Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sword of Orion

Yet another image of the Sword of Orion. I admit that it's one of my favorite targets, however, my primary purpose was to test how the Baader Contrast Booster performed.

The Moon rose around 10:00 PM, so my window was tight. I limited each set of exposures to 8 "good" subs each. The exposure times were 5, 15, 30, 60, and 120 seconds at ISO-3200. Images were stacked in Deep Sky Stacker with darks, flats, and bias frames, and then processed in Photoshop CS6 using the former Google Nik Collection.  (The current version of the Nik Collection can be found at DxO.)

Sword of Orion; ST80 w/Baader CB on Vixen SP; Canon EOS Rebel T3

Close-up of Messier 42 (right), the Great Orion Nebula, and Messier 43 (lower-left), De Mairan's Nebula.

Close-up of Running Man Nebula
The detail on this version isn't quite as sharp as my previous attempt. I think this may have been due in part to the seeing being poor (a front had come through the day before). More 120-second subs would have definitely helped.

The filter performed as expected. There was very little chromatic aberration, and I did nothing to remove what little there was. Note how the stars are not nearly so bloated as in the older image. Keep in mind that these images are from a relatively inexpensive achromat!

The distortion that is particularly noticeable in the stars on the left is due to coma.

Google recently made their Nik filter collection free to the public. There are tons of features and options, and I haven't explored them all. I used the Detail Extractor from the Color Efex Pro 4 collection and Dfine 2 noise reduction filters for these images. I was particularly impressed with the Detail Extractor as it brought out some very faint parts of the nebula in the lower part of the full-size image.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

2016 Spring Equinox

Here is a portrait of my family about 15 minutes before sunset on the Spring Equinox. Our road runs east/west, so the sun rises and sets at the ends on the equinoxes. I've dubbed the street "Roadhenge."

Rite of Spring at Roadhenge