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Archive for the ‘Astrophotography’ Category

Lunar Eclipse 2010

On December 21, 2010 at 5:27 UTC  a lunar eclipse occurred coinciding with the Winter Solstice for the northern hemisphere.  The last time this event occurred was in 1638 and is the second to happen in the entire common era.  The next time this event happens is 2092, I hope to be around for it!   The night was cold, 12:30am my time.  I gathered with about 70 people at the meadowlands environmental center’s observatory to view the eclipse.  There was hot chocolate and moonpies for everyone!  The 24″ telescope was open to the public and there were many other smaller telescopes set up in the parking lot.   I brought my 80mm refractor, dlsr, and a tripod to image this rare event.  I am so thankful to Dr. Sloan at the observatory for supplying me with a freshly charged battery for my Canon XS as mine decided to die halfway through the eclipse.  The following photo was taken between the hours of 1:17am and 3:17 am EST.

m27 Round II

Here is the final results of my second run with M27.  I have had some practice and wow, there is a difference between the first time I shot this object.  This time I used Bias/Dark frames.  This shot was 6*360 sec, 2*600 sec with my unmodded Canon XS with a CLS clip filter.  Scope used was the AT80 on the lxd75 (unmodded) guided using a DSI/finderscope in PHD.  Stacking done in DSS and processed in CS4 using Carboni’s Astronomy Tools.

Revisit the moon

I was looking through some old pictures that I took with the meade LPI.  With the imaging scope (AT80) I was not able to get the entire moon in the FOV.  The ccd chip was just not big enough.  No problem here though, for I was able to mosaic a couple different spots to complete a full moon picture.  Here is my results, completely done in photoshop CS4 for mac.  Only little problem is on the eastern edge, the data was slightly cut off.  The end result is still eye pleasing though.  Enjoy!


Last night’s weather was “iffy.”  The humidity was high, seeing was little below average, but it was a comfortable 68 degrees.  I tried using Maxim DL for the first time.  I was able to get the DSLR and the guide cam to work, but guiding using this program was still confusing to me.  I decided to figure out and learn the program another night.  Back to running PHD.  This was the second night out using the guiding program.  The process was a lot easier to use the second time.  I did run into some computer errors, mostly due to forgetting to shut down the power shut down mode on my laptop.  I finally was able to get some longer exposures.  Started with 5min exposures, and the longest for tonight was 8min.  I am sure that I could have gotten more than 10min, which I am really impressed about.  Here is the shot of M27 that I did.  I used 4 shots at 5min each, 1 at 8min, and 1 at 2min.  I did 3 sets of 5min, 1 8min, and 1 2min darks.  No bias shots, because I forgot about them.  I stacked the imaged in DSS and did the post processing in Photoshop CS4 using Carboni’s Astronomy Tools Actions Set.

First Night Autoguiding

Well my guidescope project is done! I recently installed windows xp sp2 on my new macbook pro. Only reason for doing this is the desire to run certain astronomy applications that do not run under Mac OS (I hope these companies realize the superiority of mac’s and develop mac os versions). I am running PHD with the meade DSI pro as a camera on the lxd75 mount. Setting everything up was simple. First I polar aligned, then did a 2 star alignment for the autostar computer, slewed to Vega to focus the canon xs, and the DSI.

I had no idea what to expect using the PHD program.  I didn’t look at any instructions, I just hit buttons with what made logical sense.  The title of the program “Push Here Dummy” is pretty self explanatory.  On the provided graph, I noticed that the DEC was going way south.  I changed the exposure time from 1sec to 0.5sec on the camera, thinking that would solve the problem; it did not.  I pressed the little brain button and changed the Max Dec Duration from 150ms to 210ms.  This fixed my problem and the DEC/RA was running pretty stable.  Before packing it in I did a 6min exposure of NGC 6997, a mag 10 open cluster in the middle of the North American Nebula (NGC 7000).

I was looking at The Sky software and found that there are mag 14 stars in this image of NGC6997.  I am very happy considering I took these from my home, 25 miles outside NYC.

M13 & CLS

On Monday I received my new Astronomik CLS EOS clip filter to block out the awful light polluted sky where I live. The day was pretty cloudy and very humid. But it started clearing up toward the end of the day. I decided to set up the LXD75 and my AT80LE. I disassembled the mount a bit last week to tighten the worm gears. Did a computer reset and calibrated the motors. After dealing with some clouds and doing a 2 star alignment, the mount hit objects dead center. I was able to shoot a little of m13, but not much more than 60sec without an autoguider. Better polar alignment should improve this. Here is my result of 5 stacked 45sec images at iso 1600, no darks or flats.  I did however enjoy spending some time with a friend and having a couple beers while waiting for the clouds to disperse.

First night out

I have been so excited about getting out and taking pictures of the heavens.  The weather was near perfect the other night.  Temps were around 50, sky was clear, and there was very low humidity with hardly a whisper of wind.  I took out my EQ2 mount, did a fast polar alignment and hooked up my canon XS.  The remote shutter I ordered worked great!  Got to love those Chinese clones.

I decided to limit myself to 30sec exposures using the kit lens that came with the camera.

URSA Major

8’30” exposure

Viewing the full image, I was able to capture the galaxy M101

Moon and Venus Sunset

The skies were absolutely amazing today, they always seem to be after a major storm leaves.  Tonight I went to the local observatory for their weekly public observing night.  Unfortunately, the storm left the area without power.  So the observatory was closed.  The parking lot has a beautiful view of the Western Sky, so I decided to snap some shots of the Moon and Venus with my camera.

Camera: Canon XS
Lens: Canon 18mm-55mm EFS
Location: McDowell Observatory Parking Lot