Tuesday, December 4, 2018

December 2018

December 19th 1540 GMT

The waning gibbous moon was low in the east and I took some frames with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 400 and 1/1000 second exposure.

December 19th 1050 GMT

I had some clear sky but the Sun appeared featureless in hydrogen alpha light, despite a lot of etalon tuning.

December 18th 2215 GMT

It had been very wet but there was finally a clear patch. It was very wet, so I did not feel keen to expose any photographic gear to the elements for long. Comet Wirtanen was also very near the Moon. I did some DSLR shots of the Moon only, using my usual techniques.

December 17th 0105 GMT

After a very wet day, it cleared for a while. It took me some time to track down Comet Wirtanen. Although I could see no sign of a tail, there was a definite condensation in the centre that I hadn’t seen visually before. I took several frames at 70mm and 300mm focal length of the comet and the nearby Pleaides (M45).

This was a composite shot with some frames at 70mm focal length. DSS did not work so I used Microsoft ICE and a lot of processing to get rid of red noise.

The other frames at 300mm revealed less details than the close-ups. Astrophotography is like that sometimes!

December 13th 2240 GMT

I moved the camera to the general direction of M35 and saw a Geminid meteor pass south of Taurus into Cetus.

I only processed one set of frames. The others showed M35 but no meteors.

December 13th 2140 GMT

I was not able to see Comet Wirtanen through my camera viewfinder but set a trap anyway with ISO 6400, 70mm focal length and 8 seconds exposure. I hoped that if I missed the comet, I might catch a Geminid meteor or few.

While the camera was snapping away, I swept the same area of sky with my binoculars. The comet appeared like a large globular star cluster or elliptical galaxy with no sign of a tail. I estimated that the coma was at least a degree across.

The first set of frames showed the comet near the bottom right. Photographically, it appeared to have a brighter centre than it did visually. I also caught parts of the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters,

The second set of frames caught the Hyades in full.

The remainder of the shots showed the Hyades but no meteors.

December 13th 1930 GMT

Conditions were quite poor but I tried to snap the waning crescent moon.

December 10th 0950 GMT

The Sun was low and visible through a gap in the clouds. I would have preferred to have seen it later in the day but the forecast was bad. It showed no detail visually and I was hoping that some would reveal itself in the photos. Well a bit did!

December 9th 2345 GMT

Conditions were the same as the night before, except that different sky patches were clear. However, there was still lots of moving thin cloud around the clear bits and photography was simply not feasible. This time, I saw the Pleaides (M45) again, which showed slightly more stars, the Orion Great Nebula (M42) and the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). The Plough showed quite nicely, so I bagged Alcor with Mizar. It was simply too cloudy to find the comet but I saw the Perseus Double Cluster and Melotte 20.

December 8th 2350 GMT

It was mostly cloudy, with a few breaks in the cloud, one of them, fortunately, being to the south. I kept scanning up and down the Taurus/Cetus borders. Whilst enjoying some widefield views of the Hyades (which I cannot capture in their entirety with my binoculars, it took me some time before I found a faint, diffuse object. It was Comet Wirtanen. Spectacular it wasn't and there was no hint of a tail. I was hoping for some better conditions in the next few days.

I also managed some nice views of the Pleaides (M45) and Beehive (M44) before cloud rolled in and I was pelted by rain. At least I saw some action during a bad period and saw my 21st comet ever.

December 4th 0635 GMT

The Moon and Venus were close together in the morning sky, so I used various combinations of zoom and ISO to capture the event.

December 3rd 2030 GMT

I started later than I expected, as I had to recharge my camera batteries. I aimed my camera at Perseus in an attempt to add to my mosaic. I stacked 25 frames at a time.

This was the stack of the evening's shots and the previous ones. I still haven't finished the constellation yet!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

November 2018

November 26th 1125 GMT

It was clear for a change. I checked the Sun but it looked quiet and did not show the granulation features that it showed a few days before.

November 22nd

I had been “missing in action” for a while, due to bad weather and an even “badder” back! I checked the Sun with my PST. I could see no large-scale features but thought I could see some granulation.

November 14th 1920 GMT

I aimed the camera at Perseus again, just in hope.

Although it was partially ruined by cloud, I caught a meteor near Melotte 20.

The first few frames were cloudless. It was a nice shot, including Melotte 20 but was very similar to others that I'd taken.

This is the Perseus stitch and stack so far. A few more needed.

November 14th 1915 GMT

I took some snaps of the Moon with my DSLR.

November 11th 1625 GMT

I had a look through the Moon with my bins. Mare Crisium was clear of the terminator and some of the southern craters were on show. I followed up with some DSLR shots.

November 11th 1000 GMT

I had not seen the Sun for a few days but I could not see any detail on the disc in hydrogen alpha light. At least there was some detail in the photo,

November 11th 0000 GMT

It finally cleared after days of cloud and rain but not until late evening. As the air was humid, I did not feel comfortable taking any cameras out. With no planets about, it was time for some binocular browsing with my 15x70 binoculars. Although it was quite clear in the north west and I could see the Milky Way, it was somewhat hazy near the horizon.

Unlike recent sessions, Perseus was riding high overhead and it was rather neck-straining to see Melotte 20. The Double Cluster and M34 looked good, too. The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) showed the centre and some structure but I could not spot the Pinwheel (M33). The Hyades and Pleaides (M45) showed well but not any memorably better than usual. I could see the Auriga star clusters M36, M37 and M38, which are not always easy with my binoculars. M35 in Gemini stood out, as did the Orion Great Nebula (M42). I could not see M81 and M82 but spotted the Beehive (M44), although it was low and in the haze.

All-in-all a rather nice session, especially after a lean spell.

November 2nd 1400 GMT

The Sun was quiet in hydrogen alpha light and, even after a bit of etalon tuning, did not show any details.

November 2nd 0900 GMT 

I took some shots of the Moon with my DSLR.

November 1st 2115 GMT

I copied the files from the camera and went out again and aimed the camera at northern Perseus with the same settings.

The three sets of frames caught Melotte 20,

This was the composite of the three.

Finally, the stack so far.

November 1st 1900 GMT

After a stormy day, it cleared in the evening. I aimed my camera at Gamma Andromedae. It was not the intended target but I was hoping to catch more of Perseus. I used 70mm focal length, ISO6400 and 8 seconds’ exposure.

48 frames in, I caught a faint meteor, quite possibly a Taurid.

The first stack gave me the added bonus of splitting Gamma Andromedae.

Here's the second stack.

Here's the third.

Finally, the completed stack.

Friday, October 5, 2018

October 2018

October Video


October 29th 1845 GMT

I thought about having another go at Perseus, so I aimed the camera at Algol. I used ISO 6400, 30 seconds exposure and 70mm focal length. I was hoping to catch some frames and see if I could stitch them with some previous images.

This was the first set of frames.

... and the rest:

This was the final stack combining the whole session.

At 2000 GMT, I changed the aim to a spot between Perseus and Cassiopeia.

I stacked two sets of frames then combined them.

... and finally the full stack and stitch so far. It obviously needs more but is in the right direction. It was rejected by the server, too big! Perhaps I'll try resizing. Yes, it worked!

October 29th 1045 GMT

There seemed to be some minor activity on the Sun, so I took a few full disc shots with my PST and DSLR on automatic setting.

October 29th 0920 GMT

I snapped the Moon from our back door with my DSLR. I used an ISO setting of 6400, 1/4000 second exposure and 300mm focal length. As it was daylight, I over-saturated the sky background, so changed my ISO setting to 400 and tried again. It seemed to work.

October 28th 1830 GMT

It was cloudless and moonless but not perfect, as I did not see many faint stars. I decided to have another go at the polar regions with my DSLR. This time I used an exposure time of one minute, focal length of 70mm and ISO setting of 6400.

While checking the frames before processing, I caught some meteors.

This was the final image.

October 25th 0630 GMT

I took some full disc shots of the Moon with my DSLR.

October 22nd 2020 GMT

I took some shots of the Moon with my DSLR.

October 22nd 0955 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light in a clear sky but it seemed very quiet again.

October 21st 1055 GMT

I did a hydrogen alpha shoot on a quiet sun.

October 19th 1735 GMT

The Moon was low and to the south. I took some full disc frames of the Moon at 300mm focal length, ISO6400 and 1/4000 second exposure.

