Monday, January 21, 2019

2019 Lunar Eclipse of the Super Blood Wolf Moon

The January 20-21, 2019 Lunar Eclipse of the Super Blood Wolf Moon occurred almost at the zenith from my house in New Jersey. It also was a bitterly cold night of 13°F and wind chill of 3°F!
My goal was to get shots through the eclipse but my poor hands made me rethink that!
Here's the series of shots and exposures taken until my fingers warned me that if they fall off they will shatter, ending any further plans I may have of ever using them again in the future.
So I stopped at 23:50 20 Jan 2019.

This is an excellent shot (below) taken by Al Ernst of the same eclipse from his backyard using a 400mm Takumar lens and Canon 6d camera.

Thanks Al,
Another Tim Schott image. Well Done! I'm looking forward to more images taken from your new home observatory....

M82 - The Cigar Galaxy   10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss - Nikon d810a - Losmandy g11 - 
Easton, Pennsylvania USA - January 14, 2019
Here's another image by Tim Schott, also using Backyard Nikon
NGC 2841 - Tiger's Eye Galaxy  10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss - Nikon d810a - Losmandy g11 - Easton, Pennsylvania USA - January 05, 2019

Tim Schott has been racing to get his favorite astro-objects imaged and here are a few taken over the last month or so. This a beautiful image taken with Backyard Nikon.

m1 - Crab Nebula  10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss - Nikon d810a - Losmandy g11 - 
Easton, Pennsylvania USA - December 04, 2018

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Sunil's Andromeda First Image

I see Sunil Abrol has begun his astrophotography endeavor. Last Nov 3rd 2018 he took this image of Andromeda using a Nikon5300 and a 300mm lens at f5.6 on a Celestron. But he was having a lot of computer issues which caused his delay in sending the image to us.
Apparently he had to change some equipment to get the processing speed he needed, so he added memory 4 gigs more to his MacBook Pro, giving him 8 Gigs total. However that wasn't enough so he replaced his HD with a 500Gb SSD.  Then he got started again on the image and sent it to us.
He thanks Max Pike and the Research Group for helping him get started and Vlad Alexandrov for mentoring him through the scope-guidance process.
It's a big step for everyone to get their first image under their belt ~ nice photo Sunil, we're looking forward to some more clear skies so you can add to your skills.

M42 Using an Atik Color Camera

Mathew Ray and his father were at the observatory in New Year's night getting in some beginning-of-the-the-year astrophotography.
He got this beautiful shot of M42 "right as the clouds rolled in" on him, he said.
He used an Atik Horizon color camera with a IDAS LPS-P2 48mm filter on his 8" EdgeHD with Hyperstar.
He did 19x60sec lights, then processed them with Astro Pixel Procesor and PixInsight.
He said it gives him 2.0 arcsec/pixel image scale and that he's just starting to experiment with dithering + drizzle.

Nice job Mathew, we're looking forward to seeing more of your work as you progress.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Happy New Year from NJAA...!

To finish off 2018 with a bang, here is an image of comet 46P/Wirtanen shortly after it passed by Capella taken by member Al Ernst from his back yard in Bridgewater, New Jersey.  The image was made using a Televue NP127is scope and a QSI583 camera from  2x2 - 4 ten minute subs while tracking the comet. 

Beautiful shot showing the comet's coma Al, thanks for sharing it.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

NJAA member and astro-imager Tim Schott has built a small observatory a-top his house in eastern Pennsylvania. Below is it's  it's progress to completion. Tim has been an active and knowledgeable deep sky imager over the last few years. He has added some very nice equipment to his repertoire and has is near completion of his custom observatory. What an excellent project it was and the results are amazing!

This is an artist's rendition of the completed

View from roof peak

Wall studs as seen from rear

 Waiting for concrete footings for the steps to be added

Pier and steps will be poured soon

Guys arrive to pour cement

 Pouring the pier

Pier cement finished.
There will be a 6" sand filled pier post on top to provide scope clearance and make up the additional height to the dome base.

The steps are in position

 The dome's floor is in place
 The dome's floor support structure is complete
 The dome is in place

Now the hard part begins. All the equipment, wiring and calibrations need to begin.

The room below the dome looks great!
His 10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss Scope and Losmandy G11 Mount is completed and on the pier

 His new images will appear separately in this blog...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

M1 Crab Nebula Imaged by Tim Shott

The Crab Nebula (M1) supernova remnant in the Taurus constellation, was pretty well elevated in the night sky for Tim Shott's new 10" TPO RC truss telescope on a Losmandy G11 mount a couple days after Christmas 2017.

He made 10 minute subs totaling 2 hours of exposure with no darks, no flats and no bias.
He doesn't say what he used for post processing but I know he has used BackyardNikon in the past.

It appears that he already has a good knowledge of the functions and settings of his new Nikon D810a ~  looks like it did a pretty good job getting this image for him... Well done Tim.

                                                                    M1 Crab Nebula
Thanks for submitting,

Monday, November 20, 2017

Corona During Total Solar Eclipse
August 21, 2017, Farewell Bend State Recreation Area, Oregon
by Stephen D. Blazier
I wanted to see how much of the sun’s corona I captured on that beautiful day, so I combined my deepest exposures during totality. My longest exposures are 1/13 second at ISO 1600 and f/13, using my Nikon D700 with an AF Nikkor ED 180mm f/2.8D IF lens coupled to a Kenko Teleplus PRO 300 DGX 2x AF Teleconverter, for an equivalent focal length of 360mm.  

I took 37 of these RAW images. I chose ViewNX 2 to color balance and convert to 16-bit TIFF for further processing.  To get the most out of these I needed to take advantage of both the 14-bit pixel depth and the signal to noise improvement from combining multiple frames.  I converted the TIFF images to floating point, aligned them using a Fast Fourier Transform algorithm, and then normalized them by offset and scale.  I used a sigma rejection to get rid of outlier pixels, and averaged the rest together.  I could have summed them, but since I was working in floating point, the result is equivalent.

Those of us used to teasing faint objects out of the noise have experience mapping from a higher dynamic range to the limited display devices available, but in this case, I wanted both bright and faint detail in the result.  I chose to learn about High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing.  
It was not easy.  I find most HDR documentation is either recipe based (e.g., specifying to click certain buttons in a program without explaining what they do, then experiment with a set of parameters), or analyze technical research papers.  

I chose a Debevec creation model, a triangular weighting function, and gamma response curve to produce the HDR image.  Other creation models produced somewhat similar results, but like most things with HDR, deserve further exploration.  To visualize this HDR image on standard devices, I applied Rafal Mantiuk’s operator, as described in “A Perceptual Framework for Contrast Processing of High Dynamic Range Images”, ACM Transactions on Applied Perception 3, 3 (2006), pp. 286-308.  

The result is interesting in several respects, but does not match our actual visual experience of the eclipse.  We saw an inner solar corona of pure white light.  I don’t believe any output device today can match the brilliance of that inner corona.  In my processed image, the corona spans across the field of view, but it faded into the twilight-like sky before that from our vantage in Oregon.  Moreover, we saw no hint of the Maria on the moon when we were watching.

Thanks for sharing your experiences viewing and recording the moments of totality with us. You went into another realm with complex post processing it seems. Well done. So far I haven't seen any real life amateur imaging that includes the Earth shine, except in a magazine. 
I think Stephen explained in a separate email that the bright spot to the lower left was Regulus.