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Home Forums Observing and Imaging Group Images from Blackheath Observing Last Night

This topic contains 11 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Mike Meynell 2 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #10492

    Mike Meynell
    Moderator
    Topics: 119
    Replies: 745

    A poorly attended Blackheath observing session last night, for some unknown reason – perhaps the cold conditions put people off.

    Whilst Tej was entertaining our few visitors, I took the opportunity to do some imaging. I have to say, it was very difficult to image, due to a strong (and bitterly cold) north-westerly wind. Most images were much softer than I’d like as a result.

    However, I got a nice shot of M42 (22 x 10 second exposures to keep the wind wobble down!) and also picked up the Flame & Horsehead Nebulae (9 x 30 second exposures). This second image is pretty rubbish, but it’s very difficult to pick up these faint nebulae (especially the Horsehead) in London. I had to “push” the image far too far, and the deficiencies in the raw images are really shown up as a result – I can only blame the wind! I thought I’d include it though, just to show it can be done!

    A nice image of the Moon with Earthshine is also included, along with the obligatory image of the close conjunction between Mars and Venus… enjoy!

    Orion Nebula M42 from Blackheath by MikeMey67[/url], on Flickr

    Orion Flame and Horsehead Nebula from Blackheath by MikeMey67[/url], on Flickr

    Moon with Earthshine above Blackheath by MikeMey67[/url], on Flickr

    Venus and Mars Conjunction by MikeMey67[/url], on Flickr

    #10493

    Brian Blake
    Participant
    Topics: 187
    Replies: 409

    I would not have been able to attend as I was supposed to be at a party. Unfortunately I did not get to go due to back being bad.

    #10494

    Tej
    Participant
    Topics: 36
    Replies: 582

    I think that horsehead is absolutely awesome, Mike, especially knowing you captured it in London and on such a windy evening too! I think your whole tour of images is such a brilliant showcase for what can be achieved in one of the heaviest light polluted cities in the world.

     

    I thoroughly enjoyed giving our few visitors a tour of the usual suspects of the Blackheath skies.  They were all lovely people and asked a lot of questions!  Over two years of learning about the usual objects I points my telescope at in London, I had learn a lot about them and so contrary to those early days I was able to answer many of those questions and thensome 🙂  though for a lot of good questions I still had to reply “havent the foggiest!”.

    The skies were reasonably clear with some cloud cover but the wind moved them along rapidly giving us some great opportunities to look at Jupiter, Orion nebula, Beehive Cluster, waning moon and its beautiful earthshine, mars and Venus conjunction and finishing off with the core of Andromeda Galaxy…then cycling through them all again as later visitors cane along 🙂

     

    Earlier, however, I was compelled to at least take a couple of snaps at the striking earthshing moon with the venus mars conjunction, i only spent about ten minutes on it as I was far more enjoying the time at my telescope but i managed to snap this image with a plane interception.  Looking forward to the next Flamsteed stargaze event!

     

    Plane intercepting Earthshine waning moon and Mars Venus Conjunction

     

    #10495

    Mike Meynell
    Moderator
    Topics: 119
    Replies: 745

    I was compelled to at least take a couple of snaps at the striking earthshing moon with the venus mars conjunction

    A lovely image Tej. Thanks for your comments regarding my images.

    I wasn’t entirely happy with my processing of the Orion Nebula, as the highlights were too far blown on the central trapezium. I’ve had a bit more time to reprocess now, see below:

    Orion Nebula M42 from Blackheath, SE London by MikeMey67[/url], on Flickr

    I think it’s a better image. Certainly there is more structure in the nebulosity, and the central region is better exposed.

    Thoughts?

    #10496

    BillOB
    Participant
    Topics: 15
    Replies: 34

    I too was enjoying the Tej series of lectures. We observed these nebulae as well. They looked similar to a smudge on the eye piece, so, your photos are outstanding.

    How did you get the Earth shine of the moon? I tried, but the bright crescent just burned the image.

    Missed you Brian, hope to see you soon.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by  BillOB.
    #10498

    Mike Meynell
    Moderator
    Topics: 119
    Replies: 745

    Thanks Bill.

