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The Wizard Nebula
An emission nebula 7,200 light years away and my first proper project of the new imaging year.
Really happy with it as I’ve had a steep learning curve with new kit so really pleased to see this image come together. It’s also the first time I’ve imaged it.
72x180s subs collected over 2 nights 24/25th August in my Bortle 7 back garden, Whitley Bay, England
Calibrated with darks, flats and dark flats in DSS and processed in SiriL and Photoshop.
Lacerta 72mm f/6 APO
ZWO ASI1600MC Pro at -15C gain 200
ZWO 60mm guide scope
ZWO ASI120MM-S guide camera
Altair Astro 2” Tri Band OSC Filter
Data collected in APT and guided with PHD2
This has been on my hard drive for some months, so nice to have finally got round to processing it! Shot over several nights in January in my back garden.
NGC 281, also known casually as the Pacman Nebula, is a bright emission nebula and part of an H II region in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia and is part of the Milky Way's Perseus Spiral Arm. It lies about 9,500 light years from us and is 48 light years across.
As the final version, I've gone for a crop, which I think holds up well, though I'll include the wider fov version in the next post.
I used a more natural colour blend for this image:
R = 76%*Ha + 24%*SII
G = 100%*OIII
B = 85%*OIII + 15%*Ha
For some reason, I was not expecting much from this image, but the result looks like it will be one of my favourites...the narrowband data was really good!
Captured using APT, stacked using APP and processed in Pixinsight.
5.4 hours integration time.
Link to full details and higher res version.
Thanks for looking!
I've been beavering away on a couple of images, one of the Pacman nebula and this, my first Horsehead.
Shot over several nights in my back garden. Terrible weather meant a big gap between imaging nights - it's amazing how you (or is it just me?!) forget the little details in just 8 or 9 days...
Lum data is lacking a bit and I couldn't tame mighty Alnitak. But I like the result.
Anyway, a number of firsts here - first completed image with the Lakeside focuser, first true tests of APT's recently added auto meridian flip (works great!) and first time using Astro Pixel Processor for calibration and stacking. APP is a contender - very easy to use - I threw all my multinight multifilter data at it and it chugged through it all with the minimum of fuss!
4.9 hours of HaLRGB data. L 108x15", R 41x60", G 84x30", B 81x30", Ha 35x250".
Thanks for looking!
Good evening to you all,
Last night I acquired 30x180s on each RGB so now I have a total of 37x180s each RGB, 60x60s lum from last year, 55x180s lum from this year and some shorter exposures for the core. That means ~5:33h of RGB and 3:45h of lum.
All taken with the ASI1600MMC and the 130PDS newton, horrible gradients when using the light pollution filter. I mean really horrible and uneven gradients. I also have a horizontal line at about 1/4 from the top reflected from somewhere.
The image below was stacked and merged with APP, I also made a synthetic lum from the RGB and included it in the final lum file.
Processing can be improved, for sure, but I have also another thought. Would maybe another 6h of luminance data be worthy on this target? Or should I move to something else, maybe M3 or M92?
Edit: almost 4 more hours of lum.
Edit2: 7 more hours of lum.
Imaging with a 106mm telescope with pulse guiding
I have been posting a few images since I started using the ASI1600MM Cool about a year ago, but they all used my 135mm Samyang lens. In the new year we had a few clear nights and although I wanted to carry on with the mosaic of Barnards loop in Ha7nm, the trees in the hedgerow behind my house became part of the frame – not a good thing. I looked at Star Gazers Lounge for inspiration and many images in January were being posted of the Rosette Nebula, so I slewed over to that, with the 135mm lens and started imaging. The result was ‘ok’ but I felt that the nebula got lost in the stars in such a wide field image. So I decided to put my Astro Tech 106mm EDT APO on the mount and set up for pulse guiding and get up close and personal with the Rosette Nebula. The 106mm scope/guiding wasn’t completely new to me as this was the setup I had used for my initial DSLR imaging. The full run down of the set up is below.
