Astrophotography – solar system

Lunar Crescent Mosaic

This one’s been in my camera for a few days- I took it last Tuesday. It’s made of a mosaic of nine panels- each one the best 5% of frames from a 30 second avi. This was a bit tricky to get- it was only just dark enough whilst I was capturing and the seeing was terrible so this isn’t as sharp as I’d like. Still quite pleased to have got it though.

Working version showing the panels:

Final Version:

Hand-held photos of lunar surface taken with Samsung S10+ phone through eyepiece on Orion 10 inch Dobsonian Telescope plus equatorial platform 29/5/2020

Hand-held photos of lunar surface taken with Samsung S10+ phone through eyepiece on Orion 10 inch Dobsonian Telescope plus equatorial platform 29/5/2020.

Lichfield, UK

Some of these using 3mm equivalent eyepiece – the equatorial platform really helps stabilise the image.



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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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

My Workflow for Comet Stacking

This is my shot of the Atlas comet from back on 11th April. My workflow steps to create it were:

  1. Capture data- 90 x 1 min L, 15 x 1 min each RGB using SW200p.
  2. Realise that I don’t know how to stack comet data and leave for 2 weeks.
  3. Try and stack using PI but find that Pixinsight Comet Alignment won’t stack DSS calibrated FITS files. Swear. Leave for another 2 weeks.
  4. Relearn how to calibrate in PI and start processing only to discover all subs are slightly out of focus and quite a few are spoilt by cloud.
  5. Reduced to 28 mins of RGB frames and stack to create the starfield- stars are OK but the comet is a disco smear (unsurprisingly).
  6. Use the PixInsight comet alignment tool on the L data. Looks completely pants. Swear again, delete it and give up.
  7. A couple of days later remember that DSS has a Comet alignment tool in it. Bit of a faf (you have to tell it where the comet is in each frame) but gave a much better result.
  8. Use GIMP to clone and blur out the worst of the stacking artefacts and layer into the starfield in lighten mode.

So- here it is, plus a few “making of” shots. It feels like I’ve cheated a bit as this is a mono comet with RGB stars, but after the difficulties in processing it I’m actually really pleased to have got something!

The Disco Comet:

The DSS Comet:

Put it all together: