Monday, February 17, 2020

SH2-263 & vdB38 - The Moldy Strawberry Nebula

Orion is just packed with dust and gas.  Aside from the popular nebula, numerous other nebulae are also present.  This interesting looking object consists of a red emission nebula (SH2-263) and a blue reflection nebula (vdB38).  Together this is called the Moldy Strawberry Nebula although some sites list as the Raspberry Nebula.

I really pushed the processing in order to show the gas and dust  in the background regions and to bring out the colors of the blue and red portions.  Very close by to this object is another Sharpless object, SH2-265, which is a faint emission nebula with two dark nebula embedded into it.  Unfortunately I did not frame it properly in order to get them so I will revisit this object in future. 




SH2-263 & vdB 38 - The Moldy Strawberry Nebula
Home Monroe, CT
Date: 1-29-20, 2-15-20
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 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO L, R, G, B
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: L 110 x 90s, R 39 x 90s, G 39 x 90s, B 44 x 90s
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: -4 C
Processing: APT, PixInsight, Photoshop
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/
http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/
http://youtube.com/c/AstroQuest1

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Spider & Fly Nebula - IC417 & NGC1931 - Ha(HaR)GB

This colorful area of space rich in hydrogen and oxygen gas is located constellation Auriga.  Along with other nearby space oddities such as the open star cluster M38, emission nebula IC410 with Tadpoles and the Flaming Star Nebula, the Spider Nebula - IC417 and the Fly Nebula - NGC1931 make for a wonderful place to image.  I am not quit sure I see a spider or a fly but nevertheless, it is gorgeous.  The emission nebula (Spider) contains an open cluster consisting of hot young stars and is about 100 ly across and 10,000 ly away.  The Fly is both an emission and reflection nebula but only about 10 ly across.

Processing had its usual weirdness.  This is the third time I had trouble stacking narrowband data in PI.  This time it was the Hydrogen alpha subframes.  It stacked everything but the Ha stacked image looked like a negative or something - it has happened on the last two sulfur images I did and though it was limited to just that.  The RGB stacked nicely.  Oh well, fortunately DSS worked like a charm.

I made a combined layer for the red channel (50% Ha - 50% red) rather than straight Ha as it just looked better and then added Ha as a luminosity layer (70%) to make the final image.  I really wanted to keep the Ha nebulosity but also wanted to keep it somewhat natural so I had to do a lot of balancing.  Göran Nilsson posted a really good version of the Spider and Fly on Astrobin (https://www.astrobin.com/ezdye1/E/?page=3&nc=all) recently which convinced me to image this.  I also did not crop it much at all (what a surprise) as I like faint Ha regions that are visible on the outer edges.

 

IC417 - Spider Nebula & NGC1931 - Fly Nebula
Home Monroe, CT
Date: 1-21-20, 1-22-20, 1-24-20
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 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO Ha, R, G, B
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: Ha 92 x 180s, R 41 x 90s, G 37 x 90s, R 34 x 90s
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: -4 C
Processing: APT, DSS, PixInsight, Photoshop
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/
http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/
http://youtube.com/c/AstroQuest1

Thursday, January 30, 2020

IC 405 - Flaming Star Nebula HaHaGB (2020)

This is the image of the Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405) I was planning on originally doing, however, only having clear nights on moon-filled nights prevented this me doing this so I went with the narrowband (Ha-SII).  In this version the blueish star in the center of the image (AE Aurigae), a runaway star originally ejected from the Orion region millions of years ago and responsible for the emission nebula, shows its brightness very well.  One my favorite parts of this image is the blueish trails emanating from AE Aurigae, I was unable to get them from my image from two years ago.  They are comprised of carbon rich dust and reflect blue light emanating from AE Aurigae.

This version is more true to the natural color than the narrowband image from a couple of weeks ago, hence, it is more commonly captured this way.  I cropped this one a bit more as I removed one the bright stars was closer to the edge in this version so I just cropped it out.

If it seems like it takes me longer than most to produce images your quite right.  In addition to bad weather - many of us have that, I have a poor field of view (FOV).  The following video link shows my FOV:  https://youtu.be/RwEinoyvUas.


IC 405 - Flaming Star Nebula
Home Monroe, CT
Date: 1-2-20, 1-6-20, 1-16-20
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 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO Ha, R, G, B
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: Ha 86 x 180s, R 37 x 90s, G 40 x 90s, R 38 x 90s
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: -4 C
Processing: APT, PixInsight, Photoshop
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/
http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/
http://youtube.com/c/AstroQuest1

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Orion-Barnard's Loop HaHaGB (2020)

This hydrogen gas and dust filled region is probably the most recognized regions of space in the northern latitudes.  The most popular and visible objects in this image are the Orion Nebula - M42, de Mairan's Nebula (M43), Running Man Nebula (NGC 1977), IC 434, Horsehead Nebula (B33), Flame Nebula (NGC 2024), Angelfish Nebula/Orion's Head Nebula (SH 2-264), and Barnard's Loop (SH 2-276).  There many more not really visible in my image such as M78. This is the second time I have done this area, the first was three years ago.  There is a significant improvement, however, I was hoping for a better more in depth image.  I think I can get one that I am truly satisfied with but will take some time.

