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2012 Astronomical Viewing Blog Archive


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December 19, 2012
Tonight I decided that I needed to make a Christmas Card to send to all of my friends. So, I took a picture of Alnitak and the Flame Nebula. I purchased a "Filter Box" from Hutech that I am not supposed to use until Christmas. But I needed the "Cross Screen" Filter to make the Star Burst affect. The card is pictured below.
December 8, 2012
Tonight I got a chance to do a little photography. The target was a little known galaxy called NGC 2403. The night was clear, and I used the Focal Reducer to capture the image. In the future I will try the same picture at full f/11. The duration would be a little more than double the exposure time. I took the shot at 4.5 minutes at f/7.1. If I do the same shot at f/11, the exposure time would be 10.8 minutes. To get the same 10 frames to stack, the total time of the photo session would be approximately 3.5 hours. Below is the photograph that I took. The time includes the noise reduction time of the Nikon which effectively doubles the overall duration.
NGC 2403 Galaxy
f/7.1, ISO 5000, Exposure 4.5 Minutes, 10 Images Stacked
November 27, 2012
Tonight was a night of "Outreach" to some scouts form Oak City. Five young men ages 14 to 16 and two leaders came to see the "Dry Creek View Observatory". The only problem was that the moon was completely full, and to compound the matter, high wispy clouds moved in about and hour before they arrived. I was able to show them the "Control Room" and explain how astrophotography is taken. I then showed them how the scope and cameras are controlled from the Control Room. Even though it was cloudy, we were able to see the full moon and Jupiter through the clouds. The night was a success, but they want to come back perhaps in January when we will be able to see M42 in Orion along with other deep sky objects.
November 23, 2012
Since the moon is high, I decided to take some pictures of the Moon and Jupiter. The moon shot I have done before, but this time the Moon is a little fuller, and my focus was better. As for Jupiter, I set my camera to ISO 320, Exposure 1/500 sec., and took 100 pictures at 1 second intervals. Eighty five of the pictures were usable and I stacked them using RegiStax 6. For my first attempt, I believe it turned out OK. Below are pictures of the Moon and Jupiter. I also took a picture of the Globular Cluster M 2. It was ok, but I believe I can get a better picture when the moon is down.

The Moon ISO 400 Duration 1/250 sec.________Jupiter ISO 320 Duration 1/500 sec
Both of the above pictures can bee seen full size in the Gallery
November 20, 2012
Tonight was a night of viewing. The half moon was high in the sky thus washing out any hope of picture taking of deep sky objects. My technique of focusing is better now than when I took the picture of the moon earlier this spring. I want to take it again perhaps during the Thanksgiving Holiday when I can devote some time and not worrying about getting enough sleep for my day job. Tonight the moon was great to view. The contrast along the terminator was amazing. I also viewed Jupiter for the first time in months. It is just rising in the east. I tried the moon filter and viewed the planet. This also gave more contrast to the belts. Even though the moon was high, M 42 Orion and M 31 Andromeda was viewable.
November 17, 2012
I finally broke down and bought me a filter holder that will allow me to take pictures through a filter. I purchased the filter holder at it is model number 7519 and associated adapters to fit my camera and scope. Once I get the holder, I will take pictures of it and place it in my equipment section. It may be after Christmas, that I can post the pictures as my wife says it is a Christmas present, and I cannot use it until then. That makes for much more anticipation. As for my viewing and picture taking, I have not had time to use the observatory. With my day job taking me out of the state, and cloudy nights, there has not been much opportunity. I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving Holiday so that I can have some time to observe. The moon will be up, but I will able to find targets for future picture taking sessions.
October 21, 2012
No matter how much you do something, there are always new things to learn. Today I had reinforced in my brain that there is a difference in 8 bit color processing and 16 bit color processing. The photo above under the October 19 blog, was processed with 8 bit color. The photo below which is the same 10 stacked photo is processed in 16 bit color. Upon inspection it appears that the photo above is brighter, but the 16 bit processed photo is more of a true color and it shows greater detail.
NGC 7293 Helix Nebula "The Eye of God"
(16 bit Color Processed)
October 19, 2012
At last, I finally had a chance to take a picture of the Helix Nebula NGC 7293 sometimes referred to as the Eye of God. This planetary nebula is in the Aquarius Constellation and is very low in the Southeast horizon this time of year. Taking this picture was difficult as it is faint, and getting the exposure time just right took a lot of trial and error. I am pleased how it turned out. The center star is very visible and the stars are round. The autoguider was tracking well during this exposure. The picture is shown below. A large version is shown in the Astrophotography Gallery.
