Friday, November 26, 2021

The Owl Cluster in Cassiopeia 11-22-21

 I had purchased the ASIAIR Plus back in September with an expected delivery sometime past November. It arrived this past week. So far I do like the ASIAIR but it does have some significant limitations to my current astrophotography sequence. First I can't use the guide camera that comes with the iOptron mount. I just received a new guide camera for this but I need a guide scope. Next it is not compatible with the Sony Camera. Therefore I must use the Canon 7D camera which is compatible. The polar alignment is also more difficult in my opinion as you have to wait for a new image to be taken and have it plate solve before you receive feedback. Using the iGuider camera you receive live feedback of the position in regards to the pole. However under clear dark skies you can polar align in less than five minutes. As I wasn't guiding the object over time began drifting out of the camera sensor and there were star trails on photos longer than 30 seconds. I eventually switched back to APT so that I did not lose a perfectly good night to tracking issues. With iPolar I confirmed that the polar alignment was close but certainly not perfect which could explain the drifting.

NGC 457, The owl Cluster an open cluster in constellation Cassiopeia. FOV is approximately 54' x 36'. This is twenty-eight 300 second guided subs taken from my backyard on November 23rd, 2021. A Canon EOS7D at iso 3200; iOptron CEM40G mount with a Celestron 127mm Mak-Cas f/12, FL 1500mm.

Messier 103 11-11-21


Messier 103 an open cluster in Cassiopeia. This is eighteen 300s guided subs taken from my backyard on November 11th, 2021. FOV is approximately 54' x 36'. UsingA Sony A6600 Mirrorless camera with a Celestron 127mm(5'') 1500mm f/12 Mak-Cas on an iOptron CEM40G mount.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

NGC-7331 in Pegasus 11/22/21


This is NGC-7331 a spiral galaxy in the constellation Pegasus. There are several other smaller galaxies present in this image as well. This was taken on 11/22/21 from my backyard.  This is twenty one 300s frames at 400 ISO, Taken on a Sony A660 Camera with an Celestron 127 Mak f/12 1500mm on an iOptron CEM 40G mount.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The Beaver Moon Eclipse and Pleiades 11-19-21

 On October 19th in the early AM we were able to see one of the longest lunar eclipses in nearly 600 years in Central New York. The weather wasn't great as clouds rolled in and out through out the night. The clouds rolled in for good just as the moon was reaching peak eclipse at 4:01 AM.  I used the iOptron CEM40G mount with the Sony A6600 mirrorless camera and an 18-135mm lens at about 115mm. My goal was to shoot the eclipse along with Pleiades in the frame.  Below are the two photos of the moon at near total eclipse as well as a time lapse of the eclipse before the clouds covered it.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Milky Way Galaxy 9/10/21

The was one of my first images of the Milky Way Galaxy. The constellation Aquila is visible at the top half of the image. This is 570 six second exposures untracked taken at Darling Hill Observatory in Vesper, NY on September 10th, 2021. Using a Sony A6600 Mirrorless Camera. 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Messier 56 November 11th, 2021

Messier 56 a globular cluster in the constellation Lyra. Taken on Novemer 11th, 2021 this is nine 300 second guided subs taken with a Sony A6600 mirrorless camera, an iOptron CEM40G mount. A 5" Celestron 127 Mak telescope

Friday, November 12, 2021

Clear Skies in Early November

The past week was great for Astronomy and Astrophotographers in the CNY area. Seven straight days of clear nights around the new moon. When was the last time that happened?

The first night out was Tuesday 11/2/2021. My plan that night was to shoot the Helix Nebula, however my camera a Sony A660 Mirrorless was not cooperating with Astrophotography Tool (APT). I could have certainly photographed the Helix nebula however as I discussed in the last post I have been using plate solving to center the image. The issue with the camera was that the orientation sensor which senses when the camera is vertical instead of horizontal was causing the images to be doubled and not display correctly in APT. This meant plate solving wasn't possible. Unfortunately I didn't realize this until I got home (I eventually found the true solution, and there is more on that below.) As a back up plan I photographed the Bubble Nebula (NGC-7635) in Cassiopeia. This is twenty nine 200 second guided subs taken at Darling Hill Observatory in Vesper, NY. Using a Sony A6600 camera on a iOptron CEM40G mount using a Celestron 127 Mak Telescope.


