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The Astronomy hobby thread

For years, or more rather decades, I've been into the visual aspect of Astronomy. I've had many telescopes ranging in size from 3.5" to 16". I've recently taken an interest in Astrophotography and purchased a decent equatorial mount to give it a go.

My current telescopes are great for visual use but I'm finding out they are not quite up snuff for photography. They will work for now as I learn all the intricacies of the hobby.

My Fujifilm X-Pro 1 camera does ok but it will be replaced with a dedicated AP camera in the future.

Anyway, I know there are others here on Pelican that enjoy the hobby as well. I thought we could use this thread to share photos, ideas, stories, etc.

This image of the Orion Nebula (M42) and the Running Man was taken with a Skywatcher 120 ED telescope sitting on a Losmandy G-11 mount. This is a stack of 20 images with exposures ranging from 60 seconds to 10 minutes.

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Old 09-26-2017, 08:19 AM
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Im lucky enough to have a very nice planetarium at work, staffed by one of the Star Gazers. Although they are more about naked eye observation
Old 09-26-2017, 08:27 AM
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I don't need to stare into the universe to feel insignificant.

That's an awesome picture, well done.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:29 AM
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How do you guide?
Oh, $4000 in gear is PLENTY capable!

This was shot through an 80mm short tube refractor, Nikon F body, Fugi 800ASA film (can't remember the specifics...). Piggybacked on a friends Meade 12" SCT used for tracking (visually correcting, about once every 20 seconds or so). Maybe a 10 minute exposure? I took a cellphone picture of the framed picture on my shelf, so obviously there is some degradation...

I will say, once you get into the...40+ inch range...nothing else compares. Of course, once you get into the 100+ inch range, nothing else compares either...
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:31 AM
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Eric, that's your stack? Very nice! I have always had alignment issues so tracking is always a mess . I have a Celestron GEM and a relatively small OTA (102mm refract) but stacking should deliver a decent exposure. I need more practice and a much better CCD.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:32 AM
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Oh, it's FRIGHTENING the equipment that amateurs have these days. I was doing stuff back when the first real 1Kx1K CCDs were coming out (we used an FLI, I think was the brand), but most were still doing film work, maybe with the SBIG autoguider hanging off the side. Now, you have full remote observatories with research grade filters and guiders...

Beyond my research, I worked at the Skywatcher's Inn, which at the time was a bed and breakfast with several telescopes, where guests could take part in anything from a few hours of casual eyepiece observing with my as a night sky guide, to a 6 hour CCD session using our 20" Mak Cass in a dome.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:36 AM
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I was really into the hobby for several years. The local astronomy club was great. They had many guys willing to help me learn. It was weird to go to a "star party" and it was just so dark I could not see the people I was talking to. It was funny to go to a meeting at the local planetarium and actually see the people I had talked to for hours.

One of the guys pointed out once it was a great hobby if you were an adulterer. Just head out with the telescope on a clear night and tell the wife "Honey I will be home at dawn" we all laughed and then he said he was more interested in finding all the Messier objects than finding a girlfriend. We all agreed we were nerds.

That was back in the stone ages before digital photography. It was a real pain to "hyper" the film, and try to get the sensitivity up to more than ISO 400. Now with digital it is so easy to set it for ISO 6400 or more and still get great detail.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flatbutt View Post
Eric, that's your stack? Very nice! I have always had alignment issues so tracking is always a mess . I have a Celestron GEM and a relatively small OTA (102mm refract) but stacking should deliver a decent exposure. I need more practice and a much better CCD.
Yepper, I used Deep Sky Stacker to register and stack the images, brought the final into Lightroom for a few tweaks and then Photoshop for the clean up.
I also used a Polemaster CCD camera to polar align the mount. It really helps get it nailed down pretty good.
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Last edited by Eric Hahl; 09-26-2017 at 08:49 AM.. Reason: added some info
Old 09-26-2017, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pazuzu View Post
How do you guide?
Oh, $4000 in gear is PLENTY capable!

This was shot through an 80mm short tube refractor, Nikon F body, Fugi 800ASA film (can't remember the specifics...). Piggybacked on a friends Meade 12" SCT used for tracking (visually correcting, about once every 20 seconds or so). Maybe a 10 minute exposure? I took a cellphone picture of the framed picture on my shelf, so obviously there is some degradation...

