This image is of the Andromeda galaxy taken on September 04, 2015. This image contains 6 images at 5 minutes a piece, along with 20 flat frames, 20 bias frames, and 20 dark frames. Processing, and post processing were all done in PixInsight.
This is only the second image I have ever processed completely in PixInsight so this is still a learning experience for me. I followed a tutorial on Light Vortex page on the steps to get a fully processed image using masks, and HDR tools.
I know I have been slacking on updating and posting here to my blog and I hope to get out more in the near future to continue imaging and editing the cosmos for you all to enjoy.
Omni XLT 150
CG-5 Advanced Series Go-To
Lin_Guider in Linux for autoguiding
Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Modified Canon 350D
Baader MPCC Mark III Coma Corrector
Mirach is a red giant in the constellation Andromeda, and is around 100 times the size of our Sun. Mirach varies in luminance from 2.01 to 2.10 magnitude, and lies in our galaxy roughly 197 light-years from Earth. Right next to Mirach, in the view through a telescope, lies a lenticular galaxy, NGC 404. Lenticular galaxies are disk shaped with no little ongoing star formation, and no spiral arms. It slightly resembles a faint globular cluster, or a faint round nebula with no details which make it seem like a galaxy upon viewing it.
‘X’ marks the spot of NGC 404
Through the telescope in my yard I was not able to make out this dim galaxy due to the bright glare of Mirach. I knew that if I had Mirach centered in my frame then I would get the galaxy with enough images taken at a long enough exposure. I had a bit of issue with tracking, but in the end I’m still quite happy with this image. I think the diffraction spikes on Mirach add to this image as they cut through NGC 404.
NGC 404 and Mirach on 11-11-12
15 images at 1 minute exposure and ISO 800, but only 8 of the total images stacked with 10 dark frames in Deep Sky Stacker and post processing in Photoshop. I had a bit too much star trailing in the majority of my images due to the previously mentioned tracking issues.
Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
DIY Reticle eyepiece for drift alignment
The other night (night of Sept. 13 into the morning of the 14th) I managed to get out and do another set of images of M31, The Andromeda Galaxy. Part 1 can be found here. This stack is separate from Part 1, and I supposed we could chalk this one up as another test run.
M31 – Andromeda
I had attempted making a DIY reticle eyepiece which worked alright especially since it allowed me to finally go above 1 minute exposures. I was able to capture these images at 2 minute exposures at ISO 800. I took in total 25 images, but ended up only getting 10 images that were good enough to stack, so altogether I got a total of 20 minutes of data collected, instead of the 50, or even 40 minutes I was hoping for.
One of my biggest issues with this session is the light pollution, so now I’m desperately looking into how I can make flat frames. The artificial flat frame tutorial I did for M52 seems a bit impossible with the size of this galaxy as it takes up the whole frame, and when I try to create the artificial flat it ends up subtracting the majority of the galaxy from the image.
Once I can figure out how to remove the majority, even if it’s only 50%, of the light pollution I may possibly be able to start my many hours of data collection on Andromeda in hopes of creating a super image by the end of fall. That’s the goal anyway. Hoping that with flat frames I can remove the vignetting, reduce light pollution, and be able to pull out some of the colors within Andromeda along with better detail in the dust lanes.
Omni XLT 150
I wasn’t going to share this image of M31, the Andromeda Galaxy quite yet. My original plan is still going to happen, but I feel I should share my progress with everyone.
I plan on getting multiple sessions with Andromeda over the next couple months with different exposure settings, and ISO settings to combine them all into one final mass stacking of Andromeda. This image wont be a part of what I do get due to star trailing along with framing issues when imaging.
This galaxy is huge as you can see from the picture below. This galaxy has a radius of 70,780 light-years, and is around 2.5 million light-years from Earth in the constellation, Andromeda. It is the largest spiral galaxy this close to our own Milky Way galaxy, but is not the closest galaxy overall. M31 is heading towards Earth for a collision course, but don’t be worried it’s not estimated to happen for another 3.5 billion years.
M31 The Andromeda Galaxy Part 1
From the northern hemisphere it can be seen with the unaided eye, which I have even spotted without the aid of the telescope from my Orange Bortle Scale skies. At a magnitude of 3.5, Andromeda resembles a small haze in the sky which could easily be overlooked as a cloud, especially if you have some light pollution drowning it out. This galaxy when imaged is as wide as 6 of our full moons, but can only show the bright central core when viewed without the aid of photography, a telescope, or binoculars.
I did a polar alignment, and a very quick and dirty drift alignment and stacked 22 light frames at 1 minute exposures and ISO 800, and 25 dark frames. The above image is also just a quick edit in photoshop, as I wasn’t going for perfection due to the bad framing and star trailing, but I had to share what I did get anyway.
Omni XLT 150
T-Ring Adapter that came with the telescope