The Tadpoles Nebula

Having been given a nice wide SharpStar 61EDPH2 telescope to review, as well as a ZWO ASI183mm Pro – a cooled mono camera – I thought I’d love to try a SHO image again. After having a browse about in Stellarium, I decided I was able to frame up the Tadpoles, Spider and Fly nebula. So with clear nights being in short supply, I set to work.

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2020 In Review

Well, what a year 2020 has been. Aside from the state of the world, the year has been a bit up and down with astrophotography also. From a nice beginning with the 533mc Pro, a scorching summer and an abysmal winter. In this post I think I’ll take some time to recap, to look back over the year, and my images. So feel free to tag along for a trip down this year’s lane as we bid farewell to 2020, and welcome in another year of opportunities, targets, and incessant cloud cover.

2020 In Review

At the beginning of the year I was still using the ZWO ASI 533mc Pro that was on loan from First Light Optics. It was actually the first piece of equipment they had loaned me. I also had the Astronomik 12nm Hydrogen Alpha filter that was loaned to me from the Widescreen centre. It was certainly strange getting items sent to me, and definitely took some getting used to. The relationship with Widescreen Centre didn’t go anywhere, however I did get on board with First Light Optics as a reviewer and I couldn’t be more thankful for such an opportunity.

The key images I took early on in the year included the Rosette Nebula, Comet Atlas and M81 & M82. These were exclusively shot with the 533mc Pro and then I was able to make my review. Which was my first camera review. I think it came out well.

2020 also included a house move from one town in Northamptonshire to another. I also moved in with my partner so I actually missed a couple clear nights during that transition period. Trying to move house, sort internet out, unpack and image deep space was too much to do at the same time really.

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Fantastic Flat Frames

Flat Frames are a special type of calibration frame that are used to correct vignetting, gradients and dust in your astrophotography. In essence, a flat frame is a evenly illuminated photo of a blank light source. I, myself, left it the longest time before I began taking flat frames and when I did, it changed my entire workflow and made editing a lot easier. If I put them off the longest time, then I bet you might be putting it off as well. In this post I’ll explain to you how to take flat frames.

 

Fantastic Flat Frames

Once you learn the art of flat frames – as well as a hack to make life easier – you’ll quickly be able to take consistent and effective flat frames. I’ll be showing you how to take flat frames with both DSLR cameras as well as dedicated astronomy cameras. Dedicated astronomy cameras are a bit more complicated, it isn’t as intuitive as using a DSLR. I’ll begin with DSLRs as I suspect if you’re reading how to shoot flats, you’re towards the beginning of your journey and may not have yet moved on towards a dedicated astronomy camera.

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Taking My Best Photo Of Andromeda Yet

The Andromeda Galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy is a widely popular, huge and gorgeous galaxy located in the constellation of Andromeda (no surprises there). I’ve imaged this galaxy three times now with a camera and a telescope, each time slowly improving. Admittedly there has been equipment improvements as well but also my own skills and abilities have improved alongside. In this post I’m going to describe the process of photographing a sensational Deep Sky Object.

 

The image contains 4.7 hours of 2 minute exposures using a Light Pollution Suppression Filter. A modest refracting telescope. An excellent astrophotography mount and a dedicated One Shot Colour (OSC) camera. There is certainly some expensive equipment in this rig and I had high hopes for being able to do this target justice.

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Using A Remote Telescope with Telescope Live

Using A Remote Telescope With Telescope Live

There’s been a particularly bad run of weather currently in Britain. I know that we’re famous for it, but it’s really been taking the cake right now. So when I was approached by Telescope Live to use some of their kit for a bit I couldn’t say no.

 

I was aware of remote telescope services already. I had even looked into one before but was quickly dissuaded by the price tag. Alex, from the Telescope Live team, made himself known, we had a call. Long story short you’re now reading a blog post about that experience. In this article I’m going to try and convey what to expect when you sign up to and begin using remote telescopes. Some of the best gear we can have access to, in some of the most pristine and darkest skies going. A way to access horizons and hemispheres we don’t usually get the chance to see.

 

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Comet Neowise

 

With clouds rolling in and a touch and go forecast, I went and took a photograph of Comet Neowise.

C/2020 F3 NEOWISE is a bright comet that is currently located due north in the northern hemisphere. It was discovered on March 27th 2020 by the space telescope NEOWISE and towards July – particularly mid July it was visible just before sunrise. About 2-3am. If you wanted to see this target, or take a photo of it, you had to be an early riser (or just don’t go bed – like me).

