Spring 2020 Lockdown Astro Bonanza

It’s feast or famine in this hobby, isn’t it?

Back in November I was feeling so starved of night sky I was starting to check out remote telescope subscriptions. Fast forward 4 months and the clear nights have been a regular and very welcome occurrence in these strange times. In the month between 15th March – 15th April I’ve been able to observe and/or image on 11 different nights helped not a little by working all the time at home.

I’ve still got quite a lot of data to go through but thought I’d share a few of the pictures I’ve managed during this time. Feedback always welcome…

M106 – 15th March

ASI1600MM / SW200p / HEQ5 – 20x 2 mins in each of RGB

Really pleased with how this one came out- but really wish I’d framed it better to move NGC4217, bottom right, further into the frame as I hadn’t realised it would be so photogenic.

Leo Triplet – 22nd March

ASI1600MM / SW200p / HEQ5 – 48x 120s L, 20x 2 mins in each of RGB

M63 Sunflower Galaxy 25th March

ASI1600MM / SW200p / HEQ5 – 40x 60s L, 10x 2 mins in each of RGB

Seven Sisters and California 25th March

Canon 600d / Jupiter 135mm / Star Adventurer – 45x 1min exposure per pane.

Really pleased to have got this one. I only realised it was a composition that would work with the 135mm whilst doing a much wider shot- and it would have been better had I done it a few months earlier. As it was I managed 45 minutes on each pane before they slipped below the horizon- indeed there was a bit of incursion from the Leylandii dark nebula at the bottom of my garden on the last few subs. The gradients were pretty fierce as well- to the extent that the Pixinsight tools really couldn’t do much and I resorted to eyeballing the brightness and joining the pictures up in Gimp- hopefully I got away with it! I’ll definitely have another go at this later this year when they’ll be much higher in the sky.

M3 Globular 26th March

ASI1600MM / SW200p / HEQ5 – 10x 2mins in each of RGB

I do love globs, especially the way they start to look different from each other once you get to know them. M3 always looks much tidier than M13 in the eyepiece to me, but that’s less apparent in pictures. What stood out for me on this one is the contrast between white and orange stars. Definitely have to look for that in the eyepiece next time.

M101 Pinwheel Galaxy 26th/27th March

ASI1600MM / SW200p / HEQ5 – 146x 1min L, 15 x 2 mins each of  RGB, 58x 2 mins Ha

I really went to town a bit on this one to see how much gathering extra data would help the image. Adding the Ha in took quite a bit of tweaking- the process I usually use for nebulae pictures (learned from Light Vortex tutorials for Pixinsight) really didn’t give me very much so I spent a long time playing with it. In the end the most effective way was to combine the Ha with the Red prior to colour combining, then after the stretch and applying luminance, use the Ha layer as a mask and enhance the saturation on the red that way.

Virgo Galaxy Cluster 27th March

Canon 600d / Jupiter 135mm / Star Adventurer, 123x 1min

This didn’t come out as the most exciting image in the world- you have to look quite hard to spot the galaxies, so I ran it through the Pixinsight script that annotates your photos to make a GIF of it. There are quite a few!!

Owl Nebula 6th and 8th April

ASI1600MM / SW200p / HEQ5 – 8×5 mins in each of Ha, Oiii and Sii

These were done under a bright moon- the first is a Bi-colour HOO from the first night’s captures and the second is SHO after I’d captured some Sii. I think I prefer the HOO version- the Sii signal was very weak and I don’t think it really adds anything to the images.



4 Responses

  1. You are a busy bee Rob! Those are great pictures. I love the sunflower galaxy. Are those all 200P?

    When all this nonsense is over we all ought to get some big prints done of our best images and put on an exhibition as Rosliston!

    We could even try selling them and see if we can raise a few bob!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.