NGC 7293 Helix Nebula "The Eye of God"
(8 bit Color Processed)
October 6, 2012
This has been a week of outreach. Tonight, the Peterson family from Oak City came to see the observatory. There were 6 total in the group. It was cold around 38 degrees in the scope room. The warm room was a comfortable 72. The family's small children were not dressed for the cold scope room, so the viewing went fast. We saw the the same objects that were shown to the young men on October 2.
October 2, 2012
Tonight was a beautiful night to view. A youth group from Oak City came to see the observatory. These young men were 16-18 years old and were very interested in photography and astronomy. There were four young men total in the group. My son Brent gave an explanation of the cameras we use and why the light sensitivity (ISO) of the cameras is very important in astrophotography. He also showed some pictures pointing out the importance of "Polar Alignment", "Stacking", and "Autoguiding".
After our eyes adjusted, we were able to see M 13, M 57 Ring Nebula, Swan Nebula, M 31 Andromeda, Albireo and Mizar. It was a fun night.
September 29, 2012
Not much picture taking the past week with the moon being full. I have however, had fun observing the moon as it grew into a full moon. I have been looking over my astrophotographs and decided to redo some of the earlier photos I took of M 51, M 101, and M 81. These photos were all single shot pictures and not stacked. I think they turned out well, but I think I can get more detail by using higher ISO, shorter duration, and stacking the photos. If it works as it should, I will do the same with the rest of my pictures. I have also been busy posting on the "Astronomy Forum". Allot of fun things to explorer on that form.
September 16, 2012
The last two weekends have been fantastic as far as viewing is concerned. I am having too much fun taking pictures of the cosmos. Friday night, I tried my luck at the Lagoon Nebula. This nebula is very big and easily seen through the scope. Taking pictures presents a challenge similar to the Orion Nebula. My goal was to capture the center "HourGlass" and single center star without blowing out the center. I accomplished my goal. The picture of M 8 Lagoon Nebula is shown below. A larger version can be seen in the Gallery.
M 8 Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius
September 9, 2012
Last night was a great night for taking photographs. The target for the evening was M 31 the Andromeda Galaxy. I have taken a photo of this galaxy before, but my scope focal length is so large, I could not get the entire galaxy in the field of view. Therefore, I used a 300 MM lens and piggybacked it to my scope. With the wide field of view of the 300 MM lens, I was able to capture the entire galaxy and surrounding galaxies and stars. I took 11 shots at 2500 ISO with a duration of 2 minutes per shot. I stacked them using Deep Sky stacker. A comparison of the close up and wide angle is given below. In the Gallery, I have the full size images.

____M 31 Full 3910 MM Focal Length________M 31 Wide Angle 300 MM Focal Length

September 4, 2012
As indicated in the previous post, I was able to take some pictures on August 18, 2012. I finely got enough time to process the M 57 pictures I took that night. I intentionally underexposed the photos to see if I could compensate for the lack of exposure with the Nikon Software Capture NX 2. The experiment with exposure worked, but there is still some detail left out. I took 10 photos and stacked them using Deep Sky Stacker. There is a small galaxy next to M 57 designated IC 1296. This Magnitude 15 galaxy is not visible in the underexposed picture. I was able to see the galaxy with a much longer exposure, but I did not have enough time to take 10 photos to stack them and get the galaxy. That project is for another night. The photo M 57 is shown below and I am happy how it turned out, but there is room for improvement with details.
M 57 Ring Nebula
August 17, 2012
This has been a frustrating past two months at the dark of the moon. I have been waiting for a night that is clear and dark. I have managed to get a few hours in here and there, but nothing substantial. Every time I setup the guide scope, a cloud crosses its path and sets off an alarm. Tonight, I was able to take a picture of the Ring Nebula M 57, but I could not take enough shots to allow for stacking. The clouds kept rolling through. The picture I took was fare, but not what I want to post in the gallery. I will be patient and wait for a clear night. Tomorrow looks good according to the clear sky chart, but as my luck the past few weeks would have it, it will cloud up as soon as it gets dark. The M 57 nebula is quite small, and therefore creates a challenge to "Blow the Picture Up" (zoom in). This will be a good test of my son's D 800 Camera which supports 36 mega pixels as opposed to the D 3 which only supports 12 mega pixels. If the sky is clear, I will try and get the picture. I am hoping for six 5 minute photos of the nebula so that I can stack them. Due to the cameras internal noise reduction algorithms, it will take 10 minutes a shot. In other words, it will take one hour to complete the process. I hope I can have "CLEAR SKYS" before the moon washes out the pictures and I will need to wait another month.
