Archive for the “Projects” Category

Projects undertaken at New Forest Observatory

I have recently finished the Second Edition of the Springer publication “Making Beautiful Deep-Sky Images” and it has been sent off to them to make bookworthy.  Springer then sends me back the draft (with all the page numbers) and I then have the final (mind-destroying) job of putting the Index together.  You will see the new 2nd Edition in the shops next year (I’ll let you know when) and if you have the 1st Edition, there’s enough new stuff in the 2nd Edition (including completely new chapters, and completely re-written old chapters) to warrant raiding your wallets for a second time.  The biggest change you will see on the front cover is the removal of the sub-title “Astrophotography with Affordable Equipment and Software” – with a chapter dedicated to the New Forest Observatory mini-WASP Array – some of the equipment is now anything but affordable.

 

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Noel Carboni recently processed the 22-hours of data from the Sky 90 mini-WASP array.  This data comprised 15 and 20-minute sub-exposures.

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I have only just stacked ALL the data on this one from late 2014.  This is 69 subs using 15.20-minute exposures for a total of 22-hours on this one.

The Sky 90 array on the mini-WASP. f#4.5 3 x Sky 90s and 3 x M26C OSC CCDs.

 

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Beautiful clear Moonless night last night but we only get astronomical darkness starting around 11 p.m. so it’s a late start at this time of the year (and darkness ends around 3 p.m. so you don’t get many hours of darkness either).  I saw some nice contrasting red and blue stars in Draco using a planetarium program, and as a bonus I could also get NGC 4236 (Caldwell 3) in the frame as well – a barred spiral galaxy.  This image is 30 x 10-minute subs taken with the Sky 90 array on the mini-WASP.  When I packed up for the evening there was Saturn near Antares in the south, and quite high up in the sky there was Lyra and Cygnus, so summer is clearly not far away 🙂  All in all a superb night’s imaging.

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12 frames using the Hyperstar III and M25C camera with 2-hours of 10-minute subs per frame.  Also a 200mm lens with M26C camera 2-framer using 15-minute subs and 5 hours per frame.  So total integration time is 34 hours 🙂

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Turned out rather noisy for 30 x 1,000 second subs with the Sky 90 array.  Not sure why as there was no Moon about.  Maybe I forget to turn the Peltiers on??  Need to redo this one with the Hyperstar III.

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4 hours of 10-minute subs from last year with the Sky 90 array.  Akira Fujii effect.

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Here is a 4-frame mosaic of the Kemble’s Cascade region taken with the Sky 90 array and M26C OSC CCDs.

I have used the Akira Fujii effect to enhance the brighter stars.  This actually means deliberately bloating the brighter stars which makes the image more pleasing in print.  As we actually go out of our way to minimise bloating in stars when we image them, this is a rather perverse process 🙂

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9th April 2016 was not a happy night for me.  Two passes of the ISS and the Dragon supply vessel predicted, one at 8:40 p.m. and the other at 10:15 p.m.  Sky clear!!  Moon setting at 10:39 p.m. and small phase only – so no problem.  Everything perfect for a unique image.

So I’m set up in the garden for the 8:40 p.m. pass, I see the ISS approaching and open the shutter.  As it is still fairly light I am taking a set of 10-second exposures.  As the ISS reaches the Zenith I can actually see the Dragon supply ship off to one side – brilliant – I haven’t seen it before 🙂 🙂  I keep taking shots until the ISS is well out of the FOV – brilliant – what a happy occasion.  So I packed the camera up to bring the data indoors for processing – AND – yes the lens cap was still on.  I don’t think I have gone quite so ballistic for a number of years – and of course I have NEVER left the lens cap on the camera ever before.

O.K. well I still have the 10:15 p.m. pass – but it is so low down I need to go over the forest to take the pictures.  No problem – load everything into the car and go over to a forest car park to get next pass.  Well that’s an eye opener!!  Didn’t realise that sort of thing went on in my local forest car park after dark!!  Undeterred I pressed on (the others discretely pushed off while I was setting up) and I got the image below.  The first part of the pass was lost from car headlights from a car coming back from deeper in the forest, but I got the main part of the ISS pass.  However I didn’t get, and I didn’t see the Dragon supply ship which was basically the whole point of the exercise.

Not a night to remember!

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The Sky 90 array was set on this object to see if I could pick up the 3 quasars near this galaxy.  No sign!! A day later I put the Hyperstar III on the same region but only got 4 x 10-minute subs 🙁  Possible sign of one of the quasars, but no sign of the other two – not a fair test however.  Below is the Noel Carboni process of the Sky 90 data.

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