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Friday, February 20th, 2009
 What a terrible night.  The transparency was poor, and the seeing wasn't much better....and everything that could go wrong did.   My goal was NGC 2024, the Flame nebula, but as I suspected, my setup just wasn't up to it.   It's a tough target from light poluted skies.  Tracking issues aside, I think it might be possible to get a decent image from a dark site.  To make matters worse, the batteries died in my scope, and when I switched to my AC adapter, the connection was loose.   Then the clouds rolled in.
 
Then, later in the evening, I switched scopes to get some video of Saturn, but realized the video capture software had been deleted from the computer......so I had to reload that in the dark.   By that time Saturn disappeared in the clouds......coming in and out of view, but never completely clear.   I never got the chance to use a barlow with the webcam......which is mandatory with Saturn.   It is a tiny target.
 
Here are my images of the Flame nebula and the only useable image of Saturn.    I am sure most of you would trash these shots and try again (I will), but I am posting them to recall how bad they were when I finally get a decent image.
 
NGC 2024:  31 subs @ 11.3 sec per sub.   80mm Orion short tube refractor, Meade DSI color
 
Saturn:  1077 frames, best 292 frames aligned & stacked in Registax, Celestron Nexstar 4se,
             ToUcam Pro II (not barlowed)


Image Gallery For This Session
NGC 2024 7b2 NGC 2024 7b4
sat4a2
   

NGC_2024_7b2.jpg
Click picture above for larger version
If the picture seems too bright or too dark, try adjusting the brightness below.
Brightness:
|
  



Comments:
On 02/27/09 at 04:26pm Barry wrote:
Thanks again, Jeff. I am going to try another crack at the flame, and the take my first shots at the horsehead and the Cone nebulas. The way things are going, that's probably not too smart, but what the heck. Cloudy again though.....we are going to need a clear, moonless night.. and soon. As you say, Orion is fast sinking in the west.

I hate being negative all the time, but I am just running out of patience with my balky mount. I guess it's time I get an equitorial mount that can be polar aligned and drift aligned. I need a lot more data than I am getting.

Clear skies

On 02/27/09 at 08:26am Jeff wrote:
Hi Barry,

I like diffraction spikes, but I guess its a matter of preference. I was just puzzled by them being in a shot from a refractor. It is a pretty birght star and something as small as a piece of lint can probably produce a spike like that on a star that bright. the flame and the horsehead have been targets ive been afraid to attempt. I think you did great to get what you got on a night when everything seemed to be going wrong for you. I guess if im going to attempt the flame or horsehead I better get a move on
since orion is starting to be pretty far in the west.

Im still learning too and every night seems to present a new set of challenges. Right now im struggling to make an autoguider work from stuff I pretty much cobbled together, nothing that was intended to be used as part of an auto guiding setup

Anyway, keep at it!

Clear skies.

On 02/26/09 at 05:40pm Barry wrote:
Thank you. We were all complete novices at some point. I still consider myself a novice. The learning curve for this stuff is steep indeed:

Learning the strong and weak points of your scope
Aligning the scope
Using the scope's controls
scope control software
Camera operation
Camera control software
Image capture software
image processing software
final image enhancement software

Then when you get a handle on all that, you buy a new scope or camera, or get some new software, and you have to start all over.

Then you start reading about guide scopes, autoguiders and autoguideing software......boggles the mind. LOL

My problem is poor tracking......don't have an equitorial mount to allow polar alignment. Limits me to very short duration exposures. Works on bright objects, but not adequate for capturing detail in dim objects, with nice round pinpoint stars.

Oh well, hope springs eternal. My advice to newbies: Join a local astronomy club and ask tons of questions. Once you get amateur astronomers talking, you can't shut them up. LOL






On 02/26/09 at 01:08pm Shanna wrote:
I know you arne't too happy with what you caught, but I'm completely novice and I think it's incredible what you caught. The image of Saturn is actually pretty incredible, whether or not it's of perfect quality. Nice work.

On 02/23/09 at 12:27pm Barry wrote:
Jeff,
I posted an reprocessed image......a little more subtle, and without any added spikes. The horizontal spike is in the original data. Looks a little better I think?

On 02/23/09 at 09:31am Barry wrote:
Jeff,
The raw image showed a very prominent horizontal spike. I added the vertical spike in Photo Shop. It's artificial, but I think it adds some visual interest......especially since the overall quality is so poor. I am not sure what caused the horizontal spike......that star is incredibly bright.

On 02/22/09 at 08:35pm Jeff wrote:
I know evenings like that and I sympathize. Still you got something. I am curious though, you list that you are using a refractor but you've got diffraction spikes in the stars. Im used to seeing those in mainly newtonians from the spiders holding the secondary. Anyway, thanks for posting, looking forward to more.

clear skies!



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