Monday, 3 December 2012


As the title suggest, the image below is M42 Orion Nebula M42 processed in black & white.

My reason for the B&W was so the structure rather than the Colour would be the main focus of the image.

You can also see M43 underneath the Orion Nebula.

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Sunday, 2 December 2012


Saturday night proved to be a long one. I didn't get into bed until 06.00hrs on Sunday morning.

The sky was clear and the air was cold (down to -5 degrees) which is ideal for stargazing.

I set up the scope on Saturday afternoon and wired it up to my laptop which was in my conservatory.

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During the night various targets were aquired but my main target was thr Orion Nebula (M42). I had to wait until about 02.00hrs before it was in the ideal location for me to image it.

The Orion Nebula is part of a much larger Nebula called the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. This Cloud Complex extends throughout the constellation of Orion and includes Barnard's Loop, The Horsehead Nebula, M42, M78 and the Flame Nebula. Stars are forming throughout the Orion Nebula and due to this heat-intensive process the region is particularly prominent in infrared.

The Orion Nebula contains a very young open cluster known as the Trapezium due to the asterism of its primary four stars. It is basically a Nursery for baby stars.

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Monday, 26 November 2012


On Friday night the seeing was really good. For those unsure what I mean by "seeing", its basically a way of saying that the atmosphere was stable and that there wasn't has much moisture in the air.

Unfortunately for me, I was at work........................fortunately for me, we were a man down so I was required to carry out mealbreaks. Incorporating my own mealbreak gave me a 3 hour window of opportunity to get the scope out and have a play. I setup just outside the front door of my workplace, turned off as many lights as I could to reduce light pollution and started imaging. Rather than use laptops, Goto mounts, webcams and Guiding equipment, I kept it simple and used my basic EQ3 mount with the SW ED100 DS Pro refractor attached and fitted the DSLR directly to it using a x2 Barlow lens.

Quick exposures of about 50th sec at ISO 200 were used for the image of Jupiter. 10 of the final RAW files were then stacked in Registax to created the final image which was given a quick adjust in Photoshop.
You can also see three of Jupiters moons.

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Below is a re-edit I took of Jupiter a while ago.

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I also took a few shots of OUR moon of which the below image is one of the best.

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Tuesday, 20 November 2012


I managed to get out to a nice clear sky on Saturday night (17/11/12). Set everything up and although I had a few minor issues which were mainly my fault, I did manage to get some imaging done.

I decided to concentrate on Clusters of stars but did do a few other subjects.

below is a slection of images that are all ISO800 and range from single subs of 120 seconds upto 300 seconds.

The first image is of an open cluster designated as Messier 103 (M103) or NGC581 which can be found in the constellation of Cassiopeia. M103 is about 10,000 light years away and is estimated to be 25 million year old. In astronomical terms it is very young. you can see the cluster on the lower left hand side of the image.

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The next image is the same as the one above but with an area in the upper right corner expanded to show another small cluster of stars called Trumpler 1 (TR1). I find it interesting how the 4 lower stars seem perfectly aligned.

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Next we have one of this years Moore Marathon targets.......The Double Cluster or NGC884 & NGC869 also known as Caldwell 14 can be found in the constellation of Perseus. These clusters are also very young and each cluster contains over 300 blue-white super giant stars. The clusters are also Blueshifted, with NGC869 approaching Earth at a speed of 21 Km/s. At a distance of between 6800 - 7600 light years away I suspect it will be a good few years before we clash....if ever.

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Next up is M52 or NGC7654 which is also an open cluster in Cassiopeia. Apparently, due to interstellar absorption of  light the distance to M52 is uncertain but estimates put it at between 3000 and 7000 Light years away ( quite a considerable estimate).

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A Mono image of Messier 1 (M1), also known as the Crab Nebula, NGC1952 or Taurus A. This is a Supernova Remnant found in the constellation of Taurus. At the centre of the Nebula lies the Crab Pulsar which is a rotating neutron star. The supernova remnant is bounded by an expanding shock wave and consists of material that has been ejected from the Star that went Nova and interstellar material that got swept up along the way.
Being mono removes all the RGB colour but still shows a lot of the structure. 

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This next image is a NASA Hubble image of the Crab to show you the really close detail and colour in M1.

As you can clearly see, the difference between my setup and NASA's is immense but then I don't have the USA funding my hobby. Even can clearly see structure in my image and to be fair, this is probably closer to what you would actually see in a 10 or 12 inch home telescope, remembering that our eyes will not show us much if any colour in the dark. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

GUIDING !!!!!!

Got a good clear night on Saturday (for a change) so got myself out and setup nice and early. Things didn't quite go to plan and to be honest spent a couple of unproductive hours faffing around.

Once I managed to get a grip of myself and set a decent workplan I actually started to get some results.

The mount was Polar Aligned, the mount and weights added, setup balanced and all plugged into my laptop. Carte de Ceil and EQmod were started and configured and my guidescope was calibrated.

Having failed miserably to get a decent shot of M31 Andromeda before, I set myself the challenge of grabbing some decent subs to work with. I took x5 600 second exposures and x1 1200 second exposure then added Darks, Flats and Bias frames. the result is below:

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M31 Andromeda Galaxy is the nearest spiral galaxy to our own, the Milky Way at a distance of 2,500,000 light years away. you can just see M32 (a dwarf elliptical galaxy) at the bottom of the screen.

I am really pleased with this image but know it needs more work to bring out the colours a bit more.

Guiding definately allows you to grab more photons and thus really start to bring out the details. Although it can be frustrating and unpredictable at times, guiding is definately the only way to achieve great images. 

The difference between this image and the one from my previous blog is unquestionable. what a difference.

Friday, 2 November 2012

A WINDY BUT CLEAR NIGHT !!! tonights challenge was to get my setup working using EQmod and Cartes de Ciel. EQmod is a way of connecting the telescope to my laptop and Cartes de Ciel is a piece of planetary software that can be used to guide the scope to my required targets.

I also attempted to use PHD Guiding for the first time. This involved using a webcam attached to a guidescope mounted on top of the main scope so that I could choose a star to act as a guide to ensure longer exposures. Unfortunately I struggled to gain focus so abandoned the attempt and reverted to imaging unguided.

Fortunately I did manage to get up to 180 seconds unguided without too much star trailing.

My first attempt was a single 180 second shot of M31 Andromeda Galaxy.

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The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 2,500,000 light years away in the constellation of Andromeda. It is the nearest spiral galaxy to our own, the Milky Way.

It is one of the farthest objects visible to the naked eye in a dark sky.

In the top left you can also just make out M32 which is a dwarf elliptical galaxy. 

Below is an extreme close up of M82 (The Cigar Galaxy) in the Constellation of Ursa Major. This galaxy is usually classified as irregular, though is probably a distorted disk galaxy. It is famous for its heavy star-forming activity.

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Thursday, 1 November 2012


Set up tonight in what was a clearish sky. Slewed the mount over to M15, Pegasus Cluster and started my set of subs rolling. managed 1 single Sub and the clouds rolled in and stopped my imaging for the night.

On the Brightside, I did manage to grab x1 120second exposure which has actually come out ok.

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Messier 15 or M15 is a globular cluster in the constellation of Pegasus. it is one of the oldest known globular clusters estimated at being 12 billion years old.

M15 is about 33,600 light years away from Earth and is one of the most densley packed globulars in the Milky Way galaxy. it has approximately 100, 000 stars.