Astrofest 2020 in Kensington – Day 1 – 31/1/2020

We are back at Astrofest!

Ed Mann, myself and two friends from London – Kelvin and Joseph – exhibitors looking a bit thin on ground and Ed did search for bargains and not many to find so far although some might be hidden on some stalls…..we will let you know! (See below.)

However, the hall was virtually full to capacity – seating around 400 this is a remarkable achievement on day 1 of the conference,  given competition from IAS, Practical Astronomy Show, etc.

Talks covered wide variety subjects including legality of mining the moon, history of amateur astrophotography, history of Hubble Space Telescope, role of ESA, and many more. As usual, the speakers were excellent.

In practice, the exhibitors did provide a wide range of interesting items to look at and some new/relatively new kit was available, although this was limited. Astrotrak have a very exciting new mount and this would be my pick of the show. I have a photo of this below.

Nik Syzmanek signed copies of his new book on astrophotography. I purchased a copy of this as it includes specific instructions on how to use Photoshop and other software to do things such as Hubble Palate.

The conference has also been a chance to meet new and old friends from other astro groups, and breakfast at our hotel was a bit like a who’s who of amateur astrophotography!

I’m glad I came again.


The Ghost of Cassiopeia

This is my first full colour picture from a mono camera 🙂

This nebula sits next to Navi in Cassiopeia (Gamma Cass)- apparently the star is gradually eroding the nebula. The nebula itself is both an emission and a reflection nebula, but I think I’ve only managed to capture the emission parts here.

I took this over 2 nights on 15th and 17th Jan. It’s been a bit of a learning process to put this together:

  • 40 mins of 2 minute subs in each of LRGB on 15th
  • 100 mins of 5 minute subs in Ha on 17th

It certainly takes a bit more effort to process mono, and it wasn’t helped by loads of problems with ice and fogging on my secondary. This led to not getting much Ha signal, and I’ve used layers in Gimp to bring it out (don’t tell Pixinsight- they’ll excommunicate me!). I think there’s probably more can be extracted from this data- especially around the body of the nebula- but I’m still pleased to have a full colour image!

I had another go at this a few days later and the whole scope completely iced up- see picture at the bottom!



Another version of my M42 data from 17/1/2020 processed with Astroflat Pro but without flat frames I took on night 27/1/2020

My previous version of M42 processed with Astroflat Pro plug in for Photoshop CS2 used my stacked image that included flat frames I took on evening 17/1/2020 – the software is not designed for this but rather to provide artifical flat calibration for images without flat frames and therefore, with Damian’s help, we have re-processed the image without flat frames.

Damian stacked the image I took in Nebulosity 4 without flat frames.

I have applied curves in Photoshop and Astroflat Pro in iterative process to get following image – I found that some curves then using the plug in and repeating process seemed to work well – although I am not sure that it is supposed to work that way!

There is certainly more nebulosity visible around edges of M42 and in the blue emission nebulae elsewhere in the image than previously. I am very happy with this image as I never expected to be able to produce something like this when I started on my astrophotography journey in July 2019 following my operation. I still have long way to go.

For those that don’t own Photoshop, it is an amazing piece of software – very addictive! Not sure I want to be without it now. Old versions work well and are ot cheaper that current version. Google searches will tell you how to carry out same actions as in current version on old versions. At least has done for me do far. I have also enrolled on an online Shaw Academy course on using Photoshop – helping me understand the software.

Below the image is the results of running the image through free online astrometry site.