Updated version of my test image of the Lagoon Nebula (M8) with the first light of the ZWO ASI1600MM Pro camera and broad-band filters.
This image combines:
39 x 120s H-alpha (Baader 3.5nm ultra-narrow filter), in red. Darks and flats included.
40 x 15s OPTOLONG L-Pro filter, in green. No flat or darks.
28 x 300s [O III] 3 nm ultra-narrow Antlia filter, in green. Includes darks and flat (this image is the new addition).
56 x 6s ZWO B filter, in blue, no flat or dark.
H-alpha data taken on 21st Aug 2020, L-Pro and B data taken on 23rd Aug 2020, from my backyard at home, 15 km North from Sydney’s city center.
Telescope: Skywatcher Black Diamond 80, f=600mm (f/7.5)
Equipment: I used the ZWO ASIAir to control the camera, the mount (Skywatcher AZ-EQ6) and the guiding system (ASI120MM + Orion 50mm finderscope). ZWO filter drawer for changing filter.
The [O III] data taken on 18 August 2021, including the Orion 0.75x focal reducer and the ZWO 7×2″ filter wheel.
Processing: Data processed with Siril software. FITS converted on TIFF using NASA’s Fits Liberator considering a logarithmic function. Color / saturation / levels / contrast / smart sharpen with Photoshop.
Deep H-alpha image of the Prawn nebula (IC 4628) in Scorpius obtained from my backyard, 15 km from Sydney’s city centre.
This image combines:
56 x 900s (14h) frames with the H-alpha Baader 3.5nm ultra-narrow filter (red channel and luminosity layer).
25 x 60s (25 min) frames with the OPTOLONG L-Pro filter (green channel)
14 x 30s (7 min) ZWO B filter (blue channel).
Total integration time: 14h 32 min.
The data were taken on the nights of 24th, 25th, 28th, 29th and 30th August and 7th and 12th September 2020.
Telescope: Skywatcher Black Diamond 80, f=600mm, with an Orion x0.8 focal reducer (effective focal length 480 mm, f/6).
I used the ZWO ASIAir to control the camera, filter wheel, the mount (Skywatcher AZ-EQ6) and the guiding system (ASI120MM + Orion 50mm finderscope).
Equipment: ZWO ASI1600MM Pro cooled at -30 C. I used the ZWO ASIAir to control the camera, the mount (Skywatcher AZ-EQ6) and the guiding system (ASI120MM + Orion 50mm finderscope). The filters were manually changed using the ZWO filter drawer.
The data have been processed with SIRIL, then converted into TIF using Fits Liberator using a logarithmic stretch, and finally combined in Photoshop to get the colours and the final details.
Processing: Data processed with Siril software. Darks, flats and biases were used. FITS converted on TIFF using NASA’s Fits Liberator considering a logarithmic function. Color / saturation / levels / contrast / smart sharpen with Photoshop.
Article originally written for the AAO’s Newsletter published on 29th June 2021.
During the last year I’ve been setting up my telescope in the backyard to do astrophotography as an amateur astronomer. This has been possible thanks to getting a good mount (Skywatcher AZ-EQ6-Pro) that allows me to do auto-guiding, and using a little but very clever device (it’s a modified Raspberri Pi manufactured by ZWO called “ASIAir”) that allows me to connect mount and cameras (the main camera for astrophotography and the auxiliary camera for auto-guiding) together, being everything controlled using my son’s iPad (who, with only 8 years, has been also helping me with all of this). In the last months I’ve been able to get a process so smooth that I only need 10 minutes for setup (checking polar alignment, guiding, focus) and then the telescope is observing all the night (it will automatically move to a parked position at the end of the run).
I must confess this has been a lot of fun for me, also for keeping extra busy and awake during the many meetings / workshops in the middle of the night we all are having lately. I’m getting some nice photos, particularly of nebulae, as I’m using some ultra-narrow (3.5nm thickness) H-alpha and [O III] filters. One of my favourite images is the Cat’s Paw nebula, who would have told me just some few years ago I will be able to get such an image with all these details using a 80mm refractor telescope in Sydney!
