IC 1805 the Heart Nebula in Hubble Palette SHO

Meet IC 1805, the Heart Nebula. 

This is an image I’ve been working on for a while in the Fall here. Mostly due to weather not cooperating. 

 I was able to gather 21 hours of data (Hubble palette, Ha, OIII and SII narrowband) over a few clear nights in October 2019.  I processed this image, what had to be 14 times, over the course of a week or so… probably being my own worst critic! Was never entirely happy with it for some reason.

The Heart Nebula, also known as IC 1805 and Sharpless 2-190, lies some 7500 light years away from Earth and is located in the Perseus Arm of the Galaxy in the constellation Cassiopeia. It was discovered by William Herschel on 3 November 1787.

Imaged with:
Skywatcher Esprit 100 Triplet F5.5
Moravian 16200EC CCD camera
Optolong filters (Ha, OIII, SII)
Skywatcher EQ6 mount / Skyshed Pier
Bortle 7/8 sky
Processed in Pixinsight
Imaged from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

 

My astro gear:

Skywatcher Esprit 100 F5.5 Triplet refractor telescope http://bit.ly/36w1F7Y

Moravian G3 16200EC CCD w/ 5 position FW http://bit.ly/2PL0qvK

William Optics Zenithstar APO refractor telescope http://bit.ly/2JRM1tR

QHY168C 16mp cooled cmos camera http://bit.ly/2NkkKTb

Optolong L-R-G-B 2″ filters http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Optolong L-eNhance filter http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Optolong L-pro filter http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Triad Quadband Ultra Filter http://bit.ly/2CbQXWh

Skywatcher EQ mount http://bit.ly/2C9lap1

Skywatcher Star Adventurer http://bit.ly/2C9Fwyi

Pegasus Astro Focus Cube http://bit.ly/2qonGow

 

Orion Starshoot Autoguider http://bit.ly/34z6pbh

NGC 281 Pacman Nebula in Hubble Palette SHO

NGC 281 pacman nebula SHO

Meet NGC 281, also known as the Pacman Nebula. Can you spot the pacman? NGC 281 is a bright emission nebula and part of an H II region in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia which is rising in the NE during Fall months and high overhead in the Winter. Cassiopeia is part of the Milky Way’s Perseus Spiral Arm. NGC 281 contains several Bok globules which are very cool.

This is 23 hours of data taken over several nights in Sept/Oct. It is a false colour image, using the Hubble Palette which consists of H-alpha, Oxygen III and Sulphur II emission lines.

This was imaged from the backyard using the following equipment:

Esprit 100 Triplet refractor F5.5
Moravian 16200EC CCD camera
Optolong narrowband filters (Ha, O3 and S2)
Skywatcher EQ6 mount on a Skyshed Pier
Processed in Pixinsight
Imaged from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

 

My astro gear:

Skywatcher Esprit 100 F5.5 Triplet refractor telescope http://bit.ly/36w1F7Y

Moravian G3 16200EC CCD w/ 5 position FW http://bit.ly/2PL0qvK

William Optics Zenithstar APO refractor telescope http://bit.ly/2JRM1tR

QHY168C 16mp cooled cmos camera http://bit.ly/2NkkKTb

Optolong L-R-G-B 2″ filters http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Optolong L-eNhance filter http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Optolong L-pro filter http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Triad Quadband Ultra Filter http://bit.ly/2CbQXWh

Skywatcher EQ mount http://bit.ly/2C9lap1

Skywatcher Star Adventurer http://bit.ly/2C9Fwyi

Pegasus Astro Focus Cube http://bit.ly/2qonGow

 

Orion Starshoot Autoguider http://bit.ly/34z6pbh

NGC 7822 Nebula in Hubble Palette SHO

Meet NGC 7822. This is 29 hours of data I collected over 6 clear nights. This is a Hubble palette image (false colour).

NGC 7822 is a young, star-forming region in the constellation of Cepheus It lies about 3000 light years away above our galaxy. Inside this region is a supernova remnant – which indicates that a massive star in it has already exploded. It also contains one of the hottest stars discovered near our Sun. This star has a surface temperature of 45000 Kelvin while the surface temperature of our Sun is just 5778 Kelvin. Not only is the star super hot, it’s luminosity is about 100,000 times that of our Sun!

You can see pillars of cold molecular gas and clouds of dark dust that lie within NGC 7822. Powering the nebular glow are the young, hot stars of the Berkeley 59 cluster, whose powerful winds and radiation also sculpt and erode the dense pillar shapes.

