Canon EOS 50D

North America Nebula – Canon 50D

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North America Nebula… An object I always loved and I always feared. But still beautiful and amazing in its detail and charming appearance. I also see the symbolism behind it now when I’ve moved to US with family and kids. It was time to grab the bull by its horns and look at it straight in its eyes.

This image consist of 12 separate exposures between 2 and 2.5 minutes each at ISO 1600 with a Canon DSLR taken 10/26/2019. I’ve made an unprocessed blog post earlier about this nebula, but really never had the time to technically deep dive into post-processing and stacking. I thought since I’m about to write an article on the Observer in its coming issue about postprocessing and I’ve chosen Nebulosity, why not give it a try. I’m kinda allergic to try something more expensive than that, such as PixInsight. One day I’ll get my hands on it too.

So here we are… Behold The North America Nebula a.k.a. NGC 7000. Quite wide object (120 x 100 arc minutes) in one of the most interesting constellations of the northern hemisphere, Cygnus.

Image was taken through William Optics FluoroStar 110, with a Canon 50D DSLR, EQ6 Pro mount.

But all in all… I still don’t give up on this object… I’ll be back soon to collect more of its distant and faint magnitude 4 light!

Niklas Henricson

Canon EFS 24mm f/2.8 lens for Milky Way photography

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Finally got my hands on my newly ordered lens that’ll aid me for Milky Way photography. It has a lower f-stop than what I’ve used before so I’m really excited to go out once we get the new moonless nights ahead of us in three weeks or so.

This suppose to be one of top three lenses for Milky Way among landscape astrophotographers using Canon cameras.

Niklas Henricson

Milky way

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Haven’t done the Milky way in a while and this time I’ve chosen with a Canon 50D and a Canon 35mm lens. The settings were AWB, ISO 1600 and 14 seconds of exposure by using the 500-rule (500/lens mm).

The foreground is Henry Grieb Observatory – Nyack Airport in Blue Canyon, CA. Right above the dome Saturn to the left and Jupiter to the right.

I’ve now ordered Canon’s EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens which apparently is one of the top 3 Canon lenses for Milky way astrophotography to try and get some better results. The lens I was using for the image above isn’t really suitable for Milky way due to high f-ratio, making it a “slow” lens in allowing faint light coming through. That night was also illuminated by the moon (the moonlight reflection can be seen on the dome itself) which makes things worse for Milky way to become more prominent in the photos.

Below are examples of how higher f-stop/f-ratio allows less light through, thus increasing your exposure time, which introduces noise and other issues such as shaking, star trails, etc.

Niklas Henricson

NGC 7000 – North America Nebula

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It has been 2 years since me and my wife went to Oregon with mom to witness the great American solar eclipse where I had the chance to snap more photos through my telescopes. It was a beautiful night despite the fact I was very rusty in setting my equipment up before getting too dark. I succeeded doing somewhat good polar alignment but I forgot my laptop and I couldn’t use my auto-guider, leaving me with the old traditional manual cranking of adjusting against the drifting.
What was worse I forgot even my battery for powering the telescope but a fellow astronomer in my club lent me his 10 ft. extension cord so I could power myself off my truck. 

I made an attempt with the American Nebula (NGC 7000/Caldwell 20) in constellation of Cygnus which relies some 1,500 light years away. My DSLR (Canon EOS 50D) is an unmodified version and on longer exposures it gets really hot and as a result adds some extra noise in the exposures. That made me lower my exposure time from 5 minutes down to 2.5 minutes (which also made the drifting less painful). The image below was just a test image of 5 minutes exposure in ISO 1600 to see how badly I was drifting.

A good thing with NGC 7000 this time of the year (or any other object in the region for that matter), it’s very high up in sky which eliminates the worse part from light pollution and atmospheric distortion due to temperature shifts. Deneb (the 19th brightest star in the night sky) is nearby allowing auto-guiders/guiding much easier in the process.

Unfortunately I couldn’t see the drifting accurately on site since I forgot to bring over my laptop (note some egg-formed stars in zoomed portion of the image to the right). But overall I was pleased with the results on my shorter exposure images and can’t wait to stack them together once I’ve gathered enough light.

Next time I’ll be more prepared of course since this is more of a long term project were I need to gather in total over 150 minutes of exposure in order to do this night sky object some justice. It is definitely one of the most beautiful nebulae out there!

Niklas Henricson

Supermoon 2016

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So it was time to head out of the apartment and head for my spot to take a nice shot of the supermoon. I sneaked out as quietly as I could and try to avoid waking up my wife and our baby sleeping still heavily. I left around 4:30 AM and started driving towards the TRACON area (TRACON is responsible for air traffic control for the whole West of US). Once I arrived I turned in their parking lot, but a security guard approached me letting me know I wasn’t allowed to park there but they were kind enough to advice me to park across the street. I thanked them and also asked them if they knew about the supermoon showing up this morning and their response was “Yeah! We’ve been watching it all night”. I left shortly after our short conversation looking at the security guards gazing high up in the night sky all in awe about the brightens of this beautiful full moon.

I couldn’t center the statue I had in mind (a statue of army pilots pointing towards the sky. I thought it would have been awesome to put the moon at their finger tips but that plan and angle didn’t work all too well because of the tree line in the way) and so I changed quickly plans and had the Californian state flag and US flag poles centered in the middle. Fortunately from that angle the trees weren’t in my way.

And here we go, supermoon in all its glory

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For you who have missed this event, there’s one more chance the 13th of December. I’ll be back about it and might make a new try again for my perfect shot.

Californian Twilight Sky

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One of the most amazing things about California, are the infamous sunsets. The stratocumulus clouds are shattered across the horizon but still merged reminding us the potential rainfall on its way, as the twilight spreads in the upper atmosphere dominating the evening sky with red, orange, pink and yellow palette of colors. A magnificent view to say the least!

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As I am gazing at the evening and night skies I can’t wait for my equipment to be transferred to the states from Sweden very soon. The need to be out in the nature and taking photos at the deep sky grows bigger for every day.

Niklas Henricson