Astrophotography – deep sky

Planets and planetaries – – -14-15/07/2018

Here are some images from last night.

Having been seriously impressed with Neil’s planetary images, i have an ADC on order!

Meanwhile, I had another go at Saturn last night. Had it not been for Neil’s images, I would have been quite pleased with this one! Best I’ve managed this apparition!

I then did a composite exposure of the visible moons.

While waiting for Mars to rise to an appropriate position, I vistited these 2 planetary nebulae, NGC 6818 in Sagittarius and NGC 6781 in Aquila.

Eventually, Mars became visible,and I tried this image, bearing in mind Mars’s altitude was only about 11 degrees. As I’m sure you know, Mars is currently covered by a dust-storm, hence the lack of visible surface detail.

There did seem some vague hint of detail so here is the image with an extreme contrast stretch, followed by a screenshot of Mars from “Stellarium” for comparison. (Stellarium shows an accurate depiction of the surface facing us – a useful resource)



Can’t wait for the ADC to arrive!


Imaging 11-12/06/2018

This time of year since, it does not get really dark, it isn’t easy to image DSOs. However, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was supposed to be transiting at about 12:40 so I set up to see if I could get an image. I have found it difficult to get a decent image of Jupiter this year because of its low altitude, and last night was no exception. After some extensive processing, you can at least see the red spot, and if you look hard there are other blobs and features. Coudn’t see any sign of Nick’s GRS streamer though. I managed to miss Callisto too – it is off-stage to the left!

Globulars seemed to be a reasonable bet in the circumstances, so here is M10 and M12.

Then on to NGC 6309, a planetary nebula (the Box nebula)

Finally on to M107 a small globular in Ophiuchus.

I also observed NGC 5746, 5846 and 5850, but the images aren’t really worth posting.

Then it started to get light – – –

Later –

After a bit more work processing NGC5746, I managed to recover something, even though it is not brilliant. Just shows, you can see DSOs in the summer twilight!

Needle and M13

Ebay has finally yielded some new tougher bolts and replacement battery for my mount so I couldn’t resist the lure of some clear skies on Sunday night. Given that it was a school night and it didn’t get dark enough until after 11, I thought I’d try and do it Roger-style with shorter exposures on my little ZWO camera (sadly I didn’t have any double glazing facing the right way for this).

As well as borrowing Roger’s approach I also borrowed one of his recent targets as I’m quite taken by the Needle Galaxy at the minute, along with M13.

Needle is a stack of 35x 20 second exposures. I had gain at 500 for this and it was very noisy and I had to process it to within an inch of it’s life to get something out of it.

M13 is a stack of 80x 7 second exposures- the same gain, but the shorter exposure/more subs seemed to help, and in comparison it fell out of the camera and processed itself (OK- I exaggerate).

Started imaging at 11:15 and done and dusted and in bed an hour later! Hopefully will get another go at this on a darker night and with more time to play…

M13 5.5.18

With the good weather last weekend a couple of us from the group decided to spontaneously meet up for some astronomy.

I always find that phd2 guiding performance is a direct indicator of conditions and on this occasion guiding was below 0.5″ all evening showing that we had exceptionally good seeing.

I started off with 35 images of M3 which will follow, and then when it was higher in the sky  i switched over to M13. Using Rob’s 14″ dobsonian we had some amazing visuals of M51 with the spiral arms just visible. Nick turned up later and whilst Rob was setting up his imaging scope we had a go at star hopping to M3 which we couldn’t find. It just shows that myself and Nick are far to reliant on technology! Rob took over and quickly found our target which was amazing! Later in the night we also had some fantastic views of the ring nebula, different shades of grey clearly showing where the various colours would be with an image.

On this occasion i didn’t take any darks or flats thinking that M13 would be an easy target given its brightness. That was clearly a bad decision but its also a learning experience.

This was taken with the Baby Q and canon 6d with an Idas d1 filter.

NGC 6207 is also clear in the image as well as several other NGC, PGC and IC objects.


Foraging for Faint Fuzzies – – – 06-07/05/2018

Before imaging Jupiter in my previous post, I went hunting faint fuzzies in the Virgo / Coma / Serpens area.

Nothing really spectacular, but satisfying, nevertheless. So,we have:

M84, M86 & M87 in Virgo, I reprocessed the one with M87 to show the “jet” from the supermassive black hole at its centre.

NGC4526 in Virgo.

NGC4477 & NGC4479 in Virgo.

M58 in Virgo.

C38 / NGC4565 in Coma Berenices.

NGC4596 in Virgo.

NGC5838 in Virgo.

NGC5921 in Serpens Caput.

Observing and Photography 19-22/4

So after a month of absolutely nothing doing at all, along- like buses- came several clear nights. Bit tricky to fit around work and family commitments, but at last had the chance to get out and really try out the new Dob. Despite a lot of turtle wax it’s still a little bit sticky, especially on the azimuth, but otherwise it now feels to be working really well.

On the 19th it was a bit hazy- I’ve started using M51 as a gauge of sky quality, and on this occasion the 2 cores were visible, but not the spiral arms. Nonetheless I pressed on to go Galaxy hunting around Virgo. I’m using Sky Safari to help me with this and find that for the most part I can manage to star hop by using overlay tool and I was able to explore the region around Vindemiatrix picking up 6 new galaxies for me. For the sake of comparison I got the 8 inch Dob out as well to see if I could achieve the same, but I simply couldn’t find them. My back garden certainly has a fair bit of light pollution, and it seems the extra aperture enables me to find things which I otherwise wouldn’t see.

On Thursday and Sunday I also had some time later on with slightly more mixed results. I spent some time on Leo- the M66, M65, NGC3628 triplet was easily found and a nice sight, but I struggled to get to M96/95/105 and really want to have another go at that. More satisfyingly, the Beehive looked wonderful, M92 was great and M13 was stunning- the heart of it was like a shimmering circle of sequins. Gorgeous. The best was yet to come- late on, Jupiter appeared over the rooftops. Unfortunately for me I’m looking through the light pollution and rising heat of Burton in that direction, but even with it dancing in the haze it was a wonderful sight, the bands strikingly clear and colourful. At times I could see the Great Red Spot.

Whilst doing this I had the 5 inch newt set up and pointing at Markarian’s Chain. I hadn’t managed to hop to this with the Dob, and trying to frame it was a challenge (I lost quite a bit of time trying), but I’m quite pleased with the result. It’s 15 4 minute subs, 5 darks and some flats & bias. I can find 15 galaxies in this shot which blows my mind…

The clear skies have been a long time coming but it’s been worth the wait!