This was imaged from the backyard using the following equipment:

Esprit 100 Triplet refractor F5.5
Moravian 16200EC CCD camera
Optolong narrowband filters (Ha, O3 and S2)
Skywatcher EQ6 mount on a Skyshed Pier
Processed in Pixinsight

My astro gear:

Skywatcher Esprit 100 F5.5 Triplet refractor telescope http://bit.ly/36w1F7Y

Moravian G3 16200EC CCD w/ 5 position FW http://bit.ly/2PL0qvK

William Optics Zenithstar APO refractor telescope http://bit.ly/2JRM1tR

QHY168C 16mp cooled cmos camera http://bit.ly/2NkkKTb

Optolong L-R-G-B 2″ filters http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Optolong L-eNhance filter http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Optolong L-pro filter http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Triad Quadband Ultra Filter http://bit.ly/2CbQXWh

Skywatcher EQ mount http://bit.ly/2C9lap1

Skywatcher Star Adventurer http://bit.ly/2C9Fwyi

Pegasus Astro Focus Cube http://bit.ly/2qonGow

Orion Starshoot Autoguider http://bit.ly/34z6pbh

I went to the Starfest 2019 star party!

Starfest 2019

I went to Starfest 2019 which is an annual star party held in Ayton, Ontario during the month of August. It’s considered a top ten star party with hundreds of amateur astronomers and astrophotographers turning out.

There was a variety of observing oriented activities, including solar viewing and guided night sky tours. Also numerous presentations by guest speakers, as well as workshops and commercial exhibits with vendors on-site. 

The weather this year turned out fabulous for Starfest 2019. Sunny days and clear nights. You couldn’t have asked for better! 

This year’s theme was “Roving Our Neighbourhood” in celebration of lunar and Mars rovers and landers that have paved the way into the future of space and planetary exploration. There was even a Mars Rover there to see up close.

Watch my video below where I take you on a little trip to Starfest and give you a tour of some of the happenings and attractions…

Optolong L-eNhance Filter for Astrophotography

Optolong L-eNhance filterThe Optolong L-eNhance filter is fast becoming the talk of the astro town. It’s affordable for even the tightest astro budgets but also delivers exceptional performance for imaging emission nebula and super nova remnant from light polluted cities.

What is this filter though and how does it work? Why do you need it?

If you’re part of the growing number of astrophotographers that are imaging from their own astro backyard, then you’ll be dealing with city street lights and neighbour outdoor lights in addition to cloudy nights! So for those few clear nights we get, we want to make the most of it and the Optolong L-eNhance filter can help tremendously.

Veil super nova remnant captured by Ron Brecher using an Optolong L-eNhance filter
Veil super nova remnant captured by Ron Brecher (astrodoc.ca) using an Optolong L-eNhance filter

The Optolong L-eNhance filter is designed for use with one shot colour cameras (OSC) , such as a DSLR or cooled cmos camera dedicated for astrophotography. As example, I use a QHY168C.

This filter acts like an FM radio, tuning in specific channels. In this case specific light channels. It isolates the H-alpha, H-beta and OIII light transmission line while blocking the rest making it ideal for imaging with in light polluted areas.

optolong l-enhance filter light transmission curve graph
This graph shows the light transmission lines the Optlong L-eNhance fitler isolates.

Transmission lines the filter allows through:

  • H-alpha: 656nm
  • H-beta: 486.1nm
  • OIII: 501nm

By isolating these wavelengths of light, the filter can achieve some stunning results when imaging emission nebula and super nova remnants. It can also be used during nights of moonlight to image. There’s many great images of deep sky objects taken by astrophotographers using this filter during clear nights that the Moon was up. That’s definitely a bonus. Did I also mention it’s a very affordable!

If you’d like to know more about the Optlong L-eNhance filter, watch my video below. In it I talk with Dr. Ron Brecher (AstroDoc.ca) about this filter and look at what his results have been with it. 

 

Deepsky astrophotography with and without a narrowband filter

City lights, neighbours outside lights, limited number of clear nights and astrophotography from your backyard, all mean having to battle not only light pollution but time and opportunity to engage in our hobby. So if there’s technology that can make things a little easier than why not give it a try!

Narrowband and light pollution suppression (LPS) filters are the goto for many astronomy enthusiasts be it visual or imagers. With light pollution increasing each year and our inability to escape it for one reason or another means we have to adapt and utilize things like special filters.

What is the difference though between not using one of these filters and using one? That’s what I wanted to visualize so I did an experiment. It invlovled imaging the same deepsky object twice, using the same telescope and camera, for the same amount of time. But one image uses no narrowband/light pollution filter while the other one does. The difference is quite stunning!

No filter! 4.5 hours data taken without a narrowband filter.
4.5 hours IC1396 using Triad Quadband Ultra filter
With narrowband filter. 4.5 hours of data taken through the same telescope and camera, using a narrowband filter.

QHY168C-cameraI must also say I’ve been really impressed with the QHY 168C cooled cmos camera. It’s been nothing but a joy to work with and seems to be very sensitive for capturing faint detail while providing low read noise. The 16 megapixel design with 4.8 micron pixels is a perfect match for a wide variety of telescopes and lenses. Making for a very versatile and affordable astro imaging camera. You can learn more about the QHY168C here at the OPT website.

