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FORUMS Photo Sharing & Visual Enjoyment Astronomy & Celestial 
Thread started 21 Aug 2007 (Tuesday) 17:09
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My Deepest Astrophoto So Far

 
Nighthound
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Post edited over 5 years ago by Nighthound. (5 edits in all)
     
Jan 30, 2016 12:12 |  #76

heldGaze wrote in post #17878630 (external link)
This is stellar work! (Pun intended)

I'm going to have to look through your other posts for more inspiration. I too love astrophotography. I've got a Meade LXD55 SN-6, which has a 762mm focal length and 6 inch "aperture". I've got a mount that allows me to track the night sky as well, although I've never installed batteries and tried that yet.

I see you say it takes you 45-90 minutes to polar align your scope. I would love to read more about your process doing this. If you've already discussed it in the past a link to that information is perfectly fine, you don't have to rewrite it just for me.

My "Mount Everest" of astrophotography is the Andromeda Galaxy. Using the same techniques you've described here: polar align, a Barlow to install the camera using prime focus, I was thinking ~45-second exposures stacked using DSS, dark frames to remove noise from hot pixels, and final touch up edits done in PS.

Based on your experience, what kind of results do you think I can expect from this telescope. I still have a lot of practice to do before I attempt to create this image. I would like to get something that is print worthy to put on my wall one day. In my gallery you can see a moon shot I created using this telescope, a 2x Barlow and a Canon 40D. The moon did not fit in the entire frame (crop body and a 2x Barlow), so that image is actually 7 frames stitched together in PS. It came out quite nice in an 8"x8" print; I'm considering printing it at 24"x24" or even as large as 36"x36". I am especially fond of the terminator in this shot, with some craters disappearing into the shadow and the rim reappearing. That I was able to get it this sharp without using a shutter remote is amazing to me.

Again, that's quite a beautiful image you have created. Thank you for sharing; I can't wait to peruse your other work. Keep 'em coming!

Thanks very much. Set up and alignment are critical for long exposure work. It's important to level your tripod/mount, balance all of your gear on the mount(including the camera) and of course polar align accurately. Leveling is simple(be sure to set up on a sold surface or leg blocks to avoid sinking), balancing your scope/camera on both axis' is easy with practice but you should read up on it to become well versed and maybe have notes or a print out handy when starting out. Polar alignment will go quicker with practice as well. For even more accuracy you'll want to learn how to drift align. I can get polar aligned(roughly) within 15-20 minutes but drift alignment adds about 30-45 minutes to that but once you've got a clear understanding of the process it'll take more like 20-30 minutes. Google "telescope drift alignment" and you'll find tutorials. I like to stress that fine tuning alignment is critical to long exposure but balancing your gear is also huge in the way your mount will behave during those exposures. There are a series of check points throughout the astrophotography process that need to be addressed to achieve the best results, skip any of them and the results will suffer to some degree and the frustration will increase.

Batteries will work fine for your mount but you might consider a Batter Pack jump start unit to power the mount. You'll also need to be thinking about dew and/or frost collecting on the corrector plate of the LXD55 SN. I also live in the southeast and humidity most months is brutal as you know so dew will shut you down if you don't plan to prevent it. I use a dew heater unit(Thousand Oaks) and dew strap(Kendrick) to keep my optics dew free. I travel to darker skies so the last thing I want is fogged optics or loss of power so I go well prepared. I power my mount with a marine battery and my dew heater with a jump start batter unit. I don't like to have both connected to one source since the dew heater unit runs in cycles which can affect the mount motors and interfere with smooth tracking. I realize this stuff costs money but this hobby is not for the faint of wallet, if you're determined to be equipped to get images worthy of framing. You can always look to buy used gear that's been well taken care of and save quite a bit.

For deep sky/long exposure work I would not be using a 2x Barlow with your scope unless you're after some very small objects like planetary nebula and globular star clusters for example. 762mm on the LXD55 mount is about all any beginner should want to take on for long exposure imaging. Staying at your native f/5 will work in your favor as well. With practice of the above mentioned requirements you should be able to get between 1 and 2 minute exposures with your gear. I would shoot at ISO 800 in the warm season and short some at 1600 during the cold months. I would think that the 40D would handle 800 best. I've used my 20D for the majority of the work in my gallery below. I used the 5D for the Heart Nebula, the Seagull Nebula and a few others. I shoot with three different scopes, 355mm, 500mm and 800mm. My mount is capable of carrying larger scopes but I've accepted these focal lengths as the comfort zone for my mount and for keeping my sanity. The higher the magnification the more tracking accuracy you'll need and that equals more expense and more frustration if you're not equipped to work at high focal lengths.

