Thursday, August 18, 2022

North America & Pelican Nebulae (Baader Neodymium Filter Test)

I have not imaged both the North America Nebula (NGC 7000) and the Pelican Nebula (IC 5070) in the same before so I figured this would be an excellent object to do some more testing. I wanted to compare the Baader Neodymium (Moon & Skyglow) Filter with the IDAS NBZ Filter so there will be another image using the NBZ once the weather permits and I image it. The filters are quite different in what they are designed for and light they filter out so it is not a comparison which is better but more about what each filter can do.

I am very impressed with this Skyglow Filter especially since it was done when the moon was up. There were some gradients but nothing the flats could not handle. There is very good dynamic range across the both nebulae, more than was expected. I like how the outer sharp dense red portions grade into the white inner regions. The Wall, 'outer red portion of Mexico' is very distinctive as are some of the other red tendrils on the North America and edge of the Pelican.  On the center right side of there is a small white cloud which is actually a reflection nebula, IC 5076, that I never new was there.

Last thing about this image is that it is only 1.5 hours of exposure (45 x 120s). I did not go to longer exposures since it was a broadband image and the moon was out but despite that it came out rather well, much better than I was expecting. I used Bill Blanshan's star reduction - my new favorite star reduction method to reduce the heavily star-packed region as this sits in the Milky Way plane. 


North America & Pelican Nebulae (Baader Neodymium Filter Test)
Dates: 8-12-22
Camera: ZWO ASI2600MC-Pro
Telescope: Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 200mm
f/4 with stepdown rings
Focal Reducer: None
Mount: iOptron SkyGuider Pro
Filter Wheel/Drawer: ZWO EOS Filter Drawer
Filter: Baader Neodymium (Moon & Skyglow) Filter
Focuser: None
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to a ZWO Mini 30/120mm Guidescope
Exposure: 45 x 120
Gain: 100
Sensor Temp: 0 C
Processing: ASIAIR Pro, PixInsight, Photoshop, StarXTerminator.
Power: BINZET AC to DC 12V 10A 120W Power Supply

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

M16-M17 Region (Plate-Solve Test with ASIAIR & SkyGuider)

The most famous objects in this image are M16 (Eagle Nebula) and M17 (Omega Nebula) but several other objects are also in the field. Some of the other noteworthy objects visible are LBN 71 along with NGC 6604 and SH2-54 in the upper right portion. The left side has a lot of other nebular regions, some named, some unnamed. Numerous Sharpless objects, star clusters, and dark nebulae are scattered throughout this image.

The bad news is the stars were not as sharp as the focus was slightly off - my fault being in a hurry. The good news is Bill's Star reduction reduced the star problem quite a bit. The image is not great and I really did not spend a lot of time processing it since I did not have a lot of time on it, the light pollution was horrible in this direction, and the image was not the major focus of this project. The light pollution was so bad I could not make out any stars due to the light glow from Stamford and NYC. I was happy that I was getting something.

So how was I able to even find this given the sky conditions? Using the ASIAIR for Plate-solving. Plate-Solving is standard procedure for using go to mounts, it is less commonly used with tracking mounts such as the iOptron SkyGuider Pro which I was using. It actually worked quite well especially since Jacek Witkowski lent an extra set of hands (Thanks). I could have chosen an easier object that was actually visible to do this test with but I was at the offsite cemetery again and wanted to do something that is not visible very long from my yard.


M16-M17 Region (Plate-Solve Test with the Portable Setup)!
Dates: 8-13
Camera: ZWO ASI2600MC-Pro
Telescope: Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 200mm
f/4 with stepdown rings
Focal Reducer: None
Mount: iOptron SkyGuider Pro
Filter Wheel/Drawer: ZWO EOS Filter Drawer
Filter: IDAS NBZ
Focuser: None
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to a ZWO Mini 30/120mm Guidescope
Exposure: 51 x 120
Gain: 100
Sensor Temp: 0 C
Processing: NINA, PixInsight, Photoshop, StarXTerminator.
Power: Maxoak K2 Laptop Power Bank

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Thursday, August 11, 2022

M27 - Dumbbell Nebula (2022)

Messier 27 (a.k.a. M27) is a planetary nebula located 1200 light-years away in the constellation of Vulpecula and is approximately 5 light-years across. Its odd structure leads to interesting names such as the Apple Core Nebula or more commonly the Dumbbell Nebula. The structure of this object results from the expulsion of gas from a dying star and then having the remaining progenitor white dwarf star ionize the gas so it shines. This particular PN has a strong oxygen (OIII) component as evidenced by the blue-green regions. The red is due to hydrogen (Ha). The formation of the interesting shape is hard to picture because of our orientation, however, what is known is there is a bi-polar influence which is why it does not appear as a sphere like the nearby Ring Nebula.