C/2020 F3 Comet Neowise

To begin with, this comet is a big and beautiful naked eye comet. Particularly in July. To my knowledge it was the first comet that could be seen with no visual aids (binoculars, telescopes etc) at all. All you needed was your eyes since 1997 and Hale-Bopp. Even in Bortle 6 skies I could see it, through LED street lighting as well. It’s a large extended object that was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking to look at – as well as absolutely bizarre.

It was bizarre because of its orientation and its tail. As you can see (or might’ve seen). The nucleus of the comet (that’s the bright part) is pointing to the ground. The large tail (ion tail) is pointing towards the zenith. This makes it look like it’s storming its way down to the ground. And yet it actually goes in the opposite direction and follows generally the conventional rotation of the sky.

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The California Nebula

The California Nebula

The California Nebula is a large bellowing bunch of gas in the sky. It’s a beautiful and iconic nebula in Perseus and gets its name from looking like the state of California in the United States of America.

At Magnitude 6 and about 1000 light years from Earth, the California Nebula is reasonably easy to image. Using very modest gear I was able to capture this target in February 2019.

NGC 1499 lies within Perseus, named after the Greek God of the same title. A great time to image this nebula is late November through to January. It raises early and stays high in the sky for the entire night, allowing you plenty of imaging time. So naturally I shot it in February. Not the end of the world though, but it was on its way down.

In this article I’ll talk about what it’s like imaging The California Nebula as well as why would you choose narrowband over broadband as well as challenges I faced. Continue reading “The California Nebula”

Photographing Markarian’s Chain With A Stock DSLR

Photographing Markarian’s Chain With A Stock DSLR

Imaging Markarian’s Chain was something I tried last year. To a poor degree in my opinion. I was imaging with the Altair Hypercam 183c and it was a struggle as you can see in the video where I fought for the image.

Fast forward to the next year and after having given back the ZWO ASI 533mc Pro that I had to review, I was left with an unmodified Canon 450D and there I sat – trying to find targets.

In the end I decided to revisit this old nemesis of mine. Markarian’s Chain; a group of galaxies located in the constellation Virgo.

After all for me: nothing says “Galaxy Season” more than a huge chain of galaxies spanning a vast distance in space.

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The Horsehead Nebula In Hydrogen Alpha

I had an unexpected clear night recently. So I decided to take the Astronomik Ha 12nm Clip In Filter for a road sky space test. Pointing the telescope towards Orion, I decided to begin gathering data on The Horsehead Nebula.

The Horsehead Nebula

Otherwise known as Barnard 33, this dark nebula gets its name by the striking resemblance to that of a horse’s head. Often (almost always) photographed with it is the reflection nebula NGC 2023. The Horsehead Nebula is a popular winter time target and as such the perfect time to photograph it is late November to January.

Being partly an emission nebula, one popular trick is imaging this nebula in Hydrogen Alpha. Hydrogen Alpha is a narrowband wavelength of light that only allows light from that gas to pass through.The Astronomik Hydrogen Alpha Filter Is Used To Isolate The Hydrogen Alpha Wavelength.

I was able to capture this wavelength due to the generosity of The Widescreen Centre in loaning me the filter for review. The Astronomik 12nm Hydrogen Alpha Clip-In Filter is a heavy weight filter known for being really useful and good with DSLR cameras. So it was perfect for me and my modified Canon 600D.

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NGC 2244 – The Rosette Nebula

“I go back outside again and Orion, along with the Unicorn, seemingly were engaged in combat with the clouds”

The Rosette – A Blooming Flower In Space

“I go back outside again and Orion, along with the Unicorn, seemingly were engaged in combat with the clouds”

In the ever vast ocean of stars, galaxies, gaseous clouds and reflecting dust nebulae lies one target. An almost delicate flower of a nebulae. So fine its details that you could just blow it away with your own breath, like one would a dandeloin.

I am of course referring to the cluster of NGC 2244. Fondley referred to as The Rosette Nebula.

This particular form of gas lies about 5200 light years from our rock in space. It’s radius is placed at 65 light years. No, I haven’t measured it myself. I’ve got it from Wikipedia. Located in the easy to miss constellation of Monoceros – The Unicorn – it chases Orion through the winter nights in the northern hemisphere. With the Twins, Gemini, gleefully following along.

A shot from behind of my telescope imaging The Rosette Nebulae

 

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