Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blooming Their Brains Out

Triple digit temperatures and loads of desert flowers. These pics were all taken around our house.
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Posted by Dave

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Night 4

Four nights in a row I've set up the telescope. That's a record. The wind has been blowing during the day, but the nights have been grand. Last night was breezy and there were some clouds, but I still got some good shots. For these photos, I used a Celestron 6" refractor. All shots at ISO 1600.
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This is M11, a semi-globular open cluster, called "Wild Duck." It's in the constellation Scutum (The Shield). 63.9 second exposure.
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M16, The Eagle Nebula, in Serpen Cauda (The Serpent's Tail). Not my best shot of The Eagle, but this pic was photo-bombed by a lil' shooting star. 46.9 second exposure.
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I've been wanting to get a really good shot of M51, The Whirlpool Nebula, in Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs). This is not bad. 124.5 seconds.
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The Great Globular Cluster, M13, in Hercules is one of my favorites. Bright, and easy to find. 64.5 seconds.
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To do The Ring Nebula justice, you'd need a seriously high-powered scope. This blue smoke ring is pretty, but tiny. M57 is in Lyra. 66.1 seconds.
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M27, The Dumbbell Nebula, in Vulpecula (The Fox). 53 seconds.
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Lagoon Nebula, M8, in Sagittarius (The Archer). 62.3 seconds.

I didn't use an autoguider on any of these shots. It complicates the setup hugely. I've got to piggy-back a scope and work back and forth to make sure the object of interest is centered in the camera's viewfinder and the guiding star centered and locked in the autoguider. I struggle with it, and results have been mixed. I might whip out the autoguider tonight. Maybe.

Posted by Dave

Monday, March 11, 2013

ISO And Shutter Speed On Astrophotography

It was beautiful last night. I woke up about 1:30 a.m., drank some coffee, and then headed outside. These shots were made with an Orion 80mm refractor as a prime-focus lens for a Nikon D5100 DSLR. All of these photos are right out of the box--no sharpening, no noise reduction, no cropping. Clicking on these pics makes them bigger.
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Above is M13, the Great Globular Cluster in the constellation Hercules. 270 seconds with an ISO of 1000. I had a really tight alignment, so I dropped the ISO and lengthened the shutter speed.
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This is Vega, one of the Summer Triangle Stars. It's in the constellation Lyra. I typically find a bright star to tighten up my focus. Then I slew over to my object of interest. 335 seconds, ISO 800.
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This is M51, a spiral galaxy, also called The Whirlpool Nebula, in the constellation Canes Venatici, The Hunting Dogs. 255 seconds, ISO 800.
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M8, The Lagoon Nebula, in Sagittarius. 96 seconds, ISO 800.
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Another shot of M8. This time, 242 seconds, ISO 400.
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M17, The Horseshoe Nebula, also in Sagittarius. 194 seconds, ISO400.
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M20, The Trifid Nebula, again in Sagittarius. Kinda faint, huh? 123 seconds, ISO 400.
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M22, the second-best globular cluster viewable in the northern half of Earth. It's also in Sagittarius. 184 seconds, ISO 400.

You get better photos with longer exposures, but only if your alignment is rock-solid. Also, the lower ISO's need longer exposures, but there's much less "noise", those random colored pixels that aren't really there.

Posted by Dave.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

3/4 Moon and The Ring Nebula

The wind calmed. I woke up about 1:30. (Normal for me.) It wasn't even cold.

This is a waning 75% moon. Not a bad shot.
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Even though the moon trashed the sky for any serious observation, I did get this shot of M57, The Ring Nebula, in Lyra. It would have been a lot better without the moon.

Posted by Dave