Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Seeing: 2/5 Part II

This is Hamal through my Hartman Mask last night. The image is in focus when the 2 images converge into one. Good luck focusing when this is going on.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Seeing: 2/5

Not too horrible. 400/2000 stacked & processed. This is the rush job, so I didn't spend a lot of time on it. The planet's noticeably smaller from even just a week ago; down to 16" (from a max of 20") according to the LX200 controller.

Enthusiasm, or the Lack Thereof

I stood on the front porch and looked at the sky for about five minutes last night, then headed back in. I swear I could see Mars twinkle. Maybe I'm loosing my enthusiasm, but I just couldn't get motivated to haul a hundred pounds of gear to the end of the driveway to try and make pictures of a fuzzy ball dancing all over the sky while the temperature dropped 30 degrees. Seeing's gotta get better soon, right?

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Thanksgiving photos are up on the .Mac page.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


My first DSO @ prime focus. Digital Rebel XT + f/6.3 focal reducer + 10" LX200 Classic. 31 x 15 seconds unguided. I haven't trained the PEC on this setup, hence the short exposures. I'm pleased the stars aren't more "blobby." I used iAstroPhoto (a Mac version of DSLR Focus) to assist in focusing.

Looks like it could have used more frames. Still, I'm not unhappy for a first attempt.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Mars, The Moon & Saturn

CSC had seeing at just 2/5, but I set up in the back yard anyway.
First up is Mars with the new NexImage. I'm pretty pleased with the early results, and am looking forward to reprocessing these, plus trying again with better seeing.

That picture of the Moon and Mars that I wish I had made? I did get a shot of the Moon and Saturn.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

First Light: Canon Digital Rebel XT

A triple whammy today! My generous employer purchased a Canon Digital Rebel XT, so I got myself a t-ring to attach it to the LX200 at prime focus, and a piggyback bracket for the top of the scope.

This first shot is with the piggyback. I used a 100 mm macro @ f/2.8, 4.5 seconds x 12, unguided, ISO 800, stacked & resampled in KIS, levels & noise filtering in PS CS2. My very first DSO photograph is of Pleiades (M45). I'm rather pleased that some of the nebulosity shows up.

The second shot is at prime focus. It's a two-image mosaic, each one a single image, 1/125 sec, ISO 100. Composited in PS CS2, resampled down and sharpened, levels. The focus is off a bit--I was focusing strictly through the viewfinder. I'll try out iAstroPhoto once I get all the software installed to control the camera.

First Light: Celestron NexImage

I haven't been crazy about the Meade LPI, so I thought I'd give the Celestron NexImage a try. First impressions--a bit noisier on Mars, but three times faster capture. I can also use equinoX to drive the camera, which is much easier than how I had been capturing with the LPI. Hardware is still the 10" LX200+Televue 2x Barlow+Televue 2.5x Powermate (12,500 mm efl, f/50). Processed 1000 frames in KIS, stacked best 400, multiple passes with small wavelets. Histogram & smart sharpen in PS CS2.

This image is sub-par, and it's my own fault. It was cloudy all afternoon, so I didn't plan on setting up. But when I went outside at about 9:30 and saw clear skies, I quickly set up on the driveway. The scope never had a chance to reach ambient--it came out of the 70° house into the 50° air. The image was bouncing all over the place. I just wanted to try out my new camera.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


When the CSC says seeing is 2/5, it's a waste of time to try and image. I shoulda just gone to bed. We're on the back side of a cold front, so the seeing is gross, and since the temperature dropped more than 10 degrees since sundown, the scope never had a chance to get to ambient temp.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Feeling Guilty About:

Getting an invite in the work email to join the Austin Women's Forum and wondering, "Is that a good place to meet women?"

I Wish I Had Made This Picture

I did take the 6" dob out last night. Seeing was good enough to image, but the wind was whipping all over--would have been frustrating.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Other Side of Mars

Keith's Image Stacker and Astra Image (via Virtual PC). Spiffy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


"But honey, it's educational!"

(Actually, it is. Ian's saying lots of words, like, "no kitty" and "kitty stop.")

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Are You Tired of Mars Yet?

Don't worry, the Moon is coming back around.

No Dam Astronomers this week due to clouds. A few folks went last night, but I stayed home and shot this from the back yard just before the scope dewed up. This is from a five-minute stream on the wedge. I tested the long exposure with Starry Night first, and there's not enough planet rotation to worry about, and the wedge takes care of the field rotation. It's OK, but I'd like to find the way to the next level. I don't know if it's collimation, focus or camera. I suspect it's all three, and money is the answer to at least of two of them. *sigh*

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Click to view full size.

When I first posted the Mars on the left, I said it was as good as I was going to get unless I learned some new processing technique. Well, I did. Multiple, small passes with wavelets in KIS, and a minor touchup in Photoshop. Amazing.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My Best Yet

With the time change and the planet rising earlier, it's easier to stay up late enough to image Mars. This is my best yet, from Tuesday night (11:20 here).

I replaced my cheap barlow with a Televue 2.5x Powermate, and I can see the difference. The Powermate and TV barlow give me an effective focal length of 12,500 mm (f/50!) in the 10" LX200. Apparently, the LPI likes as much magnification as I can give it. Seeing was about 3/5. Still shooting 2.5 minute streams, about 900 frames total, 400 or so stacked.

I also changed up the processing a bit. Instead of going all out on the sharpening the first time around, I made several passes with a much lower setting. Each one got a little better, and I avoided the "ring around the planet."

And for the record, anti-vibration pads really do work, and work well.