#20: M81 and M82


New aspect: Stay long on two galaxies

M81/82 – 1h29min integration time: 50sec Sub @ ISO400 +1C temp

Image acquisition:

This time I wanted to capture tow cool galaxies in one frame. I searched Stellarium the day before and found those two beautiful galaxies. They fit into the FOV of my camera/scope as I use an old Olympus E510 and a Skywatcher 150/750 Newtonian reflector. Challenge was to frame the objects right into one frame and not accidentally cut one galaxy off. So I chose a high ISO 1600 (max with my camera) and like 60’ test frames to locate the galaxies. Due to my little mount with high inert slewing errors I had a hard job of even finding the two of them. After that I needed to fit them into one frame. My sister and her fiancé can tell the story of me trying to move the scope just ever so slightly than taking a test shot, wait for 60’ then reslew. Than me realising I slewed in the wrong direction. Me reslewing again. Taking another test shot. Off again. Where are the galaxies at all? Reslew. Test shot. Searching….. Uff! It was tough.

„#20: M81 and M82“ weiterlesen

#19: Visual observation of M42 Orion Nebula


Skywatcher @ Work

New aspect: Visual observation of DSOs

Image acquisition:

This two images of the Orion Nebula were taken using a smartphone hand-held in front of the 2” lens. This evening I observed a few DSOs with my Skywatcher 150/750 Newtonian on my little Skywatcher EQ-3 Pro mount. Doing visual astronomy is normally not really my thing but I wanted to give it a try. I was surprised, how much of M42 the Orion Nebula was visible trough my little 6” newtonian scope. But than I couldn’t resist to hold my LG G6 in front of the lens to shoot some images. I then tried to get the exposure time of that single frame exactly in such a way that it would match the experience with the eye. So here they are:

„#19: Visual observation of M42 Orion Nebula“ weiterlesen

#18: Jupiter and Venus


Jupiter and moons with 3x barlow and Logitech webcam

New aspect: Taking an image of Jupiter

Image acquisition:

I took video files of both planets on the morning of the 23th of January. It was a Wednesday so I was (again) in a hurry. Setting up the scope was not that hard but keeping the last trouble with the moving Venus in mind I took one more look through the polarscope to align a bit more properly than last time. Then I searched and found Venus. Again the planet was so incredible bright, that was not able to choose the right settings for exposure and focus. I tried my best ether way. Jupiter was a more easy part. I did some over exposes videos to capture the moons of Jupiter and then fiddled around to find the sweet spot for exposure, gain and “brightness” (whatever this item means). I finally managed to grab three files before I had to end the session. Focus? A nightmare!

„#18: Jupiter and Venus“ weiterlesen

#17: Return to M42 Orion Nebula


Skywatcher @ Work looking at M42

New aspect: Return to M42 to gather more data

Image acquisition:

This time I had one target and one target only in mind (finally managed to obey my own rule!): M42. The last session gave me 32x1min light frames to work with and hence a lot of noise in the image. After setting up the scope I was about to frame the image. This was my first do-over of an object where I was about to ADD data to my already captured data-pool. I had already framed an object to my wishes as I framed M31 (Andromeda) to snugly fit into my DSLR frame. This time I had to match the previous image framing with enough precision to be able to add the two sessions together. My problem about this was that my mount tended to move even so slightly from frame to frame. So first and last frame and all the counter-re-framing had to fit as well. I did my best and framed M42 after focusing on a nearby star with my bartinov-mask. Then I hit the “run” button.

„#17: Return to M42 Orion Nebula“ weiterlesen

#16: Venus, Andromeda and the Orion Nebula


M31 Andromeda Galaxy – 40x 1min Sub @ ISO400

New aspect: Revisiting a target to improve quality and seeking for the next

Image acquisition:

Venus: This was a shot in hurry. On morning the 5th of December I set up the scope in a hurry to capture Venus. Polar alignment, balancing: All quick and dirty because of the limited amount of time. The result was a hard job to even find Venus with the scope and the attached webcam. After finding Venus I struggled with the right driver-settings. Venus was so incredible bright that even focussing was a nightmare. The bad polar alignment made I just worse. Venus, taken with a 3x barlow, hurried to leave the FOV whenever I thought that I got the settings right. Then I needed to reslew and start all over again. I managed to capture one video file with a very unstable Venus and an unclear focus.

