Astrophotography – deep sky

Image intensifier photographs from observing session 17-18/11/2017 (home-made image intensified eyepiece, Samsung S7 phone, Orion UK 10″ Dobsonian, Lichfield)

The following photographs were taken during the observing session at LRO, Lichfield, UK, by Andrew and Damian 17-18/11/2017. Photographs were taken from views through our two 10″ Orion Dobsonian Telescopes, using our home-made (ATM) image intensified eyepieces and my Samsung S7 smart phone hand held at the eyepiece end of the image intensified eyepiece.

The home made image intensified eyepieces were made using old 2nd world war image intensifier tubes purchased from ebay for £50 each a few years ago. They give good views although suffer from significant image distortion towards the edge. However, they represent excellent value for money and provide a quite different way of observing the night sky. Although technically what you see through these image intensified eyepieces is not a direct view of the night sky but instead an electronic image, they give an excellent “through the eyepiece” experience because of where they are located (in the focuser) and the intimate experience of observer and telescope is therefore retained, albeit with a green view!

Andy & Damian

Andromeda-Galaxy-Satellite-M31 & M32-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Christmas-Tree-Open-Cluster-NGC2264-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Crab-Nebula-M1-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Eskimo-Plantary-Nebula-NGC2392-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-181117.jpg (below):

Galaxies-M81-M82-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Hubble-variable-nebula-NGC2261-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-181117.jpg (below):

Open-clusters-M35-NGC2158-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Orion-Nebula-M42-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Pleiades-Open-Cluster-M45-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Window sill images with a difference – -13/11/2017

Normally I restrict my window-sill images to wide-field views, but last night I thought I would try something different. I put on a X2 barlow and had a look at a couple of well-known multiple star sysems.

First, Sigma Orionis (Struve 762) and the nearby Struve 761. This is a classic multiple star view in Orion.

This site ( says:

Perhaps the finest multiple star in the sky visible to both northern and southern observers, sigma Orionis is a system of five stars, four of which are visible in a small telescope.  The brightest star of this group is one of the most luminous known and will one day expire, like many stars in Orion, in a spectacular supernova explosion.”

Adding to the scene is Struve 761

Next over to M42, and an attempt to to resolve the stars of the embedded “Trapezium”. The Trapezium is the inset picture, and the main image is a multiple exposure of its context within the central part of the Great Orion Nebula.,

More Deep Sky Fun from the Window-sill

Last night, I set up the window-sill equatorial with a bit more care and tried for the Flame / Horsehead again. Results were mixed, but an improvement methinks! All the images below were with the ST80 and a focal reducer. This is not an ideal optical arrangement with an f/5 instrument, but you do get a fast lens

While in the vicinity, I had a look at the RunningMan / M43 / M42 combination. This one is a composite of 4 exposures to avoid washing out the centre of M42, and to try to bring out some features of the “Running Man”.


Then on to M78.

Finally across to Monoceros and the Rosette. This is a 2-image composite due to the large size of the Rosette.


I think I am now pushing the limits of what can be done with a cheap 80mm refractor through double glazing!


For some time now I’ve been absolutely fascinated by the Pleiades! On some clear evenings ill set up my lunt 70mm bins on a tripod so my wife can have a look and it never fails to disappoint! I was checking the weather all week and finally on the Friday evening a clear night was forecast. I planned for Nick to join me with his 9″evo and we sat about imaging the Pleiades and the ring nebula. Nick got some lovely pictures of the ring which should follow shortly and i ended up with 12x3min exposures of M45. Ive still got some post processing to do with my image but I’ll change it over when complete.


Flame and Horsehead from the window-sill

Its 4AM. I am having one of my insomnia attacks and need to find a distraction for an hour or two until my legs settle down. Looking out of the window, there is Orion in all his splendour. Maybe I could try for the Flame and Horsehead again?

Snag – -the window above the window-sill is all misted up.

Solution – hanging out of the window with a hair-dryer for a few minutes!

So, here goes. Another snag is that with the 10 second exposures I am using, there is a significant movement of the image due to poor tracking. Since you can’t see Polaris from the window, setting up the equatorial mount is not easy, and has to be done by estimation. This obviously causes the image to be blurred. I need to spend some more time more carefully setting up the mount.

Here is the result. Detail is clearly lacking due to the tracking error, but I am not entirely displeased given the limitations.

As I have said previously, my eyesight is a bit weak in the reds, so in some ways I prefer the black-and-white image.

Total exposure was about 300 seconds (30 or so stacked 10 second images), and total cost of the kit involved (including the telescope, but not including the double-glazing) is around £300.

And its FUN!

For reference, I have added an image that I did of the Horsehead last year from outside.



North American Nebula

SGL 2017

Myself and Nick went to the SGL 2017 event in Lucksall for a weekend in October. The weather was very cloudy for most of the time but we had a very brief period on the Saturday evening where the cloud dissipated. This led to panic stations getting polar aligned and maximising the number of images. I had decided on the North American Nebula as it had just passed the meridian at the point of clearing and I didn’t want to footer around with a meridian flip half way through. I set up to do 30×8 min exposures but sadly the weather started to cloud over again after the first hour or so. I managed to capture 6×8 min subs which I stacked on DSS. I was using a Takahashi fsq 85 and modified canon 6d with an Idas D1 filter.





Sketching the “Swan”

I have been having a discussion with David Geary concerning M17, the “Swan” or “Omega” nebula. Looking back in my notebooks, I found I DID sketch it in 2009. The sketch is below. There is also a flipped version so the orientation matches the later image.

Same telescope – – –

Now given I am no artist, I wonder why I like the PD camera – – – ?!