Neil Wyatt

Mercury Transit 1

I started off with my ASI120MC, and started packing up after getting plenty of video, but changed my mind after looking at the satellite images of cloud.

It did indeed clear up and I got plenty of DSLR images of the transit after less optimistic souls fled in the face of the rain and cloud! Those who stayed on saw Mercury on the preview screen and we also got stunning views through Andy’s Daystar Quark.

I couldn’t get anything usable out of Registax or Autostakkert so I manually stacked the ten highest scoring images (and added a bit of colour, to make the image easier on the eye):

Mercury Transit 11 November 2019
Mercury Transit 11 November 2019

Castlerigg Sunrise

Totally gratuitous, perhaps, but Rob’s description of a night observing at Castlerigg reminded me of a sunrise I saw there in the 1980s on a backpacking holiday with my brother; I got a couple of nice pics, some of my favourites ever. It was hard not to imagine our ancestors standing in the same place watching the sun over the stones.

Castlerigg Stone Circle Sunrise
Castlerigg Stone Circle Sunrise
Castlerigg Stone Circle Sunrise 2
Castlerigg Stone Circle Sunrise 2

 

If anyone recalls seeing ‘Children of the Stones’ as a youngster the whole series is on You Tube, it gets quite astronomical near the end although the physics is a bit dodgy! Starring the much missed Gareth Thomas, who played Roj Blake in Blake’s Seven (another astro-related point to justify this post!)

My First Mosaic – and how I did it.

Inspired by Geoff’s results I tried using the automerge in photoshop on my pictures of the Heart and Soul Nebulas. Oddly it only matched them if I selected the Soul first! Unfortunately it doesn’t rotate the images and my two sessions were at quite different angles for some reason.

I have combined images in photoshop before, but only on top of each other, never as a mosaic, but i decided to follow a similar path:

First I doubled the canvas size for the Soul image an imported the Heart as a layer on top.

I set opacity (opposite of transparency) of the heart image to 50%, and guided by stellarium to find the rough alignment it was easy to find a small asterism on both images. Zoomed in, I overlapped one of the stars in the asterism as accurately as I could. Circles of smeared stars around this point gave an idea of how much rotation would be needed.

using the select tool I then moved the centre marker of the Heart image over the centre of the aligned star and went to the edit menu to select ‘free transform’. This opens boxes where you can alter things like horizontal and vertical size and skew the image – not needed for images at the same scale. Instead I just used the ‘rotate’ box – this lest you enter angles in increments of +/- 0.05 degrees. This may sound a quite big step, but actually I’ve found it is small enough to align stars across a whole image. It’s easiest to step in whole degrees, then tenths of a degree and finish by using 0.05 degree to get the best possible result. It’s very obvious when you are aligned as the overlapping area suddenly looks much sharper.

I then changed to the magnifying glass tool – this brings up a box asking you if you want to apply the transformation – click yes if you are happy!

I then restored the Heart image to 100% opacity. It was clear it was less contrasty and a bit paler background. I used the ‘levels’ dialogue to alter gamma and black point until it looked a closer match to the Soul – you could also do this with curves. the whole thing might have been better if I had originally process the two images the same way.

Once they matched there was still an area of overlap with poor quality in the corner of the Heart image. I used the lasso tool with a feathered edge to remove most of this corner. A small patch still appeared too pale, so I lassoed it and changed its levels to match better.

This is the result, not perfect but not bad either:

Heart and Soul
Heart and Soul Nebulas

Soul and Elephant’s Trunk with L-Enhance filter

Got both of these last night. The L-enhance gives more stars than a Ha filter, but seems to require a lot less stretching to get results. Not a lot of SII/Hb in these, especially the soul.

I think these might work well as luminance layers over an RGB image. Looking forwards to using them on the Rosette and M45.