August 12, 2012
I finally got all of the kinks worked out of the web page update. The "Roll Over" images worked well and I believe it is a much cleaner presentation of the Gallery. Check out the Gallery, it has the new posting of the wide angle view of the Lagoon and Trifid Nebulas.
August 9, 2012
Finally a night without clouds or Moon. Tonight I played around with wide angle photography. I used a 300 mm lens and piggybacked the camera to the scope. I was able to take the Lagoon Nebula along with the Trifid Nebula. I then took a close up shot of the Lagoon.
I have also been working diligently on the web site, particularly the "Astrophotography Gallery" I completely revamped that page. The pictures were becoming crowded and the explanations were difficult to maintain. Therefore I made the tables that are there now. It is much easier to add pictures and it is also easier to navigate the page. I also got rid of the flash buttons at the top of the page and inserted roll over buttons. This will aid with portable devices such as Ipads.
July 21, 2012
One of the problems of having astronomy as a hobby is that you are at the mercy of the sky. Hence the valediction of the Astronomer "Clear Sky's" is uttered at the end of any correspondence. Recently in the Utah area where I live, the sky's were clear when the moon was high in the night sky, but now that the moon phase is perfect (no moon in the sky) for astrophotography the sky's are cloudy. I have done some web cleanup, and added a link to get you to the latest Blog post. Other than that, I hope everyone has "Clear Sky's".
I was able to take the following picture tonight. See the Gallery for Photo details.
Trifid Nebula M20
July 3, 2012
With the fires abating in the mountains, and the smoke clearing, I have finely been able to do a little observing. The moon is full which puts a damper on deep sky photography, but Saturn as usual is beautiful. Along with Saturn I viewed three Globular Clusters, M5, M10 and M12.
My son Brent splurged and bought a Nikon D800 camera, so I bought his D3 for dedicated use in the observatory. It will be fun to see what the D800 can do. The full frame 32 MP camera should be awesome on pictures that I want to zoom in on. Around mid July we will run it through its paces. Now with a dedicated camera always at the observatory, I will always have a camera when the mood strikes to take pictures.
June 28, 2012
It has been 3 weeks since I last wrote on this blog. I have been in Los Angeles doing my day job. Something has to pay for this expensive hobby. But the real story is not about Astronomy, it is about people and things that are important. And that is because of:
A Wild Fire near my Home and Observatory on June 27, 2012.
"Click for Larger View"
I was called from work at around 3:00 pm on June 27, by my wife saying that an "Evacuation Warning" had been issued for my home town of Oak City, Utah. I left work and could see the fire burning in the distance 15 miles away. On my way home, the normal roads were closed by the Highway Patrol and I had to make a detour of about 20 miles to get home. I talked to the County Sheriff and he sad the "Warning" was still in effect, but was not yet an "Order". 30 minutes later, the "Warning" became the "Order" and we left our house and observatory in the hands of the local fire fighters. When the "Order" was lifted at 10:00 AM today, we were shocked to see the devastation. As can be seen from the above picture, the fire came within 30 feet of my house. The Observatory is in the background. The trees in the foreground were singed and will most likely die. The fire came raging from the south which is the right side of the picture. Somehow, when it hit our property line, it shifted 90 Degrees and went due east for about a quarter mile which is the top direction of the picture. After that, the wind shifted again and the fire went North. If it had continued North when it hit the fence line, I would have lost the Observatory. As it was, I only lost a garden tractor, and a garden tiller in the fire. As can be seen in the picture the mountain in the background also burned and is still burning. Remarkably, there were no homes lost in this fire. I wish to thank the local volunteer fire department and my wonderful neighbors for their help and concern. Three firefighter were severely burned in the fire. Two of them were "Life Flighted" to a Salt Lake Burn Center. They are doing well as of this writing. My prayers and concern go out the them and their families. I know them well.
