Sunday, March 10, 2019

IC 2169 and Other Blue Reflections!

There are several reflection nebulae as well as dark nebulae in this image from a portion of constellation Monceros.  The largest being IC 2169 located in the bottom left.  The nebula is blue due scattered light from a nearby star coming in contact with dense grains of interstellar dust, scattered tends to be blue rather than red as in emission nebulae.  There is a interesting dark dust lane which begins in the nebula seems to stretch to IC 2167 which is on the middle right.  Stellarium has this listed as interstellar matter which it is composed of.  On the top are NGC 2245, closer to the center, and NGC 2247 closer to the top edge.  Both of these are blue reflection nebula with a bright core than IC 2169 and both seem to have dark dust clouds near by.  This whole area has many colorful blue and orange stars of all sizes.

I really like imaging these types reflection nebula but I find processing them to be quite difficult.  I had to do a lot of processing in order to make it look presentable and unfortunately every object has its own processing method.  I have a loose flow-process that I do but it varies quite a lot from one object to another object.  Of course I wanted to get more data but my limited viewing window along with poor weather conditions in southern Connecticut prevent that.  I would have had another 45 minutes but I must have had dirt on my glasses when I was focusing - oh well.  My ASI1600 is back in working order and I am imaging with it again.


IC 2169, IC 2167, NGC 2245, and NGC 2247
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 3-4-19, 3-6-19, 3-9-19
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro
Telescope: Astro-Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm
f/7
Focal Reducer: Astro-Tech 0.8x Focal Reducer/Field Flattener for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: ZWO EFW 8x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO R, G, B, L
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: R 47 x 90, G 52 x 90, B 50 x 90, L 64 x 90
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: PixInsight and Photoshop
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/
http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

IC 2162 and Other Sharpless Objects

Part 1 - Hydrogen Alpha
This is the first step, imaging in Ha as the nearly full moon is out.  I managed to get 80 minutes on it and that was lucky given my limited field of view and dodging clouds.  Normally I would wait until I get color and finish the object but the weather has been so cloudy lately it may be a couple weeks.  I am back to using the modified T3i/600D rather than the monochrome ASI1600 so the 80 minutes falls short of an optimal amount of Ha data but beggars can't be choosers and it is better than nothing.  In addition I somehow took flats wrong it was dark and late) and they subtracted real data, I tried take them again but they still were not working so I stacked it in DSS without flats which added to the processing.  Not surprisingly, I had to do some "wacky" noise reduction - I think I invented stuff in PS.  I miss my the ASI1600...

Now about object or objects.  I became interested in this after seeing Gary Imm's very detailed recent image.  Although Stellarium only has IC 2162 listed it is actually a star forming region approximately 8000 light years away at the top edge of the Orion constellation, above Betelgeuse towards Gemini.  It is composed of 5 Sharpless HII emission objects; from left to right, Sh2-254 (large and diffuse), Sh2-257 (bright middle object), Sh2-256 (small and just above), Sh2-255 (brightest nebula a.k.a. IC 2162), and finally Sh2-258 (not visible in my image).

I like the structure of each of the three bright nebula and was happy it came out as the moon was bright and I was not sure how well I had the focus.  Focusing in Ha with a monochrome camera is much easier in APT.  Lastly, I did not crop it much as I was interested in some of the colorful
surrounding stars in some other Astrobin images of this but I will most likely crop the final image.

Part 2 - Color
I finally finished this a few days ago after several cloudy days.  I was able to capture a total of 110 x 90 second frames over three nights.  The RGB image had much less noise than did the Ha most likely due to more RGB frames.  Since the DSLR does star color really well and this field has many colorful stars, I focused on keeping them intact after getting the nebula looking respectable.  I did a 50% luminosity blend with Ha in PI and then another blend in PS followed by blending in the RGB star field. 

I pleased how this image turned out and as an added surprise, Sh2-258 is visible in the color image.  It is small but there.  The star field contains several colorful blue and yellow stars of all sizes.  The bright blue magnitude 6.65 star (HIP 29616 A) to the right of the nebula is listed as a double star while a bright yellow magnitude 6.35 star (HIP 29326) is on the left. 

Anyway, hope you enjoy my DSLR image, it certainly was interesting doing this again.  Fortunately my ASI1600 is back so I will be switching out the cameras now all that is needed is clear skies!

