Archive for June, 2009

Although I am still imaging in inner space, at least the latest venture has an astro-imaging application.  I have just purchased Noel Carboni’s Fractal Sharpening tool which works with Genuine Fractals (also purchased at the same time) and Adobe Photoshop.  These 3 pieces of software working together provide you with a new powerful addition to your digital processing armoury.  I have just applied the fractal sharpening to an old macro image taken of a bee in my garden, and the result is excellent.  You can then use Genuine Fractals on its own if you want to convert a (physically) small image into a large poster print.  Having just converted a sub-A4 image into an A3 image and printed it out I must admit Genuine Fractals really does a good job.  You could also apply Noel’s fractal sharpening to your deep-sky images to give them that extra little “zing” – I know Noel did this on our mega Veil nebula project to very good effect.

So as we approach the end of June and my astro-imaging fast it has not all been a complete waste of time.  I now have some very useful digital processing software, and a 77mm Hutech IDAS filter arrived this afternoon for those Milky Way shots using a DSLR and the AstroTrac.  So hopefully, during the next summer month, I’ll be able to do some ultra wide-field deep-sky imaging with the Canon 17-55mm lens and the IDAS filter 🙂

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O.K. so it’s not a deep-sky image as we are still suffering zero length evenings in June – but that doesn’t stop me capturing digital images of the wildlife surrounding the New Forest Observatory.  This little guy was caught this afternoon 🙂

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I have been playing around again with the microscope and Helicon Focus.  Now although this is not deep-sky imaging, a lot of the data collection and data processing is very similar to deep-sky work.  First of all you need to locate your subject, in this case a Morpho Rhetenor butterfly wing.  Then a number of subs are taken with a digital camera – but in this case each “sub” is taken at a slightly different focus so that Helicon Focus can add all the “subs” together to give a highly magnified image which looks all in focus, even though parts of the image are at very different heights.  This “all in focus photomicrograph” gives the image the look of an SEM (scanning electron microscope) image – with one big difference – it’s in colour!!!  Finally, the “stacked” dataset has been fractally sharpened by Noel Carboni to give the resulting image below.

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Fred Clarke (Arthur C Clarke’s brother who lives in the S.W. of England) has two copies of Star Vistas destined to go into a new museum Fred is creating to house Sir Arthur C Clarke’s work.  When Sir Arthur kindly wrote the Foreword to Star Vistas I gently bribed him with two copies of the book when published.  Sadly Sir Arthur died just a few months before publication.  I then contacted his brother Fred who said he would gladly take charge of the copies and that in due course they would be placed in a new museum dedicated to Sir Arthur’s work.  I wish Fred good fortune in managing this mammoth task!

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Within the last week there has been two large surges in sales of Star Vistas in the U.K. and one large surge in sales in the States.  We are not sure what caused these sudden increases in sales (a review somewhere perhaps?) – but whatever it is due to – thank you for continuing to purchase our first portfolio of  high-quality deep-sky images!!

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It was while putting together my top 10 that I realised there had been a serious omission!  I have not put up the definitive Horsehead and Belt region of Orion on the NFO site, although it had appeared way back in January 2009 as a 2-page spread article in Astronomy Now magazine.  This is a massive 2-framer taken with the Sky 90 and SXVF-M25C.  Not only that, each frame comprises, RGB, H-alpha and H-beta data as well.  Many, many hours of data acquisition (around 40!) and many, many hours of Noel’s processing time (at least another 40!) bring you ……………

Enjoy!!!

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It was extremely difficult to pick a top 5 and a number of images were very close runners up.  In places 6 to 10 I put the following:

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With something approaching 200 images in the Parker/Carboni portfolio I am often asked – “what are your top 5 favourite images?”  Well, after quite a bit of thought on this one, and for reasons that go beyond the impact of the image itself in some cases – this is what I come up with.

 

What are your top 5  favourites?

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Yesterday the New Forest Observatory web site reached a truly massive 80,000 hits!  It is interesting to note the most popular landing page from peoples’ searches.  Have you any idea what it might be?  Could it be “images of deep-space”, Star Vistas, or perhaps nebulae/galaxies/stars?

No – in fact it is my short article on “How a Mirror Works”!!  So there you go 🙂

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We have recently seen a big kick in sales of Star Vistas in America which seems to be due to the appearance of a mini-review in the July issue of Sky and Telescope written by Sean Walker 🙂  Thank you Sean – all publicity for Star Vistas is gratefully received!!

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