June 9, 2012
Finally an night without any wind. I have been out of town doing my day job, and I returned home Thursday evening. That night the wind started to blow. Friday morning the wind had subsided, but by evening it was blowing around 40 MPH. Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day, with no wind. By afternoon, it kicked up and I thought there was no hope of taking pictures. By 9:30 PM the wind had stopped. Although there was quite a bit of dust in the air, the night was dark and best of all, no wind. I decided to do a little experimenting again with stacking photos. This time, I turned off the "Long Exposure Noise Reduction" on the camera. With this feature off, the exposure plus noise reduction time is cut in half. For example, a 5 minute exposure would take 10 minutes before you can see the picture as the camera takes an extra 5 minutes to clean up the noise. I shot M51 as it was nearly at the zenith. I took 15 shots at 4000 ISO for 5 minutes exposure time. Then I stacked the images using RegiStax 6. I did not take any dark images which turned out to be my error in the experiment. The final stacked image looked good without any background noise, but I did have little red hot pixels all around the photo. Since I took no dark images, the red pixels remained. I am also losing image information as I used the JPG files to stack instead of the native camera NEF files. RegiStax cannot process the NEF files so the information is lost in the 8 bit JPG files. Next weekend if the night is clear and calm I will store the images as TIF files which preserves all of the photo information and can be processed in RegiStax. If the night is clear tomorrow, I will shoot M51 again using a single shot for 15 minutes at ISO 1600. This should bring out more information than the photo in my gallery of this galaxy, and I will use the cameras noise reduction. We will see how it turns out.
June 2, 2012
As I am a member of an Explora-Dome user group, I read about a wheel replacement for the dome. My ED rolls fine, and I would recommend it to anyone, but the rollers were noisy and not a smooth as I would have liked. From the users group, I found that replacement rollers can be purchased which significantly reduces the drag and noise of the dome. I decided to purchase the rollers and see if it made a difference. I placed the order for the rollers last week, and today was my day to replace them. To my delight, the dome is "REALLY SMOOTH and QUIET". This was an amazing addition to my observatory. Many thanks to Linda and Charlie Trump of CLT Observatory for their instructions of how to make this enhancement. Instructions on how to install the the rollers can be found by clicking Note, the rollers were purchased from "Roller Bob". He has an Explora-Dome Roller kit made up of exactly what you need for the job but the last time I checked it was not listed on his web site. You may need to contact him directly to get the correct wheels and bearings. The cost was $99.00. Roller Bob's web site can be accessed by clicking
May 21, 2012
No pictures just a tour of the facility. Mike Hathaway, his wife Valerie, two of their sons and a daughter in law came to see the observatory. My son Brent was there to explain the photography side of astronomy, and I showed them the heavens. We were able to view the following objects.
M13 Globular Cluster
M51 Whirlpool Galaxy
Saturn was the hit of the night along with M13. The Whirlpool Galaxy was visible, but after seeing the pictures, viewing the object in the scope was quite dim. All in all, it was a fun night.
May 19, 2011
It was a great night for viewing. No clouds, no wind, and completely dark. With such conditions, the camera was yelling at me to take some shots. As the summer constellations are coming up in the south sky, I decided to look at M 83 at the tail end of the Constellation Hydra. this galaxy is relative bright at 7.6 Magnitude and an angular size of 11 arc minutes. This is the same size as the Whirlpool Galaxy, only slightly brighter. Even though the galaxy was only just above the Southern Horizon, I decided to take a picture. I was playing with RegiStax 6 photo stacking software and decided to see again what the difference is between single long exposure at relatively low ISO, and multiple relatively short exposures at high ISO. The settings on the single long exposure was 8 minutes at ISO 2500. The settings on 10 exposures at 3 minutes each and ISO at 6400. The results were amazing with the stacked image. Even though it took longer to produce, the results were remarkably better with stacking. I am quickly becoming a fan of stacking programs. RegiStax could not process the "NEF" Nikon RAW images so I had to use the JPEG format. Once I find a program that can use the native RAW images, I should get even better results. The two images are essentially identical in detail, but the stacked image has far less noise, even though it was shot at a much greater ISO. Please see the Gallery for a larger photo.
