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Showing posts from July, 2014

A Quantum Leap in Digital Camera Astrophotography?

When CCD cameras made their way into the lexicon of average astrophotographers some time in the 1990s, the cameras were a far cry from having large sensors and being easy to operate. With DSLRs popping onto the astrophotography scene in the early- to mid-2000s, astrophotography saw a huge jump in the number of active hobbyists and the number of excellent astro images. Suddenly, astrophotography didn't require thousands of dollars and a PhD-level understanding of quantum mechanics to produce a very decent image. But the chips were (are) color only (no monochrome option) and, of course, there was (is) no regulated cooling of the sensor. The size of the DSLR APS-C sensor was enormous relative to what was available in the astro CCD world (ST-7, ST-2000, or ST-10 anyone?). The cost of the camera was MUCH lower than the astro CCD options and it was much easier and cheaper to connect a DSLR to a telescope. But the lack of regulated thermoelectric cooling (TEC) and the lack of a monochrom…

Western Veil Nebula - Too Many Stars!

The region of sky where the Veil Nebula resides is packed with stars as it's right in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy. The image below is of the western portion of the very large nebula complex. It complements the image of the eastern portion of the Veil I took the previous night. I'll have to do a mosaic if I ever hope to get the entire complex into one image, which brings me to my next point...

Technology is making me lazy! With the various astrophotography-related plug-ins available for Photoshop, it's getting real easy to not spend the time I should be spending on getting better and MORE raw light frames and calibration frames. This image, for example, does not represent a really well-planned and thought-out image. I simply framed the subject, focused, and took a series of 15-minute light frames. I skipped taking darks, flats, and bias frames because I knew MaximDL's bad pixel removal tool, Russ Croman's Gradient XTerminator, and the HLVG and Noise Ninja plug-…

Triangulum Galaxy, M33: Quickie Style

In my recent tradition of taking too few images with too short exposure times and foolishly not using any calibration frames, here's an image of M33, a spiral galaxy in the constellation Triangulum. From our line of site, it's a neighbor of M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. But at a distance from our Sun of about 3 million light years and in the same general direction, it's also an actual neighbor of M31. Both galaxies, as well as our own Milky Way galaxy (and a few dozen other galaxies) are all in the same universal neighborhood and referred to as the Local Group.

Eastern Veil Nebula - More Weeknight Quickies

Here is an image of the eastern portion of the Veil or Cirrus Nebula in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan or Northern Cross). The entire nebula complex is a supernova remnant, what's left over from a massive stellar explosion that occurred approximately 15,000 years ago.

Another Weeknight Quickie: The Crescent Nebula

Here's another quickie astro image (see the previous quickie image, M20, here). The Crescent Nebula is in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, which is high in the sky on summer nights.

The Trifid Nebula, Messier's 20th

Charles Messier made a list of objects in the night sky as he hunted for comets. As he encountered objects which were not comets, he made a note of them so he and others wouldn't waste time on them in their search for the transient icy rocks of the solar system. What has become known as the Trifid Nebula is the 20th object in his 110-object catalog.

In this 30-minute exposure, M20 is seen as it can never be seen with the eye through a telescope. Only the long exposure of a photograph along with some post-processing can bring out the colors and detail seen here. At only 30 minutes, this is considered a short astronomical exposure. A more refined photograph of this object requires more exposure time along with dark and flat frames, neither of which were used in the version seen here.

Dusk at the Desert Office

It's just the end of another work day out at the desert office (otherwise known as GMARS). It's about 8:30PM and 90F.