I will say, once you get into the...40+ inch range...nothing else compares. Of course, once you get into the 100+ inch range, nothing else compares either...
Nice! This was my first guided capture. I used a QHYCCD autoguider and planetary cam with a tiny guidescope. All hooked up with PHD2 guiding.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:47 AM
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Here's another from last weekend. This is M45, The Pleiades.
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Old 09-26-2017, 10:33 AM
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absolutely awesome sauce!

a buddy's father in law is an astronomy nut and has shared some neat stuff with us. perhaps the coolest for those without equipment was the ability to watch satellites cross the sky around dusk with the naked eye.
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Old 09-26-2017, 11:59 AM
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oh and there is an app (forgot the name) that tracks satellites and tells you where they are.
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Well i had #6 adjusted perfectly but then just before i tightened it a butterfly in Zimbabwe farted and now i have to start all over again!
I believe we all make mistakes but I will not validate your poor choices and/or perversions and subsidize the results your actions.
Old 09-26-2017, 12:00 PM
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curious are there mounts that could do the job for less $$$$?
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Well i had #6 adjusted perfectly but then just before i tightened it a butterfly in Zimbabwe farted and now i have to start all over again!
I believe we all make mistakes but I will not validate your poor choices and/or perversions and subsidize the results your actions.
Old 09-26-2017, 12:05 PM
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Like I said, it's frightening what you can produce these days with amateur stuff. That M45 image shows the Merope nebula better than most I've seen from people who have done it for years.

One note, go back and reprocess Orion a bit. The Running Man nebula should be more blue white, like Merope. I know that a full color CCD in a SLR camera can be hard to deal with (they all have color bias, depends on the chip maker), whereas 4 color filter work with a B&W camera is truer.
The bluer nebula is behind the stellar cluster, and is reflecting the blue/white color that the young hot stars are emitting. The red nebula is Hydrogen, and is actually fluorescing from the energy of the stars within. So, see if you can get the two nebula to be two distinct colors, I'm concerned that you pushed the reds a bit too far trying to get good color out of M42.
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:13 PM
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Thanks Mike, I noticed that color in the Running Man as well. It was much better in an earlier process session but Orion was not as good, lol. Lots to learn!

berettafan...yes, there are lots of choices in mounts all of varying quality and cost.
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:19 PM
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I'd really like to get into this. I looked into it briefly a few years ago, but got discouraged due to local light pollution, overwhelming product info, and general ignorance. Can someone dumb it down a bit to give a general idea of what you would need to purchase to do deep space photography?

Type of telescope, software, mount, CCI (which is, I believe the way the images are captured), etc.
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:25 PM
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Astronomy was a hobby of mine when I was in college and had no money, but it was a different kind of astronomy. Many civilizations saw the stars as mythical beings and made up stories about them. My hobby was identifying the constellations and learning the various stories told about them (Orion and Sirius, The Hydra and the Crab, etc). It was cheap and entertaining, no equipment needed. It's hard to find a dark sky around here any more.
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:54 PM
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The app is called Stellarium, its free and awesome.
On a related note I have a Meade etx 90mm that I use, and it has a port for astro photography,
is this a good starter scope and what sort of camera would be a good starting point. I have a 13 yo whose is interested and it would be great to get her going.
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickysa View Post
I'd really like to get into this. I looked into it briefly a few years ago, but got discouraged due to local light pollution, overwhelming product info, and general ignorance. Can someone dumb it down a bit to give a general idea of what you would need to purchase to do deep space photography?

Type of telescope, software, mount, CCI (which is, I believe the way the images are captured), etc.
The biggest reason I sorta lost interest was the light pollution. I have to drive for about an hour and a half to get to a good dark spot. It is the club site and it is secure and dark.
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Old 09-26-2017, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdfifteen View Post
Astronomy was a hobby of mine when I was in college and had no money, but it was a different kind of astronomy. Many civilizations saw the stars as mythical beings and made up stories about them. My hobby was identifying the constellations and learning the various stories told about them (Orion and Sirius, The Hydra and the Crab, etc). It was cheap and entertaining, no equipment needed. It's hard to find a dark sky around here any more.


We were in Northern AZ last weekend. Almost eerily dark up there still. Love being up where you and see the Milky Way with the naked eye.

Old 09-26-2017, 06:15 PM
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