„#16: Venus, Andromeda and the Orion Nebula“ weiterlesen

#15: Dancing Moon and Venus


Moon and Venus


The image was taken at dawn right before sunrise. Moon was three quarters on its way to new moon and Venus was very very bright standing next to the Moon. Because sunrise was close the dark side of the moon was lit enough to see some details. Catching both the bright and the dark site of the moon with the old Canon compact camera was not possible but I took some images of the bright side showing some craters and some images of the dark side (longer exposures) so faintly show some surface details as well. The view of the two bodies in the night sky was very pretty to watch.


I really want to do a stitching of both sides of the moon – dark and bright side!


#14: Milky Way image from Denmark


My brother in Denmark imaging the Milky Way


This are two images taken by my brother in Denmark. They show parts of the Milky Way and the Pleiades with my brother standing in the foreground. As the stars shine for him he uses his searchlight to connect with them.

Acquisition and Processing can be told by himself.

My brother in Denmark imaging the Milky Way


#13: First surface images of the moon


Moon using Logitech Webcam

New aspect: Taking the first close up surface images of the moon with a modded Logitech webcam

Image acquisition:

When imaging the Mars with the modded webcam in the last session I recognised just how hard it is to get the focus right. So a member of a astro forum (Hi Carole!) pointed me towards the moon. Focusing the moon with its sharp crisp contrast is much more easy than focusing wobbly blurry planets. So I tried the moon as a target for this session. Finding the moon, aligning finder scope and main scope, getting the polar alignment roughly working: all that was done in a minute. Fining the right balance between exposure time, gain, “brightness” and stuff was a completely different story. The Logitech webcam can only be set through the Logitech driver interface and that doesn’t really work smooth with SharpCap, the image acquisition tool I used (and still use). For changing any of the parameters above you have to switch from SharpCap to the driver interface. Gain is called something like “sensitivity” and nobody knows what “brightness” really means… SharpCap has no authority/ability to access the settings of the webcam directly. That’s a shame. So after fiddling around with the settings I tried a few video-files with and without barlow lens. Some were dark, some too bright.

„#13: First surface images of the moon“ weiterlesen

#12: 120′ of Orion & M33 – Mars & unguided Pleiades


Mars using 3x barlow and Logitech webcam

New aspects: First use of modded Logitech webcam – Fist stacking of unguided DSLR shots


Mars: After fiddling around with the old Canon compact camera “PowerShot SX240 HS” held in front of my eyepieces I ordered a cheap Logitech webcam and modded it for the purpose of using it as an astro camera. The modification was quite simple: I removed the lens in front of the sensor and turned off the status LED. Then I glued an old film roll casing in front of the webcam. This casing happened to have exactly the same diameter as the 1 1/4” eyepieces (accident?). So with the help of “Sharpcap” and the drivers from Logitech I was able to grab a short .avi video of Mars with the camera in prime focus. I tried about ten videos with different exposure and gain settings refocusing between each videos. With the webcam and its drivers I got about 30 fps witch is not too bad for this modded equipment. On the SharpCap screen I could see Mars as a reddish disk wobbling around, showing me the bad seeing conditions. Nevertheless I actually could see some darker areas on the surface just by looking at the unstacked video files. A new area!

„#12: 120′ of Orion & M33 – Mars & unguided Pleiades“ weiterlesen

#11: Orion Nebula with Smartphone


Orion with LG G6

New aspect: Capturing a DSO with a smartphone


On a clear evening I tried to capture the Orion Nebula M42 with my Smartphone LG G4 f1.8. Therefore I needed to sort out some things: What is the maximum possible exposure length with the unknown focal length of my smartphone? I knew the 1/400-rule by which you need to divide the focal length of your camera by 400 to get the maximum exposure length without getting star trails. But the focal length of the inert lens system was unknown to me, so I needed to try different lengths and play around. Second thing was the right ISO setting. Stars should be visible but the background needed to be settle and dark enough. I ended up with ISO 400 and 20sec exposures.

„#11: Orion Nebula with Smartphone“ weiterlesen