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Messier 57 is is just coming into a position for a decent look around 11 30 pm. IT is a colourful object and I thought it would give me a good target with which to practice my colour developing in PS/Lightroom. I have read so much about how to produce a LRGB image from the four stacked/calibrated luminance, red, blue and green images, a lot seems contradicatory and some, when followed, gave me colour yes, but not as we know it. I am sure a fair chunk must be put down to me. Anyway, I now have a work flow which gives me colour, sometimes resembling what other people have obtained. Progess of sorts.
This images is based on 114s subs at gain 139, offset 21.
L 39, R 20, G 20, B 19
Calibrated and stacked in DSS (flats, dark flats and darks)
Messier 57 Ring Nebula in Lyra
NASA: M57, or the Ring Nebula, is a planetary nebula, the glowing remains of a sun-like star. The tiny white dot in the centre of the nebula is the star’s hot core, called a white dwarf. M57 is about 2,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra, and is best observed during August. Discovered by the French astronomer Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix in 1779, the Ring Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8.8 and can be spotted with moderately sized telescopes.
Equipment: Celestron 9.25 XLT at F10, Skywatcher EQ6 Pro GEM, ZWO 1600MM Pro, ZWO EFW with ZWO LRGB filters, QHY5IIC guide camera on Skywatcher 9 x 50 finderscope, Celestron Focus Motor
Software: Ascom 6, Eqmod, Cartes du Ciel, AstroPhotography Tool, PHD2
All set up to go with the sole aim of getting some Saturn images!
To start off it was Jupes again to get some imaging done... The GRS superbly placed and looking Redder than a lidl tomato (subliminal advertising)
After capturing some film it was time to properly align using Polaris and that wonderful on ya knees polar scope method!!! Boom!! three calibration stars and 'GoTo' whatever you wish for!
Cygnus time - Check sheets and then give up and go and fetch Sissy Haas bible...
20 lovely doubles, not rushed just enjoyed and studied hard... working with my Starwave f/11 102 and for those difficult ones a 6.5 Meade HD and even with the 2.5 Revelation Barlow gave interesting views... 200x the recommended max mag on that Starwave, I squeezed more than that out of her.
The stars looked round and colourful the companions sometimes hard to spot... But there's a great deal of satisfaction when you see them close by.
I made some star symbol notes in the book when a true double of beauty made me smile, my top few were:
Σ 2668 Superb
26 Gyg lovely
19 Cyg Bright Red
Σ 2687 Sharp
49 Cyg Faint
48 Cyg Wide
H IV 113 Spot on (why did I write that?)
61 Cyg Nice
Also - Σ 2760, 59 Cyg, 52 Cyg, O Σ 410, Σ 2705, Σ 2588, S 726, Σ 2578, 16 Cyg, δ Cyg
So that's my haul for the night... By the time I had finished those it was 01:30 and cloud had covered what was left of Saturn. The great thing about that session was that I didn't have those long whiney scope movements around the sky, it was all within the constellation. I expect my neighbours with open windows were also grateful.
Love that 102 f/11 Starwave scope.... A lot of the comments in Sissy Haas recommend a 150mm for some of the hits I made with my 102 so I'm happy... to get the colour is special as well... Not sure my alignment was that great because after entering RA & Dec the doubles were not always centered which resulted in me having to move towards the nearest double looking star a lot of the times.
Didn't get -19 Cyg or T Cyg although I tried...
Oh and on editing my images I notice I bagged both Europa and Io.... shame Jupiter disappeared behind next doors roof before the shadow made a transit! I've had to lighten one image to show the moons so beware you professionals ?
I spent a fair amount of Wednesday afternoon centering my polar scope... Little did I realise that the polar scope requires centering before you even attempt perfect polar alignment. It appears that my AVX has been very forgiving in the fact that in the past I have more or less just got polaris somewhere near the centre of the circle before aligning. However, after watching many YouTube clips on how to centre the polar scope I finally achieved my aim in having the polar scope centered. Last night was my first serious attempt at 'Bang on' polar alignment with a well centered polar scope!!
