GardenAstronomy

Welcome to my blog. It is a lazy way of keeping an astronomicl viewing diary.  But I hope I will learn something and maybe you, dear browser, will do likewise.

By llannon, Apr 17 2019 07:39AM

Although not the steadiest viewing I was able to capture 5000 images with the mono ZWO120MM camera. These are craters I haven't imaged before and the results are good. Used 750 images and what is now my standard processing - AutoStakkert 2.3 rather than the later 2.6 or 3, then my preset system in Registax 6 followed by cropping and usually minimal editing in Adobe Elements 11.


The reason for using AS2.3 rather than the later versions is that those always cover the image with the alignment points without regard to the brightness. With 2.3 I can better judge whether I have a suitable number of alignment points.

Eudoxus
Eudoxus
Aristoteles, Mitchell
Aristoteles, Mitchell
Kaiser, Stofler, Faraday
Kaiser, Stofler, Faraday
Maurolycus, Barocius
Maurolycus, Barocius
Madler, Theophilus
Madler, Theophilus

By llannon, Apr 17 2019 07:25AM

These were actually captured on St. Valentine's evening but I have only just got around to posting.


The seeing wasn't that good but the results weren't too bad. All done with the 2xTelevue Barlow and using 750 images out of 3000. The Clavius image shows the camera grid for some reaon!

Plato
Plato
Longomontanus
Longomontanus
Clavius
Clavius
Copernicus
Copernicus

By llannon, Apr 17 2019 07:12AM

It has been a while since I last posted. Although the Moon images have been good, and I will post them later, the DSO's have been problematic. A combination of a shortening computer battery life, PHD2 and Orion software hiccups and possible mount stickiness.


To some extent I was able to overcome the battery problem by plugging into the mains. But this meant using the extension cable and although we have outside connections it is a bit of a hassle having to leave the observatory door slightly open and also winding up the cable when finished. The first time I did this it in the dark I got it terrible tangled up.


And then there was the time when the Orion capture just wouldn't settle down. Kept erroring and because of a poor implementation that means restarting the program every time. Then PHD2 kept losing the star even though it was very clearly visible onscreen. Trying different stars didn't improve things so I had to give up.

By llannon, Feb 3 2019 09:15AM

A couple of nights ago I tried to find M1 but failed and, as it was very cold and had moved from one side of the meridian to the other, this had rather scuppered my attempts at finding a suitable star to sync on.


But last night I waited until both Aldebaran, El Nath and M1 were on the same side of the meridian. I had also taken the precaution of keeping the light attachment to the finderscope indoors until I was ready to use it - the battery doesn't like the cold. And, as I discovered, neither does my computer battery!


So I first tried to find Aldebaran as it is a nice bright, reddish star. Got it aligned in the finderscope and seemed to be central in the 32mm and synced on it. I should really then have used the 12.5mm. Instead I connected up the G3 camera and couldn't see it. However, at the side I could see what a hint of extra brightness and this was Aldebaran. So synced on that and then went to El Nath, synced on that then went to Precise GOTO and found M1 from that.


It was then a question of connecting up the cooler and getting PHD working, which it did brilliantly first time - after I remembered to connect the cable to the computer. Didn't do any adjustments to the focus of either the G3 or the ZWO guide camera.


Set it up to do 20 180sec exposures and left it to watch the recording of Grantchester. Came back to discover that the computer had given up on the 12th exposure.


Processed the results in Orion Camera Studio and Adobe Elements 11 as usual. Need to rig up the extension cable for the computer in future.

M1 the Crab Nebula
M1 the Crab Nebula

By llannon, Jan 4 2019 08:49AM

A clear night at last. Had the scope set up already so was able to get going relatively quickly. Found Almach using just the finderscope and centering and focussing with the 32mm eyepiece. Then synced and replaced the eyepiece with the Orion camera. Recentered Almach and synced again.


Next to connect up the cooling fan and set the temperature to -6C - it was about -1C outside.


Now on to precise goto for NGC 891. A single 26 sec exposure showed it to be almost central with a good focus. So set it up for 16 300 sec exposures. Then went to PHD2 and this found a guide star straight away. Left it for an hour and a quarter and then found that the computer had given up after 11 exposures. I think the sub-zero temperatures drained the battery quicker.


