Category Galaxies

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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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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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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Galactic Center

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Subject: Milky Way Galaxy
Technique: 30 seconds at 800 iso, f/3.5. 18mm. Post-processed in Photoshop

Tonight was a little cloudy, but I managed to get this shot when the clouds parted. As usual, I had to fight with light pollution in the post-processing. Doing so is much more difficult with large subjects such as the galactic core.

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M101 – Pinwheel Galaxy

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Subject: M101 - Pinwheel Galaxy
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 12 lights (30 seconds at 800 ISO), 50 biases.
Prime focus. Stacked with DeepSkyStacker and post-processed with Photoshop.

This was my first real attempt at using my wedge. Thanks to the new equipment, stacking was much easier. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling well when I took this image and I neglected to take any dark or flat frames. This is why there is so much noise in the image. Because of the noise I had to reduce the color in order to bring out any detail.

I am confident that my next attempt will be much better.

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Milky Way

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Subject: Milky Way Galaxy
Technique: 30 seconds at 1600 iso, f/3.5. Postprocessed in Photoshop

Tonight I was able to get my first shot of the Milky Way. This was taken at about 2am, but it was still low on the horizon so light pollution was a big factor. I also exposed the image a little too long so there is a bit of star trailing. In the coming months I should be able to get better shots with more detail and color.

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M51 – Whirlpool Galaxy (attempt 2)

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Subject: M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 28 lights (30 seconds at 1600 ISO), 20 darks, 20 flats, 50 biases.
Prime focus. Manually stacked and post-processed with Photoshop.

This attempt at M51 proved to be much better than my first. After reducing my ISO, increasing my exposure time (probably a bad idea), and increasing my frame count, I was able to capture much more light with much less noise. I’m glad I was able to keep much of the color this time.

DSS still did not want to stack my frames, again probably due to my mount so I had to manually stack them with Photoshop. I’m glad I was able to “save” these frames.

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M51 – Whirlpool Galaxy

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Subject: M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 3 lights (25 seconds at 6400 ISO), 10 darks, 15 flats, 50 biases.
Prime focus. Stacked with DeepSkyStacker and post-processed with Photoshop.

Here is my first successful attempt at stacking. I took 10 exposures, but DSS was only able to stack 3 of them. I believe this is due to the amount of noise in the image and the fact that I’m using an altazimuth mount to track. I had to do a lot of post-processing to bring out the detail in the arms and get rid of the noise. Unfortunately, this cost me any color I had captured. Still, considering it is over 23 million light years away, I think this a great first attempt at my favorite galaxy!

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