For some time I've been moaning about having to scramble around on the floor bending my knees and neck looking up for polaris through the polar scope! last night I raised my tripod to almost full extension and managed to look through the polar scope sat comfortably on a picnic chair. I started setting up early so used my compass during the early evening to point north ready for the appearance of polaris... Wow! when Polaris appeared I wasn't far out :-) I rotated the the reticule so the view through the polar scope matched what I could see in the sky with the plough above the centre circle, a quick tweak and 'Bingo' Polaris was spot on where it should be... let the fun begin!!
Oops before I did that I freelanced over to the crescent moon situated between two rooftops from my observing location... stunning! I tend to always overlook how wonderful the surface of the moon looks at high mag... Whilst observing using my Starwave 102 and a Vixen NPL 20mm I could see what looked like two bright spots at the top of the crescent like tiny stars. On closer observation I figure these must of been a couple of mountain tops caught in the sunlight... That was amazing, would lover to know the name of those peaks!
Here is my list of targets bagged using a combination of a Celestron 32mm, Vixen NPL 20mm, Meade 12 & 18mm, a trusty BST 8mm and for Jupiter a blue filter.
Jupiter, M5, Epsilon Lyrae 1,2, Zeta Lyrae, Xi Bo, Theta 2 Can, Tegman, Kappa Bo (Loved this) Iota Cancer, Graffias, Delta Serpens, Theta Serpens, Algieba (Leo) Coma Star Cluster Melotte 111
Toward the end of the session I practised entering the RA & Dec into the handset, hitting targets pretty much bang on (very pleasing)... Although when referencing the 'Double Stars for small telescopes' book by Sissy Haas the coordinates given are not as long in numbers as the ones on the handset... I still hit the targets bang on though so was delighted.
Nicks Tips No 5 - Throwing a blanket over the washing line to create a dark space removing a cluster of 3 streetlights 100m away over the neighbours fence... Genius!
I had a few hours free last night, which remarkably coincided with clear skies, so I had a nice little session from around 8 until 10.30 ish.
The moon was an obvious target, and I spent a decent amount of time panning along the terminator enjoying the views. I was rather obsessed with trying to spot craterlets on Plato, although I'm not sure whether last night was the best phase or not. I managed a grand total of two with a suspected third, not amazing! The seeing varied from fairly decent to fairly wobbly depending upon whether it was over the neighbours garden or house!
Next up M42 obviously. Even without a filter the nebulosity showed well, clear tints of green to my eye. Switching from 24mm Pan to Nag Zoom showed the Trap at between x123 and x246. Whilst the E star was fairly clear at times, F was nothing more than a 'might be' every now and then. I know the scope is capable of it, the seeing just isn't a lot of the time.
I tried the binoviewers out too, to see whether they made any improvement on the Trap and Moon. The Trap was a no, I think E was slightly harder with the binos, and the Moon was an unfair comparison because it had gone over the neighbours house. Will repeat the exercise under better conditions.
I then made a start at a few Carbon stars, having added a number of lists to SkySafari. I find these lists very handy as the basis for an observing session and highly recommend having a look at them if you haven't already. Sorted by transit time I picked off a few without too much slewing.
Hind's Crimson star kind of stole the show, such a lovely deep red colour. In comparison the others I viewed on the list seemed far more orange but I'll persevere and see how I get on.
WZ Cassiopeiae appeared on both the Carbon stars and the coloured doubles list, a quite wide pair at 57.7", one orange and the other white. Similar brightness at mag 7.1 and 8.3
BL Orionis and V613 Monocerotis were the other two I got, fairly unremarkable I found but still rewarding identifying them in the star fields.
Sigma Cass and Iota Cass were the last two doubles that I picked. Sigma was, I think, a new one for me. Nice tight (3.1") uneven double, mags 4.88 and 7.24. To my eye they looked similar in colour, white.
Iota is a lovely one as we all know. Not something I view very often, must try harder, but at x123 with the Nag Zoom the three components were beautifully resolved. I'm sure I could have used lower mag but didn't bother changing eye pieces. Higher mag increased the split obviously, but somehow I preferred the tight star shapes and split at the 6mm setting.
So, nice little session with the Tak/AZGTi setup which is my usual these days. Lightweight so easy to setup and alignment quick and easy.
Grubby little iPhone shot attached, plus some detail of the SS lists I have loaded.