Tulip Nebula – AstROmania 2017

Tulip Nebula

In late august the AstROmania 2017 amateur astronomy camp took place at, well, somewhere far from everything, in the Southern Carpatians, in the Cindrel National Park. About the camp: I find it curious bordering on bullshit to run a generator of kW capacity during the day and early night, only to charge the batteries to be used during the night, and having the stress of running low on power — as it did happen to more people because of the sub zero temperatures and unusual heating needs due to >90% humidity, with visible fog a few meters away, near the stream… I do see some failsafe foolproof logic there, but that again, among highly technical people, who probably know how to plug in electronic stuff, is an insult. Long live logic.

Before the camp, I programmed this astrophotography plannign tool to help me with framing the targets, and printed a few dozen pages with potential subjects, and among those, the Tulip.

(tovább…)

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

My photo planner

a print from my planner

A few month back I ran into problems trying to identify certain deep sky objects that showed up on my pictures. Stellarium – although I like it – is good at searching for known objects, and not by coordinate search, and I cannot script it the way I want. Nova.astrometry.net is also a very useful tool, but it does not have all the objects I grew able to image. I built my own deep sky database, a strong search tool, but that one is a search tool only with no visual sky, although I linked it to Aladin Lite. Aladin and Simbad – I like them, but they lack an easy coordinate search – and I really mean easy when I say so. Obviously, Aladin and Simbad are mainly for professionals, I guess. Stellarium has a photo planning feature, but – even though it can show Aladin’s sky, still no button by default -, it doesn’t fit my hands. So I felt like everything I need is out there somewhere, but the dots are just not connected.

I wanted to have all my knowledge at my fingertips, everywhere, and finally to have a robust output, that doesn’t fail when going offline: paper. Needless to say, my thoughts converged towards a website.

So I wrote my own photo planner, based on the Aladin Lite API and my DSO search engine and Simbad’s coordinate search.

(tovább…)

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Ce telescop să-mi iau?

Siluetă de astronom amator. L-am fotografiat pe coleg în Namibia, Africa, 2016

OK, deci cerul. Și vrei să le vezi pe toate: stele, planete, Calea Lactee, comete, meteori, nebuloase, roiuri, galaxii, fenomene ale căror nume nici nu le știi… Prin urmare, vrei să-ți iei un telescop, bun și ieftin, dar… – și ai făcut un prim pas important. Ai ajuns la concluzia că trebuie să ai puțină răbdare, să te documentezi, să pui întrebări, să înveți.

În primul rând, ai ajuns la locul potrivit citind acest articol. Mă ocup de astronomie de două decenii, în calitate de astronom amator recunoscut în domeniu, fac observații, pozez, conduc grupuri organizate și nu am niciun interes economic legat de bolta cerească. Iată cum cred eu că ar trebui să începi apropierea de cerul înstelat, și cum să decizi care instrument ți se potrivește.

Cine ești tu?

Acest hobby poate fi practicat în foarte multe feluri în funcție de sănătate, timp, curiozitate, buget, răbdare, localitatea de reședință și mobilitate, familie și comunitate, planuri pe termen lung, și mai general, profil psihologic. Astronomia de amatori, deși >>decât<< un hobby, tot știință și tehnică este, necesită deci un aer de curiozitate şi rigurozitate ştiinţifică. Adică să înveți continuu, să-ți adaptezi așteptările, să renunți la ideile dovedite a fi false și să-ți recunoști limitele și greșelile.

Cum nu există haine care să se potrivească tuturor, depinde și de instrument dar și de om dacă cei doi se potrivesc sau nu.

Uită de pozele fabuloase de pe internet. Sunt reale (mă refer la cele din surse de încredere) dar din motive tehnice și/sau biologice, sunt inaccesibile unui observator vizual sau unui fotograf începător.

Amatorul din astronom amator e o etichetă pe care o poți purta cu mândrie. În alte contexte amator înseamnă ceva dubios, opusul profesionalului, nu vrei să te așezi în scaunul unui dentist amator. În astronomie e altfel. Astronomul amator decide singur cât învață, și dacă își dovedește aptitudinea, va fi recunoscut în domeniu. L-aș aminti pe Terry Lovejoy sau vezi lista românilor de pe NASA: Astronomy Picture of the Day.

(tovább…)

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

NGC 6888 Crescent Nebula – 8 minutes

NGC 6888 (C 27) Crescent Nebula

The main target of the night was the Crescent Nebula. I imaged it with my usual telescope setup, N 150/750, Baader MPCC Mark III, Canon 1100D mod, HEQ5 with the resurrected guiding camera. I took 15×4 min ISO 800,  and just for fun, 2×8 min ISO 800. To my surprise, the sky allowed this, having almost no background fill inspite of the long exposure.

