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11/30/-1
    
Friday, July 25th, 2008
The sky is dark tonight. The moon will not rise for a couple of hours so I will be able to get some decent acquisition time in before it comes up. Tonight I tried the dual camera setup again. This time I used only the Mac controlling both cameras at the same time. Download times were 10 times faster then last night's attempt and thus the results were far better.

Tonight I took 2 hours of the Iris Nebula as well as 20 minutes of M3 whilst I used the other camera to shoot a wide field shot of the region around Deneb and the Region around the handle of the Big Dipper. Sweet!

Screenshot
I'm including another screenshot as an example of how well the system was tracking again tonight. Even better then the last time. This is due to improved seeing conditions as well as better polar alignment. The screenshot shows PHD Guiding in the foreground with the graph option enabled and Nebulosity in the background shooting 3 minute exposures of the Iris Nebula.
See Gallery below for image

Setup Shot
I've also included a shot of the setup from this evening. I now have two cameras functioning at the same time, one doing wide field (hopefully I can learn to improve on these widefield shots) and one in the scope. Fun fun fun.
See Gallery below for image

Deneb Region - 22 Degree Wide Field

This is a 30 minute exposure of 30 second subs (all I can do at the moment). The tracking on the little Min-EQ was dialed in pretty nicely (which is a challenge in and of itself). 30 second shots were yielding pretty round stars. I was very surprised in the processing to see hints (not more then hints really) of things like the Butterfly Nebula and the Pelican Nebula. Cool. I stretched the low end of the red up to boost the nebulosity in the region. There are a couple of Messier's in the image M39 and M29 as well as a handful of OCL clusters and NGC nebulae.

Scope: Canon 18-55mm Zoom Lens @ 55mm f/5.6
Mount: Orion Min-EQ
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 30 minutes - 60 @ 30 seconds
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image

Big Dipper Canes Venatici Region
I thought I'd shoot this area since my camera was pointed there while I was performing some tests. Not a bad result I don't think. I labeled version of this one and uploaded 100% versions of M101 and M51 where surprisingly enough you can just begin to make out structure in the galaxies. Cool!

Scope: Canon 18-55mm Zoom Lens @ 55mm f/5.6
Mount: Orion Min-EQ
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 30 minutes - 60 @ 30 seconds
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image

NGC 7023 - Iris Nebula
Wow! I was very impressed with the results of this one. I shot the Iris the other night for an hour 20 and was somewhat pleased but the moon was a tad bright and it was likely not a good candidate for that evening. Tonight's shot turned out much better. Detail in the nebula, keyhole, wide outer clouds and dark dust in the stars. Sweet! This is the longest exposure I've taken to date.

Scope: William Optics MegRez 90mm @ f/5.5 w/WO-FLAT-III 0.8x Focal Reducer
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Camera: Canon EOS 350 Digital Rebel XT (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 2 hours 12 minutes - 43 @ 180 seconds
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image

M3
Though I have several pictures of M3 this one incorporated a technique I tried a few weeks back combining 3 minute exposures with 15 second exposures. I think it's my best M3 to date though I wish I'd have given more time to it.

Scope: William Optics MegRez 90mm @ f/5.5 w/WO-FLAT-III 0.8x Focal Reducer
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Camera: Canon EOS 350 Digital Rebel XT (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 1600
Exposure: 20 minutes - 5 @ 180 seconds and 20 @ 15 seconds
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


Image Gallery For This Session
1 Screenshot 2 2 Dual Camera Setup
3 Cygnus Region 30m 4 Big Dipper Handle 30m
5 M51 100 percent 6 M101 100 percent
7 Iris Nebula 2h 12m 8 M3 20m
   

1-Screenshot-2.jpg
Click picture above for larger version
If the picture seems too bright or too dark, try adjusting the brightness below.
Brightness:
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Comments:
On 08/03/08 at 11:32pm Neil Heacock wrote:
Thanks Barry. I've had some people encourage me to submit shots like this to sky and telescope. I'm not sure how to do it though - and I'm sure they get 100 a day just like it.

Anyway, I'm starting to crest the learning curve of the gear I think I'm beginning to get a consistency in the images.

Thanks again,

-Neil

On 08/01/08 at 09:18pm Barry wrote:
I love the shot of the Iris nebula. What a great photo!!!

Do you hear the phone ringing? Could be Sky & Telescope calling to publish your photos in a special supplement issue. ..... "The photos of noted astrophotographer, Neil Heacock"

Hey, don't laugh. It could happen. You are doing some damn nice stuff!

On 07/27/08 at 04:08pm Jeff wrote:
Awesome shots Neil!



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