Andy’s solar video files from 25/5/2020

My video files from yesterday – all AVI files.

Damian’s firewire camera.

My Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 120mm OTA – later videos on list with 50mm aperture mask, early ones without.

HEQ5 Pro mount.



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M13 – Great Cluster in Hercules

I’m particularly pleased with this image. I’ve been wandering around the southern sky picking up ‘missing Messiers’ for my collection, but a few nights ago I though I would try and get some better data for M13.

The initial red subs were a bit poor due to the lack of real darkness, so I took about an hour of subs and chose the best. For green and blue I took about half an hour’s worth of 2 ½ minute subs.

My first process was a bit meh, so I re-did it focusing on bringing out faint detail and being incredibly careful with curves not to bleach the core. Even then on my final curve stretch I had to mask out the core but was rewarded by an extraordinary number of very tiny stars in the outer parts of the cluster. View the image full size and zoom right in, or just check out the inset at the bottom of this post!


M13 - Great Cluster in Hercules
M13 – Great Cluster in Hercules


M13 zoomed in
M13 zoomed in

Observing Log 24-25/5/2020 Lichfield

Observations last night:

22:30. Set up Altair Astro 183M mono camera to take colour data on M106. Camera on my Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm OTA on EQ6 on roll out platform in garden in Lichfield, UK.

Took while to synchronise mount with sky and then GOTO M106.

Guiding working reasonably well most of time – occasional big guiding spikes associated with error just > 3 arc-seconds – I suspect due to wind, settling to 1-2 arc-seconds RMS error on guiding, mostly < 1.

Went for shower before going outside to pull out 10 inch Orion Dobsonian on equatorial platform. Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday so I don’t need to go to work so I cam stay outside. Yippee!

Saw ISS go over to South.

23:48 Just seen spectacular meteor lasting couple seconds going from South to North in area between Great Square of Pegasus and feet of Ursa Major. Stood out for me as appeared to be dropping down although I think this is probably an artifact of where it was in sky – low in northwest.

Definitely the wind that is causing brief moments of worsening guiding accuracy – just witnessed it happen.

00:15. Taking a last look at Virgo cluster of galaxies this year before they drop down in the west – or more importantly drop behind top of my house in the west!

Aimed directly between Denebola and Vindemiatrix. Immediately dropped straight down onto Virgo A – comparing adjacent star asterisks to chart in Sky Safari confirmed location and find.

Virgo A is bright fuzzy blob in 20mm Explore Scientific (ES) 100 degree field of view eyepiece. In 9mm ES of same series it was a bigger fuzzy blob, still without detail – but then sky isn’t that dark, being summer and centre of Lichfield.

It might be summer but time for coat and hat! Getting a bit cold out here…..

Just taken photo of Virgo A using hand held Samsung S10+ phone through 9mm ES.

M57 Ring Nebula, hand held Samsung Note 10+:

I have forgotten which globular cluster this one was (below):

02:52. Sky getting light and more difficult to find objects. Got plenty of colour data on M106 so hopefully it can all be processed to help me get my first colour image of M106, and combine with the luminence data I collected the week before last.

03:30. Just packed away. Dawn definitely on its way with significantly brighter sky. No dawn chorus yet. I am off to bed!


Observing Mercury for the first time – conjunction of Mercury and Venus

Rhus and I took these photos from Streethay near Lichfield, UK.

They are taken using hand held Samsung S10+ phone by Rhys whilst I am aiming my image stabilised 12×36 binoculars at the two planets. Most people would have emphasised the conjunction of Mercury and Venus and indeed we caught this in our photos, also showing Venus has a phase like the Moon. However,  we have emphasised Mercury as it is the first time we have we have managed to observe it with certainty after many failed attempts in past.

OK – the pictures are not great – after all hand held phone to small binoculars – but they prove we saw the conjunction and planets!

Andy and Rhys

Re-processing M106 luminance data using additional data from 15-16/5/2020

I took additional luminance data from M106 in Ursa Major on the night of 15-16/5/2020 and added it to my data earlier in the month to produce this greyscale image – I am very pleased – it is my best photo of a galaxy yet!

Stacked with flats, darks, and flat darks – 60 second exposures x 218 (total 3 hours and 38 minutes) in Nebulosity 4.

This led to my best dark and flat corrected image since I started astrophotography 1 year ago.

Image stretched in Photoshop CS6 and I removed a last bit of remaining light pollution gradient using Astroflat Pro plug-in for CS6.

I particularly like the detail in the central bar of the galaxy, and its very faint periphery. In addition, there is quite a lot of detail in the smaller galaxies.

It is obvious that tracking is not perfect (stars slightly elongated, which is more obvious when you blow up the image).


Combined data from 5-6/5/2020 and 15-16/5/2020, stacked in Nebulosity 4, stretched in Photoshop CS6, Astroflat Pro plug-in for CS6:

M106 Combined Data DeepSkyTracker stacked file stretched in Photoshop CS6:

Applying Astroflat Pro to above photo:

M106 with StarNet applied in PixInsight (cleaned little afterwards in Photoshop CS6 using Clone Stamp to remove some residual marks):

Below is the star mask image created by PixInsight for above image:

I also tried processing just data 15-16/5/2020 on its own – I made greater effort on that night to get focus right (I found the magnifier in APT which allowed me to magnify the Bahnitov mask diffraction pattern and ensure it was symmetrical about the star) – below are results of stacking in Nebulosity and processing in Photoshop CS6 of images from 15-16/5/2020 only:

M106 Data from 15-160520 stacked in DeepSkyTracker  & then processed in Photoshop CS6/Astroflat Pro:

M106 stacked in Nebulosity and stretched in PixInsight using MaskedStretch, then processed a little in Photoshop CS6 and residual gradient cleaned with Astroflat Pro plug-in for CS6:

My personal favourite version: Pre-processed with dark frames and flat frames in Nebulosity 4, stacked in Deep Sky Stacker 64 bit version, processed including using Astro Flat Pro plug-in in Photoshop CS6 and small amount sharpening and noise reduction – I have deliberately not cropped off the mark left lower border as I wanted to keep adjacent galaxy in shot and in this version I have not darkened the background so that mark disappears in order to keep as much detail in the galaxies visible, including in M106:

FInally, I always wanted to be able to take close-up of a galaxy, so here is my first serious attempt: