Deep Sky Astrophotography

jrista

EOL
Dec 3, 2011
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jonrista.com
The other thread ended up with a bit too much discussion on the topic of astrophotography and the related gear. Figured a new, clean one, dedicated just to the imagery, would be good.

Please, feel free to share your own images as well! (If you already shared some in the old thread, maybe re-share them here, hopefully we can keep this topic free of astrophotography gear and technique related discussion, and just keep it on the images.)

Here are some of my images, produced with some dedicated astrophotography equipment (german equatorial tracking mount, or GEM, guiding telescope and camera, etc.) All of these were created from mid Feb. 2014 through the end of March. 2014.

Star Clusters
The Pleiades (Seven Sisters), in Taurus:

Original Attempt


Second Attempt (deeper exposures, softer detail due to tracking issues)

M35 and NGC2158, in Gemini


Nebula
Horse Head and Flame Nebulas, In Orion:


Orion Nebula (M42 & M43) and Running Man, in Orion:


Rosette Nebula, in Monoceros (Unicorn):

Original Processing


Reprocessed in PixInsight

Galaxies
M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy), in Ursa Major:


M81, M82 and NGC3077, in Ursa Major:


M51, in Canes Venatici:


Leo Triplet (NGC3628, M65, M66) & NGC3593, in Leo:
 
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TheJock

Location: Dubai
Oct 10, 2013
555
0
Dubai
This is incredible stuff mate, I’m dying to try this genre of photography, but last time we had no moon (last weekend) there was a sand/dust storm and the sky was obscured. :mad:
The image of the M101 galaxy is stunning, could you share how you achieved this photograph? I would love to have a bash!
Ohh, I have the Google Sky Map app on my phone, so I can at least spot the general direction of the galaxies etc!
Thanks in advance.
 

jrista

EOL
Dec 3, 2011
5,341
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@TheJock: Check out the other thread. I've provided a lot of information on the kind of equipment you'll need to get started. We can continue the discussion there.
 

jrista

EOL
Dec 3, 2011
5,341
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We finally had a couple of clear nights the last two nights here in Colorado. These are the first since the lunar eclipse some five weeks ago now. Gave me the opportunity to image part of the North America nebula in Cygnus.



Equipment:
- Canon EOS 7D (unmodded)
- Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II (image)
- Orion ST80 (guider) + SSAG

Integration (49 subs (3h 40m)):
- 52x270s (4m30s) (95% integrated)
- 67 Darks (divided into three groups, temp matching lights, ~15-20 darks per group)
- 100 Biases
- 30 Flats
 

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wsmith96

Advancing Amateur
Aug 17, 2012
896
2
Texas
You've posted some incredible photographs! My favorite is the horse head nebula. Bravo and please post more when you can.

- Wesley
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,178
482
Living up in the Northwest, our availability of clear weather is limited to the summer, and then we have a lot of light contamination from Spokane, starting about 10 miles South of us. We are in the country, as far as the neighborhood, but not away from the city light.

I've been up in Northern British Columbia, 100 miles from anything but tiny villages, and its truly amazing what you can see on a clear night. Astrophotography would be a great hobby up there.
 
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jrista

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Dec 3, 2011
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Mt Spokane Photography said:
Living up in the Northwest, our availability of clear weather is limited to the summer, and then we have a lot of light contamination from Spokane, starting about 10 miles South of us. We are in the country, as far as the neighborhood, but not away from the city light.

I've been up in Northern British Columbia, 100 miles from anything but tiny villages, and its truly amazing what you can see on a clear night. Astrophotography would be a great hobby up there.
Light pollution doesn't have to be a problem these days. I actually shot this only a few miles from Denver, CO. The trick is using a light pollution filter. They don't work as well for galaxies (which are mostly stars, so broad band emissions), but for nebula (which are narrow band emissions), they work wonders. I use the Astronomik CLS, which is one of the better ones for blocking pollutant bands.

All of my images were shot under light polluted skies using the Astronomik filter. I'm under a yellow zone that, depending on the atmospheric particulates, often turns into an orange zone (I generally judge by whether I can see the milky way or not...if I can faintly see it, then my LP conditions are more yellow-zone, if not, then orange zone. Either way, with an LP filter, you can image under heavily light polluted skies. I know many people who image under white zones.

I agree, though, it's amazing what you can see under dark skies. There is one spot in the north western corner of Colorado that is 100% free of LP of any kind. I want to get up there sometime and see what it's like. You can very clearly see the milky way, so clearly that all the dust lanes show up to the naked eye, and all the larger Messier objects (like Andromeda, Triangulum, etc.) is also visible to the naked eye.
 

Kahuna

EOS T7i
Dec 24, 2011
94
0
Jon,

Absolutely astonishing work. I am cuurently vacationing on a small island in northern Fiji and wish you could all experience 0 LP. Its amazing what the naked eye can see. Unfortunately my hard drive died so I can post photo,s.
 
Feb 5, 2012
6
0
These are amazing. I'm jealous. Gonna try my hand in a big way tonight with a large telescope (60 cm - professionally guided, Mt. Wilson Observatory). We were planning on shooting planets with the 1DX and deep space 60a. Any extra advice would be helpful. (I've read alot over the last few weeks, but always need to learn more)
 

jrista

EOL
Dec 3, 2011
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jonrista.com
Thanks, guys! :)

@Kahuna, I bet the sky out there is AMAZING! I'm quite envious. I barely remember dark skies as a kid, when LP was much less than it is today, and when we lived pretty far out of town. But I wasn't as observant of the details back then. I really don't even remember what the summer sky milky way looks like under a truly dark sky.

