starshoot Autoguider

All of this equipment sits on top of a Celestron CG-5 Advanced GOTO Mount

On August 22nd, I had First Light with the ST-10XME and captured the Elephants Trunk Nebula (IC 1396):

Elephants Trunk Nebula (IC 1396)

Elephants Trunk Nebula (IC 1396)

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Perseid Meteor Shower 2013

This year, I was lucky enough to catch the Perseid Meteor Shower in two locations.  The shower kicked off while I was up in Lake Tahoe on our yearly family vacation.  Of course, I brought my DSLR and tripod so I could see if I could capture one of these meteors.  I saw some very colorful fireballs up in Tahoe, which is first time I saw this type of meteor before.  One of the memorable meteors burned up red and green as it blazed across the sky.  Although I did not capture a meteor up in Tahoe, I got a really nice photo with the Milky Way in the backdrop.

TahoeNightSky2

Fast forward to the next night as I set out to capture one of these elusive meteors from my backyard.  I sat outside for a couple hours and I took about a hundred photos.  About 10 minutes before I headed in, I changed the view of the camera to focus on a different part of the sky.  I figured if I was not going to catch a meteor on camera, I might as well get a cool wide field shot of the Andromeda Galaxy.  I started taking exposures and a meteor burned up  over the tree I was shooting and I prayed that it was caught on the camera.  I looked and sure enough it was so I packed it up for the night.  These meteors are the first I have seen burn up in color and typically this particular shower produced colorful ones.  I wonder if the particular meteor was very rich in nickel as it burned up green as it entered the atmosphere.

PerseidAndromedaAnotated

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M51 Processing Comparison using MaximDL, Photoshop CS6, and Noel Carboni’s Astronomy Tools

M51 Whirlpool GalaxyWhile on vacation, I guess I have nothing better to do at night as I am without my imaging gear so I decided to reprocess some of my older images for fun. To my surprise and delight, one of images came out much better than I had originally processed the first time around. Then, I remembered that the first time I processed M51, I tested out color combining and stacking just using Photoshop. This time, I color combined the image and aligned it using MaximDL and then further refined it using Noel Carboni’s Atronomy Tools actions for Photoshop.

When I took the RGB images, there were a few things that I was not doing.  First, I did not discover that I could cool the camera, which introduced the a lot of noise to the images.  The color subs only had 3, 5 minute exposures each, which is not very much.  I had also had not calibrated these images using flat frames so I had a few things working against me as went to process this image.

As I set out to reprocess this image, I first opened up the RGB TIFF image and ran the HLVG (Hasta Lavista Green) filter, which removed a nasty green hue to the image.  Then, I ran the image through some of Noel Carboni’s Astronomy Tools and used the following:

1.  Deep Space Noise Reduction

2.  Increase Star Color x 2

3.  Soft Color Gradient Removal (the image had a rainbow cast to it before

4.  Color Blotch Reduction (I had blue and red pixels all over the image)

Given that I had many things working against me to process anything out of my M51 ...

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