About the Blog

This blog contains recent projects, activities, and musings about astrophotography and space, to view my main webpage with prints for sale, final images, and Annie's Astro Actions, please visit: www.eprisephoto.com


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

6 months later ....

I started astrophotography almost as soon as I got my scope, which means it has now been 6 months since I took my very first astrophoto ... I am almost ashamed to show my first few shots and processing of them.

The first ones of M31 and M13 were not focused (shooting a DSLR through a long focal length scope with no Bahtinov mask and no Live View ... soon made a mask and dont have such a focus problem with the Nikon anymore) I did get some acceptable attempts at the Lagoon Nebula, Swan Nebula, and Double Cluster - especially since I had no idea what I was doing and what darks and flats were, etc. ... but I dont have any recent ones of them to compare so I will just show the comparison ones to save on space here.

This is M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, from the second day of attempting astrophotography and from almost exactly 6 months later (3 days shy of it to be exact) ... I cropped and oriented them about the same to get a fair comparison.

Its come a long way! Although it is still not perfect, I know a lot more about what I am doing and improving with every night I spend imaging. I look forward to seeing the progress another 6 months will bring! 

Monday, March 22, 2010

First published astrophoto! (Twice!!)

Yesterday I had an astrophoto image published on Spaceweather.com!!!

On March 20, 2010 the Moon occulted Pleiades (with only occurs once every 13 years) and I took a few images while throwing a star party at my house. This was a multiple exposure image combined into an HDR astrophoto taken with my Nikon D40 which shows the occultation from my yard in San Antonio, TX. The link above will show you the front page of Spaceweather for March 21, 2010.

Addition: NASA also selected this photo for Friday, March 26, 2010's APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) .... I am very excited about this!!!, Here is the link: NASA APOD

Here is the full image:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More data for M51

Got back out last night and got additional data to add to the data a few nights ago. Last night's data was: 25 x 210sec - Lum 15 x 210sec - R, G, B 25 x 300sec - Lum so adding that to the previous data resulted in minutes: LRGB: 297:83:83:83 Camera: Atik 314L+ Scope: Orion EON80ED piggybacked on CPC800 unguided, combination of 3, 4, & 5 min subs. Lum binned 1x1, RGB binned 2x2

The additional data helped to go a bit deeper, bring out more of not only M51 but some faint galaxies in the FOV as well. I will probably still go back and reprocess from scratch just to see if I can pull more out, but I am happy with it. I think I will move on to a new object now :-)

After culling the bad frames I had almost 5 hours of Luminance and just under
and hour and a half of RGB and that is enough for me for this object.

Same image, cropped onto M51:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Every day in every way ....

I'm getting better and better .... at least in my own humble opinion. The new Atik 314L+ camera I am using now to image greatly helped, then add in my new wedge and that has helped bumped up my imaging possibilities another level. I have also been tweaking my Actions to get some better results (and also confirming the usefulness of many of them) in processing in a shorter amount of time spent by me behind the computer processing. I still have minor tweaking with my polar alignment and at some point I hope to get a working autoguider both to increase exposure time but I am pleased with the improvement I have had in a short time. Last night I imaged M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy late into the morning as weather forecasts for the next week are not favorable to imaging.

I am still learning the advantages/disadvantages of "binning", so for last night's M51 I just left the bin at 1x1 ... the data for the image is:

Camera: Atik 314L+
Scope: Orion EON80ED piggybacked on Celestron CPC800

Astronomik LRGB filters: 84:30:39:30
180 sec subexposures

Acquired in Artemis Capture, Stacked in Nebulosity, Processed in Photoshop CS2 with "Annie's Astro Actions"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Polar Alignment at last

A bit more tweaking and I finally got my polar alignment so I can take 5 minute subs with no autoguider. YAY! I have spent the past few nights getting data on M101 - the luminance came out well but I think my focus was off for my RGB, but at least I have a decent result - I will go back and get more color at some point:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Torching a Horse with Hydrogen

I was able to get a little bit of a clear sky last night and was able to finalize an ok polar alignment (its still not PERFECT, but its getting better), get my new camera out, and finally do some proper imaging. With the moon coming up I went ahead and just shot in Hydrogen-alpha (Ha).

So here is my first REAL image from my new camera on a polar alignment.
Horsehead and Flame Nebulas (IC434 & NGC 2024)

Details :
camera: Atik 314L+
scope: Orion EON80ED piggybacked on Celestron CPC800
filter: Astronomik Ha
other: Astro-Tech field flattener
exposure: 170 x 60sec

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New update coming soon for Annie's Astro Actions

Just a heads up for those of you who have the action set and check the blog ... I will be releasing an update soon for the actions. No new actions, but a few changes in the ones that are there (specifically the new ones from last release) to make them a little smoother.

For those that have requested an "Elements" version. I am working on it, but do not have an estimated release date yet.


Monday, March 1, 2010

More polar alignment fun

Spent another night working on my polar alignment - its getting better. Finally was able to get an unguided 85sec image (keep in mind I did short sets of only 30min per channel as I was just testing my alignment) of M51 "Whirlpool Galaxy".

I still have a little polar alignment work and the next clear night I am going to give drift alignment a try, and then add in autoguiding which I tested the other day and looks like it will work well.

I am definitely looking forward to the future of my astroimaging now that I have a wedge for polar alignment and an autoguider .... until then - here is my first polar alignment image:

Monitor Calibration

Monitor Calibration
The grayscale above presents 24 shades of gray from pure white to solid black. If you cannot see all 24, your monitor needs calibration to view the astrophotos correctly: I recommend the site linked in the image