AT106EDT Riccardi 0.75x reducer/flattener
ASI1600 MM cool
Baader LRGB Ha(7nm) filters
I run everything from a Microsoft Surface Pro3 with a single USB3 connection to a USB3 powered hub. The capture software I use is Astro Photography Tool alongside Carte Du Ceil and PHD2. Within APP I also have setup the plate solving and linked that to CdC, I can then use Goto++ to get on target very quickly. I also use the framing mask tool so I can fine tune the aim of the FoV to get repeatable results. This all works quite well, but I always sync the mount and software, so for this sequence of captures I used Zeta Orionis to sync everything up, then I can use Goto++ effectively.
Guiding was ok, I need to understand it a lot more, but I have managed to set it up and get guiding accuracy RA 1.4” RMS and DA 0.72” RMS. What I have to try and improve is that the correction pulses are quite large and occasionally says I have to increase the maximum correction pulse duration. PHD2 reports that I have a polar alignment error of 1.5’ arcmin.
The imaging was carried out over several nights between 9th – 17th February 2018, sky quality was at best variable so the subs were quite a mixed bag. However I captured quite a large number of subs and had to cope with the Rosette transiting the meridian and being obscured by a large bamboo hedge, so I had to meridian flip to keep target in FOV, but kept camera in same position (I don’t have a rotator, or wanted to create a completely different set of flats for flipped images) with the result that the captured subs were a mix of pre and post meridian flipped subs, but stacking software can take care of the inversion.
Baader 1.25” filters
L – 60subs @60s
R – 88 subs @60s
G – 122 subs @60s
B – 84 subs @60s
Ha7nm – 74 subs @90s
Flats - 30
Darks - 30
The ASI1600 was set to -20degC and unity gain. over a period of 4 nights captured a total amount of data for the image of 7.75 hours, however the sharp eyed among you will spot the weakness in this data set – Luminance – I did not capture enough, why, because I was obsessed in getting colour captured , but due to the issues with meridian flip and guiding after meridian flip I ended up with incomplete data sets, FOV offsets and inversions, so I ran my RGB capture plan on two separate capture runs. However, once I got all the RGB, the clouds rolled in and by mid-Feb the moon was too bright for luminance capture and as each day goes by the Rosette headed westwards and into the light pollution bubble from the big logistics warehousing area on edge of town -sigh….
Up to now I have been using Deep Sky Stacker, DSS, however with this Rosette project I found that the DSS stacked images had a lot of noise. I had been reading about Astro Pixel Processor, which Sara Wagner has been using and posted several video tutorials. I decided to use this and have no regrets, yes it has a lot more processing steps and configuration options, but they all make sense and for my subs gave a significantly better final stacked image to take into the next processing stage.
I use RegiStar, I came across this application when reading posts by Olly Penrice, it’s a one trick pony, but it is a brilliant trick and getting all the base stacked images precisely aligned before you start more detailed processing.
I also ‘found’ another very useful piece of software, called Straton, it removes stars from an image and you can then process the nebula without over stretching the stars and losing colour. I played with this quite a bit as another great use is when blending Ha into red channel (and sneaking some into luminance as well) it helps avoid getting holes in stars as the Ha stars are so much smaller than RGB.
There are so many ways to process an astro image it is not my intent to detail workflows here. I use bits and pieces from many sources, including processes from Steve Richard’s Dark Art or Magic Bullet. I have Noels actions, Google NIK plugin, Hasta La Vista Green and Astroflat Pro. My biggest effort goes into reducing the crazy gradients I get on my images due to sports field floodlights, logistics warehouse lighting, and the usual street lighting issues.
NGC2237 Rosette Nebula
So after many, many evenings of processing, reprocessing, trying different blends and masking techniques I leave you with my ‘final’ NGC2237 Rosette Nebula
thanks for reading and getting here, this is the JPEG version with a very light crop to remove stacking artifacts, the PNG was nearly 70Mb so I decided not to post that