Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lunar Photo re-organisation

Due to space issues on Photobucket, I have removed all lunar images before January 1st 2013. However, I have reprocessed most of them and stitched together those close-ups that I was able to.

I have released videos of my lunar shots and made them into a playlist:

Friday, January 3, 2014

January 2014

January 30th

With the sky being dark, I downloaded Deep Sky Stacker and had a go at a small sample of Orion shots, without having taken dark, flat dark, flats and bias frames.


January 27th 0935 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun during a break in the cloud and found that the sunspots had rotated.

January 26th 1410

After a wet morning, it cleared briefly to reveal the Sun. I did a bin scan before cloud came back in and saw two reasonably large sunspots.

January 25th 2000 GMT

It was quite clear when I checked, so I took out my Startravel 80 with my DSLR and I attempted the Pleiades (M45). I processed the best frame which was 8 seconds exposure at ISO 3200. There was star trailing, so I thought my next attempt would be a shorter exposure. I found the viewing angle of the viewfinder and straight through finderscope didn't help matters.

The photos of the Orion Great Nebula showed star trailing at 8 seconds exposure but not much of the nebula at 4 seconds. There have been many better shots than this one but this was clearly a landmark one for me and maybe a sign of better things to come.

January 23rd 1800 GMT

I went out with my Mak and DSLR and did some short exposures of Jupiter to try and get surface detail. Although I started off with an exposure of 1/1000 second, it appears that my images were overexposed, out of focus or both.

I had more luck with some 2 second exposures of the moons.


January 23rd 1240 GMT

I was hoping for some clear sky to do a solar photo shoot but there was a lot of thin cloud and solar viewing conditions were marginal. I bin scanned the Sun instead and saw two large sunspots but thought it was likely that fainter ones would have been visible in better conditions.


January 22nd 2200 GMT

I went out to shoot some constellations. Having carefully lined up the Plough before cloud moved in and then Cancer, I discovered I had been using ISO3200. I did Cancer again with ISO800 and a few frames of Orion.

Fortunately, I was able to extract enough from the Plough frames to catch most of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

The over ISOed Cancer shot didn't suffer too much either! There was the faint imprint of the Beehive (M44), one of my targets for my DSLR and Startravel 80. I also caught Gemini with Jupiter guesting and Canis Minor.

In contrast with the "over-ISOed" shot, the one at ISO800 was not actually any better!

 Finally, the Orion shot turned out quite nicely (what a nice constellation it is!). I had to remove a lot of sodium glow from a street lamp but it turned out well. I tried to stack it with some previous Orion shots but it didn't work.

The Sun was low down but the conditions were clearer than the day before. I could see three sunspots clearly.

January 21st 0940 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun while fog was clearing but could only see one sunspot.

January 19th 1035 GMT

I returned with the Mak and DSLR, which I mounted at prime focus. Despite pre-focussing it the day before, I still had to adjust the focus. The solar image just fitted into the camera field of view.  An exposure time of 1/4000 second did not reveal anything, so I found that an image appeared at an exposure time of 1/1000 second. As with many solar and lunar shots, the results revealed that my optics needed cleaning!

I cropped the image to show the 2 new sunspots that corresponded to the active region I'd seen in hydrogen alpha.

January 19th 1020 GMT

I did a hydrogen alpha shoot using my DSLR afocally with my PST. The Sun was rather quiet apart from a new active region that was rotating on and a small prominence. I used exposures of 1/100 for the full disc and 1/50 for closer views. Unfortunately, my optics needed cleaning, so I cropped the image to the top right active corner.

January 17th 1205 GMT

The Sun was low, despite it being mid-day and was mostly covered by moving cloud. However, I was able to see three small sunspots and complete the drawing.

January 16th 2130 GMT

After a wet and cloudy day, it cleared enough to show the Moon and Jupiter. First, I took some widefield shots with the DSLR at 2 and 1 second exposures. A 2 second exposure showed Castor, Pollux and some fainter stars.

