Youtube astrophotography guides

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There are numerous guides you can find in Youtube, most of them are basic and simple enough to get you going with your image processing right away but one of the best I’ve seen so far are made of DugDog’s Easy123-guide.

Have a look on how you work with curves and levels in Adobe Photoshop in order to enhance non visible light data on your stacked image with two simple steps.

The sun through Mylar filter

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The sun through Mylar filter
The sun through Mylar filter

Mylar filter blocks most of the visible light spectra (up to 99.9%) in difference to an H-alpha (see my previous blog entry). If you want to manage observing sun spots cost efficiently and cheap then Mylar filter would do the job for you. Although an H-alpha filter would provide you with more details such as solar prominences, the Mylar filter is just allowing you to watch the sun’s cromosphere and there fore just sunspots. However, since this filter is lightweighted, can be carried easily around and can be mounted on ordinary camera lenses that would allow you to witness a Venus/Mercurius passages or a solar eclipse if you want to travel somewhere without carrying around heavy telescope equipment.

I personally prefer Baader’s astrosolar filter due to good quality. A Mylar filter must be kept dry and in room temperature if you want it to be long lived. It is nessesary to inspect your filter before attaching it on your telescope/camera lens since even a small pinhole can damage your eyes permanently during observation, without even noticing!

The best way to inspect your filter before using it, is by placing it infront of a flash light in a dark room. That way you would easily be able to spot any damage on it’s surface.

To photograph the sun doesn’t only require you to have the right settings on your camera, but you have to take multiple shots in order to get a clear shot spared from atmospherical distortions which are more intense and common during daytime. Most astrophotographers are using explicitly a web camera to shoot planetary objects, allowing them to get rid of unwanted images by running the video sequence through a software such as Registax. I’ve got a Youtube video showing you how these atmospherical distortions look like, by clicking here (Beware of the sound).

The image above shows the sun spots 1161 and 1162 as they appeared on Sunday 21 February 2011. Canon EOS 50D, ISO 250, Shutter speed 1/8000, WB: Custom, William Optics Megrez 72 Doublet APO, Image was processed in Adobe PS.

Orion’s Nebula M42

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Orion Nebula M42
Orion Nebula M42

Having a cold and a 39 degrees fever I couldn’t resist from not observing tonight. Tonight’s object was Orion’s nebula (a.k.a. M42). I had to try my new SynGuider, so things went slowly at the beginning while trying to understand the menu options and also attempting to aligning my newtonian with my Megrez 72.

The reason I was using my newtonian this time was because my FluorStar is sent for service maintainance. Unfortunately I’ve got some troubles with my crayford focuser and so I needed someone to check it out.

Regardless, both the newtonian and my Synguider did an excellent job tonight autoguiding a star and allowing me to take a shot on Orion’s nebula. I used ISO1600, experimenting with different exposures. At this particular shot it was 75 seconds.

Skywatcher’s Synguider

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Skywatcher Synguider
Skywatcher’s Synguider

Having limited time to spend while trying to set up all the equipment, level the mount parallel to the ground, adjust the balance of your mount with the telescopes attached on it, polar align your telescope, if you have a GOTO mount then you may need to star align, … The list can be made long and supposedly you do road astronomy then your time is consumed by many tasks this late evening planning on loading your car and transferring your equipment to a remote location free from light polution.

You’ve been waiting more likely for the perfect weather circumstances by now and have been thinking all the time about taking shots of your favorite object? Then welcome to the club. By the time you are ready to start your exposures a cloud is passing by, blocking the view. Other times a mist is joining the scene, or technical issues arise. Either way you’ve been wasting way too long time on things that could instead been made easier.

Skywatcher came up to a solution when it coms to guiding and created a gadget by considering that guiding is no easy business for anyone, considering your weight distribution while you’re tracking the heavens above having backlashes, attaching a camera adding by more weight to your equation, your power supply may not be even, or many other factors that may add to your guiding frustration.

With current solutions on autoguiding you need a special camera, software and a laptop. But why make things so complicated when there is the perfect solution for users with Skywatcher’s GOTO-mounts?

I strongly recomment this synguider, and I’ll start posting photos showing the difference between life before synguider and after 😉

Partial solar eclipse in Sweden

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Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to see anything behind the thick layer of clouds and heavy mist passing by the entire morning yesterday. However, we had news channels, local radio stations and news papers droping by asking us about facts regarding this fenomena. Seems when it comes to Sweden that only Stockholm had good visibility.

