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Sunday, April 15th, 2007
New Astrophotography Stuff.
 
A few weeks ago I went to an astrophotography conference. It was extremely enlightening. I still have tons to learn as well as learn how to implement the things I've been shown (such as bias frames, flat frames, dark frames, etc). But I did learn a great deal about image processing including stacking and levels and curves manipulation.
 
So I've taken some pictures recently when the sky is clear to try and implement various things I've learned. Here are the latest images based on these new (to me) techniques.
 
The Moon - 4.5 Days Old
Scope: Celestron 102mm Short Tube Achromat @ f/5
Camera: Canon EOS 350 Digital Rebel XT (unmodified)
Special Settings: In camera noise reduction
ISO: 100, 200, 400, 800
Exposure: 4 shots total - 1 at each ISO between 1/400 and 1/250
Processing Software: Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels, Curves and cropped in Photoshop
Resolution: 100% (and cropped)
 
 
M35
Scope: Celestron 102mm Short Tube Achromat @ f/5
Camera: Canon EOS 350 Digital Rebel XT (unmodified)
Special Settings: In camera noise reduction
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 32 seconds total - 4 @ 8 seconds
Processing Software: Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels, Curves and cropped in Photoshop
Resolution: 30%, 60% (and cropped)
M35 Image @ 30%
 
 
M51
Scope: Celestron 102mm Short Tube Achromat @ f/5
Camera: Canon EOS 350 Digital Rebel XT (unmodified)
Special Settings: In camera noise reduction
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 28 minutes total - 56 @ 30 seconds
Processing Software: Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels, Curves and cropped in Photoshop
Resolution: 100% (and cropped)
 
 
M3
Scope: Celestron 102mm Short Tube Achromat @ f/5
Camera: Canon EOS 350 Digital Rebel XT (unmodified)
Special Settings: In camera noise reduction
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 11 minutes total - 22 @ 30 seconds
Processing Software: Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels, Curves and cropped in Photoshop
Resolution: 100% (and cropped)
 
 
Having taken some pictures with my 102mm I was able to finally achieve prime focus in my 12" dob with the addition of 2 accessories:
1) A very low profile Feather Touch focuser - This new focuser gave me over 1.5 inches of in-focus. It also has an optional piece of hardware for allowing software to control the focuser via ASCOM drivers for acquiring focus through a program such as MaxDSLR.
2) A Baader Planetarium Multi-Purpose Coma Corrector (MPCC) - This wonderful device not only helps to flatten the field to fix edge coma problems, but almost more importantly, it pulls the in-focus back about 10mm.
 
After installing the feather Touch, I still needed about 8mm of in travel to achieve focus. So the combination of the two gets me where I needed to be without moving my primary mirror cell up the tube 2 inches. Sweet!
 
Tonight I had a very small window to take pictures, so I quite literally set the equatorial platform on the ground, pointed it north and leveled it. Nothing else. Because of this, the tracking was pretty bad. You can see it in the pictures that even at 10 seconds, there is still noticeable drift and oblong stars. When I have a longer clear session I'll spend some time dialing in the tracking so I can get longer exposures. Even still, I'm very pleased with the results.
 
M3
Scope: Hardin 12" (300mm) Deep Space Hunter @ f/5
Camera: Canon EOS 350 Digital Rebel XT (unmodified)
Special Settings: In camera noise reduction
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 3 minutes total - 18 @ 10 seconds
Processing Software: Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels, Curves and cropped in Photoshop
Resolution: 60% (and cropped)
 
M51
Scope: Hardin 12" (300mm) Deep Space Hunter @ f/5
Camera: Canon EOS 350 Digital Rebel XT (unmodified)
Special Settings: In camera noise reduction
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 5 minutes total - 30 @ 10 seconds
Processing Software: Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels, Curves and cropped in Photoshop
Resolution: 60% (and cropped)
 
M35
Scope: Hardin 12" (300mm) Deep Space Hunter @ f/5
Camera: Canon EOS 350 Digital Rebel XT (unmodified)
Special Settings: In camera noise reduction
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 40 seconds total - 4 @ 10 seconds
Processing Software: Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels, Curves and cropped in Photoshop
Resolution: 60% (and cropped)
 
In the end, I was pleased to see that from either scope I can get different shots of the same object, both of which turn out decently.
 
I can't wait to get this setup back out to dark sky where detail comes in much shorter exposures. 


Image Gallery For This Session
M35 Dob M35 Large
M35 Medium M3 Large
M3 Wide Field M51 07 04 23
M51 Large M51 Large new
M51 Wide Field Moon 45 days
   

M35_Dob.jpg
Click picture above for larger version
If the picture seems too bright or too dark, try adjusting the brightness below.
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