Friday, February 11, 2011

Aways rare winter clear skies. M78 in Orion

February 1st there was one of those nights that was clear and moon free.  Usually it's clear when the moon is full, but got lucky this time.  It was time to go after something new that I've never imaged before, so I went after the M78 nebula in Orion.  This is a pretty tough object, since there a dark gas/dust clouds around the brightly illuminated area.  If you capture and process it right, the dark dust can be seen against the darker background.  Although, I have a lot of noise in the image still, I did manage to pull the darker stuff out of the sky.
Autoguiding is still not perfect but getting better.  Stars are still not round, but closer.  I'll have to reprocess this and try faking it to make stars round.
Technical details:

Date: February 1, 2011 - 8pm to 10:45pm
Telescope: Meade 12" LX200 Classic at f/6.3
Camera: modified Canon 350D with CLS filter
ISO: 800
Exposures: 19 x 5.5 minutes
Software: ImagesPlus


Kevin said...

Looking pretty good for a tough target! Are you using OAG or a guidescope?

Tom said...

I was using my Orion 80ED as the guider with the Orion Starshoot guide camera. Works a lot better than the DSI that I was using for a long time. Software is PHD Guider to run it. Still have a little more fiddling to do for getting the stars totally round.
Got some gradient on the right side also that showed up a lot more in the .jpg image. I really had to pull hard in the levels/curves to get this much out of it. Then my pesky hot pixels appeared, so I just 'heal tool' them out of there.
Very small steps of progress as a Seattle astronomer!

Kevin said...

Do you know what the light in the lower right corner is? Totally round stars is so hard as longer focal lengths with the separate guidescopes. I spent a day getting my orion OAG parfocal and set up and it worked fairly well, but the overall experience was unpleasant. Have you considered maybe one of the dual sensor SBIG's?

Tom said...

That's just a gradient in the corner. It didn't show up as much until I saved it as a .jpg for some reason. I could probably run it through GradientXTerminator one more time and get that out. I did have to stretch it a lot to pull out the dim stuff, so that's probably what happened there.
Yeah, dual scopes is a pain. I've considered trying a small Antares 80mm finder for a guider, but not sure if that would work well enough for the 12" for guiding.
SBIG cameras would fix it all, but just a lot of $$$! :-)