I’m going to attach a few Youtube clips I saved as a memory from this event.

The interviews were made by Swedish national TV (short: SVT, Sveriges Television)

The Sun through H-alpha

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Less then 48 hours left before the partial solar eclipse that occurs during the tuesday morning 2011-01-04. I was testing my equipment and saw that there were a few sunspots. The image is photographed with a Canon EOS 50D at ISO 800 through a Lunt LS60THa H-alpha telescope.

The news have already been requesting curiously on details about the partial solar eclipse on tuesday. Regardless the weather conditions we will be there taking care of our guests and giving interviews. If the weather allow us to observe anything I promise to get back here with some photos.

More newspapers publishing about the solar eclipse on tuesday:

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

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I wish every blog reader a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Using new stuff

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Baader UHC-S
Baader UHC-S

Studying physics is really limiting my time from doing fun stuff, especially when it comes to one of my most favorite hobbies (astrophotography & star gazing). Even though of my time limitations, I couldn’t stop myself from finally buying new equipment I’ve long desired and saved money for, such as a mount upgrade (EQ 6 Pro), a new camera (Canon 50D) and two refractor telscopes from William Optics (Equipment page). I’m definetely now a happy amateur astronomer and even if I’m not able to perform any backyard astronomy these days, the weather wouldn’t allow me anyway and there fore there are no hard feelings since I miss nothing.

Although that is not the truth entirely, I’ve been out late evenings scanning the night skies, focusing on my primary goal objects such as M31 (Andromeda galaxy), M13, Double cluster and the Pleiades. These objects will definetely occupy my time for hours (apart from photo processing the images). I’ve also upgraded myself to Baader’s UHC-S filter which is a fine filter suited for astrophotographers living in suburban areas.

During mid october this year we had comet 103P/Hartley 2 passing by between Cassiopeia and Perseus constellation but I must admit that this comet was absolutely nothing spectacular and definetely not worthy the time. I went out trying to locate this object which was around magnitude 8 and even though with well trained eyes it still looked like any other star. No tail or obvious halos around it even by using wild imagination, so I decided instead to spend some time gazing at galaxies.

Perseids meteor showers

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Every year in August between the 10th and 13th, we get the opportunity under good weather circumstances to observe the anual meteor showers caused by the Perseids. These small particles mainly made of dust are falling through the earth’s atmosphere from a radiant point in the sky located close by the Perseus and Cassiopeia constellations. These meteor showers are nonetheless remains of an old comet which passes close by our planet over a period of 130-135 years and was last seen in 1992 by the Japaneese astronomer Tsurukiko Kiuchi. The comet is named Swift-Tuttle after the two astronomers who independently were the first observers in modern history during the comet apperance in August 1862 (Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell Tuttle). Spectral analysis points out that this comet shares similarities with Halley’s comet which is rich in ammonia, water and carbon dioxide and also clasified as NEO (Near Earth Object) as it is approaches earth in a distance of 4 miljion kilometers. The chances of an impact with our planet is 1 in a 1,000,000 which is much less then the frightening asteroid called Apophis were chances are much larger; 1 in 15,000.

This year our observatory will be opento public between 11th to 13th of August 21:30 to midnight allowing all interested to come and visit us under guidance from the observatory staff.

Summer projects and the 472 Roma ockultation

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During June-July at Tycho Brahe observatory we were preparing for a large project that would involve the cooperation between many amateur astronomers from different locations in Sweden. The Swedish assosiation for amateur astronomers (SAAF: Svenska Amatörastronomiska Föreningen) helped us to get in touch with other amateur astronomers across the country. Together with my collegue Arne L Ohlsson we started to put hard work on planning, coordinating meetings, assembling nessesary instrumentation and dealing with time pressure.

The ockultation is all about a large rock out in space, or more commonly called an asteroid named 472 Roma passing infront of the delta star (Yed Prior) in the constellation of Ophiucus, causing this large red giant star to dissappear for a around 5 seconds. This asteroidal passage was meant to be easily observed from our location, but negative observations outside the occultation shadow would provide a lot of information regarding the star itself.

It has been mistaken for a long time that the delta star in Ophiucus would be a double and for the first time an asteroid would occult this star and reveal it’s secrets for us. Unfortunately just before the occultation occurred, heavy clouds surounded our area. That was our worse case scenario that just took place, leaving us with unanswered questions.

In the morning we heard that the German and Belgian astronomers were more lucky then us and that many positive reports started to fall in!