    How did you get the Earth shine of the moon

    A one-second exposure normally gives you decent Earthshine. Anything more than that will cause the crescent to overwhelm the image. Less than that, and you don’t pick up any detail on the part of the Moon in shadow.

    #10499

    Tej
    Participant
    Topics: 36
    Replies: 582

    I think it’s a better image. Certainly there is more structure in the nebulosity, and the central region is better exposed.

    Thoughts?

    Yes, even better! I think its best to minimise the core exposure. Orion nebula is actually a hard one to image despite its high magnitude accessibility because of that core being requiring a lot of TLC compared to its surrounding nebulosity, getting a nice balance is so tricky. I’ve noticed some imagers overlaying different exposures of Orion to get that balance and the results do look lovely…but I think achieving the best compromise in one exposure shows more skill 😉

    I too was enjoying the Tej series of lectures. We observed these nebulae as well. They looked similar to a smudge on the eye piece, so, your photos are outstanding.

    How did you get the Earth shine of the moon? I tried, but the bright crescent just burned the image.

    Missed you Brian, hope to see you soon.

    Bill, thanks for giving me a lift, that was very kind of you giving that you live in completely the opposite direction. Myself and our visitors really enjoyed your history lectures! I am going to look out for that Roman path monument that you mentioned next time I go there. I hope it is still there and the gardeners have not mowed it down as you fear!

    #10500

    Mike Meynell
    Moderator
    Topics: 119
    Replies: 745

    I’ve noticed some imagers overlaying different exposures of Orion to get that balance and the results do look lovely

    Yes, that can be a good technique – it’s basically a form of HDR (high-dynamic range) photography, where you over, under and perfectly expose the image and then merge the images together.

    The problem with all HDR photography is that the results can look a bit fake – they always have a slight artificial aspect to them. It can look good, as long as you don’t go over the top in post-processing.

    #10501

    BillOB
    Participant
    Topics: 15
    Replies: 34

    I am going to look out for that Roman path monument that you mentioned next time I go there. I hope it is still there and the gardeners have not mowed it down as you fear!

    Tej, The old road there may be Roman or probably later, the milestone might be pre Victorian. The road has been covered over and is now part of Blackheath. Only the Milestone was left.

    #10502

    Mike Meynell
    Moderator
    Topics: 119
    Replies: 745

    I’ve been asked (off forum) to provide a list of details of the kit which I used to take the above images. Happy to provide:

    – Skywatcher Esprit-80ED telescope (80mm aperture, 400mm focal length, f/5)
    – Skywatcher Field Flattener
    – Canon 60Da DSLR (this is the modified Canon 60D to enhance H-alpha light)
    – AstroTrac TT320X-AG
    – AstroTrac TW3100 Wedge
    – AstroTrac TH3010 Head
    – AstroTrac TP3065 Pier

    Camera was connected to a Windows laptop running Canon EOS Utilities. A Bahtinov mask was used to aid focussing.

    The Orion Nebula image was 22 x 10 second exposures. ISO 800. I had to keep exposure time low, as there was such a strong wind hitting the side of the scope.

    Flame & Horsehead nebula is 9 x 30 second exposures. ISO 800. This image is very soft, because of the strong wind. I reduced my exposure time after these images were taken to compensate.

    Mars/Venus and the Moon are single shots. Both are 1 second at ISO 800.

    Post processing – for nebulae images, stacking was done in Nebulosity and then exported as a TIF file to Photoshop. In Photoshop – mostly levels and curves adjustments to enhance colours and reduce the effects of light pollution (I do have some other techniques to deal with light pollution, which I’ll post up at some point – this will also be covered in the “Astrophotography – A Beginner’s Guide” workshop that I’ll be running in April at the ROG – still some places available!).

    For Mars/Venus and the Moon, the only post-processing steps were to reduce light pollution in Photoshop.

    #10503

    Simon Hurst
    Participant
    Topics: 10
    Replies: 34

    I was gutted I couldn’t come on Saturday was all packed when I got a call family coming round bahhh all I could see was a really nice sky out the window all night just my luck lol

    #10536

    Mike Meynell
    Moderator
    Topics: 119
    Replies: 745

    A short report of the event, written by Rupert, is now online: http://flamsteed.info/2015/02/blackheath-observing-saturday-21-february-2015/

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