Tag: astrophotography

Astrocamp at the Rotunda Pass


Dark Skies 2016 Astrocamp, Rotunda Pass

Amateur astronomers from Máramarossziget/Sighetu Marmației organized the Dark Skies 2016 Astronomy Camp at the Rotunda Pass. The area is one of the last remaining dark spots in the EU, so dark that the clouds appear to be dark brown/black.

The camp being meant mainly for visual observers, had no electricity, just a generator run in the evening, during the dinner to recharge the gadgets. It is the owner’s fault we had no running water at all, an issue I would have imagined for the savanna/desert in Namibia, not the Romanian countryside with a long estabilished cabin with as much water that my jacket got wet in a clear night. So much for the level of civilisation and decency. (tovább…)


Thoughts on Sharing Astrophotography Raws

Veil Nebula, about 6 hours of light

Veil Nebula, about 6 hours of light

An idea occured to me while talking to others: it would be nice to have access to fellow amateur astronomers’ raw data sets, for various reasons. The idea and the initiative is not new, sometimes I do publicly share my raws, and others might do the same. How and why, one could ask. Let’s see some thoughts.

Why share?

Taking the pictures themselves is a technical activity. It involves nothing more than the equipment itself and a good amount of luck. Processing them, on the other hand, while still a very technical activity, is more like art. Two very different fields.

One might note that the Hubble image archive is public, raws can be downloaded by anyone. One should also note the long road these raws take in the graphic artists’ workshop until they get released as >>Hubble pictures<<.

I’m a curious photographer and I’m amazed how my continually evolving skills make it possible to mine out better images from the same data sets each time I take out my old raws from the archives. I’m also curious what others might get using my raw data. Conversely, getting a fellow’s data set acquired with superior setup otherwise unavailable to me was an opportunity to me.

On the long run I can imagine the raws from the same technical setup being combined (200 mm lense, Heart and Soul nebulae, Canon 1100D) thus adding up to dozens of hours of raw data.


Aligning an EQ mount – the smart way

The look of the polar scope

The look of the polar scope

So the polar scope in my mount is a rather basic one. It does have some constellations but they are more like drawings. The only point having been marked is a small circle where Polaris should go. And this is not enough for astrophotography – especially if the scope is not guided.

Of course one needs a few things for a good alignment, which basically boil down to knowing the geographical position of the scope and the (sidereal) time. These are things for a chart or a computer to know, not for a human, so I decided I wanted an elegant solution.

Therefore I came up with this (csillagtura.ro/polaris) script for smartphones. The script takes the user’s geo-position plus the date and time and shows the expected view plus some tech info. After adjusting the mount to show the expected view the only thing remaining is to get Polaris into the circle. I saved a shortcut on my phone’s desktop so when I tap on it, it shows me how to set up my scope.

The script has a few tweaks like the position of Polaris is J2015 instead of J2000, but I found it’s accuracy could be improved. However, it should be good enough for the next few years, and it’s made my hobby a bit easier. Needless to say, the script works for any polar scope (I have this rather basic one pictured above) in any mount (I have an EQ3) until the circle around the pole is the same and the image is inverted the same way.

If you don’t like using my site or are paranoid about it then feel free to copy the source and host it yourself – see the stuff in the grey rectangle.




A Brief Notice About My Crescents Picture


Words stating these pictures are composites (my website)

A while back it came to my attention that one of my pictures depicting the crescent Moon and the crescent Venus is being shared montazs twitter – again – across the internet, via social media. The problem is people just left out the fact that it is a composite.

So I hereby state to have nothing to do with those misleading shares as I shared my pictures with captions/descriptions both in English (spaceweathergallery) and in Hungarian (my homepage).

Full story

About a year ago I photographed a not so close conjunction of the crescent new moon and a similarly thin crescent of planet Venus. Although the article I wrote and published on my website is in Hungarian, it is clearly stated which pictures are the ones recorded and which are edited (montage, composite) in order to emphasize something: relative surface brightness and angular size. The picture I shared (grey frame added just a bit later for the same reason I write this notice) was an obvious montage and had the obvious caption clearly stating that I put the Moon and Venus together for comparison.

Noteworthy that due to the misleading shares, I had to have a very awkward dialog with Emily Lakdawalla from The Planetary Society. So yes, sharing/redditing/tumblring/tweeting part information hurts people.

RTFM and keep the captions

I have two messages for the people sharing my pictures: 1) RTFM. Always. 2) If it’s about sharing a really close Venus-Moon conjunction (which I just wasn’t lucky to photograph myself due to reasons like the movement of the celestial orbs…), share Iván ÉDER’s picture made from the right place and at the right time. Or share anything from me READING AND KEEPING THE CAPTION that explains what the pixels are on the picture.

What are my pictures?

Some of the pictures I publish here, on my personal website, are raw photographs. Some are developed through the long process of stacking multiple frames or many gigabytes of videos. Some are the result of compositing like 35 GiB raw data. Some are composited due to obvious reasons and through well explained methods. Some are mosaics. Some are developed from raws in the Hubble archive. Some are generated with 3D animation based on my photos. Some are more like paintings because why not? I mean this is not a scientific journal lacking artistic impressions: I am a creative person confined by the single rule of being fair and honest about what and how I do in order to obtain something.

Fly Me to the Moon – picture of the day on space.com. I am lucky to have witnessed this with my scope and camera at hand.

Fly Me to the Moon – picture of the day on space.com. I am lucky to have witnessed this with my scope and camera at hand.

The Moon is a stack of about 20 frames. The silhouettes are a drawing of mine.

The Moon is a stack of about 20 frames. The silhouettes are a drawing of mine.



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.).