I used my modified Canon 600d and a 50mm f/1.8 lens mounted on the Skyguider Pro and a Manfrotto camera tripod.  Additional items include: 2-inch Baader Neodymium Moon and Skyglow Filter and a 12nm Astronomik Ha Clip-in filter.

Barnard's Loop is much apparent in this image compared to the last time as is the other objects.  Also the star are much better this time around.  So why I am I not jumping for joy?  I had to trash about half of my exposures due to fine clouds and focusing using the Ha Clip-in filter is very tough when the moon is not out to focus in on.  I was out the other night on what looked like a clear night and it was is certain parts of the sky.  I was imaging on my main telescope with no problem, however, Orion in lower in the sky and prone to more clouds.  Also, because it is such a wide field, there is more room for clouds and planes to photo bomb an image. 

Note: 
If you get a Ha clip-in be aware of trying to focus because live view on is useless as you have to keep taking longer exposures. It is easier when using a telescope or larger lens like a say a 200 mm lens but with the 50mm lens it is tough.  

If you try this object with a similar setup I would suggest setting the ISO to 1600 rather than 800 like I did and if you can go to a dark site.  Needles to say processing was very tough as there were lots of gradients and lots of noise particularly in the Ha.  

This was also the first time in two years I used APT with my DSLR.  The latest additions now support live view which makes focusing much easier, in color that is! Thanks Ivo.  Longer exposures are still needed for Ha and BYEOS may have a slight advantage as there is a looping tool that APT does not seem to have, or maybe it does and I did not see it. 


Orion Constellation - Barnard's Loop
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 1-6-20, 1-12-20, 1-16-20, 1-21-20, 1-22-20
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a)
Telescope: Canon 50mm EF Lens
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 50mm
f/3.2
Focal Reducer: None
Mount: iOptron Skyguider Pro
Filter Wheel: None
Filter: Baader Neodymium Moon and Skyglow, Astronomik Ha Clip
Focuser: None
Autoguiding: None
Exposure: Ha 78 x 60s, RGB 82 x 60
ISO: 800
Offset None
Temp: -2 C
Post Processing: PixInsight, Photoshop, Lightroom, APT, BYEOS
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/
http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/
http://youtube.com/c/AstroQuest1

Sunday, January 19, 2020

IC 405 - Flaming Star Nebula Ha-SII

The Flaming Star Nebula is created by a runaway star (AE Aurigae), originally ejected from the Orion region millions of years ago, ionizing hydrogen gas that lies in the vast clouds of gas and dust that make up this nebula.  The nebula is about 5-LY across and is approximately 1500 LY away in the constellation of Auriga. If you are interested in learning more about the Flaming Star, Rosewell Astronomy made a very good video on it, "Learning about IC 405 and capturing a Flame" (https://youtu.be/PTksS2_DZFc).

This was not the image I was planning on rather a HaRGB, however, only having clear nights on moon-filled nights prevented that version or postponed it.  Were due for some clear weather tomorrow so that more popular truer to natural color version may be coming soon.  In this version AE Aurigae is the blueish star in the center of the image and ironically is close to the natural color - stars in narrowband images are typically not the true color.

I was preparing to do this as an HaRGB or possibly an HOO if moonless clear nights were scarce, however, John Hayes posted a version on Astrobin (https://www.astrobin.com/f00xnv/C/?nc=all) a few weeks ago and mentioned that there was hardly any OIII in this nebula so I decided not to waste my time on that - thanks John.  In my version I went with Ha in the red channel, 50% Ha and 50% SII in the green channel, and SII in the blue channel.  I did several other combinations but this looked most interesting with the most detail.  I did a couple of rounds of star reduction in PI even before combining it with the Ha since the stars in the SII image were more apparent.

Lastly, I seem to have gremlins pop up when I stack SII data these days.  This is the second time it happened.  Long and short is I had to stack the SII in )DSS.  If you interested I made a blog post of what the problem is and I show examples of what I am getting. (http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/2020/01/stacking-issue-with-sii-sulfur-data.html).


IC 405 - Flaming Star Nebula
Home Monroe, CT
Date: 1-2-20, 1-6-20, 1-12-20, 1-15-20, 1-16-20
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 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO Ha, SII
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: Ha 86 x 180s, SII 97 x 180s
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: -4 C
Processing: APT, PixInsight, Photoshop
https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/
http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/
http://youtube.com/c/AstroQuest1

Stacking Issue with SII (Sulfur) data

I seem to have gremlins pop up when I stack SII data these days.  The following are stacked SII  images of IC 405 - Flaming Star Nebula.  The top left is the normal Batch PreProcessing (BBP) version from PI, the top right is from DSS, the bottom right is from DSS using an older batch of flats, and finally the bottom left is from DSS without any flats. 
 