When processing in the Orion Camera Studio software I used the darks created at -2C and this seemed to work fairly well as in the end photo I only had to remove about 4 red pixels.


All 11 images seemed to be as perfect as possible given the limitations of focus and the equipment. And the fact that there was no Moon may have been a factor in the relatively even background that resulted.


Simple processing in Adobe Elements 11 - crop, colour correction, sharpening, and contrast - and the end result was as below. Judging from my previous best attempt which was with 120 sec exposures, 300 secs was too long as it created an over-exposed centre.

NGC 891 Outer Limits Galaxy
NGC 891 Outer Limits Galaxy

By llannon, Dec 20 2018 05:27PM

I had hoped to see the comet, but the Moon was too bright and, despite being magnitude 4.2 overall the surface brightness was much lower. The 10x30IS binoculars weren't good enough.


So I turned my attention to the Moon and tried something I have been meaning to do for a long while. Namely, to use the 2xBarlow and stitch images together. I didn't expect much but the end results were quite good.


63% waxing Moon. 2xBarlow, 750 images used out of 2000 or 3000 frames, sets of 2, 4 or 5 captures. Stitched together using Microsoft Ice. It works very well!

Valles Alpes and Plato
Valles Alpes and Plato
Maginus & Clavius
Maginus & Clavius
Sporer, Herschel, Prolemaeus, Alphnsus, Alpegragius, Thebit
Sporer, Herschel, Prolemaeus, Alphnsus, Alpegragius, Thebit
Aristillus, Archimedes, Autolycus, Montes Appenninus, Eratothenes
Aristillus, Archimedes, Autolycus, Montes Appenninus, Eratothenes

By llannon, Oct 29 2018 10:43PM

Despite a bit of a haze midway through, the images didn't seem to suffer. Unfortunately the computer 'died' after 11 exposures and the last one had a satellite. So only 10 used (at 300secs). But good guiding. Final result doesn't quite capture the colour, but you can just about make out the 5 galaxies.

NGC 7318 Stephan's Quintet
NGC 7318 Stephan's Quintet

By llannon, Oct 14 2018 09:22PM

An unexpected clear period. So everything setup again - was expecting to do the Moon next - and was able to find and sync on Caph reasonably quickly, after stopping AVG doing a driver update!


Had hoped for 16 five minute exposures but when I came back to check on progress halfway through the clouds were gathering. But 8 good exposures simply processed in the Oriion software and Elements 11.

The Bubble Nebula NGC 7635
The Bubble Nebula NGC 7635

By llannon, Oct 10 2018 08:21AM

Rushed home from Badminton to take advantage of a rare clear night at New Moon. Managed to sync on Scheat with a minimum of fuss having connected everything up and with the cooler already operating. That meant that by the time I found NGC 7331 the camera was close to the operating temp of around 4C. This cooler only manages around 7 C below ambient temperature but keeping it constant means that, if I get the darks right, most of the hot pixels are removed.


So starting at 9.30pm by 10pm I was already doing the first of the 16 five minute exposures. And the end result was processed in Orion Camera Studio, then Adobe Elements 11, the Fitswork4 to flatten the gradient, which was quite small.


The main galaxy is NGC 7331. NGC 7335 is the next one and NGC 7337 is just visible on the left.

The Deer Lick Galaxy Group
The Deer Lick Galaxy Group

By llannon, Oct 7 2018 08:24AM

Or rather an attempt at it as the end result merely showed pinkish stars. But pleased with the guiding as this was the first time I had attempted 5 mins. And managed to set things up to actually start the session in a mere 25 mins. This could be improved further once I get the cables set up better before starting.


Also, I have confirmed that I can get around 80 mins with the current setup before the computer battery runs flat. That means 16 x 5 mins exposures which should be enough for most of the objects that I will be able to image with this camera and setup.


PHD2 again worked very well, needed only a little focus adjustment at the beginning and locked on to a star straight away without any need for further calibration.


The darks done on the previous night at around 4C seemed to work well with these lights at 1C. No gradient and no hot pixels that I can see.


My excuse for not showing the nebula is that the atmosphere seemed hazy and I was a little surprised that I actually managed to get this much.

IC5146 minus nebula
IC5146 minus nebula
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Celestron NexStar 4SE 150mm SCT on AC282 Pier IMG_0937

Celestron SCT 9.25inch with AVX mounted on an Astro-engineering AC282 pier.