C 27, NGC 6888 [nebula in Cyg] Crescent nebula, Sarló-köd ø20′ [wiki] [simbad]  (tovább…)

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

NGC 457 Owl Cluster

NGC 457 Owl Cluster

The Moon was still up when I started imaging the Owl Cluster, on 2017-07-29 from Dângău Mare. I used my usual setup for small objects, the  Canon 1100D mod, N 150/750, Baader MPCC Mark III, HEQ5. The autoguiding was done by the recovered camera and a very old netbook with limited battery life, run from 12V plus a DC-DC converter to feed it 19V. I gathered 22×90 sec, at ISO 400 with a few shorter and intentionally blurred frames to verify the color of the stars. It was a bit windy.

C 13, NGC 457 [open cluster in Cas] Owl Cluster, E.T. Cluster, Bagoly-halmaz, Phi Cassiopeiae Cluster, Dragonfly Cluster, Szitakötő-halmaz 6.4m ø13′ [wiki] [simbad]

Also visible, but rather faint is the galaxy  LEDA 4831 or MCG+10-03-001, see in Simbad.

(tovább…)

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

M57 captured at f/13

M57 Ring Nebula

During the last session, and parenthetically eff Microsoft for its forced Windows updates, I also imaged M 57, NGC 6720 [planetary nebula in Lyr] Ring nebula in Lyra, Gyűrűs-köd, Ring Nebula, Nebuloasa Inel 8.8m ø1.43′ [wiki] [simbad]  A very faint galaxy, IC 1296 [galaxy in Lyr] 15.39m ø1′ [wiki] [simbad] also found its way onto the picture, as seen on the annotated framem57, annotated by astrometry.net, though it took some extra work to highlight it through masking, due to the great dynamic difference between the planetary nebula and the galaxy, as it is visible on the raw frameM57 raw sample.

Canon 1100Da, 10×4 min, ISO 1600, MC 102/1300, HEQ5.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

M27 at F/13

M27 Dumbbell – Canon 1100Da @ MC 102/1300

F/13 is not the opening at which one wants to photograph deep sky objects. But I wanted to field test the guiding I recently got. So I set up the HEQ5 with the Canon 1100Da @ MC 102/1300 on it, and let it go for the stars with 4-5-6 minutes exposures. And … it worked. However, there is a big but: effing Microsoft Windows decided it could not wait with the update, so under the starry sky, I was looking at the don’t turn off your computer screen, running on precious battery power. And I paid for Windows. After Africa, this is the second time the effing windows update effed me while on the field. So 6×4 min, ISO 800, Dângău Mare, Cluj.

M 27, NGC 6853 [planetary nebula in Vul] Dumbbell-nebula, Súlyzó-köd, Nebuloasa Dumbbell 7.4m ø8′ [wiki] [simbad]

 

raw

raw

raw curved

raw curved

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Planetary images from the long weekend

ε Lyrae

Using the N 150/750 on the HEQ5 and the Scopium webcam, I obtained the following frames. Do note that planetary imaging means a technic – many frames, a 1-2 minutes long video of short frames, stacked -, essentilly lucky imaging, so planetary does not mean a target type. Just sayin’ :P

The clouds obscured the occultation of Porrima, so next time.

(tovább…)

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

From a semaphore error to autoguiding

Last night I tested an old CCD Labs Q-Guide camera as an autoguider solution. I got the camera from AȚ (thank you :) ) but it came with an unexpacted “semaphore error” message, which rendered it useless. It turned out the firmware was damaged and needed to be reflashed. I found some ideas here, but not the solution itself, which started to come from here, though it was still miles ahead. Worth mentioning the answers given by QiuHY are rather cryptic (tending towards useless), more like from an oracle than a tech guy – and I’m not a believer. A good indicator of just how cryptic: only a month has passed and I already cannot find the best answer, only that it included CySuiteUSB program and a guide in which order to flash what.

So I took some test photos with the Canon 1100Da, N 150/750 on the HEQ5 setup, 4 minutes subs. Ten for the M13 globular cluster, and six for the M57 Ring Nebula. Each at ISO 100 – not that far from the city center (Bortle scale 6-7 if not 8 – better to the north).

M13 test

M57 test

M57, second processing

M57, 3rd processing

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Some Solar System

Sunspot 2661

A few clear hours, in conjunction with my free time, allowed me to take some photos: the Sun, the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. I still could not find Enceladus. The setup: N150/750 and MC 102/1300 on the HEQ5, Scopium and CCD Labs Q-Guide webcam.

 

(tovább…)

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Jól kalibrált monitoron mindegyik számnál elkülönülő árnyalat látszik. Ha mégsem látszanak, akkor a megjelenített képek színhiányosan rajzolódnak ki. A monitort valószínűleg kalibrálni kell.

You should see distinct shades for each number. If those shades are not clearly visible, the displayed pictures will lack accuracy. Your display most likely needs to be calibrated (brightness, gamma, contrast etc.).