A new city light pollution filter! Triad Quadband Ultra Filter.

The Triad Quadband Ultra Filter from OPT is both amazing and fun to use.

For many amateur astronomers and astrophotographers, light pollution makes things difficult and in some cases impossible when it comes to imaging the night sky. All is not lost though. 

For those astrophotographers using a one-shot-colour (OSC) DSLR or cooled cmos camera to image with, the new Triad Quadband Ultra Filter from OPTcorp.com is a must have.

This extraordinary filter not only cuts through light pollution but it also tunes in four specific wavelengths of light allowing you to capture H-beta, H-alpha, Oxygen III and Sulphur II all at the same time. If you’ve used monochrome cmos or CCD cameras with a filter wheel, you’ll know you have to have a separate filter to capture each light channel. So the Triad Quadband Ultra Filter is quite revolutionary and opens up a new world of astrophotography for those using OSC cameras.

I had the opportunity to test this filter and found it to be amazingly effective and a lot of fun!

Due to weather conditions I haven’t had many opportunities to image with the Triad Quadband Ultra Filter, but the few times I did, I was focused on the Elephant Trunk nebula (IC 1396). This is a good test target for the filter, given it’s low in Bortle 8 light pollution from my location starting just after dark and slowly rises over the coarse of the night.

50min-IC1396-triad_quadband_ultra-filter
50 min of data captured using the Triad Quadband Ultra Filter from OPT.

Since this filter blocks out a lot of light pollution, it easily captured some great details with even a small amount of data acquisition such as just 50min. 

I am using a QHY 168C cooled cmos camera (16mp, APS-C sensor) and a William Optics Zenithstar 71mm ED refractor operating at F4.7. The Triad Quadband Ultra Filter is a 2″ mounted design that threads on in front of the camera, in my case onto the field flattener/reducer. 

As you can see in this graphic the Triad Quadband Ultra Filter acts like an FM radio, tuning in specific channels. In this case wavelengths of light! Due to this, the filter is very capable of blocking out light pollution that can interfere and ruin your images when doing astrophotography from the city.

50min-IC1396-triad_quadband_ultra-filter transmission line graph

While the weather hasn’t been very cooperative I did manage to get more data on IC 1396 and collected 4.5 hours in total so far. I did the calibration and alignment of these light frames in Pixinsight. I then did some quick processing of the unstretched stacked image using Pixinsight again. The result of this 4.5 hours of data taken with the Triad Quadband Ultra Filter was jaw dropping! Considering the level of light pollution I contend with from the city and using a OSC camera for this test (the bayer matrix divides the colour channels making it not as sensitive as a monochrome camera would be) I was completely blown away by the image. I’ve had to image much longer than this using other equipment to obtain this level of detail and faint nebulosity. 

4.5 hours IC1396 using Triad Quadband Ultra filter
4.5 hours of data taken using the Triad Quadband Ultra filter in mostly bortle 8 sky light pollution and using a OSC camera.

QHY168C-cameraI must also say I’ve been really impressed with the QHY 168C cooled cmos camera. It’s been nothing but a joy to work with and seems to be very sensitive for capturing faint detail while providing low read noise. The 16 megapixel design with 4.8 micron pixels is a perfect match for a wide variety of telescopes and lenses. Making for a very versatile and affordable astro imaging camera. You can learn more about  the QHY168C here at the OPT website.

14 hours of data taken with the QHY168c, Triad Ultra Quadband Filter and a William Optics Zenithstar 71 ED refractor.

Watch my Youtube video below to see my update as to what I’ve been doing and talk about my imaging tests with this filter. If you’re doing city astrophotography, imaging from your backyard, and have a one shot colour like a DSLR camera or cooled cmos camera, then this filter is for you. So far I’m super impressed and I think you will be too!

My astro gear:

Skywatcher Esprit 100 F5.5 Triplet refractor telescope http://bit.ly/36w1F7Y

Moravian G3 16200EC CCD w/ 5 position FW http://bit.ly/2PL0qvK

William Optics Zenithstar APO refractor telescope http://bit.ly/2JRM1tR

QHY168C 16mp cooled cmos camera http://bit.ly/2NkkKTb

Optolong L-R-G-B 2″ filters http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Optolong L-eNhance filter http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Optolong L-pro filter http://bit.ly/32a9Gfu

Triad Quadband Ultra Filter http://bit.ly/2CbQXWh

Skywatcher EQ mount http://bit.ly/2C9lap1

Skywatcher Star Adventurer http://bit.ly/2C9Fwyi

Pegasus Astro Focus Cube http://bit.ly/2qonGow

Orion Starshoot Autoguider http://bit.ly/34z6pbh