Elephant Trunk Nebula
Elephant Trunk Nebula with L-Enhance filter

 

Soul Nebula
Soul Nebula with L-Enhance Nebula

 

The Wizard and the Crescent in Ha

These are two images from last night, both 5-minute subs using my cooled 450D with the 130P-DS and a 7nmn Ha filter. They have been stretched in FITS Liberator and very lightly adjusted in photoshop, and some very gentle denoising in Astra Image. This is because they subs were very dark so I wanted to make full use of FITS Liberator’s ability to stretch 32-bit data.

The wizard is 30 frames, the Crescent is 22. There’s quite visible ‘posterisation’ if you zoom right in with the faintest areas, so if it’s clear again tonight I will repeat the exact sequence with the hope of doubling my subs and doubling the range of pixel values. Very pleased with the lack of noise. Now to dig out my RGB ones and try making LRGB versions.

The Crescent Nebula in Ha
The Crescent Nebula in Ha

 

The Wizard Nebula in Ha
The Wizard Nebula in Ha

Planets – Voyager Grand Tour and More on 7 September

Spent last night using the ASI120MC with and without an x3 barlow on my 150PL. Who says it’s easy to find things with GOTO?

Neptune and Phi Aquari, the evening before they would have been much closer!
Neptune and Phi Aquari, the evening before they would have been much closer!
Uranus with x3 drizzle to reveal minute detail (not).
Uranus with x3 drizzle to reveal minute detail (not).
Surprisingly good Saturn for only a hundred and sixty or so frames.
Surprisingly good Saturn for only a hundred and sixty or so frames.
Soft Jupiter in bad seeing
Soft Jupiter in bad seeing
Pluto the tiny dot on the tiny arrow...
Pluto the tiny dot on the tiny arrow…
Appolo 17 landing site - Hadley rille is JUST visible - I managed amuch better image of this a few years ago, but with much better conditions.
Appolo 17 landing site – Hadley rille is JUST visible – I managed amuch better image of this a few years ago, but with much better conditions.

Eastern Veil

What’s App addicts will know that Andy, Rob and I went to Brankley Pastures for a night of astronomy and dog-worrying. They showed me some interesting objects and I got to see M51 with my own eyes! I even found a few Messier objects with just a 30mm finderscope. I think all three of us thought the best thing was a brief clear sky when, even before it was fully dark, we could see the milky way right through Cygnus and beyond.

Thin cloud made me think I wouldn’t get more than a couple of decent subs of the Eastern Veil but in the end about 12 of them showed good scores and decent shaped stars. I added these to subs from 5 August. I’m actually quite pleased with how the end result turned out, especially the greeny-blue (AKA Cyan) bits of OIII – one of the few nebulas where this is easy to photograph with a DSLR:

Eastern Veil Nebula
Eastern Veil Nebula

Observing report 31/8/19 Andrew Thornett. Rob Leonard, Neil Wyatt

Rob, Neil and I are at Brankley pastures conservation area near Hoar cross hall tonight observing in field. Currently lot of cloud but earlier on great view if Milky Way with kit of structure especially around Cygnus. M101 was very large occupying 60% field of view in 30mm OVL Aero eyepiece in Rob’s 14 inch Don with bright core. M57 big and bright with Baader Zoom 8-24mm set to 12mm and with UHC filter. Showed internal structure that demonstrated that, although centre cleared relative to ring, it isn’t empty but has network like internal filling. Central star not seen. Both cores of M51 seen with 14 inch Dob with Baader Zoom at 24mm, and we also saw Owl Nebula through light cloud using Baader Zoom with UHC filter in same eyepiece. I think I was able to faintly just see Witch’s Broom without UHC but before I could add UHC cloud came in and prevented further observation. Great reasonably dark observing siteonly minutes from home but you probably want to do with others as feels a bit isolated.

With quite a lot of cloud we resorted to unconventional means of observing. With 30mm finderscope we could all see M31. We could also see it in Vixen 2.1x binoculars. I was able to just make out M33 in the 30mm finderscope, and also the brightest portion of NGC7000 in the Vixen 2.1x binoculars.

M13 seen in Dob and 2.1x binoculars and Neil got a picture of Eastern Veil Nebula.

Started at 2100 and finished 0004.

Andy