M83, the Southern "Pinwheel Galaxy" NGC 5236
May 7, 2012
Viewing conditions are fair tonight and I am setting up a plan to do some picture taking in the next two days. Presently moonrise is around 11:30 PM and it rises about an hour later each night. This gives me plenty of time to shoot pictures before the moon washes everything out. My visual targets for tonight were M 3, M 53. These are globular clusters just above the star Arcturus. M3 is a 6.4 magnitude cluster and M 53 is a 7.7 magnitude cluster. I also viewed M 92, another globular cluster in the constellation of Hercules. For reference, the Great Cluster in Hercules is 5.9. All of the clusters I want to photograph are in the Eastern Sky. One Galaxy I would like to photograph is NGC 2683 the UFO Galaxy with a magnitude of 9.7. I started my auto guider camera to see if I could lock on to any stars in the vicinity of this galaxy. To my surprise there are some excellent stars to guide on. I was able to view this galaxy through the eyepiece. As I am on Vacation for the next few days, I may attempt this galaxy after I shoot the clusters. Before I went to bed, I could not resist a peek at Saturn. As always it is beautiful.
May 5, 2012
Happy Birthday to me. Because it was my Birthday, some family members got a chance to see the Observatory first hand. My Mother and Father in Law Jim and Winnie Thompson and my Sister in Law Winnie Loveless got to see what I was staying up nights to view. I showed them numerous pictures and then slewed the scope to get a view of Venus. It was 2:00 PM and the scope did its magic. Venus came into view with a deep blue sky in the background. I tried to see Jupiter, but it was too close to the sun and was not visible in the day time.
May 3, 2012
Tonight some friends came to visit. Craig and Nina Lewis wanted to see the observatory. Nina was doing a presentation for my wife at church and Craig got the grand tour. After the presentation was finished both Craig and Nina got a chance to see Venus, Saturn and the Moon.
April 27, 2012
Tonight was a clear night. The only problem, was that the moon was starting to come out and that prohibited taking pictures of galaxies and faint nebulas. So I did the next best thing. I took a picture of the Moon. In it's crescent form, the moon has great contrast at the terminator where light meets dark. The shadows on the craters are great. I also noticed that the Globular Cluster M 5 was in the eastern sky. Since it is brighter than M 13 in Hercules I thought I would give it a shot. The picture turned out great and both pictures can be seen as larger size in the Gallery. I also took some pictures of Saturn. As I do not have the capability of projecting planets through an eyepiece and into a camera, the result was a small picture. I enlarged the photo, but not quite what I want. I will try stacking the photos and see if that clears up the image. If it does, I will post it.
____Crescent Moon ______________________M5 Globular Cluster
April 20, 2012
Finally a night that was dark and clear!!!. I intended to begin the night by taking pictures, but I had trouble with the computer connections to the Camera. After I got those resolved, I accidentally turned off the power to the scope without first setting it to "Hibernate" mode. This effectively lost all alignment references to the mount. Therefore I spent time realigning the scope. After the calibration, I decided to see if it was still Polar Aligned. The scope had been bumped with different people looking at objects and it may be slightly off. Using the Celestron All-Star Polar Alignment procedure, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was still aligned.
With the alignment finished, I decided to try my luck at taking pictures and stacking them. The target was the Whirlpool Galaxy M 51. I chose this galaxy because it is difficult to find a guide star. I took 10 pictures at 2500 ISO for 3 minutes, stacked them and then compared the result with the picture I took on February 17 which was taken at the same ISO setting. The result was similar, but the stars were more round in the stacked photo. I had some problems with "flexure" on the February 17 picture creating the oblong stars. I have since corrected that problem. The only advantage I can see with stacking is when an extremely long (greater than 30 minutes) exposure is required. Such as taking a photo of a very faint galaxy or nebula that would require an extremely long exposure to capture the details. Otherwise, the single exposure gives a similar result with a much shorter time commitment. For example, it took only 14 minutes to complete the February 17 exposure. (7 minute exposure plus 7 minutes of noise reduction in the camera) The ten 3 minute exposures including a dark frame took 1 hour to process. (30 minutes of exposures plus 30 minutes of noise reduction in the camera) This test is not to be confused with the test I did on stacking April 1, described above. In that test, I compared the stacked photo with a single shot of the same photo group. In this case, the stacked photo brought out much better contrast and color.