Processin/stacking exposures is another one of the great challenges of this hobby. I won't go into that now but you should plan on researching that and prepare yourself for learning how to get the most from your hard night's work. Keep in mind I didn't start out shooting images like the ones in my gallery. It took perseverance, patience and a decent financial investment to overcome the challenges. I still consider myself an amateur and student after 13 years. I don't see myself spending more but do aspire to improve on the images in my collection and add those objects I've yet to attempt.

I hope this helps in some way. Good luck and remember start slow to find out if this is a true passion worthy of the investment. I found it to be a pretty slippery slope but not everyone will. It's certainly been an education in optics and the universe, which for me is priceless.


Steve
Canon Gear: 1D Mark IV | 1D Mark II | 5D | 20D | 500L IS (f/4) | 100-400L
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TCampbell
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Jan 30, 2016 12:27 |  #77

That's a gorgeous heart nebula you've got, Steve. I followed the link to your gallery site and see you've got quite a collection of impressive work!

I had to smile when I looked back to the beginning of the thread (several years old now) and noticed you're using the same Losmandy G11 mount that I use. Quite a few of the astrophotographers (I can think of at least four others just in my club) that I know use the same mount. I went through two unsatisfactory mounts, decided to buy a 3rd "better" mount (but only by a little) and my other half encouraged me to stop screwing around buying the cheapest mount for the job and just get something solid... so I ended up getting the Losmandy G11 and have been extremely happy with it's performance.

BTW, a while back in the thread you mentioned wanting to be able to use a long focal length camera lens instead of a telescope to image some regions, but need to be able to use filters and the camera lens would prevent filter use... Astronomik makes "EOS-Clip" filters that are designed to snap into the camera body and still let you attach a lens. One of my imaging friends uses these because he uses an off-axis guider, needs filters, but with the OAG your guide camera wouldn't get much light from a guide star if you were to use, say, an Ha filter. The Astronomik brand "EOS-Clip" line of filters lets him filter only the light going to the imaging camera and not the light going to the guide camera when doing off-axis guiding.




  
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Nighthound
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Jan 30, 2016 12:47 |  #78

TCampbell wrote in post #17879241 (external link)
That's a gorgeous heart nebula you've got, Steve. I followed the link to your gallery site and see you've got quite a collection of impressive work!

I had to smile when I looked back to the beginning of the thread (several years old now) and noticed you're using the same Losmandy G11 mount that I use. Quite a few of the astrophotographers (I can think of at least four others just in my club) that I know use the same mount. I went through two unsatisfactory mounts, decided to buy a 3rd "better" mount (but only by a little) and my other half encouraged me to stop screwing around buying the cheapest mount for the job and just get something solid... so I ended up getting the Losmandy G11 and have been extremely happy with it's performance.

BTW, a while back in the thread you mentioned wanting to be able to use a long focal length camera lens instead of a telescope to image some regions, but need to be able to use filters and the camera lens would prevent filter use... Astronomik makes "EOS-Clip" filters that are designed to snap into the camera body and still let you attach a lens. One of my imaging friends uses these because he uses an off-axis guider, needs filters, but with the OAG your guide camera wouldn't get much light from a guide star if you were to use, say, an Ha filter. The Astronomik brand "EOS-Clip" line of filters lets him filter only the light going to the imaging camera and not the light going to the guide camera when doing off-axis guiding.

Thanks very much. The G-11 is a solid performer and it took me a while to fine tune mine but it works perfect with my scopes of choice. Mine performs best with lightweight side-by-side mounted scopes, so my Sky 90 and Vixen R200SS make her a happy tracker. I've guided with my Vixen(guide cam on Sky 90) but I prefer to travel light and leaving the laptop and guide cam out of the mix make for more pleasing nights. I can easily get 4 minute exposures without guiding at 407-500mm and that's fine for my sky limitations here. At 800mm I can routinely get 3 minute subs without guiding. Thanks for mentioning the clip filter. I entertained getting one for use with my Canon 500L but the Sky 90 is at 407mm with the flattener/reducer and the optics are certainly on par with the Canon. I use a Hutech IDAS LP 2" filter with my scopes and have been very happy with the results.


