Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Post, New Year, Another Redo

A few days ago I asked, "What do amateur astronomers do when the weather is lousy?" Today I ask, "What do amateur astronomers do when the weather is lousy, they have a cold, and they can't sleep?" Well, the answer is the same: they reprocess old images! So, I'm ringing in 2015 with a reprocess of images of the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae taken exactly four years ago today.

Flame Nebula (lower left) and Horsehead Nebula; ST80 on Vixen SP; Canon EOS Rebel XS (1000D); 12x180
Happy New Year!

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)

Famed amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy discovered long period comet C/2014 Q2 in August 2014. It became visible at my latitude in December 2014, but the weather conditions afforded no decent opportunity to view it until the night of December 30/31. There was a lot a moisture in the air and the Moon was very bright (at 75% illumination), but the comet was naked-eye visible. Clouds were on the way, so I opted to quickly set up a DSLR on a tripod to try to capture a few images.

Maybe it's my imagination, but I can barely make out the comet's tail trailing to the upper-left. The stars are streaked due to the Earth's rotation. This was compiled from 5 8-second exposures at ISO-3200 using a Canon EOS Rebel T3 (1100D) with a zoom lens at 55mm.

This is a wide-angle image that shows the comet's location on the night of December 30th. Click on the labels for the indicated objects to open pages that give details. Some of the links will open pages on other web sites.

Horsehead and Flame Nebulae Sword of Orion Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) Sirius (star)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Reprocessed Images

What do amateur astronomers do when the weather is lousy and they can't get out with their scopes? Well, sometimes they reprocess old data. I have learned a lot about image processing over the few years that I've been in this hobby. Sometimes it is fun to see if I can do a better job using my new skills and tools. Some of these were very challenging as I did not have all of the components necessary for producing clean images (darks, flats, and bias frames).

These are some of the images that I selected as candidates for a slide show that a friend of mine is working on for the Sam Houston State University Planetarium.

Messier 8, the Lagoon Nebula, in the constellation Sagittarius.

Messier 8, the Lagoon Nebula, on the right. Messier 20, the Trifid nebula, in the upper-left. Both nebulae are in Sagittarius. This is a composite of two images taken with my Orion ShortTube 80.
Messier 35, in the upper-left half of the image, and NGC 2158 in the lower-right. Both clusters are in Gemini.

Messier 38, in the right half of the image, and NGC 1907 on the left, in Auriga.

Messier 45, the Pleiades, located in Taurus. This is only a portion of the cluster.

Messier 83, the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy, in the constellation Hydra. It is the southernmost galaxy in the Messier catalog.

Leo Triplet. Also called the M66 group. Messier 65 is on the lower left, Messier 66 is on the middle left. NGC 3628 is located on the right. It is sometimes called the "Hamburger Galaxy."
Messier 37, in the constellation Auriga.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


I found this shot of Uranus (center) while looking through some images that I took back in November 2013. It's nothing spectacular, but I thought the color was pretty. The star to the left of Uranus is labeled by Starry Night as TYC13-96-1 in Pisces.

Uranus; ST80 on Vixen SP; Canon EOS Rebel T3

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sword of Orion - Quick Reprocess

Here is a quick reprocess of an older image of the Sword of Orion taken with the Canon EOS Rebel XS on the Takahashi Epsilon 200.  I hope to reimage this object sometime this winter.