DSOs 27-28/02/2019

It was such a nice night, at least for starters last night that I was tempted away from the window-sill!

First, M46 in Puppis, an open cluster that also seems to contain a planetary nebula, NGC2438. It isn’t in the cluster, in fact, it is just a line of sight effect. Since I couldn’t get the whole of M46 in field, to set the scene, the first image below is from the window-sill telescope from last year, followed by last night’s images:

Here is an enlarged and further processed version of the planetary nebula.

Then on to two little known open clusters in Gemini, NGC2129 and IC2157

Then some quite tricky galaxies in Coma Berenices, NGC4274 and NGC4559 (C36).

Finally, another pair of tricky galaxies in Virgo, the “Siamese Twins” NGC4567 and NGC4568

If the cap fits …….

A couple of days ago the sun was shining nicely (that’s the big yellow thing that hangs in the sky occasionally) so I though I would try some more solar observing. I was just slewing my scope tound when it suddenly occurred to me that my guide camera was about to get fried as there was no cap on the guide scope.

I looked around my junk box for an old binocular cap but of course none of them fitted.

Rather than going into full-blown Blue Peter mode I thought I’d look on eBay for a cap, and I came up with this. It’s like a DSLR lens cap but slightly smaller (52mm)


It works a treat and was only £1.79 from a UK source. It clips in very firmly and even has a string attached so you cant lose it


With clear skies over the next two evenings Mercury makes a good target as it approaches greatest eastern elongation (on27th) visible from approx. 18:15 till 19:00, looking to the west south west and with a good clear horizon, try spotting it with binoculars first.

All images taken with Canon 450D on tripod, cable shutter release , manual focus, all 1600 !SO  with Sigma 150 – 500 mm zoom lens.





F10, 1.6″ 150mm, atmospheric lighting courtesy of street lights.



F8,0.8″, 150mm



F8, 1/8″, 200mm



Up close and personal at F8, 0.8″, 500mm


Unfortunately didn’t have a photogenic church steeple to hand!











Video electronic eyepiece/image intensifier

Imaging is imaging, usually with a computer to process said images later.

Visual observing is when you look through an eyepiece and get an “instant” view.

As soon as you start to use electronic assistance such as an image intensifier the distinction between these two gets a bit blurred.

The PD camera produces a video output that you can feed directly into a video monitor and get an “instant” or “near instant” view, depending on what integration time you use. No computer is needed.

So here is a slant on that theme. I purchased a 5″ video monitor for the princely sum of £16.99. It runs off 5V, so I also purchased a 12V-5V converter for another couple of pounds. I then coupled it to the PD camera like this:


Here are a couple of snapshots of the “instant” result of the Orion nebula using the window-sill 80mm refractor. The first one is as it comes, the second with a UHC filter.


Not a patch on proper imaging, of course, but interesting!

I could easily see the Flame nebula like this, and I fancied I could (maybe) also see the Horsehead – – -! (From the window-sill, of course!)

Messier 42

Here’s an M42 from earlier this week.

On Monday night, with a very bright moon I took some Ha shots. M42 can be quite a tricky target because there’s such a difference in brightness between the centre and outlying areas, so this is a mix of 1 and 10 min exposures with the Ha filter. Unfortunately the clouds were rolling over quite frequently, and of 15 10 mins shots, only 3 were actually usable- this has given me a very noisy Ha channel to work with.

I had a bit more luck on Thursday night, before the moon came up, capturing 1 and 5 min exposures with the IDAS filter that I use to suppress the bright LED lights. Merging mixed exposure times is a new technique for me, so I’m quite pleased with how it has come out. The trapezium can’t quite be seen, but there’s still a reasonable amount of detail in the bright sections that surround it. The hardest bit was reducing the noise in the final colour image- I’ve lost a bit of detail doing this. Ah well- gives me something to aim for next year…

18/2/19 – Ha – 30x 1 mins, 3x 10 mins

21/2/19 – RGB – 12x1mins, 54x 5mins