Saturday, June 28, 2014
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Yesterday was the summer solstice, but it is too bloody hot in Tucson to build a henge and run around naked, so to celebrate the spirit of Pagan astronomy, I took my astrophotography to the next level and purchased an autoguiding system and an autofocus system. I spent last evening in the parking lot of Starizona learning how to use my new equipment. In spite of the light pollution, poor polar alignment, inexperienced operator, etc., I took this image of the Lagoon Nebula:
This is a composite of five X 5 minute exposures, manipulated in Photoshop to extend the dynamic range of image. Not bad. The technology that is accessible to the average consumer today is remarkable.
Friday, June 06, 2014
I love astro-photography, but there are two aspects of astro-photography that prevent me from doing it all the time: cold and sleep-deprivation. The winter skies are full of spectacular subjects and winter nights are long and dark, but oh how I hate sitting still for hours in the cold. June is miserably hot in Tucson but the short nights are perfect for sitting in the backyard in a pair of shorts and sandals.
Last night I recorded 21,000,000 year old photons that originated in the Pinwheel Galaxy, a faint galaxy that spins perpendicular to our view, in the middle of the image.
My favorite aspect of this image is not the Pinwheel, but the other tiny galaxies, such as the one we see from the side in the upper left corner of the image, NGC5422, and the smudge in the lower right corner of the image, NGC 5474.
In the wee hours of the morning, I turned my camera to the North America Nebula, appropriately named.
This is a beautiful and exciting subject, and I wanted to spend more time with it, perhaps even make a composite panorama of it, but the skies start brightening at 4AM and I ran out of dark.
PS Turns out, I had an incorrect setting in the software I use to process these images, and I was putting a red distortion on the images. I went back and corrected the setting and reprocessed: