M42 With Astronomik CLS Filter

M42 ISO 1600 Stacked Crop EquHist PS-LnC copy


Orion now rises above the houses round the back of my house at about nine in the evening. Over the course of the next 6 or 7 hours, it then arcs over the lamppost the council kindly installed. So I thought tonight would be a fantastic opportunity to test my Asstronomik CLS filter which filters out wavelengths of light given out by most street lighting in urban areas. With my tripod, Astrotracs (polar alignment now sorted out), and Canon 400D with 300mm f4 Nikon lens, setup was complete by midnight, at which point I started taking 30 second exposures using DSLR Pro’s time-lapse feature on my laptop. Nikon lens was openned up to max f4 and focus was a little bit back from infinity. I took 51 shots at ISO 1600, with 16 darks. I also took 18 shots at ISO 800, but I found that after stacking in DeepSkyStacker the 1600 gave noticably more detail. So this final image is from the ISO 1600 batch. Also when converting to 16bit mode in photoshop I chose to Equalise the Histogram. Did the usual series of levels and curve tweaks for each of the channels.


Andromeda Galaxy With Nikon 300mm f4



After reading a terrible weather report for clear skies I happened to notice a semi-clear sky outside at around 9 O’Clock last night. So I did my normal setup with my dad’s 300mm f/4 Nikon lens. I was keen to see how good the optics were. I spent ages setting up polar alignment on my astrotracs but after an hour of tests for alignment and focus and exposure, I homed in on Andromeda. I figured out how to modify my Canon 400D so I could IR remote from the warmth of my living room. Took 25 x 1 min , plus 3 x 2min, plus 1 x 3min and 6 dark frames. Set lens one stop down, f/5.6 and at hard stop infinity (you have just got to love these old lenses) and finally I stacked and processed in photoshop. Here she is. Enjoy.

M42 Revisited

After yesterdays proud effort in capturing the beauty of the Andromeda Galaxy, I was looking for any excuse to go out this early morning and experiment with M42, the Orion Nebula. With the clocks going back one hour last weekend, it meant that getting up at 5 would give me less observing time than it would have given me a couple of weeks ago. This was more than apparent when I was taken aback when I saw how far the constellation of Orion had progressed over my shed and was descending towards the horizon.

I quickly set up. Canon 400D, no Astronmik filter, Canon 70-300mm lens set on 190mm as I did yesterday, but this time I set the F-stop to f/6.3 and ISO to 200. £0 second exposures. I could only manage 36 images and the last half of those the neighbours roof crept into the shot. DOH! Took 10 darks too.



Stacked in DeepSkyStacker and processed in Photoshop by adjusting R,G and B Levels and curves.

Autosave - Copy copy



Autosave - Copy crop

Neighbours M31 The Andromeda Galaxy

It was a last minute decision to venture out into my back garden yesterday to see what could be accomplished with imaging the Andromeda Galaxy again. Setup went smoothly and my polar alignment appeared to be spot on with the Astrotrac Polar Scope. Trained my Canon 400D, Canon 70-300mm lens initially on the 70mm setting so I could effectively find M31, by taking 30 second expoure and inspecting the downloaded image on my laptop. Once found, I adjusted the position of the camera so it was centered in my field of view and then zoomed in on it. I found that at 300mm aberrations ruined the details of the stars and so took it back to 190mm where stars were now accepable. I had to use a piece of cellotape to stop the lens from sliding back to 70. I took 101 images at 30 second expoures, f/5.6 and after those I took 11 darks.



I stacked them in DeepSkySkyStacker and then played around with the levels and curves for each Red, Green and Blue channels to bring out all the detail.



And here is a cropped image.

mod2 crop


I am so pleased I got this one since I wasn’t actually expecting to go out last night.

M42 I Have Found You

Got up this morning at 5.30. Clear skies and markedly clearer than the previous evening. The constellation of Orion was staring back at me poised proudly above my shed. I dragged out my pre-prepared set up into my back garden and after 10 minutes or so of polar aligning and activating my astrotrac, I effortlessly trained my Canon 400D with 300mm, f6.3 lens onto the Orion Nebula. A quick 30 second shot confirmed I had M42 nicely centered and I subsequently used DSLR Pro to time-lapse a series of 30 second exposures at 40 second intervals. Here is a picture of my first shot:

Orion Nebula. Canon 400D, 300mm f6.3, 30 second exposure.

Orion Nebula. Canon 400D, 300mm f6.3, 30 second exposure.

DSLR Pro was set up to progressively download the pictures onto my laptop. With everything automated to run for about an hour or so i retreated to cozy warmth of my living room and settled down to some toast and coffee and the company of my wife.

6.40, I started packing up while I left the camera taking some darks.

I then used DeepSkyStacker to stack 35 lights (actual images of the nebula) and 15 darks (same set up but with the lens cap on). Then I processed the final stacked picture in photoshop CS2, adjusting each of the levels for R, G and B and finally fiddling around with curves. And here she is.

2013-10-24 m42

Has Anyone Seen My Galaxy?

Laugh as you might but I spent a good hour looking for the Andromeda Galaxy last night. And when I finally did find her I managed to shoot off a few shots and then my camera battery died. Since I wanted to catch the early morning Orion Nebula, I decided to abandon my current session. Goodnight everyone.

Success or Failure?


Last night I asked my wife to wake me up at 5.30 so I could catch a more interesting section of the sky Jupiter and Mars directly south and M42, The Great Orion Nebula making a brief appearance. After arriving home last night at around 11 in the evening, I quickly set up all my equipment in my living room ready to be shifted out into the back garden come 5 O’Clock.


I was greeted with a very cloudy sky with only patches of clearness, there was Jupiter and occasionally Mars and there, M42. Sticking with my 300mm, I setup polar alignment, difficult since I could only glimpse the pole star every now and then. Finally, but not with much precision, M42 was in my sights. Only managed to grab 3 pictures, 2 of those with star trailing, but the final one with better polar alighment. Then the clouds came muscling in with no remorse and by the time I got all my equipment in the safety of my living room, the skies cried a river. Anyway, getting at least one image is my measure of success so here is my rendition of my success, M42, stacked with only 3 pictures, 2 of those with dodgy polar alignment. Each image was 85 secs, 113 secs, 38 secs. The clouds were not very helpful so very inconsistent exposures between clouds. No Astronomik was used since light polution appeared to be at a minimum this time in the morning. I did take a few darks but I didn’t include them in this stack. Maybe I will later.