Saturday, January 5, 2019

Ah! New (FASTER) Labtop AND Dark Skies!

I had a sense that the Infinity Software for the Atik Horizons camera I purchased this summer was taxing our four-year old laptop.....  But when the temperatures dropped to about 20 F, it became PAINFULLY slow!  We were due for a new laptop anyway =)

In looking for what best to buy, we wanted something that will be used both for astrophotography and also as our family laptop <3  AND - we didn't want to spend a lot of $$ ;-)  The parameters I ended up focusing on was: 1) Solid State Drive and 2) tested against MIL-STD 180G specifically for humidity, and temperature extremes.  After a fair bit of looking, I finally ordered an HP ProBook directly from HP.  So far ~ so good :-)

I took advantage of clear skies, relatively warm temperatures ( ~ 30 F), and a moonless night January 4, 2019 and set up in our  driveway to image.  Instead of imaging only 3 objects in about 4 hours, I imaged NINE wonderful objects in about 4 hours!  The overall operating speed is CRAZY IMPROVED!!!

Here are some shots I took

I couldn't decide which image I liked best of the Orion Nebula <3

M82, Cigar Nebula

M81, Bode's Nebula

Not at all like the photos I see online ~ but can you see a Horsehead in these images?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Comet 46P and Orion Nebula

I set up my scope in our backyard December 15 specifically to image Comet 46P.  While I was out there, I took my first images of Orion Nebula with my Atik Horizons camera =)

One thing about it, with these cold temperatures, the Horizons cooler doesn't have to work nearly as hard ~

Processed Moon Video

Here's my first stab at processing video from my ZWO through PIPP, Autostakert, and Registax....  Whew!  I couldn't have done it without help from this video ~ Many thanks!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Moon Videos using ZWO ASI-120 MC Camera =)

Here are a couple of videos I took on seperate evenings of the Moon using my ZWO ASI-120 MC Camera =)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Helix and Ring =)

I finally had clear skies, free time, AND engergy to set up my scope in our back yard Thursday night =) 

From about 7:30 to 10 I only imaged 2 things, but it was an enjoyable evening ;-)

I had never seen the Helix Nebula live through a telescope, so it was exciting to me to watch the image below reveal itself before my very eyes!  This 20 minutes-worth of photon-gathering =)

To end the evening, I imaged M57 - the Ring Nebula, again.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Perseid Meteor Shower 2018

My husband, Carl, and I went out to the Witte Observatory on the evening and morning of August 11 / 12 for the Perseid Meteor Shower.  As Carl puts it ~ it definitely was not a "shower" =)

Stone-Kelley Dome and Milky Way

Camera point of view, Andromeda Galaxy is barely visible




Last photo of this session.  Check out how the dew has diminished the star brightness....

Thursday, August 9, 2018

More from my new Atik Horizon

Last night I took advantage of clear skies and imaged from home again.  I was out there from about 9 PM to 4 AM.  I used a small RavPower battery pack for my laptop and my new (light) 200WH Portable Generator for my scope and camera.  I was pleased to get about 7 hours out of the two!

I continue to get a bit better at getting where I want and what I want with regard to imaging.  A few things I want to keep in mind below (i.e. note to self):

  • Before beginning, use eyepeice and make sure image will be centered.  StarSense will do this.  Go to known star, center, and press Align - etc.  After centering, press Back to continue.
  • To focus, slew to object and focus on set of nearby stars.  On my FeatherTouch focuser, the camera will be focused about 80 mm.  Set Video mode to about 4 seconds exposure and make sure Stacking is OFF.  Use the FWHM (Full Width Half Maximum) AND visual to optimize.  Looking for the smallest FWHM (range 3 to 5 is good).  Make sure to allow A LOT of time between focus adjustments - especially at the beginning of the session.  Watch for the "jiggle" and the green status bar at the top to know the image on the screen is updated.  Plan to focus a bit after moving.
  • The Infinity software seems to freeze on me.  I think it froze about four time during this session.  A work around will be (maybe) to be sure and record the session so it can be processed later.  Also, save images as they are stacking.
  • To get best image, turn on the Fine Histogram option near the bottom left menu - select black, orange, white.
  • Take care when slewing between objects.  If there is concern telescope might run into mount, manually slew scope to approximate location and then use goto.
  • One BIG thing I think I did find out is that the presence of wispy (high-level) clouds will add a grey / white background to stacked images - this makes sense.
All-in-all, I'm haveing a BLAST viewing "stuff" from home like this.  Things just don't pop out or can't be viewed without stacking.  It's SO enjoyable watching images "come alive".  It's also "fun" playing around with the histogram while gathering those cute little photons =)

NGC 7662 Blue Snowball Nebula
 NGC 6888 Crescent Nebula
  NGC 6888 Crescent Nebula
 M16 (again) Eagle Nebula
 M19 Globular Cluster
 M27 (again) Dumbbell Nebula
 M31 Andromeda Galaxy (first stab =)
 M57 Ring Nebula

 M81 Galaxy (very low when imaged)
 M82; Cigar Galaxy (very low when imaged)
 NGC 457; E.T. Cluster in Cassiopeia
 NGC 6995 Part of the Veil Nebula in Cygnus