Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Years of Improvement

During the past few months I've finally tweaked, pulled and prodded my telescope into a nice, useable research tool. The biggest issue was finally resolved about a week ago when I got my autoguider to work.  The EQ8 apparently had a software glitch in the firmware that doesn't let it guide for more than about 10 minutes.  However once I updated the mount's motor control software it worked like a charm. 

The timing couldn't have been better; my favorite winter constellation has started rising around 9:00 pm (Orion!). 
OIII - 2 x 600s

So over the last two weeks I trained my Esprit 100 mm on Orion for hours using my new Monochrome SBIG 2000XM. Since I'm imaging from Suburban Edmonton I'm basically limited to Narrowband Filters.  I'm not quite done, but I've gotten 20 x 10min HA.  I'll need a couple more nights to get comparable OIII and SII images since I only have 2 x 10 min of each of them.

SII - 2 x 600s

The images on the right are the result of stacking, dark and flat reduction and some basic curve stretching.  They were stacked using Deep Sky Stacker and Stretched/Aligned using Nebulosity

Photoshop is next on my list of software to get but I'm not a fan of their decision to go to a subscription service.

HA - 20 x 600s
For anyone unfamiliar with LRGB processing, each of the frames is taken through one particular filter at a certain wavelength (HA - 656.28 nm, OIII - 495.9 nm, SII - 6730 nm).  These images are then aligned and combined in an LRGB image.

I used the Hubble Colour Palette which maps the SII frame to the Red Colour Channel, HA to Green and OIII to blue.  The result is the image below. Its a bit noisy and lacking in detail in some areas because of the low SNR of the OIII and SII images.

LRGB Orion Nebula

After finishing putting this image together I realised I had a few images of the Orion Nebula I took over the years. The oldest image was taken about 4 years ago in Vancouver through my first 8" SCT. I'm 

The second image was taken here in Edmonton through my current 11" SCT.  I don't remember the exposure times for either of these images but they were both taken with a Canon Rebel camera.  

I find it very interesting to see the overall improvement in quality and depth of the images.  Hopefully that bodes well for the future!

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