SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M1 (Crab Nebula)

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Image Details:

Camera: SBIG ST-2000XM
Mount: Astro-Physics 1200GTO
Scope: TMB 152/1200 APO Refractor
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: Astrodon SII, Hα, OIII 6nm Filters
Effective Focal Length: 1200mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/7.9
Exposure: {1 Hα, 1 OIII, 1 SII} × 32min @ -30°C
Total Exposure: 1hrs, 36min
Date: 1/28/2008 11:49 PM PST (Start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: CCDSoft
Focus: FocusMax
Dithering: None
Guiding: Self Guided

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, registration, White balance, ASINH stretching, Richardson-Lucy Deconvolution
  • Photoshop: Cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is M1, aka, the “Crab Nebula”, a Supernova Remnant in the constellation of Taurus. This is First Light after a repair and cleaning of my ST-2000XM camera, and also First Light for my new motorized, electronic, focuser attachment for the TMB 152/1200's FeatherTouch FT3545 focuser. Along with FocusMax, a freeware focusing software package, the electronic focuser allows one to absolutely NAIL the focus every time. After fighting some USB hardware problems, I managed to capture some narrowband exposures of this target. Mousing off the image reveals a “Hubble Palette” narrowband image, with R:G:B = SII:Hα:OIII. Mouse-over the image to see a pseudo-“True Color” image, in which those narrowband emission lines are mapped to their approximate color as seen by human vision. Specifically, the red SII and Hα wavelengths are mapped to red, and the aqua (blue-green) OIII wavelength is mapped to both green and blue. Also, a smidge of Hα is added into blue to simulate the Hβ wavelength. Compare the stunning amount of detail in this narrowband image, and especially the pseudo-true-color image, with that in this older true color image, though, of course, the latter was captured with much more modest equipment. A higher resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
NGC 3198 (Spiral Galaxy)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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NGC 3198 (Spiral Galaxy)

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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: 22 x 8min @ ISO 800
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 56min
Date: 4/17/2006 9:40:33 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
  • Neat Image: Noise reduction (full resolution only)

Image Description:

This is NGC 3198, a Spiral Galaxy in the constellationof Ursa Major. Not the most exciting target in the history ofastrophotography, but with the weather we've been having, it was really nice to just get out there and grab an image. A higher-resolution image is also available. North is up.

 
M16 (Eagle Nebula)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M16 (Eagle Nebula)   [obsolete]

Click to see high-res version.

Image Details:

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel (300D)
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Celestron C8-N (8" f/5 Newtonian)
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 1000mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5
Exposure: 24 x 1min @ ISO 800
Total Exposure: 0hrs, 24min
Date: 7/13/2004, 11:30pm PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: Dark subtraction, flat frame, registration, and Kappa-Sigma stacking, AF5 noise reduction (red channel only)
  • Photoshop: Color mixing, slight crop, image scale (1/4 x), JPG conversion

Image Description:

Another amazing nebula in the "summer" Milky Way in the constellation of Serpens. M16 actually refers to the open cluster of bright, white, stars just above and to the right of the center of this photo. IC 4703 is the catalog name given to the nebula in which these bright, young stars continue to be born. This is a Sigma stack of the best 24 of 64 frames. The remaining 40(!) frames showed trailing/smearing due to tracking error and other problems, so either my mount is getting worse or my scope's balance was poor. I suspect the latter. The conditions were also pretty lousy, both from a transparency and seeing perspective. The dew was out of control too. As with the M17 image, I cranked up the red a bit in Photoshop to compensate for the Digital Rebel's poor sensitivity to Hα, the main wavelength emitted by nebula such as this one. This is a slight crop of the full frame image, scaled for display on the web. A full-resolution image showing more detail is also available. North is up.

 
M31 (Andromeda Galaxy)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M31 (Andromeda Galaxy)

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Image Details:

Camera: Mofidied Canon Rebel XT (350D): Hutech Type I Filter Replacement
Mount: Celestron AS-GT
Scope: Orion ED80 (80mm f/7.5 APO Refractor)
Configuration: Focal Reduced
Additional Optics: Celestron F/6.3 Reducer/Corrector (0.63x)
Filter: None
Effective Focal Length: 420mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/5.2
Exposure: 25 x 8min @ ISO 400
Total Exposure: 3hrs, 20min
Date: 10/11/2005 12:42:47 AM PDT (start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: DSLRfocus
Focus: DSLRFocus
Dithering: None
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
  • Neat Image: Noise removal
  • Photoshop: Levels, cropping, JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is my second attempt at M31, this time with a focal-reduced ED80 and the Modified 350D. This was a test to see if I could run the equipment overnight while I slept. Seems to have worked pretty well, but without dithering (which I still do manually), there was a large amount of residual pattern noise after calibration, registration, and stacking. While Neat Image did a decent job of removing that pattern noise, I really need to look into something like GADfly (see the Files section of Digital_Astro) to automate inter-exposure dithering. This is the full frame, shrunk for display on the web. A higher-resolution version of this image is also available, as is my previous attempt from last year with an unmodified camera. North is right.

 
The Moon
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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The Moon

Image Details:

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel (300D)
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: 10 x 1/90 sec @ ISO 100
Date: 8/24/2004, ~8:30pm PDT
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: Manual
Focus: Manual
Dithering: None
Guiding: None

Processing:

  • IRIS: Registration, stacking
  • Photoshop: Cropping (65%), image size, JPG conversion

Image Description:

I was just testing out my new JMI focuser and MPCC coma corrector and thought I'd snap a few of the moon. It came out ok, so I thought I'd post it. Check out this interesting color-enhanced version, using the technique described in How to capture the color of the Moon. It's definitely worth a look. The lunar phase here is a 70% waxing gibbous. North is up.

 
M13 (Great Cluster in Hercules)
SaratogaSkies Jim Solomon's Astropics

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M13 (Great Cluster in Hercules)

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Image Details:

Camera: SBIG ST-2000XM
Mount: Astro-Physics 1200GTO
Scope: AP Starfire 160EDF APO Refractor
Configuration: Prime Focus
Additional Optics: n/a (Prime)
Filter: Astrodon LRGB I-Series Filters
Effective Focal Length: 1200mm
Effective Focal Ratio: f/7.5
Exposure: 8 × 8min @ -20°C (Lum); {16R, 16G, 16B} × 2min @ -15°C
Total Exposure: 2hrs, 40min
Date: 6/10/2008 11:37 PM; 7/25/2009 11:12 PM (Start)
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Acquisition: CCDSoft
Focus: FocusMax
Dithering: None
Guiding: Self Guided

Processing:

  • IRIS: Registration, gradient removal
  • JimP: Dark subtraction, Flat field, Kappa-Sigma Stacking, White balance, LRGB combining, ASINH stretching
  • Photoshop: JPG conversion

Image Description:

This is M13, aka, the Great (globular) Cluster in Hercules. I captured the RGB of this image with the TMB 152/1200, and the Luminance about a year later with the AP 160 Starfire EDF. The RGB was taken on a pretty icky night, with FWHMs well over 3”. But the Luminance exposures, taken through the exquisite AP 160, all had sub-2” FWHMs, on a night of fantastic seeing, at least for my location. Some minor DEC backlash adjustments resulted in pretty good guiding too. Note that there is absolutely no sharpening applied to this image. All in all, this is by far my best image of a globular cluster. A higher-resolution image is also available. North is up.