Monday, July 16, 2018


Lassen County has a unique way to say: "We're done with you stargazers!"

Taken on Sunday morning on the last night of the Golden State Star Party.

The lightning started in the distant south, too far to hear.  How often do you get the chance to see stars and lightning at the same time?    I decided to take some long exposures with the Pentax K-1 and the Irix 15mm lens.  By using the Astrotracer function on the Pentax camera, the star trailing was stopped for this long duration exposure. Note the movement of the terrestrial lights on the horizon. 

Just after this picture, I reviewed the sequence of shots I'd already taken and thought: "This storm is coming straight at us!"  At that point, I decided that I was done imaging and it was time to pack my gear.

For the next hour until 4 am, I shut down the scopes, coiled cords, packed up tripods, folded my cot and sleeping bag (I'd already taken down the EZ Up and tent earlier in the day).  Lightning was flashing constantly as the storm got closer.  Not a fun thought to consider being out in the open on a flat field, nothing taller than me (excepting the one radio astronomer with his 20 foot tall antenna). By the time civil twilight started, I was able to settle into the passenger seat of the prius with several hungry mosquitoes to keep me company.

Woke at 7 when the rain started pouring and just waited for a break so that I could get on the road.

Nice way to end GSSP this year.

During this year's effort, I was able to get some more data on LDN 673, first light on a widefield setup, and do a bunch of film work.  Tried Portra 400 and 800 after shooting E200.  No black and white done this time, will save that for Calstar.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Rho Ophiuchus on Acros

From the Spring Calstar

Quick and dirty, straight from the scan.

Not worth zooming into it since there was trailing.  Hoping that there is a better frame yet to scan.

55 minutes at F5.6 with yellow filter.

Golden State Star Party 2018

Going to be a warm one this year!

Plans for this year:

Gather the rest of the color subs for LDN 673 with the SV4.
North America and Pelican nebula with the 67 200mm lens on the QSI
More E200 and Acros with the dual 400s

Friday, November 24, 2017

Messier 27 from Calstar 2017

A quick and dirty processing of a data set from Calstar 2017.

It's been a long time since I finished an astrophoto.  I've not been happy with the data that I'd gathered at various locations including the backyard for several outings.  Finally, I decided to strip down to the basics and rebuild my process.  For this dataset, I tweaked guiding parameters to give longer correction pulses.  This improved the speed at which the setup recovers and thus there are more valid frames.  I also recentered the drawtube on the scope with using CCDInspector, improving off-axis star images.  I also rebuilt the automated focuser, improving gear mesh, giving more predictable and tighter focus.

Overall, this gave me a quick set of decent data to work with in Pix Insight.  I'd like to have more color in this image, and I may revist the steps to improve star color.

8 Red
6 Blue
8 Green
6 Lum

All subs 10 minutes

All data gathered from September 21 to 23, 2017.

Quick processing in PixInsight:
Preprocessing Script
DBE on merged RBG
Masked stretch to .125 average background, 250 iterations for RGB and Luminance.
L added to RGB.
Curves used to boost saturation.

Annotation script done on brighter objects.