Recently Browsing 0 members
No registered users viewing this page.
After a day of mixed weather skies looked very clear Thursday 11/3 so headed out around 9pm to take advantage of a moonless night.
Walking in straight from bright lights seeing & transparency were looking good - double cluster & beehive were naked eye visible with direct vision and some Messier dustiness in Auriga with an averted view. I had a vague plan to have a proper go at the Leo Triplet & had spent a bit of time on stellarium to plan how to star-hop in via Chertan & L73. First though I North aligned SynScan on Sirius and Mars (the top 2 suggestions thrown up by the app) & slewed to the the Pleiades to check alignment, which was good. Couldn't resist having a look at the double cluster from there which was so crisp and deep, then via M34 also looking good, to M42 (of course).
The Orion nebula was the best I've seen it yet, looking directly at the Trapezium I could see 5 stars & real cloudy swirls above and below, panning upward there was a hint of dust in the running man area, couldn't discern the running man shape, but haven't seen this much before. Moving on up, Sigma Orionis was such a perfect little system & I toyed with the idea of binning galaxy hunting altogether and going after some close Doubles - Sirius even looked quite steady. I resisted as dark adaption was by now starting to work, before leaving the area though I had a quick go at finding M79, a low-down globular in Lepus most of which constellation was just about visible merging into the LP above the centre of town to the South. I keyed it into the GoTo & was surprised by a short slew to the E. Looking in the eyepiece I saw...something, very faint, grey glow around two dim fuzzy stars with a hint of dark lane between, not the expected Globular - checking again it turned out that I had entered M78 by mistake but there it was, a bonus nebula - not visually spectacular but nice to find & fascinating to look-up later. I made a quick sketch to confirm and tried for M79, but no, far too low by now.
I figured night vision was by now good enough to have a crack at the Leo Triplet and took a GoTo to Regulus & centred. I had manually added Chertan and 73 Leonis to the app and duly centred them to get the best possible local alignment. Putting L73 in the top L of the field I should be able to pick up M66 bottom right. I couldn't be sure so moved in a pattern around & picked up a fuzz patch. Small adjustments gave me a field with two luminous patches to L & R with a star at the top, I couldn't work this out and they were faint enough to be on the borders of imagination. Everything passed behind a bank of thin cloud for a few moments and I used the time to sketch (incredibly roughly) what I had seen so far. As the cloud cleared away it weirdly helped confirm that the two luminous patches were absolutely real & I gave them a bit more concentrated attention with averted vision. As I did so a third area top R of field made itself vaguely apparent. My expectation management on galaxies is now starting to get a bit more realistic so I let this one sit for a while and added its general position to my sketch. Still baffled by the field related to what I was sure was L73 I made as good a sketch as I could of both the EP & finder fields for later confirmation ( struggling with glasses on/off, red headtorch & not wanting to fire up the bright phone app as magnitude was so marginal).
I took a last long look and resolved to figure it out with the atlas & app back home. I later realised that what I had done is, after panning around, manage to confuse the star L73 with a fainter close by star (HD98388-apparently) and had absolutely been looking at all three galaxies in the Leo Triplet - the sketch, although crude, gave me no doubt that I had landed in the right spot this time, just the satisfaction was deferred until I was back inside - something I am fast learning goes with the territory of galaxy hunting with a small scope!
36 Million light years though, a new personal space-travel record
I moved on to other Leo Messier galaxies & took a quick look at M95 & M96 which I found relatively easily, a dim pair of headlights but no detail, then wandered across to Makarian's chain and marvelled at the sheer number of little fuzzy signatures that wouldn't resolve to points. Concentration was waning a bit by this stage so I decided to save trying to identify precisely what I was seeing to another night when I could be out later and see them higher out of the murk.
I finished with the Mak back on M81 & 2 which looked bright by comparison and gave hints of some spiral & shading detail on this night of exceptional transparency - amazing crisp view with them both in the widest field the Mak can deliver (just over 1 degree with a 24mm Baader Hyperion fixed, 63x).
