Monday, August 13, 2012

Photos from M2

I captured quite a lot of meteorites last night. I can probably get ~10 pictures with the tree and a meteorite. I also tried to make a movie - but somehow some frames were recognized differently (bigger/smaller) then others. Also, I have to find a way to color correct all these images in batch.

I also did some straight overhead shots to the Lyra (again). These also have the same orange hue, but interestingly enough after stacking them (including flats, flat darks and darks) the orange is almost gone! So, I guess I will be able to take some good pictures from our backyard.

In the evening, I went back to taking pictures with the focal reducer. Had a lot of problems with taking pictures without trails. I think have to do something about all the cables that are hanging from the telescope - most of these were due to me (or something) wacking the telescope.

And then I could not get DSLR Shutter to work properly. If I set the camera to a fixed exposure time, DSLR Shutter would not override it. If I set the camera to BULB, DSLR Shutter took a VERY short picture (1/30s or so). And if I set “Lock Mirror”, it took 2 photos! I’m pretty sure that this worked better before. Have to ask at a forum if there is some setting in the Nikon that I have to remember.

Some test photos of Altair that I took showed the weird “ring” again. I think I will have to cullimate the telescope.

My main object was then M2. The photos turned out much better then I expected. Even after my oversimple post-processing:

While taking the photos, I researched on better guiding. First, guiding scopes only work on equatorial mounts (makes sense). Second, some more basic cameras can function as guiding scope or also to take images of sun, moon and the planets. Thinking about getting these:

Read some more about PHD - that sounds like an awesome method to guide the scope while taking long exposures. But all-in-all $1,100. I think for now, I’ll stay with my current equipment and do some more shots like the one from M2. Maybe when we plan the next trip to an area with better visibility where I can take much longer exposures, I should get it.

What I should rather to is to focus on my post-processing skills. I’m sure that I could get much more out of my pictures. Maybe I ask if there are some folks in the bay area that would let me watch or would work with me on some of my pics.

One thing I might buy though is a wider lens for my camera for wide-angle shots, e.g.

Maybe next time we’ll visit Dr. Statti (or go to any other site where I will have better conditions) I’ll rent the first two to compare.

* Celestron has a guiding camera too (NexGuide), but unfortunately it doesn’t work with PHD or other guiding software.