Even if you don't have a camera, you still have eyeballs and a brain! Remember those nights! :)

dochawk said:
These are amazing. I'm jealous. Gonna try my hand in a big way tonight with a large telescope (60 cm - professionally guided, Mt. Wilson Observatory). We were planning on shooting planets with the 1DX and deep space 60a. Any extra advice would be helpful. (I've read alot over the last few weeks, but always need to learn more)
Thanks!

As for advice, that is probably best left for another thread. Start one, PM me the link, and I'll offer the best bits of advice I have.
 

emag

EOS RP
Feb 22, 2012
331
0
M109 in Ursa Major, most distant of the Messier objects.

First try with PixInsight, I've been using Deep Sky Stacker & PhotoShop for years, but a trial download of PixInsight converted me pretty quick. I recently revamped my old imaging laptop (Vista) with a SSD and a new video cable for the display and installed AstroTortilla on it. Confirmed AT works fine with some archived images....but don't you know we have a week of rain coming at us. I'd rather subject that laptop to the elements than my i7 Win8.1, which is now my image processing platform so my son can have his desktop back. I like my Newt and SCT's, but the only 'refractor' I'd be interested in is that 600/4L. APO's are nice, but you can't shoot BIF's with one.....
 

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traingineer

EOS 80D
Feb 27, 2014
189
0
jrista said:
We finally had a couple of clear nights the last two nights here in Colorado. These are the first since the lunar eclipse some five weeks ago now. Gave me the opportunity to image part of the North America nebula in Cygnus.



Equipment:
- Canon EOS 7D (unmodded)
- Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II (image)
- Orion ST80 (guider) + SSAG

Integration (49 subs (3h 40m)):
- 52x270s (4m30s) (95% integrated)
- 67 Darks (divided into three groups, temp matching lights, ~15-20 darks per group)
- 100 Biases
- 30 Flats
Superb image of the North America Nebula! (NGC 7000) But could you explain how the nebula "looks" like the continent? ??? Because I can't really see any resemblance between the 2.
 
Dec 1, 2013
6
0
Can I post stuff here if it wasn't taken with a Canon? :p I've been doing astrophotography for a few years now.

These are taken with a 530mm f/5 telescope, and a camera with a KAF-16803 sensor (4096x4096, 9µm pixel).



 

SoullessPolack

EOS 80D
Mar 13, 2014
128
0
Does anyone have any image samples from a single exposure of deep sky astrophotography, compared with say 60 or 150 or whatever images including dark frames of the same scene? I'm wondering how big of a difference spending all that extra time takes. Many of the images I see are stunning, and I'd like to make my own similar ones, but I'd rather have 70% of the quality and only have to do one image and very little time post processing than 100% quality but hours upon hours of work (not to mention wear and tear on the shutter and mirror mechanism).

Thank you in advance. Just hoping to see if it's worth it for me to get into this discipline!
 

jrista

EOL
Dec 3, 2011
5,341
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jonrista.com
Soulless, here are three samples of the same single light frame. Note that the first two have been downsampled by a factor of 6.5x, which has the effect of SIGNIFICANTLY reducing noise. I've included a 1:1 crop to show how much noise there is in one single frame. It is the noise levels that are the primary reason why you really have to take 50, 80, 100 frames and stack them...it's the only way to reduce noise to manageable levels with a DSLR.

With Cooled CCD cameras like Bradbury's KAF-16803, you have significantly less dark current noise due to the sensor being cooled by some -50°C relative to ambient, and less read noise. You don't need to stack as many subs to get a good result with a dedicated CCD, however you DO still need to stack.

Original Out-of-Camera Frame (blue due to optical light pollution filter):


Same frame color-corrected and stretched:


100% crop from frame to show noise:


The last sample here, a you can see, has a completely unacceptable level of noise. The amount of noise drops as the square root of the frames stacked. So, to reduce the noise by a factor of two, you need to stack four subs. However, there is a LOT of noise in a single frame, a 2x reduction in noise isn't remotely close enough. To get a 3x reduction, you need nine frames...to get a 4x reduction, you need 16 frames....to get a 5x reduction in noise, you need at least 25 frames. If you are using a thermally regulated CCD, 25 frames might be getting to the point where noise is low enough to be acceptable..."MIGHT BE GETTING TO".

For a DSLR, 25 frames is never enough (even when the outside nighttime temps are around 0°C). At 50 frames, you reduce noise by 7x. In my experience and opinion, for a DSLR like the 7D at spring and fall nighttime temperatures, 50 frames is the MINIMUM. During summer nighttime temps, at least 81 frames, but 100 (a full 10x reduction in noise) is preferable. I effectively need to double my exposures to reduce the noise in my North America nebula to a level I would deem acceptable and aesthetically pleasing.
 

traingineer

EOS 80D
Feb 27, 2014
189
0
My first 4th and currently best AP image I've made, and the first with a mount!


First image contains Vega

Second image is one of the many light frames used for the final image:
 

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R1-7D

EOS 7D MK II
Jun 25, 2012
670
12
Canada
Just think about how much better these photos would be with more dynamic range! Oh wait...wrong thread again. Damn.


Beautiful shots everyone!
 
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