Steve
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Post edited over 5 years ago by heldGaze.
     
Jan 30, 2016 12:51 |  #79

Thank you very much for the long reply. I am about to pick up a Sony A7RII, so when I do get back to using my scope I may not be using the 40D. One thing I really like about the A7RII is that it can be run off of mains instead of its battery. Which is great for astro work, no swapping out batteries as they die throughout the night. Your post was quite informative and I appreciate you taking the time to reply with so much detail.

Cheers!


Cameras: Sony α7R II, Canon 40D, Samsung Galaxy S7
Lenses: Canon 11-24mm f/4 L, 24-70mm f/2.8 L II, 50mm f/1.8 II, Sigma 18-200mm
Telescope: Meade LXD55 SN-6" F=762mm f/5, with a 2x Barlow T-Mount
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Nighthound
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Post edited over 5 years ago by Nighthound.
     
Feb 14, 2016 09:26 as a reply to  @ heldGaze's post |  #80

You're very welcome. Switching batteries in the DSLR is a pain but fortunately it's only a hassle in the cold months. Fortunately here in the southeast that's only about 2 months of the year. Keeping my spares in my front pants pocket helps keep life in them when it's freezing out.


Steve
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NovaTJ
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Aug 14, 2016 19:50 |  #81

Beautiful Steve!


Astro-Tech 8" f/4 imaging Newtonian,Baader MPCC,Orion ED 80 APO F7.5,Skywatcher EQ-6 Pro,ASGT, Modified Canon 50D, Meade DSI Guide Camera, 8" SCT dovetail mounted relic, Criterion Dynascope RV-6, modified 300D, custom astro shed,and still just getting started!

  
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Post edited over 4 years ago by surgemaster.
     
Aug 14, 2016 21:55 |  #82

Very cool, Steve. And, good luck in getting your 4-5 hrs.
Rex
Funny, I didn't notice the date. but still impressed.




  
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Nighthound
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Post edited over 4 years ago by Nighthound.
     
Aug 15, 2016 08:31 |  #83

NovaTJ wrote in post #18095591 (external link)
Beautiful Steve!

Thanks very much.

surgemaster wrote in post #18095687 (external link)
Very cool, Steve. And, good luck in getting your 4-5 hrs.
Rex
Funny, I didn't notice the date. but still impressed.

Thank you Rex. As an update I did get 5 hours of data on the Heart Nebula, here's a look:

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Aug 22, 2016 11:14 |  #84

Steve - you still using the 20D or is it retired now?


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Nighthound
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Aug 22, 2016 11:30 |  #85

mtbdudex wrote in post #18102638 (external link)
Steve - you still using the 20D or is it retired now?

Hi Mike. Still have it, actually have two of them. When I shoot now I use the 5D(classic) or Mark IV. The 20D was a great workhorse.


Steve
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drlane
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Aug 31, 2016 00:08 |  #86

Not bad try to get some HA in there to really make it pop.




  
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AdamJL
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Sep 23, 2016 19:47 |  #87

Nighthound wrote in post #18102647 (external link)
Hi Mike. Still have it, actually have two of them. When I shoot now I use the 5D(classic) or Mark IV. The 20D was a great workhorse.

Do you feel it's necessary (or at least, beneficial) to invest in either a dedicated astro-DSLR or modified DSLR?
Or can the same results be achieved in post?


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Nighthound
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Sep 26, 2016 10:02 |  #88

AdamJL wrote in post #18138290 (external link)
Do you feel it's necessary (or at least, beneficial) to invest in either a dedicated astro-DSLR or modified DSLR?
Or can the same results be achieved in post?

It's always beneficial to have higher sensitivity to H-alpha if you're shooting deep sky. Personally, if I were going to get that serious I'd look into a cooled astro camera like Atik or others manufacture. I've managed to do ok with non-modified DSLRs. My entire gallery was achieved with a 20D or 5D(classic) right out of the box. It's not like the stock DSLRs have zero sensitivity to capture reds, just compromised. There's a lot to learn in this hobby for those starting out, processing alone is monumental compared to terrestrial work. I went into this with a goal to learn and produce the best images I could with the gear I have. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Even though I accomplished a great deal I think there are still improvements I can make with my "fossil" cameras. I feel my lack of quality data in quantity far exceeded my camera limitations as a handicap.


Steve
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My Deepest Astrophoto So Far
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