Ha

IC 2162 and Other Sharpless Objects Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 2-18-19
Camera: Canon T3i/600D modified
Telescope: Astro_Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm (FR 644mm)
f/7 (f/5.6)
Focal Reducer: Astro-Tech 0.8x Focal Reducer/Field Flattener for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: none
Filter: Astronomics 12 nm Ha Clip-in
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 26 x 180
Gain/ISO: 800
Offset:
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: PixInsight and Photoshop
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/
http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/

HaRGB Widefield

HaRGB Crop

IC 2162 and Other Sharpless Objects Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 2-21-19, 2-25-19, 2-26-19
Camera: Canon T3i/600D modified
Telescope: Astro_Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm (FR 644mm)
f/7 (f/5.6)
Focal Reducer: Astro-Tech 0.8x Focal Reducer/Field Flattener for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: none
Filter: Baader Neodymium Moon & Skyglo 2"
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 110 x 90
Gain/ISO: 800
Offset:
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: PixInsight and Photoshop
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/
http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/

Saturday, February 16, 2019

M50 (2019) with a DSLR

I was waiting all this time to image using the ZWO ASI1600 and Astro-Tech AT115 refractor.  I was imaging with the camera for 7 months patiently waiting for the telescope to arrive. I finally get the telescope, use it to image M78, and then the fan on the camera stops working.  I purchased it from OPT and so I sent it back to them where they will send it to ZWO for repair - fortunately it is under warranty.  As a result, I will be using the modified Canon T3i/600D until the AS1600 is fixed.

The moon was up and I need time to reacquaint myself to the DSLR so I decided go after Messier 50 (M50), a.k.a. the Heart-Shaped Cluster which is open cluster located in the constellation Monoceros.  Being named the Heart-Shaped Cluster I figured it was a good one to do on Valentines Day.  M50 is approximately 3,200 light years from Earth to the east of Orion and is close to Sirius.  It has an estimated age of 78 million years and is composed of numerous young, hot, luminous blue stars but also contains several yellow giants and a red M-class giant south of the cluster’s center (source: Messier Objects).

My first image of M50 was a whopping 22 min. total exposure from two years ago.  This new image, 46 min., not as much time as I had hoped, is much better.  The colorful field shows many blue and yellow giants and the star field is richer.  I did very little star reduction for this image as I prefer lots of stars.

The biggest surprise to me and one of reasons I did not crop the image more was the bright nebular dust area in the lower right side.  There was no data in Stellarium about this so I did some research on the Simbad database.  What I discovered is it a a very rich area containing several radio sources, infrared sources, double stars, an open cluster, and a dark nebula.  From what I am able to piece together the visible stuff in my image is an open cluster (IBP2002 CC04) and the interstellar matter (GS55 105).  Other 'objects' in the area include:

BD-08 1666AB - Double or multiple star
PMN J0700-0851 - Radio-source
IRAS 06581-0846 - Infra-Red source
RRF 2444 - Radio-source
DOBASHI 5043 - Dark Cloud (nebula)

I really liked this dusty area and I did not capture it two years ago or if I did I processed it out.  This is  worthy of further investigation preferably with someone who has a larger aperture telescope and smaller sensor with more detail - you know who you are! 

Lastly, the stars in the corners of the image show elongation even though I am using the flattener.  I had this problem when I first used the telescope with ASI1600 because I did not fave the sensor 55 mm away from the flattener.  I thought DSLR sensors were supposed to be preset to 55 mm away, I will have to check into this.


M50 - Heart-Shaped Cluster
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 2-14-19
Camera: Canon T3i/600D modified
Telescope: Astro_Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm
f/7
Focal Reducer: Astro-Tech 0.8x Focal Reducer/Field Flattener for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: none
Filter: Baader Neodymium Moon & Skyglo 2"
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 31 x 90
Gain/ISO: 800
Offset:
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: PixInsight and Photoshop
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/
http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 7, 2019

First Light with an AT115 EDT F/7 Triplet Refractor - Imaging M78

This is my first deep sky object using my new telescope, the AT115 EDT F/7 Triplet Refractor and could not be happier.  This image of M78 blows my other image from two years ago out of the water. M78 , aka NGC 2068, is a reflection nebula in the constellation of Orion some 1600 light years from us. This nebula (magnitude 8.3) is not visible with the naked eye and certainly not under the light polluted sky of southern Connecticut.  I choose not to crop it too much as I like the star field as well as the other nearby objects.  M78 is the brightest nebula a group of nebula which include NGC 2064, NGC 2067, and NGC 2071.  M78 is located in the top center of the image.  Separated by a dark dust lane and to the left is NGC 2064.  To the right of NGC 2064 is NGC 2067.  Further to the right and on its own is NGC 2071.  The gas and dust in this region of the Orion Molecular Cloud reflect blue from nearby stars.

One of my favorite parts is actually the dark dust lanes which separate the reflection nebulae.  These dust lanes actually light up in the infrared spectrum and are know to be star forming.  Other objects in this image include recently identified McNeil's Nebula which is very dim and just below a pair of stars to the left of M78.  Further to the left of McNeil's Nebula are Herbig-Haro objects.  Herbig-Haro (HH) objects are patches of nebulosity associated with newborn stars.  Also, on the lower right there is another small nebula which I was unable to find find any information on.  I like the look of it and wanted to keep it in the image which is why I did not crop this much.

