7/6/2011 NGC 7380 in Narrowband

After quite some time I am happy to post my first narrowband image rendered in the Hubble palette.  It seems that I am having to learn imaging processing all over again, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.  In this image the colors indicate the chemical composition of that region of space.  This particular scheme is known as the “Hubble Palette” as it is the same scheme used to colorize many of the Hubble Space Telescope photos.   Here is what the colors mean:

Red = S II (ionized sulfur)
Green = HA (hydrogen alpha)
Blue = O III (doubly ionized oxygen, having two electrons removed)

And here are the technical details about this image capture:

NGC 7380 – The Wizard Nebula
2 exposures of HA, with 20 minute subs each
2 exposures of O III, with 20 minute subs each
4 exposures of S II, with 20 minute subs each
Imaging scope:  Astro-Tech AT10RC  Ritchey Chrétien
Imaging camera:  QSI 583wsg monochrome
Guide camera:  Starlight Xpress Lodestar
Capture and processing in Maxim DL
Background gradient removal in Fitswork
Final processing in Photoshop

Enjoy!


7/5/2011 New gear and M27

Hello Everyone,

It’s been awhile since our last posting, and we have some great changes to announce here at the Heller Observatory.  We have recently upgraded our equipment, which should allow us to take even better photos than before.  New equipment now includes an Astro-Tech AT10RC 10″ Ritchey Chrétien telescope and a Quantum Scientific Imaging 583wsg CCD camera with narrowband filters.

The use of narrowband filters will allow us to image nebulas even from light-polluted downtown Seattle.

In addition to the new equipment, we have had our Celestron CGE mount hypertuned by Deep Space Products and I have also installed a Gary Bennett-style CGE cable mod.

Enough about the gear – lets see the pictures!

The first image I have finished processing is M27.  This was taken from downtown Seattle using 8nm HA and OIII narrowband filters from Baader.  Unfortunately I did not get the mount leveled this evening, so the stars in the image aren’t quite round due to tracking errors.  Oh well.  Here are the details:

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula
4 exposures of HA, with 20 minute subs each
3 exposures of OIII, with 20 minute subs each
Imaging scope:  Astro-Tech AT10RC  Ritchey Chrétien
Imaging camera:  QSI 583wsg monochrome
Guide camera:  Starlight Xpress Lodestar
Capture and processing in Maxim DL
Final processing in Photoshop.

 

If you want to do a comparison, check out the M27 image taken on 6/7/10 using the modified Digital SLR camera and the C11 telescope.  That one was actually taken from a dark sky site!

 

 


5/20/2011 Sprial Galaxy NGC 4565

This is an edge-on Spiral Galaxy.  This image represents about an hour worth of exposures on the Canon 1000d at ISO 1600.

More details to come soon!


The Horsehead and the Flame Nebulas 2/1/11

We were fortunate enough to have another couple of nights of clearing, and I decided to try out an alternative imaging platform I have been working on.  This setup is based on the Vixen ED80SF 80mm Apochromatic scope that I used to use for guiding!  What makes imaging with this scope possible is the new Orion ED80 focal reducer / field flattener that just happens to be a perfect fit for this scope and the DSLR camera I typically use for imaging. 

This image contains both the Horsehead (IC 434) and the Flame Nebulas (NGC 2024).  This is possible because the Vixen ED80SF with focal reducer attached has a much shorter focal length than the Celestron C11 I normally use, giving it a much wider field of view.  (Using the C11, I would only be able to get part of the horsehead nebula in a single frame and not both)

Here are the details:

The Horsehead (IC434) and the Flame Nebulas (NGC 2024)
4 exposures, with 5-minute subs at ISO 1600 taken on January 31, 2011
15 exposures, with 5-minute subs at ISO 1600 taken on February 1, 2010
17 exposures, with 8-minute subs at ISO 1600 taken on February 1, 2010
Imaging scope:  Vixen ED80SF on CGE Mount
Reducers:  Orion ED80 Focal Reducer / Field Flattener
Filters:  Astronomik CLS
Imaging camera:  Canon XS/1000d with heatmirror replace with Baader filter glass
Guide scope:  Modified Celestron 9×50 finder scope
Guide camera:  Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Captured with Nebulosity
Guided with PHD
Stacked in DSS


