Astrophotography – deep sky

M33 Pinwheel

Sunday night was clear so i decided to have a second go at M33. This is the second time Ive attempted this galaxy as the first from last year was slightly out of focus. It was a poor night seeing wise and my “clear outside app” was actually orange/red for most of it but Im pleased with the improvement from last year. I still feel i need to add more subs or would better seeing make that difference??? I actually tried to view the galaxy with a set of 70mm binos but it wasn’t visible. 100×2.5min plus darks, flats and bias. Processed in pixinsight.

Pelican Nebula (Part 2)

Last week I posted an RGB image of the Pelican Nebula taken shortly after the full moon. The evening before (28/10) I’d had my first go at imaging with a Hydrogen Alpha filter, and a few murky evenings has given me the chance to process it and then learn how to feed it into the Red channel of the RGB image using Pixinsight. Updated image, along with the monochrome Halpha image, is below.

Really pleased with this output- because light pollution is suppressed by the filter I was able to expose for much longer (9 minutes per sub) and the red signal is correspondingly stronger. Once integrated into image you don’t have to “push” the software so hard to bring out the detail in the nebula.


M31 from the 30th Oct, 28×2.5min exposures plus flats, darks and bias frames. Stacked calibrated and processed in pixinsight. Unfortunately i messed up the flats as a piece of unfocused dust moved in between taking the lights and flats. I solved this by using  clone stamp in pixinsight. This is a lesson i guess- I should take the flats at exactly the same time as the lights and not leave it 24hrs at the same focus point.

Pelican Nebula 29/10/18 (Part 1?)

A nice week for astronomy so far- finally got my shed “operational” for doing astro pics which is exciting. Still some work to do as I’ve made the roof too heavy and I need to sort out the inside, but having proven it was weather-proof and with clear skies beckoning I couldn’t resist the temptation to move all the gear in and get it going. I haven’t quite got the Roger levels of convenience where I can do it in my pyjamas, but the setup time to take an image has dropped to 10-15 minutes.

I decided to image the Pelican (and then found out Ken was on the same target!). Sundays subs were in Ha and Mondays were colour. Sunday’s data looks promising, but with time scarce I’ve processed the colour data first. When I get some more time to teach myself how, I’ll try to enhance this picture with the Ha data, but for now here’s the colour version.

22×5 minute subs + darks, flats & bias.


IC 5070

With the moon so bright on Saturday evening i continued to image in Halpha. 10min exposures and a total of 4hrs stacked and calibrated in pixinsigth. A very cold night as i remember ! Pleased with the result but not sure the longer exposures have added any detail to the cygnus wall from my previous post on the north American nebula. You can definitely see why IC 5070 is called the pelican though.

Sword of Orion – – 31/10/2018

After having endured a certain amount of leg-pulling at the trustees meeting last night concerning widow-sills and double glazing, lo and behold, Orion was in view from the aforementioned window-sill after I got home.

This month’s Deep Sky Tour in the Sky at Night mag. was all about objects in Orion’s sword, so despite a prominent moon, I acquired some images.

Starting with NGC1981, the “crocodile” cluster and NGC 1977

NGC 1977 is in fact the “Running man” nebula, so the next image was a longer exposure and processed to bring out the nebulosity:


Then on to NGC 1980, together with M42, just to orient yourselves.

Again this was then processed to bring out more of M42’s nebulosity:

The next 2 images are NGC 1980 without the focal reducer to bring out the rather nice double Struve 747

Although I didn’t try to image M42 and M43, here is a reprocessed one from last winter with the same set-up to complete the “set”.

Curiously, in the same issue of the magazine there is an article about the best winter clothing for observing – it might be interesting to note that I was in my pyjamas during all this – – – !

(BUT I am NOT going to attempt to demonstrate this at the next Science Day!)

IC 1396

A clear night was forecast on Friday evening so i contacted some members through the whatsapp group with the prospect of imaging/observing in my garden. Nick turned up around 6ish and we set up his wedge mounted evostar in good time. Nick then did his standard alignment and then polar alignment but we wanted to test the accuracy of the celestron polar alignment software. To do this we set up a QHY polemaster and went through the quick and easy procedure. As it turned out the software was reasonably accurate and both were within a few arc minutes of each other. Nick started imaging the Ring nebula and around half 8 i started a series of exposures on the elephant trunk Ic1396. I was able to collect 4 hours of images which i stacked and processed in pixinsight. 10min exposures at iso 800.

Gamma cygni nebula

I was able to get out on Monday evening after work for a couple of hours. The Sadr region had just crossed the meridian by about 8ish so i decided on this target. I took a total of 17x8min subs in Halpha before heading indoors for an early start in the morning. This was processed along with 45x bias 25x darks (from darks library) and 25x flats. Very pleased and hope to add some colour when the moon has gone.