SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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Moon

Image Details:

Camera: Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k)
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Orion ED80 (80mm f/7.5 APO Refractor)
Configuration: Eyepiece Projection
Additional Optics: University Optics 7mm HD Ortho
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 3500mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/44
Exposure: 256 frames @ 1/25s, 10fps, neutral brightness, gamma, saturation, and minimum gain
Date: 12/24/2004, 9:38pm PST
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: Philips VRecord
Focus: Manual
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • Registax: Registration, best-frame selection, stacking, wavelet processing
  • Photoshop: Levels, Annotations, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is my first webcam shot of the moon, using the Orion ED80 rig I used to image saturn the same night. More of an experiment than anything else. I used the Lunar and Planetary Institute's Consolidated Lunar Atlas and the Virtual Moon Atlas to figure out what portion of the moon I had captured. North is up.

 
vdB 142 (The Elephant Trunk)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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vdB 142 (The Elephant Trunk)

Mouse-over to see annotations. (Requires Javascript) Click to see high-res version.

Image Details:

Camera: Mofidied Canon Rebel XT (350D): Hutech Type I Filter Replacement
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Celestron C8-N (8" f/5 Newtonian)
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: Celestron/Baader Multi Purpose Coma Corrector (MPCC)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 30 x 8min @ ISO 400
Total Exposure: 4hrs, 0min
Date: 10/26/2006 8:21:09 pm PDT (start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: GADFly 1.0.5
Guiding: GuideDog via Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k) through Orion ST80 w/ Celestron 2x "Kit" Barlow

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, registration, gradient removal
  • JimP: Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Levels, cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is a closeup of the Western portion of IC 1396, a Dark Nebula known as the Elephant Trunk in the constellation of Cepheus. The Dark Nebula (LDN 1105) suggests the elephant-trunk shape, while vdB 142 actually refers to the tiny patch of Reflection Nebula around the 9th mag star HD 239710 near the elephant's snout (see the mouse-over labels). This image is "First Light post-nasal surgery" <grin>, and I'm pretty happy with it considering the poor seeing and transparency. It could definitely use some Hα exposures to improve the contrast. A higher resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
NGC 7009 (Saturn Nebula)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 7009 (Saturn Nebula)

Image Details:

Camera: SBIG ST-2000XM
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Scope: Takahashi Mewlon 180
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: Astrodon LRGB I-Series Filters
Effective Focal Length: 2160mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/12
Exposure: LRGB: 1 × 4min (binned 1×1)
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 16min
Date: 8/9/2007 11:48 PM PDT (Start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: CCDSoft
Focus: CCDSoft
Dithering: None
Guiding: Self Guided

Processing:

  • IRIS: Registration, gradient removal, Richardson-Lucy deconvolution
  • JimP: Dark subtraction, Flat field, White balance, LRGB combine, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is NGC 7009, aka the Saturn Nebula, a planetary nebula in the constellation of Aquarius. Not only does this PN resemble the planet Saturn, but is also approximately the same apparent, angular size as the ringed planet as seen from Earth (roughly 45 arc-seconds). Deep Sky photography of such tiny targets is extermely challenging, because webcam-based techniques — such as taking thousands of very short exposures to “freeze” the atmospheric turbulence — are not possible. I'm pretty happy with this result, though, since it was really more of a test shot than anything else. I used Richardson-Lucy deconvolution in IRIS to tighten up the stars and the nebula. Surprisingly, it actually worked better (more sharpening with fewer artifacts) doing the deconvolution after contrast stretching, as opposed to running the algorithm on the linear (unstretched) image. This is an LRGB composite, with both the Luminance and color data binned 1×1. I also added the color data to the luminance exposure to create a meta-luminance before doing the LRGB combine and subsequent processing. That seemed to work better than using only the RGB data or doing the straight-forward LRGB combine. The image above is a full-resolution crop. There's nothing else in the field of interest. North is up.

 
NGC 4725 (Spiral Galaxy)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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December: Test shots with new scopes/mounts

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NGC 4725 (Spiral Galaxy)

Mouse-over to see annotations. (Requires Javascript) Click to see high-res version.

Image Details:

Camera: Mofidied Canon Rebel XT (350D): Hutech Type I Filter Replacement
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Celestron C8-N (8" f/5 Newtonian)
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: Celestron/Baader Multi Purpose Coma Corrector (MPCC)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 20 x 8min @ ISO 400
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 40min
Date: 5/16/2007 9:28:57 PM PDT (Start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: GADFly 1.0.5
Guiding: GuideDog via Philips ToUcam Pro II (840k) through Orion ST80 w/ Celestron 2x "Kit" Barlow

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, registration, gradient removal
  • JimP: Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: Sharpening, levels, cropping, JPG conversion
  • Neat Image: Noise reduction

Image Description:

This is NGC 4725, aka, the “One Armed Galaxy”, a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Coma Berenices. NGC 4725 is a Seyfert Galaxy, suggesting an active galactic nucleus containing a supermassive black hole. A higher resolution image is also available. North is up.