Last week I broke down and bought PixInsight

Since my 45 day free trial ran out before I ever got around to really using it I decided to buy it for good reasons. One, it is a beast for astrophotography! Two, it runs natively in Linux which is a major plus for me since I mainly run Linux. I maintain Windows on my laptop for now only because I'm working out some kinks on getting autoguiding to work on Linux on my laptop.

This is my first attempt at PixInsight, and I can say I'm quite please, and proud of the final results. The comparison of these two images is quite a difference. I still have a ways to go to get better in PixInsight, but for a first attempt I couldn't be happier with the results.

These two images were created from the same exact data. I had a bit of an issue getting rid of the red blemish in the upper left corner of the PixInsight image. I think a bit of light bled through when I was shooting my dark frames which may have caused this since I forgot to cover the camera with a shirt like I usually do, which allowed light from my back porch to bleed through on the dark frames.

I'd also like to thank +Stuart Forman for helping me get started in PixInsight.

#astronomy   #astrophotography   #linux   #PixInsight   #space  

In album 2015-01-24

M45 – The Pleiades, Seven Sisters, Subaru…

M45, also known as the Pleiades throughout the USA, or the Seven Sisters in Greek mythology, or Subaru in Japan, Persian name Soraya, is an open cluster of new – astronomically speaking – stars. This group of stars can be seen with the unaided eye, which is one of the reasons it is so popular among many people, and has been referenced long ago, and also mentioned by Homer around 750 B.C., by biblical Amos around 750 B.C. and by Hesio around 700 B.C. At least 6 of the stars can be seen with the unaided eye, with the number increasing to 9 or so under clear dark skies. On March 4, 1769, Charles Messier added the Pleiades to his list of clusters and nebula published in 1771. It wasn’t until long exposure photography that we realized that the stars of the Pleiades are imbedded in a nebulous material, which are a blue color, which indicates it is a reflection nebula. The brightest of the nebula around Meope was discovered on October 19, 1859 by Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht (Wilhelm) Tempel in Venice. It wasn’t until the later 1880s that the nebulae around Alcyone, Electra, Celaeno and Taygeta were found in photographs.

The nebulae found in the cluster are most likely part of a molecular cloud that is unrelated to the Pleiades star cluster. Many people have believed that the dust in the images is leftover from the formation of the stars, but it does not appear to be associated with the stars due to having different radial velocities. It is calculated that the stars of the Pleiades age is around 100 million years old, with a future lifetime expectancy of another 250 million years. By which time the stars will have spread out onto their own orbital paths. The ESA have determined the distance to the cluster using direct parallax measurements estimating a distance of 380 light-years. Using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Mount Palomar and Mount Wilson Observatories the distance is more accurately estimated to be 440 +/- 6 light-years.

Information from the Messier Catalog

M45 Location

M45 Location

My observations were short that night as it was a bit cold. I didn’t spend more time than I had to outside at the telescope. I did take a couple minutes to soak in the view of the Pleiades. There are no signs of nebula without photography, so even in my telescope it was just bright blue stars arranged in an almost Ursa Minor formation. As a kid I always thought the Pleiades was the little dipper, as it has a shape sort of similar; I believe that may just be due to the way the stars Maia, Electra, Merope, Alcyone, and Atlas form a bowl and handle shape like the dippers.

M45/Pleiades/Seven Sisters/Subaru 12-19-14

M45/Pleiades/Seven Sisters/Subaru 12-19-14

This image is 25 light frames at 5 minutes a piece, 25 Flat Frames, 25 Flat Dark Frames, and 12 Dark Frames. Stacked in a new-to-me software, IRIS and following a tutorial by Jim Solomon’s IRIS Cookbook with some small minor touches in Photoshop.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150
CG-5 Advanced Series Go-To
PHD Autoguiding
Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Modified Canon 350D
Baader MPCC Mark III Coma Corrector

M45 – Pleiades/Seven Sisters

I have attempted imaging the Pleiades many times in the past ever since I got my first telescope 2 years ago. I have finally succeeded in taking an image of the Pleiades that I’m quite proud of capturing the nebulosity for the first time.