October 19th 1735 GMT

The Moon was low and to the south. I took some full disc frames of the Moon at 300mm focal length, ISO6400 and 1/4000 second exposure.

October 19th 1100 GMT

The sky was completely clear and it was warm enough to do a hydrogen alpha photo shoot in shorts and T-shirt. As the day before, I suspected some activity near the bottom of the solar disc.

October 18th 2015 GMT

Took several imaging runs at ISO 6400 focal length 70mm and 8 seconds exposure around Perseus in an attempt to stack and stitch the whole constellation.

The first set of frames had a familiar feel.

This was the final result. Although the quality was good, I did not catch the whole constellation.

October 18th 2000 GMT

I took some frames of the Moon on its own at 300mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 1/4000 second exposure.

I then took some with a longer exposure of 1/80 second to catch Mars in the same shot.

I then combined the two.

October 18th 1110 GMT

Conditions were far from perfect when I saw the Sun in hydrogen alpha light with my PST. There was quite a lot of cloud about and it took several attempts before I could get an image with my DSLR used afocally. I thought that I could see some activity near the bottom of the solar limb but, equally, it could have been wishful thinking.

October 11th 1945 GMT

After a cloudy day with rain, it was amazingly clear in the evening. Oh no, not another Melotte 20, you think. I went for a few widefield shots at ISO 6400, 8 seconds exposure and 70mm focal length. I was pleasantly surprised to capture M34 in the same photo. It also shows the value of snapping deep sky objects at a variety of focal lengths.

I stacked another set of frames.

I wanted to go for the constellation of Triangulum but the intervalometer started playing up. My aim was on a par with England away to Croatia on 12th but I caught a couple of frames of M34 by mistake!

October 10th 1730 GMT

There was a very thin crescent moon low in the west, so I tried to photograph it. The best result was ISO 400 and 1/200th second exposure.

October 10th 1130 GMT

The Sun was still quiet, even in hydrogen alpha light. I took some full disc shots plus one or two close-ups.

October 6th 2145 GMT

Well this was the big one! Mars was up but with humid air and a low battery, I did not feel like taking my PC outside, so did a DSLR shoot instead. I started off with the Pleiades (M45) with 200mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 2 seconds exposure, except that I didn’t. I forgot to adjust the focal length, so my first few shots were of 70mm focal length before I corrected them.

On to Melotte 20, another one of my deep sky favourites and things seemed to be going well until I was having problems with my intervalometer. Undaunted, I carried on with some shots manually.

I’d never snapped Aries before, so shortened the focal length to 70mm and increased the exposure time to 8 seconds. It was also around this time that I triggered the DSLR manually, with one hand, while bin scanning with the other. Initially, the view of the Pleiades (M45) and Hyades were good but not as exceptional as I’d seen before. However, when I turned to the Andromeda Galaxy: wow! I could even see light and dark patches and the full extent of the outer regions. As for the Pinwheel (M33), I’d never had such a good view in binoculars. I could see the centre as well as the outlying regions and it had never appeared so large. Of course, M31 and M33 were much higher in the sky. Also, the light pollution was minimal. They had replaced one streetlight with one recommended by astronomers and the other was out of action. I decided to try forM81 and M82, even though they were unfavourably placed. I saw M81, just. I could also make out the Auriga clusters M36, 37 and 38.

I thought about trying an audacious attempt to catch M33 widefield on camera. Yes I did! It was my first ever. It is near the bottom and to the right of centre.

Keeping the same settings, I aimed at  the Hyades.

I brought the camera indoors and managed to reset the intervalometer. I took the camera to the back and left it to catch Lyra. 

I stacked over 200 images but the final composite image did not show it! The first 50 frames did and it is near the bottom.

October 6th 2100 GMT

After a wet day, the sky cleared, somewhat earlier than the weather forecast predicted. I started off with some frames (hopefully, this time!) around the Pole Star. I used 70mm focal length, ISO 400 and 30 seconds exposure.

Got it with a faint engagement ring.

October 3rd 1115 GMT

The Sun was still quiet but I saw some shading in the photo.

October 1st 1025 GMT

The Sun looked really quiet but I took some shots in hydrogen alpha light just in case.

October 1st 0645 GMT

I did a lunar shoot with my DSLR. The moon was well-placed, high in the west. Unfortunately, my focus did not hit the spot.