M26 – Open Cluster

m26


Subject: M26
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique: 1 lights (30 seconds at 6400 ISO).
Prime focus.

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.

As with my previous cluster shots, this was bright enough to require only 1 photo. This particular cluster doesn’t have a name, but is very noticeable if you are star hopping in the galactic core (which is very enjoyable). This, along with the Omega Nebula were the main reasons I decided I couldn’t skip tonight’s clear sky opportunity.

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M17 – Omega Nebula

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Subject: M17 - Omega Nebula
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800
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.

As with my previous shot of the Andromeda Galaxy, here are a lot of things wrong with this picture such as the focus, star trailing, noise, and vignetting. These are mostly due to the fact that I basically just whipped out my telescope and started shooting without any preparation. I expect to get much better shots of the Omega Nebula in the future.

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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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International Space Station

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Subject: International Space Station
Technique: 25 seconds at 100 iso, f/3.5

I haven’t been able to take any shots lately due to clouds and other atmospheric conditions so tonight I took the opportunity of a bright ISS passover to get a shot of it and my telescope. This wasn’t the brightest I’ve seen it (this was of magnitude of approximately -4.5), but it was still brighter than anything in the sky.

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Summer and New Equipment

It has been a while since the last post. This is not due to laziness, but the less-than-optimal summer sky. Between the haze and the high frequency of cloudy nights, I have been unable to take any shots. I have, however, added a new piece of equipment to my setup.

The f/6.3 reducer-corrector will allow my exposures to catch more light and thus more than double quality of my images in terms of clarity. With this reducer what would normally take 2.5 minutes of exposure time can be captured in 30 seconds. Now I just wait for a decent night.

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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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Saturn Reprocessed

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I’ve really been missing doing astrophotography because of the poor weather this last month so I decided to reprocess an old shot I took about a month ago of Saturn. This time around I didn’t use the curves tool as much so the color isn’t modified. In exchange, I wasn’t able to bring out the contrast between the bands on the planet itself. I was, however, able to maintain some detail in the rings at the cost of just a little noise. I also didn’t flip the image this time in order to give a sort of “bottom up” view.

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Dance of the Planets

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Subjects: Jupiter, Mercury, Venus
Technique: 1/6 seconds at 800 iso, f/5.6

During the next few days we have the chance to observed the “Dance of the Planets” in the early western sky. In this image, you can see three “stars”. The top left is Jupiter, the bottom is Venus, and the right is Mercury.

Tonight’s weather didn’t allow for any spectacular images, but I’m hoping that the next few nights may be clear. Tomorrow night, the planets may even be close enough to fit into the objective with my camera in prime focus with my telescope.

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Moon

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Subject: Moon - Waxing Crescent
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800 with HD Pro Wedge
Technique: 1/100 seconds at 800 iso in prime focus

Tonight was the first night without clouds since I got my new wedge. Unfortunately, the visibility was low, the humidity high, and the wind too strong to take any long exposures. I did finally take a shot of the moon though.

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