Rob Leonard

Iris Nebula

Probably spent far too long processing this one, but I really wanted to try and bring out the dust. Still not quite happy with it, but been looking at it too long and need to walk away- for a while at least! Also noticed that there was a touch of tilt on the stars. I spent a while adjusting it… and I’ve made it worse!! So much for my DIY skills.

This is an 1 hr 20 minutes data from 14th. 30 second subs at 250 gain in SW200p- 20 mins of Blue and Green and 40 mins of Red (it clouded over before I got to the blue and green second time around!)

A Couple of Pelicans

This one has taken a while. Back in July I took a picture of the Pelican Nebula that was a combination of 30 minutes RGB and about 80 minutes of Ha. The plan was to add some Oiii and Sii and turn it into a full narrowband image. Almost 2 months later we’ve finally had a clear night that has enabled me to get those 2 other channels. I managed to get an hour on each filter. Looking at the data that came out of this, it really wasn’t quite enough as both are quite weak, but patience had run out and I put it all together anyway and tried to sort out the various defects in post-processing.

So for the imgers- Oiii and Sii are both are 60x 1 minute subs, added to the 80 minutes of Ha and 30 minutes of RGB. All used gain 250 to keep the read noise down so that I could keep the subs short. In both of the images the RGB is only used for the stars.

First here’s a more naturalised version in which the Oiii and Sii are both fed into blue and green, the effect of which is to bleach the Red Ha:

Secondly here’s an SHO version. As usual it initially came out very green (because Hydrogen is dominant), and I then used the Hue and SCNR tools to distribute this out into Blue and Gold before adding the RGB stars:



A little video made with FLO data

The weather has stopped me doing any imaging for nearly two months now, so I was quite pleased to find that First Light Optics have published some data of M16-  The Eagle Nebula – on Stargazers Lounge. Whilst I was on holiday I tried several different approaches to processing the data which reflect a little my own journey in observing and imaging which I though I’d turn into a video 🙂.


Pelican’s Head and a Dumbbell

Really great to see the clear nights over the weekend giving everyone a chance to make some pictures. I had a couple of wonderful observing sessions on Friday and Saturday, plus the chance to do some imaging and also the chance to see Comet Neowise at 3am- a stunning and terrific sight.

Unfortunately my handheld attempts on the comet didn’t come out brilliantly, and I couldn’t get it from my imaging rig. I did get 45 minutes on M27 on Friday night and 110 minutes on the Pelican nebula on Saturday.- all with Skywatcher 200p

M27: 30x 30sec per channel at gain 139

Pelican: 20×30 sec per channel of RGB, 80×60 sec Ha all at gain 250

Ha Only:



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:

Observing Feast

Had the 14″ out as the forecast looked good and no work today… Before joining the others for the virtual star party Sam and I tried splitting a few doubles that were emerging in the twilight. It’s funny how your observing develops- doubles didn’t really interest me much to start with, but as time has gone on I’ve become a little addicted to it. I’ve found with my gear an aperture mask and (if the seeing will take it) really high magnification (470x last night) works well.

Epsilon Lyra: you could drive a bus through there!

Izar: Ok more like a road bike (with skinny tyres) but still a nice clear split.

Next spent a bit of time setting up an imaging run, then rejoined the club online call on audio and we tried to look at the same features on the moon. The seeing was superb. Great to share these highlights with others:

Lunar X- my first observation.

Lunar V- likewise!

Walther- spectacular shadow reaching from central peak and picking out features on the crater floor.

Ptolemaeus- wow! Just perfectly placed with the crater rim picked out as a shadow across the crater floor. I spent ages on this trying to imagine the sight at the edge of the shadow as the sun crested the 2.5km high ridge above the crater floor. Reading today that the crater is close to 100 miles wide it isn’t quite as I imagined. I suspect for 95% of the lunar day this crater is a bit meh to observe- but so perfectly placed tonight with all sorts of textures and features in the floor it was an awesome sight.

Ok so now it was darkish, time to go deep space…

M13- familiar, but a wonder every time. Propeller visible.

ZetaHerc- split came and went in the seeing, but pretty clear at times. Credit card split, not road bike.

M81 Central shape, hazy outlying areas
M82 a sleek line, some mottling despite proximity to the moon.

Now Cygnus was over the rooftops to the east. Time for a summer target feast:
Full veil complex in oiii & 30mm. Lovely view, witches broom much the brighter bit, wonderful to have it back.
Crescent nebula- yes! First sight!!! Faint but just visible in oiii. Only really sure because of the keystone asterism framing the wisp.
M27 dumbbell- in Baader zoom and Oiii filter. Apple core shape prominent with fainter view of the outer lobes.
M57 the ring – very bright in oiii, still easily visible with no filter.
M71- quite faint but pleasing
M56- very nice- quite faint but with even distribution.

Ok- now 2am and only Andy and I left so one last object and the sky is now darkest around Ursa Major.
M51- spiral arms!!! Yes! Drifting in and out of perception and requiring AV but a very fine view.

So- packed up the dob and the imaging rig and was just locking up and about to go to bed when Jupiter popped round the side of the house and said “You don’t want to do that!” Quickly grabbed the 8 inch:

Jupiter- 4 moons and stripes oh yeah!!! Couldn’t make out much detail with it being so low in the sky, but great to see it again.
Saturn- My log says “& Titan” but looking at Sky Safari now I think it was more likely to be Iapetus. I couldn’t see the Cassini division but there was a hint of banding.

Wow- one of those super awesome sessions that come along so rarely. A real pleasure and such a range of stuff seen. Would have preferred to do it at Rosliston, but a good alternative to share it virtually with other club members.

Best not plan anything too demanding today!

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:



A little lunar session

We had a nice family movie night last night (Solo- very underrated in my view!) and when it finished we spotted it was clear out. Thought we’d have a quick view through the dob and it looked so good we opened the shed up to take some pictures. Here’s Sam in action on the laptop:

This is my favourite- I’m really taken with Montes Riphaeus picked out on the lower left hand side of this- they look quite small here- but this is a range over 100 miles long and 30 miles wide.

Here’s the Plato Crater- this is the view that persuaded me to get the imaging rig going- at the top of the picture you can see the crescent of Montes Jura arcing off into the shadow. This is a range of mountains similar in scale to the Alps and the bit that really grabbed me was the shadow from the end of range reaching out away from us across the smooth lunar floor. In the 8 inch dob at 350x this looked epic.

Finally, here’s a view of a rougher area- the Southern lunar highlands. The standout features here are the terracing that you can see on the 4800m high walls of the Tycho crater top and right of centre and the giant Clavius crater left of centre. The crater itself is 140 miles wide, with 5 smaller craters arcing across its floor.

Each image is taken from a 1 minute video shot with an ASI224 + 3.2x Barlow on a SW200p scope. We used Autostakkert!3 to identify and stack the best 10% of frames and then used sharpening and colour management in Pixinsight to finish it off.