April 7, 2012
Tonight was a great night for viewing. I received a phone call from Scott Wright a local resident of Oak City, and he ask if he could bring his family over to see the heavens. I told him that would be fun and to come over around 9:00 PM. There were eight in his family and extended family. By 9:00 PM Jupiter was setting in the west and we had to hurry to see it before it dropped below the horizon. The nights viewing composed of:
M 3 Globular Cluster
M 42 Orion Nebula
Saturn and M 42 were the highlights. Saturn was the last object viewed as it just peaked above our eastern mountains in time to get a good view. It was a fun night.
April 1, 2012
The weather has been cloudy lately which makes it difficult to image or view the heavens. So with the time I had on my hands, I did some post processing of M 42 from shots that I took on March 9, 2012. I took a series of 9 shots and tried my hand at stacking. Since I do not have a stacking program, I downloaded the freeware of Deep Sky Stacker. The results are shown below.
Both images above are the same photograph. The image on the left has 9 stacked images. The image on the right is a single shot of only 1 of the stacked images. As you can see the colors are more vibrant and the contrast and details are more pronounced on the left image. Both images are using the same post processing settings. I usually do not give full size images from this section of the web page. But as I am not going to put this in the Gallery, you can click on the image above for a larger comparison.
March 22, 2012
After a few weeks of cloudy weather, and a full moon, I finally got a chance to take some pictures without the moon washing out the photos. The Clear Sky Chart showed that the evening would be great. However, as fate would have it, a cloud band moved in around 9:00 PM. The clouds broke around 10:00 PM and I decided to try and capture the Sunflower Galaxy (M63). My first attempt had high clouds still streaming across the sky. The autoguider did not like the clouds and gave me a warning alarm about every 30 seconds. Needless to say, the first attempt was not good. While trying to salvage the photo, I noticed that the autoguider which was still tracking stopped giving the alarm. I looked out the dome and noticed that the skies had cleared. It was getting late, around 11:30 PM, but I had to try again. This time, the tracking was right on, and the photo was acceptable. I will try again with lower ISO and better skies to get a better shot. Check out the Gallery for a full size shot of this galaxy.
Sunflower Galaxy M63
March 3, 2012
No picture taking or visual observing today, but I decided to do some post processing of the M42 shot that I took on February 17, 2012. This shot was taken at f/11 through the CGE 1400 scope at 3900 mm. This shot turned out fantastic. See the galaxy for a full view of this nebula.
February 28, 2012
No pictures tonight, as another youth group from Oak City came to visit the Observatory. Earlier in the day, the sky was overcast and two hours before the tour, it actually was blizzard like conditions at the Observatory. My son who was going to help with the group, called me and said "Are we still going to give the tour?" I told him to check the "Clear Sky Chart". There was a window of clear skies beginning at 5:00 pm that would extend to 1:00 am. It turned out the chart was accurate and the skies cleared. The group came around 7:30 pm and there were 8 young men in the group. The leader of the group was the Backhoe driver that set my dome on the observatory walls. See the pictures in the "Observatory" section. During the night, my son explained the "Astrophotography" side of astronomy, and I was able to show them, Venus, Jupiter, M 42, and finished up with the Moon. I hope some interest was peaked during the tour.
February 16-17, 2012
The first night in 7 days that was not cloudy. We have had snow and rain for the last week. Tonight was my window of opportunity. I started around 8:00 PM and then high clouds moved in and my autoguiding which I had just calibrated started giving me errors. That's when I noticed the clouds. Around 9:00 the clouds broke and I began imaging. I started with M 81 and 82. I got a better shot of M81 with less noise. Then I moved to NGC 3077 which is a faint 9.9 magnitude galaxy. The picture is OK, but the galaxy is small. I then focused my attention to M 101 the "Pinwheel Galaxy". I think the picture is excellent. After the Pinwheel, the time was around 2:30 AM on the 17th. I took a quick shot of M 42 at f/11 to give a close up view of the nebula. My last endeavor was to try and get a quick shot of the "Whirlpool Galaxy" M51. I had a difficult time getting a suitable guide star. There were no bright stars in the vicinity of the Galaxy. I finally got a lock on a star that had a magnitude about the brightness of the galaxy core which is 8.4 magnitude. With the guiding giving errors about every 5 minutes due to the star fading in and out, I took my chance and shot for 7 minutes at an ISO of 2500. I am very pleased with the result. When the shot ended the autoguider went into alarm and would not lock on the star. I noticed that all of the stars including the core were not visible in my guide camera. I looked out of the Dome Shutter and noticed the clouds. The shot finished just before high clouds rolled in.