On the first night of imaging M78 with this telescope I was quite impressed with the sharpness of the stars and nebulosity, however, the stars on the edges were oval shaped.  I also purchased the Astro-Tech 0.8X Reducer/Field Flatterner for this telescope and was expecting much better results.  This was my first experience with a flattener and after doing some research I discovered the edge of the flattener has to be 55 mm away from the camera sensor.  I was nowhere near 55 mm, more like 33 mm.  After adjusting the distance everything came into focus.

Lastly, after waiting several months for the telescope to arrive, the fan on my camera decides to not work so it can't hold the temperature after an hour.  Fortunately this happened on the last couple of nights imaging this.  I just sent back to OPT where it will then be sent to ZWO.  It is only seven months old and is still under warranty.  Long and short of it, I got this one image with my new complete set up but for the next couple of months I will be using my trusty rusty Canon T3i.  Go figure...


M78 - Caspar The Friendly Ghost Nebula
Location: Home Monroe, CT
Date: 1-28-19, 1-30-19, 1-31-19, 2-1-19, 2-3-19, 2-4-19
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro
Telescope: Astro_Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm
f/7
Focal Reducer: Astro-Tech 0.8x Focal Reducer/Field Flattener for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: ZWO EFW 8x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO R, G, B, L
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: R 133 x 90, G 117 x 90, B 143 x 60, L 285 x 60
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: PixInsight and Photoshop
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/
http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Cable Management and Telescope Setup (2019)

Figure 1 - New Setup

Part 1 - New Setup
I am very excited right now as I have finished a year-long major upgrade with my imaging system.  The first was the addition of the ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro Camera and ZWO 8-Position Electronic Filter Wheel along with a full set of ZWO 1.25-inch color and narrow band filters.  The second upgrade was the addition of a new imaging telescope - an Astro-Tech AT115EDT F7 Refractor.  This is the first triplet I have owned and have been looking forward to this for a long time.

Figure 2 - Closeup

Attached to the focuser is an Astro-Tech 0.8 Focal Reducer/Field Flattener that is designed for this telescope.  The camera sensor is set 55 mm away from the back of the Flattener as recommended by Astro-Tech.  I first attached the Flattener not knowing it had to be 55 mm from the sensor and my first images were anything but flat.  In addition, everything in the optical train is threaded.

Part 2 - Cable Management
Cable management is something that evolves over time.  My first astrophotography setup was very simple, just a camera, mount, and telescope - I had no cable issues then.  Today there are four USB cables - 1) camera, 2) filter wheel , 3) autoguider, 4) mount; three power cables - 1) camera, 2)  mount, 3) dew heater; two dew heaters connections; and finally the computer cable.

Figure 3 - Before Cable Management 

Aside from looking really bad all of these cables need to be secured so they don’t catch on things or move when the wind blows which results in poorly guided images.  My first few years I had many a night where my guiding was terrible and as I thought my system was fine.  Only after buying more equipment and realizing I need to do something about my cables did my guiding issues diminish.

If you search cable management you will discover there are two main methods - 1) attach everything on the top of the imaging scope or on a bracket on the top of the scope or 2) attach everything to the mount and run a cable harness to the peripherals.

When I first started I purchased a Powered USB3 Hub and used Velcro straps to attach it to the telescope where more Velcro and twist ties were used for the USB cables.  I let the power cable fend for themselves.
Figure 4 - Top Mounted USB Hub

I was not completely satisfied with my system so when I received my new telescope I figured it would be time to do an upgrade.  Rather than attach the USB Hub to the top, I attached it on the metal riser using Velcro.  All of the USB cables along with the dew heater cables and camera power cord are now tied together as my main wiring harness.  The harness runs along the middle of the mount and is attached to the telescope with two Velcro straps.  It is very important to have the wiring harness meet the scope in the center of the mount so there is no drag.  The Astro-Physics Mach 1 has openings in the center of the mount to run cables through.  I have been using this system for a couple weeks now and am very happy with it. There is no dragging, the wires are more secure than they ever have been, and I can remove my telescope easily.  Easy removal is important for me as I have to do a lot imaging from a second location in my yard.

Figure 5 - Side Mounted USB Hub With Cable Harness

I have not done anything with the power cords yet, but may at some future point.  The likely improvements would be a Rig Runner or Pegasus Power Box.  Both of these methods would involve splicing new ends for connections. 

In addition, make sure you get a USB3 Hub and that all of your USB cables are USB3.  It will work with a USB2, however, the speed will be slower and you might suffer some additional hang ups.    

Items Used:
Plugable 7 Port USB 3.0 Hub with 36W Power Adapter