Blood Moon

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Subject: Moon during total lunar eclipse
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i

I was lucky enough to have a clear night for tonight’s total lunar eclipse. I snapped a few single shots of the moon in umbra and penumbra of the earth’s shadow for comparison as well as a wide shot of the moon and Mars. It would have been better for me to take a video and stack the frames for clearer shots, but apparently 3am is too late for me to think about these sorts of things.

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For those of you who saw the eclipse with your own eyes, you probably noticed the red hue the moon took when completely obscured by the earth’s shadow. This is due to the way the last little bit of sunlight passes through the earth’s atmosphere before reaching the moon...

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Whirlpool Galaxy

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Subject: M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy and NGC5195
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800 with f/6.3 reducer
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 50 approximately 30 second lights at 800 ISO. Total exposure time of 26 minutes 40 seconds. 8 darks. 50 biases.
Prime focus. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker. Post-processing in Photoshop.

This is my third attempt at the Whirlpool Galaxy. For my previous attempt, the polar alignment and focus were so far off that I had to manually stack them. My first attempt was taken at a very high ISO resulting in too much noise and a loss of color. This new attempt is evidence to my progress.

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Supernova in the Cigar Galaxy

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Subject: M81 and M82 with SN 2014J - Bode's Galaxy and the Cigar Galaxy with supernova
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800 with f/6.3 reducer
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 24 approximately 30 second lights at 800 ISO. Total exposure time of approximately 12 minutes 48 seconds. 9 darks. 50 biases.
Prime focus. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker. Post-processing in Photoshop.

Contributing to what is already an interesting pair of galaxies is an exciting new supernova. Known as SN 2014J, it is the closest observed supernova of its type in over 40 years. Because of its relatively close proximity to Earth (around 11.4 million light years), it is bright enough to be easily captured by amateur and professional astrophotographers alike.

The supernova is expected to peak in brightness around February 4t...

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The Great Nebula in Orion

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Subject: M42 and M43 - Great Orion Nebula and De Mairan's Nebula
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800 with f/6.3 reducer
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique (M42): 33 approximately 30 second lights at 800 ISO. Total exposure time of approximately 17 minutes. 6 darks. 50 biases.
Technique (M43): 15 approximately 30 second lights at 800 ISO. Total exposure time of approximately 8 minutes. 6 darks. 50 biases.
Prime focus. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker. Post-processing in Photoshop.

This image is a composite stitching of two images I took tonight (included below). I had originally set out to shoot M42, the Great Nebula in Orion, but accidentally pointed my telescope at the nearby M43, De Mairan’s Nebula. Surprised at the brightness, I went ahead and took a few frames...

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M33 – Pinwheel Galaxy

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Subject: M33 - Triangulum (Pinwheel) Galaxy
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800 with f/6.3 reducer
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 55 approximately 30 second lights at 800 ISO. Total exposure time of 29 minutes 20 seconds. 8 darks. 50 biases.
Prime focus. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker. Post-processing in Photoshop.

This image was a bit of a gamble for me. My previous stacks were of higher ISO lights in the range of 1600 to 6400 ISO. Because of the way higher ISO images are taken, they basically increase the gain of each pixel. This results in brighter images at the cost of more noise. For my particular camera, there is a threshold at about 800 ISO where any increase does not add to the amount of photons detected, but simply starts to blow out the image in order to make it brighter...

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Home Sweet Home

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Here’s a quick shot I took of our home galaxy above my house. It was one of those clear nights where the galactic core stands out so well.

Be sure to click on the picture to view it in its entirety.

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The Pillars of Creation

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Subject: M16 - Eagle Nebula
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800 with f/6.3 reducer
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 46 lights between 1600 and 6400 ISO with exposures varying from 15 to 30 seconds. Total exposure time of 22 minutes 36 seconds. 16 darks. 50 biases.
Prime focus. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker. Post-processing in Photoshop.

The Pillars of Creation have long been one of my favorite deep sky objects. After my recent success with the Dumbbell Nebula I set a goal of capturing the pillars in a similarly successful shot. Tonight was the clear and still night I needed to meet that goal.

The Pillars of Creation are actually a formation within the Eagle Nebula, an object located in the brightest portion of our galactic center...

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M57 – Ring Nebula

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Subject: M57 - Ring Nebula
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800 with f/6.3 reducer
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 9 lights between 1600 and 6400 ISO with varying exposures. Total exposure time of 5 minutes. 5 darks. 52 biases.
Prime focus. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker. Post-processing in photoshop.

Tonight’s bright waxing gibbous moon gave me some difficulties and I was only able to salvage 9 exposures of the ring nebula. The nebula itself is only about 1.3 arcminutes in diameter making it difficult to see with smaller telescopes and binoculars. Fortunately, it’s blue color from oxygen emission lines are easy to pick up by an unmodified camera. The outer red hydrogen emissions tend do take longer exposure times to render.

Please feel free to post comments, questions, or even requests! I’...

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M27 – Dumbbell Nebula

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Subject: M27 - Dumbbell Nebula
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800 with f/6.3 reducer
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 20 lights between 1600 and 6400 ISO with varying exposures. Total exposure time of 10 minutes 18 seconds. 5 darks. 52 biases.
Prime focus. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker. Post-processing in photoshop.

I had a small window tonight between when the sun set and the clouds rolled in where there was a clear sky. This gave me the chance I had been waiting for to use my new 2″ visual back which almost completely removed the vignetting seen in my most recent photographs.

I am very happy with the result. Thanks to some adjustments to my camera, the new visual back, and especially the f/6.3 reducer, I was able to successfully stack 20 frames...

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M31 – Andromeda Galaxy

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Subject: M31 - Andromeda Galaxy
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800 with f/6.3 reducer
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 1 light (30 seconds at 6400 ISO)
Prime focus. Noise reduction in Photoshop

Tonight was a spur of the moment night for astrophotography. Sarah and I were outside enjoying the Perseids when I realized it was the clearest night I’d had in months. So, I set up the telescope in the dark and took some quick shots. This was one of them.

This was one of the brightest (deep sky) objects in the sky so I was able to get away with a single shot (i.e., no stacking), albeit a bit noisy at that high iso. There are a lot of things wrong with this picture such as the focus, star trailing, noise, and vignetting. I attribute all of these things to not having time to prepare...

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