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.

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

Celestron CG-5 Mount

Recently bit the bullet and ordered a Celestron CG-5 mount. It’s computerized which will allow me to include things like an autoguider for longer exposure images with less chance of star trails.

The mount came in on Monday, February 10. I got it all setup and was able to get out the day after for some practice with star alignment. Looking forward to some more clear skies to give it a full test. Now just waiting for my Orion Starshoot Autoguider to come in along with the guide scope. With this combination I will, hopefully, no longer be limited to my 120 second exposures.

The Celestron CG-5 box


All the pieces from the box, mount, tripod, weights, hand controller, eyepiece tray, hand controller mount, CG-5 dovetail bar.

Mount put together with my Celestron Omni XLT 150 reflector.


Weekly Solar Image 09-16-12

No giant sunspots this week, so far. At the moment we have two decent sized sunspots directly facing Earth with a couple smaller ones nearby, but none seem too active at the moment. Sunspots 1571 and 1569 are the two in the middle of the image, and sunspot 1566 is the white area on the upper right limb of the sun as it turns away from Earth. NOAA forecasters say that the chance of M-Class solar flares are only at 10%, and the chance of X-flare is less than 1%.

Sunspots: 1571, 1569, 1566

90 images at ISO 200, 1/4000s, stacked in registax and edited in Photoshop.

Omni XLT 150
Canon 350D
T-ring adapter