M33 1/2/11 Remix

During the brief period of clear nights in early January, I took the opportunity to get additional exposures of M33 to improve the image detail.  The following image is the combination of data from 11/04/10, 12/31/10 and 1/3/11.  This represents an amazing total of five hours and 50 minutes of exposure time!  The result is one of the most detailed amateur photos of M33 I have seen.

M33 – Galaxy
27 exposures, with 5-minute subs at ISO 1600 taken on November 4, 2010
30 exposures, with 5-minute subs at ISO 1600 taken on December 31, 2010
29 exposures, with 5-minute subs at ISO 1600 taken on December 2, 2010
Imaging scope:  Celestron C11 on CGE Mount
Reducers:  Celestron f/6.3 focal reducer
Filters:  Astronomik CLS
Imaging camera:  Canon XS/1000d with heatmirror replace with Baader filter glass
Guide scope:  Modified Celestron 9×50 finder scope
Guide camera:  Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Captured with Nebulosity
Guided with PHD
Stacked in DSS

M33 remix


1/6/11 Surprising Flares in Crab Nebula

Science Daily has an interesting article on newly-detected gamma-ray flares being emitted by the Crab Nebula (aka M1).


M1 12/31/10 – 1/1/11

Hello Everyone,

Here in Seattle we have had three months of constant rain. Now that’s a long time since I’ve had the telescope out!

During the rain I did a lot of maintenance work on the CGE mount, including replacing the DEC and RA electrical connectors with DIN plugs – a major project!

As you can see below, the work paid off!  The scope is working great, and the new finder-guider scope is doing a great job.

This particular image of M1 is the result of two nights of imaging combined into a single image.  Here are the specifics:

M1 (aka the “Crab Nebula”) is a supernova remnant
58 exposures, with 5-minute subs at ISO 1600
Imaging scope:  Celestron C11 on CGE Mount
Reducers:  Celestron f/6.3 focal reducer
Filters:  Astronomik CLS
Imaging camera:  Canon XS/1000d with heatmirror replace with Baader filter glass
Guide scope:  Modified Celestron 9×50 finder scope
Guide camera:  Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Captured with Nebulosity
Background Flattened with Fitswork
Stacked in DSS
Guided with PHD

Some facts about M1:
“The Crab Nebula (Messier 1), located in the constellation of Taurus, is a supernova remnant (SNR), the result of a cataclysmic supernova explosion in the year 1054. This explosive death of a star was so bright that it could be seen in the daytime sky for 23 days, and was documented by astronomers throughout the Far East.”


M33 11/04/10 12:32am

We had a brief opening in the clouds last night and I was able to capture about two hours worth of M33 subs.

I thought this came out pretty good considering it was taken from downtown Seattle, Washington.

Enjoy!
M33 – Galaxy
27 exposures, with 5-minute subs at ISO 1600
Imaging scope:  Celestron C11 on CGE Mount
Reducers:  Celestron f/6.3 focal reducer
Filters:  Astronomik CLS
Imaging camera:  Canon XS/1000d with heatmirror replace with Baader filter glass
Guide scope:  Vixen ED80SF
Guide camera:  Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Captured with Nebulosity
Guided with PHD
Stacked in DSS

 


Jupiter 9/22/10 12:47am RRGB

Last night we had a nice break in the clouds, and along with unusually good seeing conditions for the Seattle area I was able to capture the following image of Jupiter.  This is one of our best Jupiter images to date.  Enjoy!

The above image was captured as follows:

30fps

2:30 of captures for each R, G, B

Stacked using Registax

RRGB image composited using WinJUPOS


Jupiter 7/15/10 4:50am RRGB

Here’s our latest Jupiter photo.  We had a great night of seeing and I was able to do a better job collimating the telescope.  More on this one later…