September 29, 2008

Orion's Belt and M42-43

Here is Orion's Belt on the left and M42-43 on the right. There is a hint of NGC1977 in the image, too, just to the left of the M42-43 complex. How quick and easy to gather an image of what I see through a relatively small scope. This image is just a bit more than that, even, as I can see no color in the nebula in my 100mm f/6. This is only 5x1' through the XTi with the 50mm lens. It was taken on the morning of Sunday, September 28, at around 5:20 am.

September 23, 2008


The Andromeda Galaxy and its two companions M32 (to the right of M31) and M110 (in the upper left corner) look something like this in my 100mm f/6. M110 is pretty faint in this image. You may have to turn the lights off to see it, just as you would have to do to see it in the night sky! This image was taken with the setup below. It is 53x15" exposures with the last quarter moon glowing behind the trees, processed similarly to M52.

September 21, 2008


Here is open cluster M52 taken with the setup described below. This is 45x15" at ISO 1600, processed in Nebulosity and finished in Canon's DPP. The image came out thinner than I expected: I hoped to be able to stretch it more. Some high-flying water vapor and the rising last-quarter moon surely should take some of the credit for the thin-ness. Otherwise, the image probably just needs a lot more exposure time. In favor of the image, however, it does remind me of what I saw through the scope. In the 100mm, M52 was just barely visible before the moon came out, meaning that I could see eight or so of the brightest stars and a foggy patch around them. Such is my light-polluted back yard. After the moon came out, the cluster's brightest star was the only one clearly visible, though if I was looking with averted vision at exactly the right spot, I could see a very faint mist surrounding it.
The image also has very sharp star edges. They were sharpened in Nebulosity through a function that allows the user no control. The image is better this way than it was originally, and more stars are clearly visible now. Having done it, though, now I'd like to blur them back just a little bit, but I have no software to do it that I know of.

Waiting for the Clouds to Clear

Here is a casual way to image. The LXD75 carries the Orion 100mm f/6 as a giant finder. With a cheap 27mm crosshair eyepiece, it gives a wide view and allows me to position the imaging scope exactly on target. Its 100mm aperture allows me (usually) to see what I am imaging, which is very useful, as the camera always goes deeper than my eyes, even when it is on the AT66ED. The camera is the XTi. The camera and mount both rely on AC power. I attach a remote control to the camera. This setup, which is unguided, is only good for brighter, larger, deep sky objects, but it is not hard to set up or operate. At the time this image was taken, clouds were overhead, and the only thing I could image was the equipment. The skies later cleared beautifully.

September 18, 2008

A Silver Lining

Hurricane Ike blew through on the morning of September 13th. The winds were furious, and the rain blew sideways, but we lost only a few trees, none of which fell on anything but the fence. By 11:00 pm that night, several rain bands had passed over us, and there was a break in the clouds. The moon was full two days later, but here is Luna peaking around the clouds around 12:00 am on the morning of the 14th, the first light visible beyond the clouds after the storm.

September 9, 2008

M11 from Huntsville

This is M11. It is often called the Wild Duck Cluster, presumably because it looks like a flock of ducks moving south (or north). It never looked like that to me, but it is a wonderful sight in a telescope. I remember finding it in my Astroscan when I was about thirteen. It was beautiful, and I just stopped and stared at it for a long time, then went back to it often.
This image does not quite do it justice, but then it is only 22x15", or 5.5 minutes worth of exposures, just enough to put it in the XTi through the 66ED. I only had to discard one exposure.

[Below is another iteration of the same data, changed a bit in PSE7:]

September 8, 2008

M22 from Huntsville

This is M22, a showpiece globular cluster in Sagittarius, just left of the tip-top of the archer's bow. The image is 8.25 minutes (all the frames that were worth saving) of 15" exposures with the XTi through the AT66ED, unguided on the LXD75. Processing and stacking was done in Nebulosity 1 and some modest adjustments in Canon's DPP.

September 7, 2008

New Messier Heights

Last night I went to the Sam Houston State Observatory site near Huntsville, where many from the Huntsville club were gathered. The company was great and the weather splendid. I took the 100mm f/6, the C8, and the AT66ED. I bagged four from my remaining Messier list: M72, quite a disappointingly dim globular; M74, a rather dim but blobby galaxy still fairly low in the east at around 11:30 p.m.; M75, a much brighter and tighter globular, and a fairly stunning view in the C8; and M52, a nice open cluster in Cassiopeia (not sure why it took me so long to see M52).
I was also able to shoot some images with the XTi through the little red 66ED. We'll see how the images turn out. Above is Luna.