Category Archives: Galaxies

NGC 891 Edge-On Galaxy – Through Metro LP & Moonlight

NGC 891. 42x 5 min (42 x (10x30sec LiveStacks) w/SharpCap 3.2.) Televeu TV-85 @ F/5.6, UHC filter, QHY183c at -15C, Gain 42, Offset 42.

Here is an interesting experiment I did in shooting short, 10-sub x 30 sec “subs-stacks” with  LiveStacking in SmartCap 3.2 and stacking the stub-stacks in IRIS.  I used Fitsworks first to orient the 5 min stacks taken after the meridian flip with the first batch.   Final post-processing was done in PS.

I squeezed in two other shots this night – one of the moon and a test for guiding I did on Mirach.   The test involved changing the PHD2 camera selection to the Ascom Toupcam driver instead of the regular version I used that gave trouble in the last session.  That solved a problem with the camera dropping and losing connection.

Similar to NGC 981 above, I did twelve 10-sub stacks of Mirach for 5 minutes each for a grand total of 60 minutes of exposure:

Mirach and Mirach’s Ghost. 12×300 sec using 10×30 sub-stacks. TV-85 at F/5.6, UHC Filter, QHY183c @ -15C, Gain 42, Offset 42.

The moon was out and after shooting NGC 891, I captured it in a .SER movie with 100 frames.  I used 20 to make a still with the AutoStakkert software.   Here’s the result:

The Moon on Nov 16, 2019, early AM. Televue TV-85 at F/5.6, QHY183c, UHC filter.

Very clear conditions this night, but seeing was mediocre, with strong LP and moonlight interference.  Cold for Cajun country, too… it got down to mid-to-upper 30’s.  Brrr…


Two Images from Laptop Test and Guider Testing

Mirach and his Ghost.  140×30 sec, QHY183c, Gain 20, Offset 42, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6, UHC filter.
M81 & M82. 354×15 sec, QHY183c, Gain 42, Offset 42, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6, UHC filter.

I was testing a used i7 laptop for use with SharpCap 3.2 under a bright moon on Saturday night, Nov 9, 2019 and the session yielded two images so far from the data.  I was also testing a different guide camera.  I switched from the Orion StarShoot mono cam to my Rising Tech IMX224 color eyepiece cam.

I had mixed results in testing. It was promising at first, but after several hours, some instabilities with SharpCap and the guider cam means I still have work to do to debug some possible driver and compatibility issues.   Oh, well.  At least the new laptop seems to be able to stream the camera data better than the old Panasonic ToughBook I was using.

As far as the two images, the top one was the first object I imaged since I used it to do alignment and focusing .  I really wanted to see the “ghost” since I missed out getting it on Halloween.   It is a crop centered around the star and galaxy at 100% resolution.

The second one was in the muck and between the bright moonlight, the LP and the terrible seeing, I thought it would be hopeless, but I managed to pull out some data that at least shows some of the spiral structure of M81.   It is the full field of the camera.  The linked image is at 50% reduction from the full size, 20MP final image.

Pretty clear night but the seeing sucked bad.   The moon, which I did not shoot this night, was at 89%.   Normally, I would not shoot on a night like this, but I had some testing to do, which was a good enough reason to get out.

The Witch’s Broom – Western Veil Nebula and Friends

Witch’s Broom Nebula – 90×30 sec, QHY183c, -25C cooling, Gain 30, Offset 5, UHC filter, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6.

After a few all-nighters during the recent good weather we’ve been having down here in Cajun Country, I must say I’m worn out.   LoL.   But, I had lots of fun shooting very dim objects through Bortle Red Zone skies that I would have never thought would let me capture what I did.   Modern progress with astro-filters and more sensitive cameras save the day!  Plus, none of the stuff I bought broke the bank.

Since I shot the Eastern Veil with the new setup, I had to try the western part, aka the Witch’s Broom.   It was easy with the QHY183c and a cheap UHC filter.  I got 45 minutes worth of 30 second sub-images and they stacked automatically in SmartCap 3.2.  Star colors could be better, but this is about normal for a UHC filter shot.  The red channel was not quite in focus, however.   I fixed it after acquiring the data for the above image.

I shot 3 other objects on  this night, Gamma Cas, M33 (again) and the Horse Head Nebula,  with 2 of them completed.  I got clouded out during the last session with the Horse Head.   Below are the results:

Gamma Cas – 75×30 sec, QHY183c, Gain 30, -25C, UHC filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
M33 – 10×120 sec, QHY183c, Gain 30, -25C, UHC filter, TV85 at F/5.6.


Great Night for EAA and Imaging with New QHY183c Camera

M27 – 90×30 sec, QHY183c at -25C, Gain 30, UHC filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
M27 – Close Crop Detail. 90×30 sec, QHY183c at -25C, Gain 30, UHC, TV-85 @ F/5.6.
Eastern Veil Nebula – 103×30 sec, QHY183c at -25C, Gain 30, Offset 25, UHC filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
M31 – 90×30 sec, QHY183c at -25C, Gain 30, UHC filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
M33 – 30×30 sec, QHY183c at -25C, Gain 30, UHC filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
M45 – 100×30 sec, QHY183c at -25C, Gain 30, UHC filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
M42 – 40×30 sec, QHY183c at -25C, Gain 30, UHC filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.

What a night!  My new QHY183c astro camera worked really well once I had it hooked to a computer that could handle the 20MP downloads and live stacking requirements of SharpCap 3.2.  I used my older  Panasonic ToughBook for controlling the scope and the guiding while another laptop, a Toshiba i7-based unit, was used for image acquisition and live-stacking.  I was able to bag six objects with this setup before I had to turn in and get some sleep.

(BTW, EAA is Electronically Assisted Astronomy.  It is a way to “observe” from a light-polluted metro area with real-time captures and strong LP filters on a computer using highly sensitive astro cameras.)

SharpCap 3.2 works really well on the faster machine but not on the ToughBook.  The USB 3 port and it’s 2.5Ghz processor are just not powerful enough, I guess.  I will have to tuneup the Toshiba to do all the stuff the ToughBook was doing and live-stack with SharpCap, all at the same time.  Hopefully, I’ll take care of that soon.

The Sombrero Galaxy

M104, the Sombrero Galaxy. Taken in May of 2008, revamped in May of 2018. 7×300 @ ISO 800, Canon XT, TV-85 at F/5.6

One of my favorite galaxies.   I like all edge-on galaxies and this one has a uniqueness to it that makes it special.   The original had a splotchy background and the color was muted and dull.   I increased saturation and shifted the color balance to be more bluish.  I used the add noise PS filters to get the background to look smoother.