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Stronge Astrophotography

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November 2003

For Astrophotography On A Budget resources
and links to the software we use, click here.

Moon captured with Binos!!!

The conditions were icy cold but the moon was up and the forecast was for high cloud so I decided to give it a shot and get out the 13x70 binoculars to have look at the moon. I took 5 images with my Minolta Dimage 7 which wasn't easy as the large lens results in a lot of vignetting. I stacked the 5 images in Registax, separated the Red, Green and Blue channels in Paint Shop Pro 8, then imported the Red, Green and Blue images back into Registax to align them up (Registax didn't like aligning up the original image). After alignment, all colour bleeding due to the optics of the binoculars was gone and I ended up with a decent image. Hand-holding the camera was the hardest and I had to use manual exposure so as not to overexpose the moon. F3.5 1/30 sec. ISO100.

Aurora from Comber on 20th November 2003

Wow!!! what a fantastic aurora over Comber, Northern Ireland. This is the first time I have seen such a magnificent aurora extending from the zenith to the Southern horizon. The whole of the North was completely washed out in green!!!

Click here to view the slideshow of 51 images.

Below, I have taken 3 of the photos and noised reduced them in Registax. Click on the images for larger images.

More Wide Field!!!

Auriga is a lovely defined constellation and also has some bright Messier objects within it. See if you can pick out M36, M37, M38 and NGC1746 - all very beautiful when viewed through a telescope.

Click on the image for a large resolution photo.

December 2003

1st attempt at Moon Mosaic

On 29th December 2003, we not only imaged Saturn and it's moons but we also imaged our Moon. We did this in a very unique way as you will read.

We hooked up our Meade LX200 10inch to the serial port of our main computer and also connected the TouCam Pro to the USB. We used a 15 metre serial extension cable and 2 amplified USB extension cables of 5 metres each. We used Cartes du Ceil and the Meade telescope plugin to control the scope entirely from the comfort of being inside. The Meade electric focuser worked great and at f/6.3 (using a focal reducer) the moon was an easy target.

The conditions were quite hazy but we had a go anyway. Even at f/6.3, the Moon was very large in the field of view and needed 25 images to cover the 6 day old visible surface. We were able to slew the scope at guiding speed from theCartes du Ceil software so we started at the North pole of the Moon and worked across and down, across and down until we got to the South pole capturing with K3CCDTools.

Focusing was very difficult due to the hazy sky but using the electric focuser and being able to pulse focus really helped. Cartes du Ceil is a great FREE planetarium program and we were able to see where on the moon we were imaging through the serial connection from the telescope.

For Astrophotography On A Budget resources
and links to the software we use, click here.

We captured 150 frames for each view of the moon and ended up with 25 video files. We processed the captures in Registax and then used iMerge to join the images together. Wow! this is the first time we have used iMerge and it is an excellent program that is so easy to use and takes the pain out of mosaicing. We were able to put the mosiac together in a matter of minutes!!! Unfortunately, as you can see below, we missed out in 3 places. The L-shaped section across the central region of the Moon, a small line at the bottom of the terminator and at the top right - we did not have enough of an overlap and this resulted in the birghtness difference.

Here is a 1/2 resolution image sharpened in PSP8, 220 kilobytes. Click here to download it. For a web-optimised view, click on the image below.

Click to view a larger image

Saturn at last!!!

We have been waiting patiently over the past few weeks and months and although the transparency was still not good, we decided to go for it while the skies were clear. We imaged Saturn using the Meade LX200 10" with a 2x barlow and Philips TouCam Pro 740K on 29th December 2003. We captured 1188 images using K3CCDTools out of which Registax selected about 700 frames of sufficient quality to stack. Finally we did a bit of tweaking of the colour and contrast in Paint Shop Pro 8.

The image below is an amalgamation of 2 images, the first was taken to capture Saturn's moons and the second was taken to capture the planet itself. Because of the difference in brightness, the CCD becomes saturated when the moons are recorded. We used the Meade LX200 10", a 6.3 focal reducer and the TouCam Pro to capture this, stacked and processed in Registax and then the two images were layered in PSP8. The annotated image to the right is from the Starry Night software.

Venus in the evening sky

I have been wanting to see this for quite a while but the weather has not been favourable and cloudy conditions have been present over the past few weeks!!! What a beautiful sight is Venus in the early evening. I took the image using my Minolta Dimage 7 using the camera on full manual so I could still get the blackness of the sky in the image.



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