As I packed up the scope the naked eye panorama was just fab and seemed after so much dim fuzzy concentration, incredibly bright. I finished with a 15 minute tour of open clusters with a pair of 10x50s that was really stunning. So many stars in the double cluster, the Alpha Perseii , Pleiades, Hyades & Orion's belt just gorgeous whilst the Beehive lived up to its name like a swarm of fireflies.
Starting to enjoy galaxy hunting for its own sake but for sheer beauty the binoculars had it tonight. A great couple of hours that left my mind in time & space for a long while after I got back.
I shot luminance for this trio of galaxies in December and after two clear nights in January I managed to get RGB as well.
Larger image can be found in my blog: https://www.evenfall.space/post/galactic-waltz
SkyWatcher Esprit 100mm f/5.5
EQ6 guided with ASI224MC
TS Optics LRGB filters. L: 196x120s, R: 60x120s, G: 72x120s, B: 60x120s. Total integration time approx. 13 hours.
M65, M66 and NGC 3628 - The Leo Triplet. Photographed on May 14. Skywatcher 150P with a Nikon D3200 at prime focus. EQ3-2 mount with RA motor drive (no guiding).
19 subs at ISO 800 - 30s each. Aligned and stacked in Deep Sky Stacker to give resulting 4min 30s exposure. Processed in Startools to crop, bin, stretch and colour balance.
This was my second time around to process this image - starting to get the hang of Startools now.
Leo Triplet (M65, M66, and NGC 3628), The Leo Triplet is a small group of galaxies about 35 million light-years away in the constellation Leo.
large version at astrobin
Date: 4th January and 2nd February 2019
Mount: Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro
Telescope: Orion 10" f/3.9 Newtonian Astrograph
Camera: Nikon D5300 self modded full spectrum
Total exposure: ~3 hours
Subs : 300sx36, Flats, Bias, Darks
Guide Scope: Orion 50mm
Guide Cam: ASI120MM
Filter: Optolong UV/IR cut
Corrector: Baader MPCC Mark III Coma Corrector
Stacking: Deep Sky Stacker
Location: Ridiyagama, Sri Lanka
thank you and clear skies.
I wasn't going to share this, but what the heck. The winter of discontent continues, so i guess even this little data has to constitute an image these days.
After what seemed like an age of night after night of clouds, we had a rare few hrs of clear skies one night last week. So i managed to grab a whopping 9 x 7 mins of the Horsehead Nebula before it disappeared behind the neighbor's house. I then needed something else to aim for, so i brought up the Leo Triplet Sequence in SGP and managed to nab about 2.75 hrs in total, before the clouds returned. It really, really needs double, if not triple this amount, so i wasn't really intending on processing this tbh. I was really just messing about in APP and PS testing several things out, so there was no proper workflow being adhered to. I took an Auto DDP stretch out of APP and quickly processed it in PS, without much care. I noticed it was lacking in colour, so i thought this would actually be a good candidate to try out some ArcSinh Colour-Preserving stretches, so i took another linear stack and used Mark Shelley's excellent PS method for doing the colour-preserving stretches. Lo and behold, i ended up with a stack that was very rich in colour, so much so in fact that the sky background had also mottled up pretty bad. So i used a mask to only apply the rich colours to the stars and galaxies of the original image, and it made a HUGE difference. It was only at this stage that i suddenly thought i might as well actually go ahead and make an image out of it.
I really want to stretch it more, but it just can't take it. There's just not enough data, end of story. In fact i may have already stretched it too far as it is. The background is a tad lower than i would have liked as well, but it was needed to help suppress the noise. I've ran quite a bit of NR too, more than i'm usually comfortable with, and it's still noisy. I know what the answer to that is of course, more data! ? (not likely). I do quite like the colours though ?
24 x 420s (2.75 hrs)
80ED (x0.85), D5300, HEQ5-Pro, IDAS-D1.
Resized to 66% to help hide some of the warts!