Friday, January 31, 2014

Cephus with IC1396 at Calstar 2013

Via Flickr:
IC 1396 and other nebula in Cephus on E200 film at Calstar 2013.

Shot with the Pentax 67 camera using the S-M-C Takumar 6X7 200mm f/4 lens at F5.6. Exposure of 60 minutes. Film pushed one stop in developing.

Scanned with Epson V700. Processing in LR5 to fix colors and apply curves.

Sadr region on E200 at Calstar 2013

Via Flickr:
The Milky Way region around the bright star Sadr in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan). This includes lots of nebulosity and dust clouds.

Taken with the Pentax 67 camera with SMC Pentax 67 105mm f2.4 lens on E200 film. Exposure was 60 minutes at f4. Haze filter used to control some of the bloat.

Scanned with Epson V700 at maximum settings. Color balanced in scan. Processed in LR5 for curves.

Orion at Calstar on E200

Orion at Calstar on E200 by S Migol
Orion at Calstar on E200, a photo by S Migol on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Most of the Orion constellation or asterism as seen at Calstar 2013. This was taken late at night on one of the last evenings.

Pentax 67 camera using the SMC Pentax 6X7 165mm f/2.8 lens on E200 slide film. Exposure of 60 minutes at f4. Film pushed one stop in processing. Haze filter used to control a little glow.

Note the field rotation on the edges of the frame indicating poor polar alignment. When I do this again, I'll have to take more care in setting up the mount.

The camera was piggybacked on the G11 on top of the SV4 and all guided by Maxim driving the SSAG on an SV70ED.

Scanned using the Epson V700 at maximum settings, making huge files (over 800 mb each) giving my computer a real challenge with processing them. Color balance was achieved in scan. LR5 to do some noise control, vignette removal, and curves.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

IC 443 Jellyfish Nebula in Jan 2014

Via Flickr:
IC 443 AKA the Jellyfish Nebula and region as seen from Montebello OSP on Sunday January 26, 2014. I wanted to return to this area after a year away from it with one night of good data.

What's interesting here is the reflection from Propus that appears at the top of the image. Chasing these reflections is a challenge and I've traced it back to the Feathertouch focuser. There are a lot of shiny bits in the drawtube that allow just enough light to shine when a bright object is off to the side. Flocking the drawtube helps considerably. Still, there's opportunity to have some glinting.

This is a stack of 14 subexposures for 4 horus and 40 minutes of integration. Had to refocus once through the session at the meridian flip. Have taken to focusing 1/3 from the center and this helps flatness considerably.

Calibrated in Maxim, stacked in DSS, processing in PI. Cropped off ragged edges, DBE, Masked Stretch script, Histogram stretch, unsharp mask on the lightest regions, curves applied to bring up the bright and drive the dim lower.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Astro Work in 2014

Starting 2014 with a supernova

I set up the scope for the first time since Rebecca visited in November.  The last time I had the gear out under the stars I was using it visually instead of imaging.  Poorly out of practice luckily there were others at Montebello to make the effort worthwhile.

The drought has brought clear skies and crisp nights yet I was not getting the gear out for many reasons.  The holidays was a big factor as well as wanting to spend more time where it's warm.

Last night was the chance to finally put everything back together for imaging.  Some of the kit hadn't been assembled since Calstar!  Good that I made the effort at home and under sunny skies.  I wouldn't have been able to find everything in the dark.


Must find a loom for the umbilical cables.  The inclusion of the longer ethernet cable and USB cable makes rolling and unrolling the bundle a pain.  I'll look into getting some spiral wrap.

I'd loaded the wrong firmware on the Gemini 2 back in December.  Luckily I wasn't trying to use the Identify function.  In the following day, I loaded the current version of the firmware and all is good.  It's a little annoying with the constant messages of balance.  I think these messages may go away if I ever upgrade the motors to the high torque versions.

I measured the flatness/squareness of the camera for CCDI.  The graphs looked pretty bad - off centered and skewed.  I thought that the mounting for the camera on the dovetail bar was probably suspect because when the clamp was tightened it pulled the camera body sideways.  I had to remove the camera again to reduce some dust and left it barely tightened.  This seems to be the trick.  New measurements from CCDI show near perfect results!

By using the Polar Finder app, I was able to set the reticle rotation properly for Polaris.  Based on the measurements by the Gemini pointing model, the alignment is between 10 and 30 arc minutes off.  Not too bad for optical alignment.  I marked the magnetic compass for proper offset as well.

Next steps will be to clean up the rest of the kit so that it's not so confusing in the field.  I'm hoping to get up to Montebello this new moon cycle.

There's a supernova in M82

This is pretty special because it's a close galaxy, allowing some interesting astrophysics to be done.  As expected, I got some pictures of it.  Not too pretty at this point, only 5 hours of integration so far.

SN 2014J in M82 on Jan 22 2014

SN 2014J in M82 at 2:1 size

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Dry Wet Season

Pretty bleak

California is very dry right now.  I remember the tiniest bit of rain from last Saturday that didn't even require wipers on a car.  The morning frost is getting thin and dew is burned off by 9 am.  Ground is dry. 

The California Weather Blog was introduced to my attention my Richard Ozer on Facebook and I thought that it would be a good item to add to the list of blogs I review.  Of course, the drought is the big news.  In the future, I'm hoping to reference the blog to better understand when the good clear nights will be for imaging.

What does this have to do with photos?

Thinking about the methods of developing film and keeping water use to a minimum.  What step uses the most water?  I think the rinsing probably.  What could be done to make it more friendly?  Can the water from rinsing be saved and used again?  Is it toxic?  Could we use it to water houseplants or vegetables?

I'm still using Xtol as my developer.  Dan left a lot with me so I can process the film I have.  It's a fairly benign chemical - municipal water treatment can handle it.  The rinsing water can be handled as well.  Tonight, I tried processing a roll of Acros with minimal water usage.  I think that the whole job could be done in about 2 gallons of water.  The rinse water looked pretty clean coming out and I don't see any residual magenta.  Was using Xtol 1:3 dilution with 400 ml as the total volume for a single reel.

For the summer, I'll get a bucket for catching the rinsewater to use on outside plants.  Only on the ornamental plants, not the food plants.


After a week of using grey water on plants outside, it might be possible to have a garden this year, albeit smaller.

I've also read most of a thread on APUG about conserving water when washing film.  Seems that the Ilford method of fill and dump with agitation may work well.  For the last rolls of film that I processed, I followed this method in my own way, changing the water 3 times in a 10 minute wash.  I'll modify my timer to suggest change and agitation times.

Here's the link for the thread:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


When I saw this XKCD from today I thought about a lot of the challenges to getting the image "right" and what that definition of correct may be.  In the field of astrophotography, the color balance is largely subjective and exhibit considerable bias.

It also reminded me of a scene when visiting Turkey where a fellow traveler grumbled about how some people considered themselves to be worthy of standing in front of a spectacular view.

Bias is everywhere.  It's in the filters of our minds, culture, and in the choice of what layers we try to remove in the effort to create something "unbiased." This was a challenge when I was in school and looking at ways to justify the critical perspective upon which to place any review of media. 

As the comic suggests, sometimes the recognition of any filter is necessary lest we get stuck in the loop of what's the proper view.