Monday, October 17, 2016

IC 63 - Narrowband

This was my very first attempt at capturing an image in narrowband (taken a day before I went after the Pacman Nebula).  I chose IC 63 tonight because it emits very little light in the broadband range (the Red, Green and Blue base of colors).  It would be the perfect target to see what I could pick up in narrowband.  I used the Orion H-Alpha Extra-Narrowband Filter on it.  14 images were captured tonight - each one was a 5 minute exposure (70 minutes of total exposure time).  The image is in monochrome because I only used one filter.

IC 63 (one raw image, converted to .jpg for this post)

IC 63 (14 stacked images, converted to .jpg for this post)
IC 63 - Final Image

Here is more info on the equipment I used to capture the image:

OTA: Celestron NexStar 8SE
Mount: Celestron Advanced VX (AVX)
Guiding telescope: Orion ShortTube 80 (ST80)
Guiding camera:  LodeStar X2
Guiding software: PHD2
Imaging Camera:  ZWO ASI 1600MM-Cool Mono
Filters: Orion H-Alpha Extra-Narrowband Filter
Image capture software:  Nebulosity
Polar Alignment Camera:  QHYCCD PoleMaster
Post-processing:  PixInsight, Photoshop

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Pacman Nebula

Today I was going after the Pacman Nebula (NGC 281), but it was cut short due to clouds.  I only managed to get in 10 exposures at 5 minutes each.  Still, I was surprised at how much detail can be picked up when using narrowband filters.  This was my 2nd day working with the Orion H-Alpha Extra-Narrowband filter (here was my first day capturing an image in narrowband).

My First Attempt at the Pacman Nebula

The goal is to obtain a color image of this nebula if I can get a couple of clear nights soon.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fireworks Galaxy Photographed on 10/02/2016

Last night I pointed my telescope at the Fireworks Galaxy (also known as NGC 6946 and Caldwell 12).  I captured 22 frames with my Nikon D5300 at ISO 1600.  Each photo had an exposure time of 210 seconds. 

Stacking was done with DeepSkyStacker.  I also created 20 darks, 20 bias, and 20 flat frames (exposure .10s).

Final image of the Fireworks Galaxy
Photographed on 10/02/2016 

One raw image of the Fireworks Galaxy
(converted to .jpg for this post)

T-shirt method for capturing flat frames
(I used an iPad Pro as my light source)
My PHD2 guiding from last night

Here is more information on the equipment I used: 

OTA:   Celestron NexStar 8SE
Mount:  Celestron Advanced VX (AVX)
Guiding telescope:   Orion ShortTube 80 (ST80)
Guiding camera:   LodeStar X2
Guiding software:   PHD2
Imaging Camera:   Nikon D5300 (with Celestron filter)
Image capture software:  SG Pro
Polar Alignment Camera:   QHYCCD PoleMaster
Post-processing:   DeepSkyStacker,  PixInsight, Photoshop

And finally, a YouTube video of the process: 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Crescent Nebula Photographed on 9/17/2016

This is  the Crescent Nebula (also known as NGC 6888, Caldwell 27, Sharpless 105).   On this night, I captured 31 raw images with my Nikon D5300.  Each exposure was 150 seconds with an ISO level of 1600.  I used a Baader Nebula filter which helped drown out a lot of light pollution and added contrast to the nebula.  For calibration frames, I created 20 darks, 20 bias, and 20 flats (exposure .10).

The Crescent Nebula

Here is more information below on my equipment:

OTA:   Celestron NexStar 8SE
Mount:  Celestron Advanced VX (AVX)
Guiding telescope:  Orion ShortTube 80 (ST80)
Guiding camera:  LodeStar X2
Guiding software:  PHD2
Imaging Camera:  Nikon D5300 (with Baader filter)
Polar Alignment Camera:  QHYCCD PoleMaster
Post-processing:  DeepSkyStacker,  PixInsight, Photoshop

Here is a YouTube video with more information on how I created it:


Saturday, October 1, 2016

How to Use the QHYCCD PoleMaster Software

Here is a step-by-step video I created of how to use the QHYCCD PoleMaster software.  If you've ever suffered through the process of using drift alignment techniques to achieve polar alignment, then you will marvel at the PoleMaster.  You will no longer need to spend any time going through drift alignment - now you can spend more time taking pictures of the night sky.

Before proceeding with any of the steps in the software, make sure your mount is facing north just enough so that Polaris shows up in the camera's field of view.  Polaris will easily be the brightest star on the screen. 

You shouldn't have to focus the camera, it is pre-focused at the factory.  Also, if it is not dark enough outside, the screen will appear white.  As the sky darkens, the screen will slow begin to darken (it may look like dark smudges appearing on your screen) and then the stars will begin to appear.

QHYCCD PoleMaster Software

Installing the QHYCCD PoleMaster on a Celestron Advanced VX Mount

Here is a step-by-step video I created on installing the QHYCCD PoleMaster on my Celestron AVX Mount.  One word of caution, I accidently overlooked a tool that came with the PoleMaster kit - so I went running to the hardware to find easier screws to tighten, but the screws that came with the PoleMaster should work fine for you. 

Installing the QHYCCD PoleMaster


Friday, September 30, 2016

Live View of the Planet Jupiter

Back in May of 2016, I captured the planet Jupiter using a NexImage 5 webcam on an 8 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (Celestron 8SE).  RegiStax was used for the post-processing.

Final image of Jupiter after it was processed with RegiStax.