I imaged this over seven nights at the end of July without any difficulties. Processing turned out quite fun as it is the first image where I processed it completely on my new processing computer. The speed of this new system is quite impressive. For example, it only took 1hr 10min to stack 372 exposures using WBPP where it would have taken approximately 6 hrs using the laptop. I made a video of the new system if you are interested (Link - https://youtu.be/SyyDdTT47WM).

This version was a big improvement over my previous attempts. For one thing I used my AT115 vs. the Orion ED80. It is still a small telescope so I had to crop it quite a bit but I captured more data than before. Another thing I did was use Bill Blanshan's new star reduction methods for PixInsight in processing. The methods worked surprisingly well as the stars were reduced with only a small amount of artifacts on large stars and I was able to fix those without too much effort.
 

M27 - Dumbbell Nebula (2022) 
Dates: 7-19-22, 7-20, 7-21, 7-22, 7-25, 7-26, 7-30
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro
Telescope: Astro-Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm (644mm w/ FR)
f/7
Focal Reducer: 0.8x AstroTech Field Flatterner/Focal Reducer
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: ZWO EFW 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO Ha, OIII, R, G, B
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope/ZWO 60mm Guidescope
Exposure: Ha 85 x 300, OIII 85 x 300, R 74 x 60, G 71 x 60, B 57 x 60
Gain: 139
Offset 20
Sensor Temp: 0 C
Processing: NINA, PixInsight, Photoshop, Topaz DeNoiseAI, StarXTerminator.

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Monday, August 1, 2022

NGC 6888 - Crescent Nebula (2022)

NGC 6888 or the Crescent Nebula (a.k.a. Caldwell 27 or Sh2-105) is an emission nebula located in Cygnus approximately 5,000 light-years away. Its formation is the result from stellar wind from Wolf-Rayet Star, WR136 (HD192163), colliding with slower-moving earlier ejected particles from the star when it became a red giant. The turbulent swirling ionized gas is quite impressive and measures approximately 25 light-years across. The red color is due to the high concentration of hydrogen gas while the blue-green is indicative of oxygen gas.

This object is probably one of the top ten most imaged objects and I have imaged this three other times myself. However, they were captured with different equipment. This is my most detailed version yet which makes sense since it was with my largest focal length scope. I am very happy with the result and am once again surprised at how much Ha and OIII came through using the IDAS NBZ filter. I love the blue-green outer nebulosity and if you look closely you can see it is dispersed throughout the object. Also interesting is the dark globule known as "The Bullet" in the center near the bright star HD192163. When I first imaged this years ago I thought it was a piece of dirt on the sensor.

After imaging this I broke down this rig as I was having intermittent technical difficulties between the ASIAIR Pro and EAF. The ASIAIR would not read the EAF when starting up. Thinking it was the cables I went through four sets before determining that was not it. I contacted ZWO and have to say they were quite responsive in particular, TJ Connelly. Long and short, I ended up sending both items to New Jersey and they had to replace the EAF motor - very happy with the service.


NGC 6888 - Crescent Nebula 
Dates: 6-29, 6-30
Camera: ZWO ASI294MC-Pro
Telescope: Celestron EdgeHD 800
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 2032mm (native), 1400mm
F/10 (native), F/7
Focal Reducer: Celestron 0.7 Reducer Lens
Mount: Orion Atlas Pro
Filter Adaptor: ZWO Filter Drawer
Filter: IDAS NBZ (2-inch)
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Orion ST80
Exposure: Lum 175 x 180
Gain: 139
Offset 0
Temp: 0 C
Processing: Asiair app, PixInsight, Photoshop, StarXTerminator, Topaz DeNoiseAI.

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Monday, July 25, 2022

The Lagoon & Trifid (M8 & M20) Region Using the Portable Setup!

I have not imaged this M8, the Lagoon Nebula, or M20, the Trifid Nebula much not because I don't like them but because I can't see them from my yard and they are too low and the trees are too high. To get them I traveled to my closest wide open field, St. John's Cemetery 👻, even better only a mile from my house. It is a relatively new cemetery that 80 years ago was a private airstrip. The town still maintains the grassy field (not the cemetery part) since the FAA uses this as an emergency landing location. The Lagoon, the large red-white cloud in the center, is approximately 5,000 light-years away and about 110 by 50 ly in size. The nebula contains some dark, collapsing clouds of protostellar material known as Bok globules. In addition, four Herbig-Haro (HH) objects (bright spots of nebulosity associated with newborn stars) have been detected in its confines. The Trifid Nebula, the smaller blue-red cloud, is about 4,100 ly away and consists of an open-star cluster, an emission nebula in red, and a reflection nebula in blue. Numerous other objects of interest are located in this image including another Messier object, M21, a star cluster adjacent to the Trifid Nebula.