As soon as I got home I discovered a work around to the problem with APT and my camera. Basically I would need to rotate the camera 90˚ so that it was orientated horizontally at all times when photographing. This made it pain for objects that move across the night sky since the camera rotates during that time. However I knew that I could solve an image of the Helix nebula if I rotated the camera. I only ended up with an hour of stackable images on 11/3 since clouds rolled in. It was only clear for two hours that night. I continued to shoot the object on 11/4 and 11/5. However 11/5 would not stack because my focus was slightly off. This is fifty four guided subs at 200 seconds a piece across two nights at Darling Hill Observatory in Vesper, NY. Using a Sony A6600 camera on an iOptron CEM40G mount using a Celestron 127 Mak Telescope. I plan to shoot this again as there isn't as much detail as I would like and I had to really stretch the reds too far.

The next night 11/5 Bob O. a member of the Syracuse Astronomical Society suggested I try not using the skyglow filter I had in my light train. I took the advice and tried to reshoot the helix nebula but it was just slightly out of focus and would not stack. I then moved back to the Bubble Nebula as I wanted to put more time on it and see the difference without the filter. What a difference that made. This is twenty nine 200 second guided subs from 11/2. Combined with twenty two 200 second guided subs from 11/5 using a Celestron 127 Mak telescope.

On 11/5 the night was still young and Orion was rising so I moved onto the flame nebula. This is fourteen 200 second guided subs taken at DHO. A Sony A6600 camera on an iOptron CEM40G mount using a Celestron 127 Mak telescope.

On 11/6 I was getting a bit frustrated with the APT issues with my camera so I decided to give the Canon 7D another chance at a photograph. The plan that night was to shoot NCG-891 known as the Outer Limits Galaxy so named because it appears in the end credits of the 1960's TV series. This is fifty-nine 200 second guided subs. Using a Canon 7D on an iOptron CEM40G mount using a Celestron 127 Mak telescope.

I wasn't super pleased with the images I saw from the Canon. I also shot the Horsehead nebula and the Orion nebula but they did not come out very well. On 11/7 I decided to shoot the same object NGC-891 with the Sony A6600 Camera. I think the result from the Canon camera was better. I am not sure if this was due to worse visibility or that the Canon really does a better job. This is thirty six 300 seconds subs taken at DHO on 11/7/21 using a Celestron 127 Mak Telescope. 

At the end of the night I shot the Orion nebula and this time it came out better. This is three 300 second guided subs and twenty 30 second guided subs using a Celestron 127 Mak Telescope.

The next night I arrived a little early to the DHO because I wanted to see if it was possible to work out the issue with APT and the Sony camera as well. Turns out there is a setting in the ASCOM drivers which was reapplying a bayer pattern to the images. Once I turned that off the images displayed correctly. It also meant that I could do the normal plate solve and not just the blind plate solve since it could remove the background properly.

To end the run of clear skies for the first time in 6 days I did not go to the DHO. One of the goals for the night was to test out the automatic meridian flip feature of APT since plate solving now works properly without the rebayering. I shot M52 in Cassiopeia this object was about 2 hours before the meridian at 6:00PM. This gave plenty of time to shoot the object and have it try the Autoflip. Sure enough once the meridian was reached APT did a plate solve waited 10 minutes as set and then moved to the other side of the meridian and continued to photograph. This is thirty-one 300s guided subs taken on 11/8/21 and 11/10/21 at ISO400 using a Celestron 127 Mak Telescope.
Nova Cassiopeiae 2021 is visible as the brightest star on the right side of the image in the center.

I ended that night with another shot at Orion. Now that I could truly plate solve I could select a position in the night sky and frame it up. That was my plan for the Orion Nebula. I have wanted to get a photo of it along with the Running Man Nebula which is always just out of frame. I was able to use the RA and Dec of a location right between the two. This is fourteen 300s guided subs on the Sony and iOptron mount using a Celestron 127 Mak Telescope.