Blog Gallery Observatory Equipment Amateur Observatories Setup Tutorials
2014 Astronomical Viewing Blog Archive


Go to Astronomical Viewing Blog Archive

Go To the Beginning Post

December 25, 2014

It has been two months since I last updated my blog. First of all, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hope all have a happy new year. Click on the image below to view a short video of "He is the Gift" This will direct you to YouTube.


I have been busy at the observatory, but clear nights when I don't have work the next day have been far and few between. Also, the Dry Creek View Observatory has been published in an Electronic Magazine called Icy Science. You can view the article by clicking here "Dry Creek View article". The article for the Dry Creek View Observatory begins on page 30. I have also added a link in my "Friendly Links tab for this magazine.

On November 24, I did have a clear night and was able to take the following picture of the Pleaides cluster.

Pleaides Cluster

The above shot was taken with the Nikon D5200 Camera and the HyperStar Lens. I have also added larger version of this picture to my gallery.

October 25, 2014

Thursday night into Friday was one of the most beautiful nights for astrophotography this year. Not a cloud in the sky, no moon and best of all I had the next day off from work. I chose three different targets. The first was IC 1396 or the Elephant Trunk Nebula. In that batch, I took 10 shots for stacking at ISO 800 and a shutter speed of 5 minutes using HyperStar at f1.9. I haven't stacked these raw images yet, but will do so this week.

The next shot was the Orion Nebula M 42. This shot I took 18 shots at one minute shutter and an ISO of 400. I also took 20 shots at ISO 400 with a shutter speed of 1 second. This gives me good details of the trapezium at the center of the nebula. The longer duration photos came out great, and gives good details of the cloud structure but the trapezium is completely blown out. I and going to try my hand at layering in Photoshop. When I get the finished product I will post it in my gallery.

To top off the night, I took this photo below:

NGC 2024 Flame Nebula and IC 434 Horsehead Nebula

The above is one of the most satisfying photos that I have taken. Very little processing was needed. The only problem was the satellites. Many of the individual photos have streaks from passing satellites. The air brush works in removing them, but I want a clean picture to mount on my wall. I will definitely revisit this again. I truly love my HyperStar lens. It make amateurs like myself look good. A larger version can be seen in my Astrophotography Gallery.

October 13, 2014

Lesson Learned: Last Wednesday October 8, a group of young men and their leaders came to the observatory and I learned a lesson about keeping my scope "Go To Ready" I had not calibrated the "Go To" function for about 6 months and when I was trying to find objects it was a few degrees off and not even in my eyepiece. I was able to find the objects, but I had to search a bit. Just a word of advice for Celestron "Go To" mount users, Calibrate your mount at least quarterly (every 3 months) for best results. After the boys left, I did a Two Star Alignment with 4 calibration stars. This only took me about 10 minutes and the results were excellent. Now everything is centered in the Eyepiece when I search for an object.

Tonight is an extremely clear night. No clouds and clear. Even though I need to go to work in the morning, I just had to take advantage of such a clear night. I set up some targets for taking pictures this weekend when I have more time to spend and not worry about getting up. I took a picture of the NGC 6946 galaxy to determine the size and layout for my camera. I will try and get a clear shot this Friday.

September 28,2014

"" had been hacked!!!! As I was checking out this web site yesterday, I noticed that when anyone searched for "Dry Creek View" in google, the search engine found my site. Then when you clicked on the result, I was surprised that it didn't take you to this site, but rater to a "Beats Audio" site. I called "Godaddy" my web hosting service and they found and corrected the problem. Someone had hacked into my file manager on the Godaddy account and redirected my web page. I don't know why someone would want hack my site, but it happened. Just a word of warning, make sure your passwords are secure!!!

September 24, 2014

I have been out of the country for the last three weeks and have not been able to do any stargazing or photography. I was visiting the great country of the United Kingdom. I must say that the people there were the most friendly people I have met. Everywhere we turned people were courteous friendly and edger to give us directions as we toured the country. The weather was beautiful for touring, (no rain) but it was always cloudy so I couldn't see the stars. tonight is my first full night back and the skies are clear. Needless to say, I will be taking pictures tonight. Before I left, I took a picture of the Iris Nebula. I took this picture on August 30 just before we left for the UK. A larger version can be seen in the Gallery.

Iris Nebula NGC 7023

August 24, 2014

I had allot of fun this weekend playing with my new HyperStar lens. Actually it was Thursday night that was clear. Friday and Saturday had large thunder storms that blocked the night sky. I wanted to put all of my tricks for photography together and take a picture of M 101. I was shooting for 20 light frames to be stacked, but only managed 11. I also took 20 flat frames before the actual photo session began. I took the flat frames just after sunset in the area of the sky for M 101. Because my HyperStar was attached, the focal ratio was f/1.9 making it a very "fast" optical path. My focus was set to nearly what it would be for the galaxy, although I could not see it as the sky was still a light blue. To see the vignetting of the system, I needed to take the pictures at a shutter speed of 1/4000. The ISO for the flats was set to my imaging ISO I was planning to use. Therefore, I took 20 flats at ISO 400 and 20 at ISO 800. Below is a picture of one of the flats I used, notice the darker areas around the edges which is the vignetting of the system:

Flat frame for the Imaging session.
ISO 400, shutter 1/4000

After the sky darkened, I started taking my light frames. I used a shutter speed of 5 minutes so I could set the ISO at 400. I only managed 11 frames, but I believe the results of stacking 11 light frames and 10 flat frames (I only used 10 of the 20) turned out very well. I did not take any dark frames as the camera long exposure noise reduction feature makes them unnecessary. The final result after processing is below, a larger view can be seen in the gallery:

M 101 using HyperStar

August 17, 2014

The viewing conditions have been great this weekend, and I have been able to truly test my HyperStar lens. I have corrected my stacking problems with the help of some other astronomers (Jeff Turner (DaltonSkyGazer) and Paul) who know the DeepSkyStacker DSS program better than I do. With the stacking problem behind me, I took 26 shots of M81 Bodes Nebula (Galaxy) using the HyperStar lens. the results are below:

The above wide angle view shows M81, M82 NGC 3077. If you look closely in the gallery photo of this image there is also a small galaxy in the upper 2nd quadrant. M82 is pointing at it.

The above image is a cropped zoomed in image of the wide angle photo above. I am pleased how it turned out. It shows good detail from the resolution of the D5200 camera at 24 MP. Not quite as good it had been taken with the full magnification without the hyperstar, but good enough for a zoomed cropped image.

August 1, 2014

I finally got a chance to try out my new HyperStar Lens. It was easy to attach to the scope and the reduction in exposure time is awesome. I was able to take a 5 minute shot of the Andromeda Galaxy at ISO 400!!!. This almost completely eliminated any noise from the camera as the automatic noise reduction in the camera seemed to give a clear picture. Very little processing was needed. I only enhanced and balanced the color. Another thing that was a joy to use was the "Micro Touch" focuser. This device allowed me to focus from my computer to get a crisp sharp picture. Below is the image. I have also placed it in my gallery so you can see a bigger image.

M31 Andromeda Galaxy taken with "HyperStar Lens" attached to the CGE 1400

July 22, 2014

A lot has been happening at the Dry Creek View Observatory. On Saturday July 12, the Robison family came to the observatory to see Saturn, M 13, Mars and a faint M 57. The moon was full and that was the final object observed. It was bright and after viewing it, no other object could be seen until the eyes readjusted. About 15 people came to see the heavens.

As I said earlier, allot is happing here. I purchased a Televue 55 mm Plossl eyepiece and a Televue 4X Powermate. I am gearing up to take some pictures of planets. I also purchased a "HyperStar" lens so I can take wide angle images through the scope. I even broke down an purchased the Feather Touch autofocuser controller. When I get everything setup, I will take pictures of each of these accessories and give a write up on how they perform. I hope my first images will be out by the end of the month.

July 3, 2014

I finally got a chance to post some of the pictures that I took last November and January. I took them but did not get a chance to process and post them. The first is the Trianglumum Galaxy M 33. This shot was taken with the D5200. Below is a comparason between the D3 camera with an IR Filter and the D5200 Camera with no IR Filter.

D3 Camera IR Filter _________D5200 Camera No IR Filter

I took an Earth Shine picture in January 2014. This shot of the moon was when it was a very small crescent. I overexposed the picture to get the effect of "Earth Shine". The glow of the earth illuminates the moon instead of the sun. It was a fun picture to take and is shown below.


Earth Shine

June 29, 2014

On June 12, a group of 9 young men came to see the observatory. They were from Orem Utah about 80 miles north of the Observatory. Since the moon was full, deep sky observing was difficult. We were able to see Jupiter, Saturn, Ring Nebula, and a globular cluster. The moon was the last object viewed as it was full and bright.

On June 28, it was a very clear night. Everything was available to be seen and photographed. I shot M 62 which is shown below. A full size image can be seen in the Gallery.

M 62
Camera Nikon D3, ISO 800, at 8 Minutes

June 2, 2014

Below is my first attempt at taking a picture of a Comet. The target was C/2012 K1 (Panstars). It is presently in the Big Dipper. Since I have to work for a living, I couldn't stay up and take multiple shots and stack them. I took one shot with the D3 camera and went to bed at 11:30 PM. My work starts at 5:00 AM. But due to the moon rising, I only had this one chance until next month. Below is my attempt. A full size image can be seen in the Gallery.

Comet C/2012 K1 (Panstars)
Camera Nikon D3, ISO 1600, at 6 Minutes

April 15, 2014

Even though it is a weeknight, I sacrificed sleep and took the following pictures of the "Full Lunar Eclipse".

The image on the left 33% into Eclipse. The image on the right is 90% into the Eclipse. Both images were taken at ISO 200 and a shutter speed of 1/2500 sec.
The Full Eclipse
To get the detail and the color, I needed to increase the exposure time. The full eclipse image above was taken at ISO 200 and a shutter speed of 5 seconds. Much slower than the 1/2500 second shots prior to the full eclipse.
April 10, 2014
Since my last blog update, I have had a group of scouts, and a group of Young Women visit the Observatory. With these groups we were able to see Jupiter, the Orion Nebula, and the Andromeda Galaxy.
I also got my D5200 camera back from the shop. This camera had a light leak which made it necessary to crop out the entire left side of photographs that I had taken. On April 5, I was able to take a photo of M51 the Whirlpool Galaxy. Time was limited, so I was unable to take multiple photos and stack them. The photo I took was taken at 2500 ISO for 7 minutes. I have found that the Nikon D3 has better noise reduction, but with the IR filter removed from the Nikon D5200 I am able to get much richer colors and in my opinion more natural colors.
The image on the left was taken with the D3 camera and the image on the right was taken with the D5200. Because the D3 is a full frame camera, and the D5200 is a DX Crop camera, the image appears slightly larger with the D5200. Both photos were taken at ISO 2500 and exposed for 7 minutes. Neither photo is stacked but is only a single image. I really like how the colors turned out with the D5200. The reason I purchased that camera is so I can remove the IR filter, and it is physically smaller and therefore lighter. You can see the comparison on my equipment page. When I get my FastStar Lens, this will be my camera of choice due to its size. The camera also has a higher resolution at 36 mp versus the D3 which only has 12 mp.
January 1, 2014
Happy New year. I finally got around to processing my picture of NGC 1977 taken on December 26. The picture was processed using the Nikon Capture NX2 Software. I took 10 shots and stacked them using Deep Sky Stacker. The results are shown below. A larger photo can be seen in the Gallery

NGC 1977 Running Man in the Constallaiton Orion




Copyright © 2011 Dry Creek View Observatory