Category Archives: Moon

Saturday-Sunday Night, Dec 7th-8th, 2019

The Moon. 5 frames stacked in SharpCap 3.2 LiveStacking. QHY183c, L-eNhance, TV-85 at F/5.6.
The Ghost Nebula and Gamma Cass. QHY183c, 125 x 30 sec, Gain 42, Offset 42, -20C, L-eNhance filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
NGC7822 and Ced 214. QHY183c, 122 x 30 sec, Gain 42, Offset 42, -20C, L-eNhance filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
The Cone Nebula. QHY183c, 193 x 30 sec, Gain 42, Offset 42, -20C, L-eNhance filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
M46 and NGC 2438. QHY183c, 18 x 30 sec, Gain 42, Offset 42, -20C, L-eNhance filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
Leo Trio. QHY183c, 120 x 30 sec, Gain 42, Offset 42, -20C, L-eNhance filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.

Six images bagged in one night, although a few need at least another nights worth of additional time. Big city light pollution was circumvented with an Optolong L-eNhance filter.

30 second sub-images for the DSO’s. The moon was 5 frames stacked in SharpCap 3.2. The Cone Nebula has 130 subs from last night and 63 from a previous session. I also shot M51, but it was only a few frames before twilight and was not really enough for a display image.

The Cave & Monkey Head Nebulae Plus The Moon

The Cave Nebula – – 242 x 30 sec @ Gain 42, Offset 42, -20C, 26×240 sec @ Gain 20, Offset 31,-15C, QHY183c, L-eNhance filter, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6
Moon Composite – Dec 2, 2019
Monkey Head Nebula – 100 x 30 sec @ Gain 42, Offset 42, -20C, QHY183c, L-eNhance filter, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6

Sunday evening was beautiful here in Cajun Country and I did not let the night go to waste.   I shot a number of things, but I went back to the Cave Nebula early on to add more data to my existing image of it.

I shot the moon next, even though the seeing was not that great.   I shot 10 stills starting out slightly underexposed and progressing to over-exposed to show the dark part that was lit by Earthshine.    My experiment to blend them all together was not what I had in mind in terms of look and feel.  Plus, I had shot them in 8-bit mode instead of 16-bit mode in SharpCap 3.2.  It was a learning experience, I guess.   I’ll figure it out one day, hopefully.

I did the Monkey Head Nebula last and it hardly needed any post-processing.   50 minutes worth of data was enough to show most of it.   Guiding and composition were good and the image was easy to post process.   I packed it in after this, since it was nearly 2:00 am and I needed at least a few hours of sleep before work Monday morning.   lol

Like before, these images were all taken from a metro area with Bortle 8 red zone light pollution levels.   An Optolong L-eNhance filter was used to shoot through the muck.

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…


6 Minute Veil and the Moon

East Veil Nebula. 6×60 sec, QHY183c, Gain 25, Offset 31, -15C, UHC filter, TV-85 at F/5.6.
The Moon on Nov 5th, 2019. TV-85 at F/5.6, QHY183c, UHC filter, 200% enlargement.

I am amazed at how much signal is in just 6 minutes of sub-images for this new camera, QHYCCD’s QHY183c.  When you take the shot, there is really not much there  without significant stretching of the image.    But, since the noise is so low with this cam, it can be boosted beyond anything a DSLR image could keep up with.

Now, I did do quite a bit of noise reduction on the Veil image included here, but it had enough signal to preserve enough detail to make the image adequate for a display image.  I reduced it 50% to smooth it out more, but the original size is OK, too, just quite large to be downloading on a mobile phone.

Clouds were why the session was so short.  I was clouded out when it was in a prime position early on, then it went completely overcast at the end.  In between, I manged to get the 6 x 1 minute subs .   I gave up and tore down and stowed the rig after I couldn’t shoot anymore.   Almost as soon as I had put away the last piece of gear, I went back out and it was totally clear, just like when I had started setting up.   Sucker holes and I fall for them all the time.   lol

I was actually just testing some tweaks to my laptop I did hoping that they would improve performance.  I added memory and updated a few drivers. Stability was vastly improved, but the speed of the machine lacked.   I could not do a, “live,” shot of the moon at the lower exposure needed.   It would not stream with the exposure less than 350ms.  Too many frames per second for it to keep up with, I guess.    Means I need another field laptop.   🙁

First Light – The Moon with a New QHY183c Camera

The Moon on Oct 19, 2019. Stack of 30 frames with QHY183c, UHC filter and a TV-85 at F/5.6

I finally did it.  I bought a new camera for imaging (and Electronically Assisted Astronomy or EAA for short) that has a cooler and is dedicated for astrophotography.  It is a QHY183c from QHYCCD.   It is a 20MP, Sony IMX183 BSI CMOS-based camera with electronic refrigeration to cool the CMOS chip and reduce noise.

I chose a color camera since I shoot comets and it is easier to do those with a one-shot-color (OSC) camera vs. a mono camera needing filters and a filter wheel.  Plus, it was cheaper by far for the color version ($699 vs $999 or $1199 w/filter wheel) since Sony sells and produces lots more of them than the mono version of the chip.  And, you don’t need a set of filters and the filter wheel, which adds to the cost considerably.

