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Monday, April 20th, 2009
I've actually had several observing sessions as the sky has miraculously cleared up for a few nights. I think my wife thinks she is an astronomy widow.

Observing Session
I was having some trouble with ghosting and focus on my 16" Lightbridge. I've really been enjoying the faint fuzzies with this scope, but the brighter objects in particular I've avoided due to this problem.

I had a local mirror optics expert Steve Swayze perform some tests on the mirror and he said among other things it has a "turned edge" which he said would cause ghosting on bright objects (and I never told him I was having ghosting problems).

Well, I had Tap Plastics make me a matte acrylic ring 16.25" diameter with a 15.5" hole cut in it. I attached it to the top of the clips on the mirror to essentially mask the turned edge problem.

It just so happened that seeing was exceptionally crisp and I performed a star test at 365x on Arcturus. The diffraction rings were clean, clear and without haze or ghosting. I immediately turned the scope to Saturn and it was the best view I've had since I got the scope. Saturn was crisp and clear. Storm bands were clear, the rings were crisp and to my surprize Enceladus (the 11.7 mag moon) was a nice tight little pin dot.

Still at 365x power I pulled up Epsilon Lyrae and split the double double into 4 distinct pin dots of light with only a fraction of fuzziness spread between the groups. It was exhilarating.


Imaging Session
I've had bunches o' trouble ever since I put the Feathertouch and Baader MPCC on the Vixen R200SS. I ended up going back to the stock setup which I do and don't like. The stock focuser bites compared to the Feathertouch and the MPCC bites compared to the Vixen Coma Corrector. But they arent interchangeable since the Vixen corrector doesn't work in the Feathertouch. Arg.

Well, the stock setup isn't necessarily terrible either and I am able to get much better results. My last few posts have been lots of complaining about the star shapes, bumps, collimation and such. But reverting to the stock setup has cured those things.

The three images I took after having reinstated the stock gear are far superior to many past images with and without the R200SS. I grit my teeth when focusing, but after that things are pretty darned sweet.

I'll be at Maupin in dark skies this weekend and I'll spend more time really trying to dial in my focus to get it as good as I possibly can.

M3 Image
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 1 hour 15 minutes - (15 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


M13 Image
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/
Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 1 hour 50 minutes - (22 x 300s)
Processing Software: Acquired in Nebulosity, Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Levels and Curves in Photoshop
See Gallery below for image


M57 Image
Scope: Vixen R200SS 200mm @ f/4 w/
Vixen R200SS Coma Corrector
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G with GoTo
Guiding:  Meade DSI Pro and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: William Optics ZenithStar 66 SD
Camera: Canon EOS 20D (unmodified)
Special Settings: None
ISO: 800
Exposure: 60 minutes - (12 x 300s)
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 M3 1h 15m 2 M13 1h 50m
3 M57 1h
   

1-M3-1h-15m.jpg
Click picture above for larger version
If the picture seems too bright or too dark, try adjusting the brightness below.
Brightness:
|
  



Comments:
On 04/22/09 at 06:53pm Neil Heacock wrote:
Thanks Jeff. And I didn't mention that I took no darks or bias with these. Just the lights, and flats. I did use dithering on M3 and M13, but forgot on M57 (I'm still getting used to turning it on). I used a bad pixel map on M3 and M13 to clear the nastiness.

I'm very pleased with the results here and I'm looking forward to using this gear in dark skies this weekend.

The M13 shot is the deepest shot I've taken to date. If you look closely on the left and lower left in particular there are several extremely far faint background galaxies.

I've shot M13 many times, but this is this is the first time I've gotten detail in NGC 6207 (in the upper right corner). Wohoo!

On 04/22/09 at 05:54pm Jeff W. wrote:
Great images Neil, I really like the m13 one. Glad to hear you got your scope issues worked out. Looking forward to more images.

Jeff.



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