I then tried the Moon at 1/4000 second with the telescope and some 2.5 and 1 second exposures at Jupiter in an attempt to capture its moons. Only one frame worked with the Jupiter shots. I stacked 35 Moon frames but the focus was not as sharp as it should have been.

January 15th 1230 GMT

There had been 100% cloud cover during the morning but a gap appeared to allow some sunlight through. The conditions were still quite bad but I managed to see the largest sunspots. I suspected that the others were still there but were too small to be seen under the very poor conditions.

January 14th 1000 GMT

A solar bin scan revealed that the really active area had rotated from view but one of the sunspots had (apparently) divided into two and two nearby sunspots had appeared.

January 13th 2040 GMT

It was partially clear outside, so I started with a shot of the Moon with Jupiter. The 2 second exposure was the best, as it also showed Castor and Pollux.

I took 45 frames of the Moon and stitched them together to get this image, not that great.

I managed to get one 8 second exposure in the general area of Alcor and Mizar, with the double star being in the top right hand corner. There was some instability but it was possible to make them out and capture the 7th magnitude background star. This was not a great shot but quite a result under the conditions and gave me just a glimpse of what I might be able to do on a properly clear night.

January 13th 0910 GMT

After a wet day the day before, it cleared to show the solar disc to my binoculars and filters. The most active region had nearly rotated off and the other sunspots had rotated to a more central position.

January 11th 2130 GMT

I tried another lunar photo shoot with my Startravel 80 and DSLR. I stacked 27 images again and used a shorter exposure time of 1/4000 second but the result was not so good.

January 11th 0930 GMT

After poor conditions, a clear morning revealed that the sunspots had rotated but no new activity had emerged nor rotated on.

January 9th 1635 GMT

Having managed to sort out my camera the night before, I took a set of prime focus DSLR lunar photos with my Startravel 80. I used ISO 400 with an exposure time of 1/1000 second. I had a bit of trouble with the position of the camera, as I needed to move the star diagonal. I stacked 27 images in Microsoft ICE and finished off with GIMP.

January 9th 0920 GMT

Following an early conference call with work, I bin scanned the Sun in clear conditions and saw an amazing display of sunspots, many of which were almost certainly present for the previous two days but were not visible under the conditions.

January 8th 1110 GMT

The day viewing conditions were quite poor. The large sunspot had passed the solar meridian and was reported to have ejected coronal mass, with a possibility of aurorae in polar regions of the Earth. I could see two smaller sunspots near the large one that I could not see the day before.

January 7th 1640 GMT

With my DSLR out of action, I tried to do a lunar shoot with my 'phone camera. All images were way over-exposed with just a hint of craters. With the Moon being near first quarter phase, it was a nice sight through the telescope.

January 7th 0930 GMT

Conditions were very poor but I managed to see the large sunspot through thin cloud. Nothing else was visible.

January 6th 1210 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun and saw that not only had the sunspots rotated but the whole region was more active.

January 3rd 2120 GMT

I took some stills of Gemini and the Plough while watching for meteors. I saw:

2132 Mag 3 meteor near the Plough handle
2143 Mag -1 meteor low in the north
2144 Mag 0 meteor through the Plough
2155 Mag 2 sporadic near Plough “pointers”
2158 Mag 1 sporadic from Auriga going north

The Gemini photo was composed of 6 frames and includes Jupiter. ISO 400, 18mm focal length and 30 seconds exposure were used.

The Plough photo was composed of 16 frames, same settings.

January 3rd  1105 GMT

The weather had been quite bad but there was a gap in the cloud for a couple of minutes, so I did a quick bin scan before the gap closed again. The large sunspot group from the day before had grown larger, probably due to rotational effects. The group on the other side had rotated from view but may have been visible in larger instruments.

January 2nd 1200 GMT

I checked the Sun with the PST and saw a prominence and lots of activity around the sunspots. The results of the photo shoot suggested it was about time I cleaned my optics! I had some results, though.

January 2nd 1035 GMT

Thanks to a “heads up” by Dr Lucie Green, I checked the Sun in my (filtered) binoculars for emerging sunspots. Not only did I see the large one but two accompanying smaller ones. Another two smaller ones were c lose to rotating off.