The moon image  above was shot when it was still low in the sky and reddish in hue.   I shot a short video of it with 61 frames.   I used SharpCap 2.9, since the newer SharpCap 3.2 version did not want to work for some reason.   I opened the .SER video file it produced in AutoStakkert and stacked half the frames with the default AutoStakkert settings.   Some sharpening and other enhancement was done in PS.

I had a few problems with the laptop not handling the amount of data that the 20MP cam produces at it’s full resolution and highest bit-depth settings.   I could get it to work in mono mode but not in color mode reliably.  Later, I tried the camera with a much more robust and newer laptop and it seemed to work much better.   Looks like I will need to upgrade my field laptop, which is an older Panasonic ToughBook with an i5 processor.

EAA was a blast with this camera.   I was in the middle of the city and was picking up the Veil Nebula and the Horse Head Nebula with no problems.   I was using a cheap UHC filter that had sharp cutoffs for H-beta/OIII and H-alpha wavelengths and that helped with all the LP.  I did more EAA than trying to get data to produce finished images.   I kept a few that I will tack on to the end of this post.

M42. A single 20 second mono image taken through a UHC filter and TV-85 at F/5.6 with the new QHY183c.
Horse Head Nebula. 93×30 sec subs live-stacked with SharpCap 2.9, QHY183c, UHC filter and a TV-85 at F5.6.


Full Moon October 12, 2019

Full Moon, Oct 12, 2019
The Full Moon on Saturday, October 12, 2019. 1/500th sec @ ISO 100, Canon T3, TV-85 at F/5.6, IDAS-LPS.

I got a chance to do an equipment shakedown imaging session on Saturday night, Oct 12, 2019.  It was my first one this season.   I thought I would run into numerous problems, but it was not as bad as I thought it might be.   Only a few things were not working and needed fixing or replacing.   It was all small stuff, like a busted dew strap and broken focus mask, which I was able to glue back together. The main thing I was able to fix were some issues with my mount’s declination axis and backlash settings.   It had been needing some adjustments since before the last time I imaged and I finally got it done.

The weather was nice, at least at first.  We had a cold front pass through the night before down here in Cajun Country – the first significant front of the season and it brought the temps down into the 50’s.    It was very clear at the start of the night and cool.  But, clouds eventually came in and spoiled everything as the night wore on, unfortunately.   By 2:00 AM, I was completely clouded out, so I packed it in and called it a night.

Here’s another version of that moon image, which being a Hunter’s Full Moon, made it a worthwhile keeper:

The Full Moon on Saturday, October 12, 2019. 1/500th sec @ ISO 100, Canon T3, TV-85 at F/5.6, IDAS-LPS.

The Super Blood Wolf Moon Lunar Eclipse

2 sec @ ISO 200, Canon T3, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6
5 sec @ ISO 100, Canon T3, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6

The lunar eclipse of Jan 20, 2019.   Top image is just after totality had set in.  It is enhanced to show more background stars and brighten the moon a bit, sort of like you would see it in binoculars or a telescope.

The second image is just after mid-eclipse and is enhanced to show more background stars, but not brighten the moon too much.  This was more how the eclipse looked to the naked eye.

Below is the whole eclipse saved as a 79-frame animated GIF image:

Complete Lunar Eclipse – Animated GIF

I had a hard time getting the images aligned on this one.  I tried manually doing it in PS, but it is tedious and easy to make mistakes.  Finally, I had to write a script in IRIS and told it to combine separate RGB files into color images that had been processed through IRIS’s planetary alignment tool.   I also tried to make a video file that would upload to hosts on the web.   Unfortunately, it always changed the colors to be too bright and yucky with the conversion from AVI to MP3/MP4 or WMV formats, so I gave up on that.

Two Moons and 1 Comet

The Moon on Jan 12, 2019. Afocal eyepiece projection, 25mm eyepiece to Samsung Perx (5Mb,) on a 6 inch, F/8 Newtonian.

I finally tried my phone with the afocal camera holder and the dob I use from time to time.   Yes, it works.  But, the image quality is definitely poor compared to my DSLR’s.

A couple of nights later, I setup the TV-85 refractor/Canon T3 combo and took some shots.   One was of the moon before the sun had set.   Here it is in two versions – as taken and converted to look like a nighttime shot:

The Moon on Jan 14, 2019. 1/400 sec @ ISO 100, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6.
The Moon on Jan 14, 2019. 1/400 sec @ ISO 100, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6. Nighttime simulation.

I was setting up for some deep sky and the moon made a convenient test target.  Later that night, I shot some images of Comet 64P.   Unfortunately, I was cut off by clouds after only 10 sub-images.   I was going to just throw this out, but I managed to make an image out of the paltry amount of data, so it is not a complete loss.

Check it out:

Comet 64P on Jan 14, 2019, 01:12 UT. 10×180 sec @ ISO 400, IDAS-LPS, Canon T3, Televue TV-85 at F/5.6.