There are no other issues with the other filters, narrowband or RGB.  This issue seems to be limited to SII and just since December - My last NB image.  See link: IC 410 Post (http://astroquest1.blogspot.com/2019/12/ic-410-tadpole-nebula.html).  Prior to that was my NB image of the Pelican Nebula from 10/1 which there were no stacking problems.

The above experiments indicate the problem is with my flats since I changed none of the setting in PI but I am still not 100%.  The DSS version using the latest flats (top right) was also weird but not as weird as the PI version.  In any case the, DSS version without any flats seems to be the best. 


The above image shows two sets of flats, the left side are the Ha from the most recent on the top and an older version on the bottom while the right side shows SII from the most recent on the top and an older version on the bottom.

Any thoughts or explanations are welcome.  The less technical the better. - Cheers 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

How I Set Up a Custom Landscape in Stellarium & Why!

Introduction

Figure 1 - Video


Most Stellarium users are fine with the default Landscape image especially if you have a decent field of view, however, I happen to live in a heavily wooded area in southern Connecticut and have a limited field of view (Fig. 1 - video).  Because of this, I don't have a lot of play time, therefore, it is important to know precisely how long the object will visible for so.

When doing research on building an observatory, most of the sources were saying the location (FOV) was the most important factor in building an observatory and would bother to put one without a great FOV.  What I have say is 'POPPYCOCK"!  The most important factor, for an amateur, is where are you going to get the most use out of this.  I have increased my productivity porbably by 4x since building this.  The ease of just running out and start imaging far out-ways the drawbacks as you can try on questionable nights that ordinarily you would not.  Yes it would be better if it was at remote site with a great FOV but I have a family and can't just bop of when the weather is clear.

For this post I will outline what I did but not necessarily go into all the detail.  For that, I will show the two links I used which has more in-depth instruction.

Links to Videos with in-depth Instruction:
1) Serhii Bazavluk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flwllEQTfVw
2) Amateur Astronomy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GUi_weVMhs

Making the Landscape
To start the Default image is a grassy field with some buildings presumably taken in Guereins, France (Fig. 2).  The Stelliarum Wiki page lists four possible ways to change it and they are:

  1) Polygonal Method Using a text file with azimuths/altitudes.
  2) Single Fish-eye Method Using a fish-eye panorama image.
  3) Single Spherical Method Using a spherical panorama image.
  4) Multiple Image Method (also called “old style” landscapes)

Figure 2 - Stellarium with Guereins Landscape (Default)


I used the the Single Spherical Method (3) in order to make my custom landscape.  The directions seem straight forward if you are photographer or computer graphic person but if you are not, you will probably need some other sources.

Step 1 - Make a 360 degree Panorama Image

I downloaded the 360 Panorama app on to my iPhone in order to make the spherical panorama image.  The app was super easy to use but any camera app or other panoramic method should work.  Next go to the place you want to make your panorama and take the image.  I stood on a step stool and did a complete circle in place.  My location is so bad I had to do a second pass raised above the first pass.

Step 2 - Size the image in Photoshop
Next import the image into Photoshop and make the width 2048 pixels.  Then click on edit canvas size and make the height to 1024 pixels with a transparent background.  Adjust the the picture so the horizon is in the center of the frame.

Step 3 - Make the sky transparent
This part was long and tedious.  I used the magic wand tool, however, there are several other ways to go about this.

Step 4 - Save image to the Desktop
Once image is complete, name it 'Landscape' and save it as a 'png' file.

Step 5 - Create Landscape.ini
Next, go to the landscapes folder in Stellarium (Windows C:> Program Files > Stellarium > landscapes > ) and create a folder named custom.  Once in custom, create a text file named landscape.ini and copy the following text into the file:
__________________________
[landscape]
name = Custom Landscape
description = Amateur Astronomy - Telescope, Binocular and Imaging Forum
type = spherical
maptex = landscape.png
latitude = +41d19'52"
longitude = +73d13'27"
altitude = 163
angle_rotatez = 85
____________________________

Step 6 - Adjust the Image to the Correct Direction 
You will have to change your latitude, longitude, and altitude to your location.  The angle _rotatez is the adjustment which lines up the image to the correct directions.  You will have to adjust a few times to line it up properly.

Done - Maybe
If you are happy with how the landscape image looks and works which most of you probably are, then you are done!

Making a Transparent Line Custom Landscape
However, in my case, the FOV is so bad that there was not much showing that was visible so I did not see what was coming up.  So what I did was create a second landscape where I traced a line around the landscape and made the interior transparent.  The advantage was I can now see what was coming up while still seeing the edge of the landscape.

Well That's I have Folks!  Cheers