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M20 added to Summer Mosaic Project

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My Summer Astrophotography Mosaic Project

M8 Lagoon Nebula and M20 Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius Mosaic by Trevor Jones
Above: M20 and M8: Imaged Friday, June 14, 2013 & July 13, 2013
M8: 11 subs 5 Minutes Each totaling 55 Minutes
M20: 24 subs 6 Minutes Each totaling 2 Hours, 24 Minutes

 

My summer mosaic project is coming along with the addition of the Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius. As usual, I have done a crummy job framing up my subject!

The next chance I get, I will be shooting the Cat’s Paw Nebula area to fill in the gaps, and create a much wider field image. I had quite the difficult time aligning these images up, as I did it manually in Photoshop.  The hardest part was the fact that both objects were processed separately, under very different shooting conditions.

I now know the importance of framing the objects in my field, especially when planning a mosaic!


The Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius

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Back in the Game – My New Mount!

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This post talks about upgrading from a Celestron CG-5 astrophotography mount to the Sky-Watcher HEQ5. I have been using the Sky-Watcher mount ever since with over 5 years of successful deep sky imaging under its belt!

My New Mount

Sky-Watcher Astrophotography Mount

NGC 7000 - The North American Nebula

NGC 7000: Imaged Monday, June 3, 2013.
32 subs 5 Minutes Each totoaling 2 Hours 40 Minutes

The above image was taken using my old mount last Monday. After fighting with it for over an hour (mount shutting off, restarting, re-aligning 3 times!) I finally got it to work for one more night!

I am officially back in the saddle again! My Celestron CG-5 issues had me a tad depressed about missing imaging time through the absolute best time of year. After the CG-5 was fixed in April, it quickly began acting up again, and shutting off in the middle of in the middle of my imaging sessions. I realized that I had to replace my aging “starter mount” fast!

After doing hours of research online (forums, vendor sites, blogs) I decided I was going to spring for an Orion Sirus EQ-G. It is a modest mount, but still quite expensive for my limited astro-budget. But before I put the order in, I checked Astrobuysell.ca. Wouldn’t you know it, there was a Skywatcher HEQ-5 Pro Synscan GPS for sale in my area!

Skywatcher HEQ-5 Pro Synscan

The HEQ-5 has a stellar reputation in the astrophotography community. Everything I have read about this mount has been positive.  The mount is rated to carry a 40lb payload!  It is so much heavier and solid than my Celestron.  I can’t wait to bring it to my dark sky site and spend a night imaging with it!

View my current deep sky astrophotography equipment.

You can also have a look at the Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Pro Synscan with my refractor telescope mounted to it in the following video. This should give you a better idea of whats involved with a typical deep sky astrophotography telescope setup.

Deep Sky Astrophotography Camera and Telescope Setup


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Problems with my Celestron CG-5 Mount Power Port

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Problems with Celestron CG-5 Mount

Up until this point, my Celestron CG-5 mount has been very good to me. Despite what I have heard, it has been a quality mount, capable of 5+ minute exposures, no problem (with autoguiding).  Recently though, the power has been cutting in and out.  Last Friday night, under clear, dark, moonless skies at the CCCA, I was forced to head home. Devastating! 

The frustrating part, is not knowing whether the issue is the power switch, the jack, or the entire power board itself.  The only thing I know for sure is that it is not the ac adapter, as I have tested it to work fine.

I have read many stories of similar issues online, and even got some great advice from some of the telescope retailers here in Ontario. Luckily, I was able to leave the mount with The Scope Store at Camtech Photo in Hamilton to repair the mount today.  I will keep you posted with the diagnosed issue and solution to help fellow CG-5 owners who may experience the same issue.

On a more positive note, I have recently ordered a Hutech IDAS lps clip-in filter for EOS Camera bodies.  The “lps” stands for “light pollution suppression”.  I have been wanting to get one of these for a long time, and finally coughed up the $250 and ordered one. My fellow astrophotography buddy has one and he swears by it.  I think it will make a huge difference in my photos, especially when imaging from the backyard.

Another handy addition to my astrophotography rig is a battery grip for my Canon Xsi. This will hopefully allow me to run the camera all night without switching batteries!

I hope to be completely back up and running by the end of the month, ready for all of the cool Spring/Summer DSO’s!

*UPDATE* – April 15th, 2013

My mount has been taken apart and fixed by Camtech Photo. I am very pleased with the service I have been given there.  I tested everything out on Sunday night by imaging M51 in my backyard.  SUCCESS! 

It appears to have been a loose connection to the the power input, and Camtech was able to fix the issue.

Everything is working great and even PHD has started working again.  I updated to the latest version, which seems to have corrected my problem.

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M78 Project – Done!

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M78 – Reflection Nebula in Orion

I am finally done my “winter project” of M78 in the constellation Orion. The winter weather in the Niagara Region doesn’t bode to well for astrophotographers as the clear nights are slim to none. Last night, however, I was able to squeeze in another 1.5 hours of shooting on this beautiful subject. I am satisfied with my results, and look forward to moving on to my next project, The Orion Nebula:) Thanks for looking!

72 frames
4 and 4.5 minute exposures
5 hours 30 minutes total exposure

Stacked with darks

ES ED80 Triplet Apo
ASCG-5 GT
Orion Mini Guidescope
Meade DSI II
Canon 450d unmodded
Stacked in DSS
Processed in PS CS5

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Astrophotography Processing Graphic

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How to take a picture of a Nebula or Galaxy
Basic Processing of an Astro-Photo

I created a graphic showing the basic steps needed to turn a raw stacked astrophoto into the final image. This was from data collected in July at the CCCA Observatory in Wellandport, Ontario. I wish I had framed the object better so I could have included M20, oh well, next year!

Get Started: Beginner Astrophotography Guide

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