M45 Location

M45 Location

The blue stars within M45 are middle-aged and formed in the last 100 million years which is relatively young. Although this cluster is surrounded by faint nebulosity it is actually not related to the star cluster and is believed to be just a nebula that the stars are currently passing through. M45 is the nearest star cluster to Earth at 424 light-years, and is also the most obvious one viewed with the unaided eye in the constellation Taurus. The Pleiades has a radius of about 8 light years.

M45/Pleiades/Seven Sisters 01-07-13

This image is the first time I have ever included actual flat frames instead of the artificial ones I usually create in photoshop. 35 images at 1.5 minutes, ISO 800, 36 Dark Frames, 16 Flat Frames, and 28 Offset/Bias frames stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processing in Photoshop.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Canon 350D
T-ring
T-ring adapter
Intervalometer
Polar Scope for Alignment

Comet – C/2012 K5 Linear

Comet C/2012 K5 Linear was discovered on May 25, 2012 by Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research Project when the comet was at a magnitude of 18.5. I heard that it was brightening up a bit so I decided to have a go at it. My original intention was to get it on January 3rd as it was near – from our view on Earth – to open cluster M36. However I was clouded out that night and had to put it off until January 5th.

On January 5th the comet was at about a magnitude 10.5 in the constellation Taurus. Very dim in my eyepiece and I actually had to hook up the camera and do a quick 15 second exposure to make sure I was locked onto the right target. Once I was sure of it I centered it a bit better in my view and started a total of 40 images which not only gave me enough to stack to bring out some of the comets tail, but it was enough over the course of almost an hour to put together a little animation of it’s motion in the sky.

C/2012 K5 Linear. 01-05-13.

C/2012 K5 Linear. 01-05-13.

Stacked image is a total of 35 images ISO 800 and 1 minute exposure for each image. A total of 46 dark frames to reduce noise. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post-processing in Photoshop.

Animation is a total of 38 images from 21:09-21:51 on 01-05-13. All images in the animation were created from the same images used to get the stack of 35, no dark frames applied to the animated image.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Canon 350D
T-ring
T-ring adapter
Intervalometer
Polar Scope for Alignment

M1 – The Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula is in the constellation Taurus. M1 is a supernova remnant and a pulsar wind nebula. The bright supernova was observed by the Arab, Chinese and Japanese astronomers in 1054. Even at 6500 light-years from Earth, and a diameter of 11 light-years this nebula is quite small and dim through a telescope, but starts to show a little bit of detail once you start imaging. Within the center of this nebula is the Crab Pulsar which is a neutron star emitting pulses of radiation from gamma rays to radio waves. The remnants of Supernova 1054 are known as the Crab nebula or as M1 which was the first object listed in the Messier catalog back in 1758.

Through the eyepiece you need your eyes to be dark adapted, or you may over look this faint little fuzzy cloud. Finding M1 is relatively easy as it lies near the star ZetaTauri. Through the eyepiece M1 is very dim and has a bit of an oval shape to it. Through my Omni XLT 150, which is a 6” telescope I couldn’t make out any details within the supernova at a magnification of 30x. Stepping up the magnification to 60x or more rendered it almost invisible, as magnifying an object usually reduces the amount of light that enters your eye. For deep space objects less magnification is almost always better, especially for things like dim nebula or dim globular clusters.
Click to Enlarge.
This image above is 3 minutes worth of data at 1600ISO, with 8 dark images also stacked to help remove noise from the cameras sensor. I took two separate stacks of these images and had Rachael Alexandra combine and edit them a bit further to bring out a little more detail in the image. Image taken with a Canon 350D Prime Focus on the Omni XLT 150 on March 11, 2012.