Hence, when last May, I was starting to use TAIPAN and observing with this new instrument, I couldn’t help myself…
While Tayyaba and Anthony helped me to get trained for TAIPAN observing, I decided to check if the instrument could be used for observing HII regions in the outskirts of the nearby spiral galaxy M 83, as well as observing the dwarf galaxies in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately this has been hard for the 1.2m UKST because of the faintness of the targets, but at least I got some test data from the central parts of M83 and some dwarf galaxies, including beautiful starburst NGC 5253.
However, I was thrilled to be using TAIPAN to observe M83 while, at the same time, in my backyard, my small telescope was also observing M 83 to get a new color-image of this galaxy. It was quite exciting and rewarding!
This image is still work in process, because we need to take usually hundreds of frames in each filter to get a good astronomical image to mitigate the light pollution plus reducing the background noise as much as we can. And, of course, dealing later with the processing of the data (it’s not that hard as it sounds, there is actually some software already available for amateur astronomers that does this very quickly in a very efficient way, even considering darks, flats, offsets and median stacking with different options). Also, I still need to add the H-alpha data in this image to emphasise the star-forming regions in the spiral disk of M 83. Unfortunately, the weather over Sydney during the last weeks has not being very good for astrophotography, but I hope to get the rest of the data soon.
Additionally, on Wednesday 26th May we enjoyed a total lunar eclipse. I took almost 2000 images of the event while I was participating in an online live event with many schools in Spain (8000+ views during the day). The telescope setup in this case was different, as I used my CANON 5D Mark III DSLR as main camera attached to my telescope. But, even though the totality of this lunar eclipse was short (only around 15 minutes), I got a very nice image of the eclipsed moon. For this image I combined the same data independently for getting the stars and the moon, and merged them together later.
This image combines 50 x 1″ exposures, ISO 800, obtained with my CANON 5D Mark III attached at primary focus of my Skywatcher Black Diamond 80mm f600mm (F/7.5) during the Total Lunar Eclipse on Wednesday 26 May 2021, between 9:00pm and 9:04pm, Sydney local time.
The frames were manually aligned with Photoshop, then extracted as new frames to Lynkeos, that did the fine alignment. Drizzling x2 was also used. Then the combined image was taken to Photoshop, where the colour, highlights/shadows, and contrast were tuned. This got only the image of the eclipsed moon.
Additionally, I combined the full 266 x 1″ images I took during totality using Siril to get the stellar background.
They two combined frames (eclipsed moon + stars) were combined with Photoshop with a bit of extra tuning to get a nice background.
The image taken at 9:03pm was used as reference for the alignment.
All the data were taken during the 4 hours “ONLINE” event “Conversaciones astronómicas bajo la luna eclipsada” that I organised with the “Red Andaluza de Astronomía” (RAdA), “Agrupación Astronómica de Córdoba” (AAC), “Asociación de Lengua y Cultura Española” (ALCE) de Australia and the “Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific” (SRAP-IEAP), that was followed by many schools in Spain.
I also want to thank Alicia Lozano (RAdA), Héctor Socas-Navarro (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias), María Ribes (Universidad de Alicante) and Alberto Aparici (Instituto de Física Corpuscular de Valencia) for the conversation they had during the event while I was taking this images.
Image of the (not) Pink (you won’t see the difference) Super Moon obtained from our backyard in Sydney on Tuesday 27th April 2021, at 8:30pm local time.
This image combines 50 frames, 35ms each, obtained with a ZWO 1600MM-Pro at -20C, gain 100, using a ultra-narrow (3.5nm thick) H-alpha Baader filter.
The telescope used was a refractor Skywatcher Black Diamond 80mm, with a x0.75 focal reducer (effective focal length of 430mm) on a Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 Pro mount, everything controlled with the ZWO ASIAir.
The images (not corrected for darks or flatfield) were aligned and stacked using the Lynkeos software, also using the x2 Drizzle. The combined FITS image was then converted into TIF using Fits Liberator considering an Asinh scaling. Further adjustments with the contrast, shadows/highlights, and smart sharpening was performed in Photoshop.
Credit of the image: Luke López-Planells & Ángel R. López-Sánchez (AAO-MQ).
A high-resolution version of this image is available in MyFlickr.