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!

Manual HDR post-processing of astro images

HI Folks,

At IAS this year, Paddy Gilliand gave a fantastic talk on picture processing. He showed an example where the original image looks virtually washed out. By careful splitting of the image into different exposures, he managed to recreate something that I think is pretty damn good.

Look at the section on Manual HDR. It looks like a good process, and very effective. The link to the slides is below:-

IAS 2017 V1.2


Pushing a 4″ refractor to it’s limits.


Swadlincote 29/10/17 Vixen 102 SP.

After months of barging through faint clusters , deep sky and sub 1.5″ separations , I thought of going with the 102 f10. Finding out what it can do gave a session full of surprise and little wonders. At max I got up to x218 , but usually kicked around x44-x100.

4″ long ota gives colour , contrast , easy focussing and sharp views . It’s the most of efficient optical systemS. If you like your diffraction discs like marbles , it’s all going here ! Against the 150 frac,it’s more interesting to open sub 2″separations and get those dim contrasting companions. A bright moon and a fair amount of light glow , but a wonderfully chill still night and it’s all go !

Kicking off with an old favourite , Miriam,η Persei (SAO 23655) and a lovely orange and blue.
Σ162 ( also in Andromeda) SAO 37536 and this lovely triangular triple showed up at x150.
θ ,theta Persei split at x100 (SAO 38288), a delicate +10companion here.
Σ425 gave a clean 2″ separation at x180 (SAO 56613), a lovely pair of twins.
ΟΣ59, a slightly uneven , but wider 2.7″ split here. (SAO 39031). Really chuffed to see what 4″ can do.

Now a few old favourites,
ζ ,Zeta Persei (SAO 56799), yellow and blue , a mini Rigel. Challenging as the intrusive primary glare focussed in an out and I wasn’t certain. Returning with my sketch board ,I looked again. A clean marble of the primary with a clear speck (+2.9
and +9.2). Same thing with primary glare happened with the nearby
ε Persei, (SAO 56840) narrower , with a +2.9 and +8.9, lovely lemon and blue colours here. Wait for them to appear , revisit , these things come with a big of care !
Σ483 gave a wonderfully open split at 1.6″,the separation here is increasing from the often quoted 1.3″. Clean separation shows good seeing and super 30 + year old Vixen optics.

Over to Andromeda. Just a touch of peanuts with 36 Andromedae. Ho 197 showed a right angled triple here at x50.
Es 2725 showed up in a lovely field with the obviously orange 8 Andromedae and the white 11 Andromedae.
Σ3004 gave a wide pair. The +6.3 primary and the delicate +10.1 make a lovely view.
I tried kappa , but the Moon had bleached out the lovely multiple view. Colour and the delights of Almach and Alpheratz before moving on.

Up to Cassiopeia and the best view of iota yet , open up just three lovely marbly points. Not as bright as β Monocerotis, but lovelier.
Inside and to the top (frac view) of the cluster IC1848, a few doubles here, but it was a surprise to open up Σ306 at 2″(SAO 12470) there is a third fainter component here.
γ Cassiopiaea and a no show, such a violent star !
ψ (Psi) was full of colour and a delightful show (SAO 11751).

Very pleased to have pushed the scope, the 23mm Panoptic gave tremendous wide views. In most cases ,it was easy to pick out binaries. The 5.5mm Meade uwa swept up the finest of splits.

Well aided by a huge brass focussing wheel crafted by a good friend. This greatly eased fine r&p focussing , I am loathe to change anything much on older gear !
Time to get out there and pick up some wonderful colour and detail of multiples,under clear skies ! Nick.

H&E Staining of culture of Rhys’ mouth 29/10/2017

I am very pleased with the following pictures – they represent some of best work with the microscope so far. They show good detail of bacteria. Heat-fixed onto the slide and H&E stained. The 63x objective images in particular are very effective – I am learning to use this objective now. Required the slide to be upside down to get focus.

I have converted images to greyscale.


Heat-fixing a slide:

H&E stained – 32x objective – following taken with Bresser MikOkular camera:

H&E stained images – 63x objective – Bresser MikrOkular camera:

H&E stained images – 63x objective – Bresser Mikrocam 9.0 camera:

Following picture is area of interest from above photo:

Fluorescein dye microscopy of culture of Rhys’ mouth swab 29/10/2017

I tried again to use fluorescein 1% dye on a microscopy specimen today. I heat fixed a slide of the culture of Rhys’ mouth and soaked it in fluorescein dye for 10 minutes. I washed off the excess, added coverslip and looked at under the microscope. For this experiment, I used epi-illumination with the LED illuminator a second hand fluorescence filter block I obtained from ebay recently.

Pictures below – not sure what they show though!


Following is a non-stained live image of Rhys’ mouth culture through the Zeiss IM microscope with 63x objective as reminder of what is in the Petri dish culture used for this fluorescence experiment (this is NOT a fluorescence image):

Fluorescence image using fluorescein dye x4 objective (below). I am not sure what the darker blotches represent. This is a low magnification image so they do not represent individual bacteria but more likely large masses from the smear I took off the Petri dish using a needle. I had difficulty attaching the illuminator to the epi-illumination port today and it ended up slightly angled – hence the darker colouration to the left of this picture.

Fluorescence image using fluorescein dye x4 objective (below). The following two images look impressive but I suspect they are only of air bubbles!

Fluorescence image using fluorescein dye x20 objective (below). I have increased the magnification. The MikrOkular was able to show some detail, which is what was used for these photos. I also tried the Mikrocam but it was not sensitive enough. Again, I do not know what the darker patches represent. Far too low magnification for any features within bacterial cells (see size of individual cells in 63x image at start of this post):

Fluorescence image using fluorescein dye x32 objective (below). The highest magnification I could achieve and still see any detail. For this one, I had to stretch the image in GIMP2 and sharpen it. Again – what the features are I do not know. They vary in size from small ones, about the size of a bacterium to larger ones.