There is a lot of detail visible in this image which is surprising since it was taken with a 200mm camera lens rather than a telescope. I wanted to test out the portability of my portable setup in an actual situation rather than just setting up at my house which I have been doing. The object itself was unplanned, meaning I did not know I would image this until I got there, however, the only other object I was thinking about was the nearby Eagle and Omega complex. It was visible for approximately 2.500 hours at this location but I was only to get about 1.5 hours - not a lot but enough to get a decent image. The portable setup works really well and the only issue I had was trying to find the Lagoon as the iOptron SkyGuider Pro is not go-to so I had to locate the object the old fashion way. The main thing I tested this night which I have not before was powering it in the field. For my other mounts and setups I use a Deep Cycle Marine battery to power the scopes, camera, dew heaters, computer, and etc. For this setup, the SkyGuider has its own power, there is no computer as the ASIAIR is controlled by a tablet. To power the camera and ASIAIR I used Maxoak K2 Laptop Power Bank ($129 Amazon) which still had plenty of power after I was done as did the SkyGuider - both of these would have worked for the entire night.

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The Lagoon & Trifid (M8 & M20) Region Using the Portable Setup!
Dates: 7-3
Camera: ZWO ASI2600MC-Pro
Telescope: Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 200mm
f/4 with stepdown rings
Focal Reducer: None
Mount: iOptron SkyGuider Pro
Filter Wheel/Drawer: ZWO EOS Filter Drawer
Filter: IDAS NBZ
Focuser: None
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to a ZWO Mini 30/120mm Guidescope
Exposure: 41 x 120
Gain: 100
Sensor Temp: 0 C
Processing: NINA, PixInsight, Photoshop, StarXTerminator.
Power: Maxoak K2 Laptop Power Bank

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Simeiz 57 - Propeller Nebula (DWB 111/119)

The Propeller Nebula is located in the region of Cygnus streaming with gas, in particular hydrogen as evidenced from the image. Many popular objects are located within this rich gaseous region and the Propeller often gets included as part of a wide field image. The exact distance is not known, however, the Cygnus Complex is approximately 4,6oo light-years away. The object is a hydrogen gas emission nebula that happens to resemble a giant propeller, hence the name.

The most common designation is DWB 111, however, this is only part of the object and named after H. R. Dickel, H. Wendker, and J. H. Bieritz, who were studying and cataloging HII regions in the Cygnus X Complex in the 1960s. DWB 119 was the other half of the object. The earlier Simeiz Catalog was created in the 1950s by the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory at Simeiz in Ukraine (Russia annexed Crimea in 2014). This object was number 57 in that catalog so the designation for the whole object is Simeiz 57 (a.k.a. Simeis 57) .

So you may have noticed I captured it over a month ago and only now publishing it, this is due to a variety of factors including a lot of software and hardware glitches. One of my issues was that my laptop computer was seriously underpowered and some programs such as Topaz Denoise (new update) would no longer work. I now have a zippy desktop for processing and everything works and is much faster. This image is the first one where I used the new computer (partially). The data was collected using the IDAS NBZ filter which collects only hydrogen alpha (Ha) and oxygen III (OIII). I separated the Ha into the red channel and the OIII was a combo between green and blue where green was a higher percentage. The image is a close approximation of an monochrome HOO combo yet taken with a color camera (or that is the idea). This is a dimmer object than it appears so I am happy with the outcome.


Simeiz 57 - Propeller Nebula (DWB 111/119)
Dates: 6-17, 6-19, 6-28
Camera: ZWO ASI294MC-Pro
Telescope: Celestron EdgeHD 800
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 2032mm (native), 1400mm
F/10 (native), F/7
Focal Reducer: Celestron 0.7 Reducer Lens
Mount: Orion Atlas Pro
Filter Adaptor: ZWO Filter Drawer
Filter: IDAS NBZ (2-inch)
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Orion ST80
Exposure: Lum 163 x 180
Gain: 139
Offset 0
Temp: 0 C
Processing: Asiair app, PixInsight, Photoshop, StarXTerminator, Topaz DeNoiseAI.

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Friday, July 15, 2022

Astro Images from Co-NM Vacation

General Pics from the Deck
Some random quick shots of the night sky from my sister-in-laws deck. They have a great view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. They are at 35 degrees north latitude so that means Polaris (aka the North Star) is 35 degrees above the horizon. The Big Dipper is overhead. Also visible are the constellations Cygnus, Lyra, and Cassiopeia. These were taken with the Opteka Fisheye Lens which does a good job capturing photons although the stars aren't so good near the edges.





Canon T3i/600D Modified
Opteka 6.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye
ISO 1600
f/5.6
Filter Astronomik OWB
Exposure 30s

Couple Moon Shots
Couple moon shots from Wednesday night in Santa Fe. The clouds gave provided a very cool background. Two of the images were taken with the 50mm Lens and the really close up pic was with the 200mm Lens.



Canon T3i/600D Modified
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 (Nifty Fifty)
ISO 400
f/7.1
Filter Astronomik OWB
Exposure 1s



Canon T3i/600D Modified
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8 USM II
ISO 400
f/10
Filter Astronomik OWB
Exposure 0.5s