Again three weeks of cloudy skies.

And finally the chance to do some imaging again. Seeing was not very good (FWHM ~7''), but you've to take what you get.

As winter is coming, also new nebulas and constellations are now visible. One of these is the wonderful Rosette Nebula. The resulting image consist of about 3 hours of exposure time. I still have problems with guiding, I am not able to nail down (due to only being able to do stuff every three weeks).

Also dew is becoming a problem in these cold autumn and winter nights.

The images still lack the sharpness quality I would like to have, but with this bad seeing you can not expect anything better.

Rosette Nebula True ColorRosette Nebula in True Colors (actually using the HA channel for red)
Rosette Nebula in Narrow BandHubble Palette

Another one of the Heart Nebula. This time directed at the glowing center.

The full Nebula is actually a little too big to fit onto the small 10mm sensor of the Atik Camera. Maybe I'll add some additional images in the future and try to build a mosaic.

Heart Nebula in RedMore fitting processing for pictured subject
Center of Heart NebulaProcessed with Hubble Colors.

Winter is coming and this also means that Orion the Hunter is again showing up on in the sky.

After three weeks of mostly clouds skies I got my APO Refractor out to do some imaging. In the meantime I also learned that ma problems with guiding and blurry stars also seem to come from very poor seeing over Innsbruck.

The following images have a sharpness value (FWHM) of 7 arcseconds for stars. Astrophotographers in better regions of the world don't bother shooting if this value goes over 4. Looking back at old images I found out that the sharpest I got from my Garden location was 3 arcseconds.

But anyway here are the three images I processed from this session. The pictures were done in true RGB color.

The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion's Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across. It has a mass of about 2000 times the mass of the Sun. Older texts frequently refer to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula.

M42Orion Nebula - The Great Hunter
M42Orion Nebula - The Great Hunter

I'm really fighting with field rotation.

If your mount is not aligned perfectly to the polar star, even with good guiding, this puts strong constraints on your exposure times. Even off axis guiding does not solve this problem. If you miss aligned just 1', the guiding star is 2 degrees away from your image and you're 60 degrees above the horizon, field rotation will accumulate on a 30 min exposure to about 5 pixel on my Atik 490ex.

As I build and tear down my setup for every session, there is a limit of time I'm willing to spend for alignment. All Star Polar Alignment on my mount gives me about the 1' precision mentioned above. For now I will limit the exposure times, depending how far up I'll look.

For the future I may investigate drift alignment and how good I'm able to streamline this process.

Anyway, here's my latest result based on things learned from all the previous mistakes. I especially looked for tracking errors, exposure times and focus.

3x15 min each in Ha, OIII, SII; 3x2 min each in RGB for the star colors

Heart NebulaBright part of the rather large Heart Nebula
Heart NebulaNGC896 on the outskirts of the Heart Nebula

After spending an amount of money one should not spend for a past time, getting the camera last week and then waiting 7 days for clear skies - finally.

Below is IC1318, the nebula in Cygnus. I chose this target because it was relatively high in the sky (advantage in a light polluted city), but not too close to the zenith (which makes guiding a pain).

The image is the result of 5x5 min of H-alpha, H-Beta, O-III and SII. Because of the short exposure time (I was still playing around), only H-alpha and SII really had significant impact.

I also learned some lessons. Make sure to remove all dust from the sensor glass and really go for long exposures. Narrow band also means a lot less light.

IC1318Nebula in Cygnus

Just some quick shots during a clear night of the Moon and M13.

M13 was done with the APO, the Moon and the Sun are 2 image composites done with the EdgeHD. I'm still amazed of about the quality of the APO/Flattener combo.

HerculesM13 - The Hercules Nebula APO with flattener. 1 hour integration time.
Half MoonShot in the morning hours. Integration of 750 images
The SunSun with one prominent sun spot.

I decided to give the North American Nebula a try with my new APO.

First setup was my unmodified EOS M3 with the 480 mm APO and the flattener from my light polluted garden. The nebula was close to the zenith which makes the sky a little bit darker. Total integration time was about hour.

The signal was really weak. Below is the result after pulling all my post processing skills.

NGC 7000 ColorNatural color image of NGC7000 - the North America Nebula APO with Flattener 60 min integration time

Next night I tried it with my Baader H-alpha filter. As my current setup for the APO does not work with flattener AND filter, I had to make the pictures without the flattener which is painfully visible at stars in the corners.
The image below has almost 2 hours of integration time.

NGC7000 BWHa narrow band image of the North America Nebula APO with Ha fiter 1.5 hours integration time

Again it shows the bad sensitivity of the unmodified EOS M3 to H-alpha frequencies.

I'm now really considering getting one of the dedicated CCD cameras, even if you've to sell your house to get one.

After my last experiment with my old 100 Euro ST80 400mm Refractor I got myself a new toy: A 480mm APO Refractor with extra Flattener.

Below is the first image I did. Because of incoming clouds I just had only time for 2 quick 45 sec snaps of M15. But both the colors and shapes of the stars are so much better with this refractor.

Looking forward to some truly dark nights on Hinterhorn Alm for some long exposure rich fields.

M15480mm APO with Flattener 2x45 sec stacked in bright skies

Surprisingly there was a clear sky for a few hours last night over Innsbruck. Moon was half up, but otherwise it was as good as it can get in city conditions.

I wanted to try a few things. First use my very cheap Skywatcher StarTraveler 80mm refractor to make a wide image of M31. Second I wanted also to check out my new Astronomik CLS filter to reduce these pesky city lights. And thirdly I wanted to use off axis guiding through the scope.

With the off axis guiding I failed miserably. I have to try to get focus and light during day. I fell back to use my 9x50 finder as guiding scope.

The Astronomik CLS filter is a mixed bag. I seem to get a little more contrast with it (which is needed because of the short focal length of 400mm). On the other hand you get blueish images with almost no red channel in it. I took 12x5 min 1600 ISO subs and still there was almost no information there.

The StarTravel ST80 is amazing for the amount of money it costs. Of course there are distortions off center, purple fringe effects are very visible around stars and focus is not really clear cut on the full frame. But for 100 euro it is still amazing.

So here's the final image 12x5 min ISO 1600 subs with an EOS M3. No dark frames, no flats, noise reduction was completely done in Photoshop.

M31 StarTravelerM31 shot with a cheap Skywatcher ST80 refractor. You get what you pay for.

Yesterday was a surprisingly clear night in Innsbruck.

For a change I tried to do some Planetary Nebulas from my light polluted garden. I chose M27 and M57 because they where high in the sky and therefore showed less problems with the background glow over Innsbruck.

M57 is even with the 2000 mm focal length of my EdgeHD SCT a little small. Also guiding becomes a challenge in these bright skies.

Imaging was done with an unmodified EOS M3 at 1600 ISO. I chose exposure times of 2 and 3 minutes to help with the guiding and to keep the background glow under control. Stacking was done with DeepSkyStacker and Photoshop.

And again, I'm actually quite happy with the result.

M57Bild mit den eingebetteten Einstellungen speichern.
M27 Wide

On Friday I went the first time up to Hinterhorn Alm to try out my EdgeHD 8 in a little more darkness.
Being away 20 km from the city, almost New Moon and an altitude of 1600m helps a lot.

So here are my first shots of the Milky Ways two sisters: M31 and M33


I used my regular EOS M3 without any special IR modifications for these shots.

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