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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The Equatorial Home Position (EQ Home) is an important parking position to place your mount in. It’s the basis where your Go-To stems from, and having an accurate EQ Home will make your life easier. It improves your Go-To accuracy, makes it easier to use finder-scopes to align as well as speeding up plate-Solving.
In this post I’m going to show you how to set the equatorial home position. In this example I’ll be using my Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro, but the instructions here will apply to any EQ mount. For this recipe you’ll need your EQ Mount and a Spirit Level.
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So I changed the focus tube on my 80ED for the uprated Crayford type, finished in glossy black. But was it worth the monetary investment? Let’s find out. Glossy black finish, smooth plastic, a fine looking aesthetic complete with additional goodies over the stock focus tube fitted to most Skywatcher series refractors; this uprated focuser looks to have everything you want.
But it isn’t that straight forward.
Continue reading “Sky-Watcher Crayford Focuser Review”
The Optolong L-eXtreme Filter
The Optolong L-eXtreme filter is the bigger brother to the hugely popular and widely well received Optolong L-eNhance filter. The L-eXtreme is a duo-narrowband filter that lets through Hydrogen-Alpha and Oxygen-III wavelenghts.
The filter is used best on emission nebula and supernova remnants. I’ve had this filter for a while and used it between a DSLR and a dedicated astronomy camera. In this article I’ll be sharing my thoughts about this narrowband filter that was designed for use mainly with one-shot colour (OSC) cameras.
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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
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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Reduce star sizes in GIMP! This is a definite way to immediately add punch to your image. By reducing the star sizes you can remove distractions. To me, the stars – whilst pretty – can detract from some images by blanketing them with hundreds of points of light which takes your eyes from the deep sky object. Which is the main focal point of the image, right?
So in this tutorial I will be showing you a way you can use the free image processor GIMP to reduce the star sizes.
If you’re new to editing in GIMP anyway, I have a full tutorial that can be found at the bottom of this page.
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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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Optolong L-eXtreme First Impressions
On Monday I took receipt of the new Optolong L-eXtreme Dual Narrowband Filter. This puppy lets through Hydrogen Alpha and Oxygen-III only. As luck would have it, Monday night was also clear. As was Wednesday and Thursday. So I screwed it onto my trusty Sky-Watcher Reducer Nosepiece and got ready for a night of astrophotography with this new Optolong filter.
L-eXtreme First Impressions
Like most gear, there’s a learning curve. Even a filter can take you a little bit to familiarise yourself with. As such, I chose a really easy target that absolutely lent itself to this L-eXtreme filter – NGC 6992 The Eastern Veil Nebula. This supernova remnenant primarily consists of Hydrogen Alpha and Oxygen-III. So it was the perfect candidate of low hanging fruit I wanted, in order toget used to a new filter.
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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”