Pinwheel Galaxy M101 on the Left, and Whirlpool Galaxy M51 on the Right
February 10, 2012
Tonight was a great night for visual viewing. My son had his camera, so I couldn't take pictures. I did some adjustments of the Guide Scope so that it is centered with the C 1400. Then I played with the PHD Autoguiding Software to become more familiar with the controls. I read on some forums that you could see more stars in the "Trapezium" of the Orion Nebula and I decided to try and see if I could resolve the stars. I was able to see the E Star but not the F star. These are two stars very close to the brightest stars in the Trapezium. I don't have an eyepiece that will give me enough magnification to resolve the F star. Someday I will purchase a 5 mm eyepiece which will give me a magnification of x782. I also looked at M 81, M 82, and the Deer Lick and Bear Paw Galaxy. The Bear Paw Galaxy was very small and dim in my eyepiece. I want to take a picture of it and see if I can resolve some detail.
February 3, 2012
Not much viewing for the past few nights. It has been cloudy and the moon is up causing problems with photography. I did some visual viewing of the moon, Jupiter, and Venus, but deep sky viewing is washed out. I did add some information to the Equipment section of the Web Page. I now have information about my eyepieces and the camera I use.
January 27, 2012
It has been 10 days since I have been able to view our universe. The skies have been cloudy and there has been at least 5 inches of snow. But tonight, everything cleared up. It was cold at around 24 F in the scope room, but the warm room was around 75 degrees. I had been looking at pictures on the internet of the Bode's Nebula (M81) Not really a nebula but a Galaxy. It is around 12 million light years from Earth and a magnitude around 7.1. I have been working on making sure I don't have any movement (Flexure) between my Guide Scope and the C 1400. This has caused some of the "Egg" shaped stars in some of the previous photographs. The photograph below is good, but there is some dust on the camera CCD causing some black splotches. I like the photo and will take more after the camera is cleaned. I want to get the ISO down around 2500 so that some of the noise of the picture will be cleared up when zooming in on the picture. You can view a larger size in the Gallery.
Bode's Galaxy M 81
January 17, 2012
Tonight a group of Scouts came over to see the Observatory. They are from a nearby town of Delta Utah. The plan was to show them Jupiter, then M 42 in Orion, then the Andromeda Galaxy. However the clouds moved in and all we could see was Jupiter. My Son and I were able to describe the process of Astrophotography and how Stellarium can control the Scope from the warm room.
January 14, 2012
Tonight was a great night for taking pictures. No moon and clear skies. The target subject was M 33 the Triangulum Galaxy. It was directly over head. I took one picture at ISO 2000 for 12 minutes and another at ISO 2000 for 20 minutes. The longer duration was to try and get more detail. I did not use the f/7.1 focal reducer as shots of this duration tend to cause a bright center and some vignetting. Therefore I shot at f/11. At this focal length, it is difficult to get really good tracking for 20 minutes. However, the pictures turned out fairly good.
M 33 Triangulum Galaxy
Photo on the left taken for 12 minutes at ISO 2000. The one on the right taken for 20 minutes ISO 2000. Notice the detail difference between the two photos. Both were autoguided and shot at f/11 using the CGE 1400 FS telescope.
January 13, 2012
I haven't had much of a chance to take more pictures due to the bright moon. I was going to take some pictures tonight, but decided to add a few photos to the gallery. I added the Sculptor galaxy so that you can see it in a larger size. The one in the gallery is at F11 and therefore a smaller field of view. I also added the running man so that it can be seen in a larger size.
January 1, 2012
Happy New Year!!! Today was spent getting my web site online. The Dry Creek View Observatory Web Page came on line for the first time around 11:00 AM today. I know there is allot of information written above, but I was keeping the blog before it was published online. Tonight I had a neighbor boy Drake Holman come over and I showed him how and why we take pictures. We took a quick shot of the Sculptor Galaxy and it was quite washed out due to the moon which was directly overhead. I then took the camera off and we tried to see the galaxy through a 40 mm Eyepiece. I could just make it out. The picture even though it was washed out was much better. No more pictures tonight, just web page clean-up.




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