Archive for February, 2008

I have just ordered a RoboFocus from Jerry Smith at Domepage [States] and believe it or not it has already been packed and shipped – same day!  How efficient is that.  The Robofocus is for automatically focusing the Sky 90 using Maxim DL and Larry Weber/Steve Brady’s FocusMax [freeware] software.  It doesn’t look like a trivial exercise to set this all up, so when I’ve eventually found out how to do it, I will write an article on the subject.

At the same time I downloaded PoleAlignMax – so I might also get improved Polar alignment on my setup.

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For American/Canadian visitors to this site, please note you can now purchase my book through Starizona

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Noel is getting all the data prepared for the coffee-table book and is now mopping up stuff from last year.  Here we have an updated image of M31.
The basis of this image was actually first light for the M25C way back on Fri 22nd September 2006!  Five and a half hours of RGB using 4-minute subs, and Noel having to work enormous magic to get the right colour as the firmware hex file was not correct for the M25C at the time!!!
We then go to 2007 for, Wed 3rd Oct 2007, 2 hours using 20-minute subs H-alpha – Sat 6th Oct 2007, 2.5 hours 450 second subs RGB –  Wed 17th Oct 2007, 4 hours 35 minutes using 750 second subs RGB – and finally Fri 2nd November 2007, 6 hours and 12 minutes using 6-minute subs RGB.  Grand total 20 hours 47 minutes.  Obsessive?  Moi?

Noel has just informed me that I missed one session out!  On Thursday 15th November 2007 I also captured 5 hours and 20-minutes of H-alpha data using 20-minute subs.  That now brings the running total to just 7-minutes over 26 hours!!!

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You may not have seen an earlier piece of stunning imagery from Noel – concerning the Moon yet again 🙂  The attached image is a large, high-resolution mosaic of the Moon taken and processed by Noel.  He has pushed up the saturation in the processing to give this most unique colour image.

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And here’s one Noel took a little earlier in the evening.  This is one of the most 3D-looking images of our Moon I’ve seen!

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The New Forest Observatory was clouded out on the night of the total eclipse of the Moon, but Noel Carboni in Florida had better skies!  He also had a more reasonable hour to work since he is 5 hours behind U.K. time – so what would have been a very unsociable 3.00 a.m. imaging excursion for me was a rather more pleasant 10.00 p.m. outing for Noel.  The attached image of the full eclipse under Florida skies shows Noel’s astronomical skills include imaging as well as processing 🙂  Nice one Noel!

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There is a nice review of “Making Beautiful Deep-Sky Images” by our very own Terry Platt [the CEO of Starlight Xpress] on Amazon – thank you Terry, glad you liked the book.  For bigger, better (and more) deep-sky images you’ll have to wait for the mega Parker-Carboni coffee-table book “Star Vistas” due to go on sale for the Christmas market this year.  Noel will have all the images honed to perfection and camera-ready for the publishers by mid-March 2008.  We haven’t signed the final contracts yet, but the second we do you’ll be the first to know who we’ve signed up with.  This is getting exciting now 🙂

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Well, we have just had the longest unbroken run of clear night skies that I can remember.  Tonight is the full Moon and every imager knows that a full Moon always means clear skies – but not tonight!  Why not?  Because in the early hours of Thursday morning we have a full lunar eclipse taking place (these occur during full-Moon phases) – so, the Patron Saint of astro-imagers has cloud cover on the cards.  Still, it will be worth checking outside every so often to see if anything is visible to you, and if it is, take a snap with the digital camera to record the event.

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The fourth image in the 6-night marathon is M78 and part of Barnard’s Loop in Orion.  This is a work in progress as so far this is only 4 hours of RGB data using 15-minute subs – and with an intrusive Moon.  Noel’s expert processing has already created quite a nice image, but we need more data, and I need to move the whole frame to the right to get more of Barnard’s Loop in the FOV.

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The third image from the 6-night session is the first single-star image I have taken with the Sky 90/SXVF-M25C combination.  This is Procyon – and the image comprises 48 sub-exposures at 5-minutes per sub or exactly 4 hours total exposure time.

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