M57 - the Ring

Taken on 26.4.10, using a 10" Vixen reflector and M25C camera. Not as good as it should be so I'll be looking for this again. The individual frames were overexposed, can hardly say that about astronomical targets, but I'll try this one with 60sec instead of 300sec frames. The middle of the ring was too bright in comparison with the rest of it and took lots of work to balance, but I suppose I'll have a similar problem with shorter exposures, but it should be easier, we'll see. I'll try to focus more carefully too.
Processed as usual in AA4 and CS2, with help from Noel's Actions and GradX.


This was taken on the 8th of April on a hazy night, as part of a series of tests with the new Vixen VMC260L and 900GTO mount. The telescope has a focal length of 3000mm and I added a .5 focal reducer to bring it down to 1500mm. Acquisition and pre-processing, average stacking, were done in AstroArt and final processing was in Photoshop CS2. The exposure was 45x60sec and unguided. The camera used was an SX M25C with an IDAS LPS filter. Very heavy with noise, which more time would help solve, but that wasn't the purpose of the tests.

A crater on the Moon, but which?

Taken on the 23rd of April from Austerfield, with an old Philips 740 webcam and a Vixen VMC260L, 3000mm EFL. There were no clouds but so much haze that the Moon had difficulty getting through. As for stars, I could only see Arcturus. The sky was also like jelly, but nonetheless I had to try, rather than waste a 10 mile drive. 600 frames taken and processed in Registax, with a bit of work in Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro.
So which crater is it? I think it's Copernicus, but I may be wrong.

M66 in Leo

Not sure when but it was taken by Kevin Read using the Trifid on the 14" Meade. There was not enough colour data to make up a full colour photograph so this is an averaged stack of 7x30sec Luminance frames, stacked in AstroArt4 and processed in Photoshop CS2 with levels and curves and a touch of high pass sharpening and some unsharp masking. Gradient Xterminator was used to even out the background gradients and Noel's Actions were also used to enhance the galaxy and to smooth the background.

Looking West from WYAS - 16/04/2010

The 56hr old Moon, Venus and the Pleiades (upper left of the Moon) all in a line. Mercury would have completed the line-up but I think it was hidden behind the cloud low down, I didn't see it at all on this particular evening.
Taken using a Canon EOS 550d and EF 50mm f1.8 lens, 5sec exposure at f4, ISO100.

The Moon - 56hrs old

The 56 hour-old Crescent Moon as seen from WYAS on the 16th of April. The image was taken using a Canon EOS 550d attached to the Televue 102 in the dome.

As the sky got darker I was able to capture the Earthshine using the same equipment but a longer exposure.

NGC 6543 - Cat's Eye nebula - 100417

A planetary of some 3arcsec dia. So quite small, but they almost all are. This is another unguided test picture, taken from Austerfield, using the Vixen VMC260L and an H9C camera, without filters. The exposure was 40x60sec, and it was acquired in AstroArt4 and processed there and in Photoshop CS2.

NGC 2903 - The one that got away?

This brightish galaxy is not included in the Messier catalogue for some reason, which is strange considering some of Messier's comets apparently passed close to it. I decided to photograph this object after reading an article on it in the April 2010 BAA journal, it can be found 1.5 deg due south of lamda Leonis. Discovered by William Herschel in 1784, it's a barred spiral Galaxy lying at a distance of around 25million light years and shows many similarities to our own Milky Way.
The image, taken on 14th April 2010, is a stack of 21 30-sec exposures at ISO 1600, no dark frames or flats were included in the stack which compromises the result somewhat. The sky was heavily light polluted, possibly due to the volcanic dust cloud from Iceland, most likely it was just the usual high-pressure smog! Canon EOS550d, Skywatcher 200p, DeepSkyStacker and the GIMP.

the Moon - but you knew that.

This was taken on the 23rd of March through a 14" Meade, afocally, with my little Samsung M110 point-and-shoot-camera, by putting the lens up to the eyepiece of the telescope.

NGC 2392 - the Eskimo nebula - 100408

This is a small planetary nebula in Gemini, sometimes called the Clown nebula. Not as good as the CFHT one, at least I think it was theirs, you know the one, but not bad for 45x60sec unguided frames on a hazy night. It was taken using a Vixen VMC260L with an Antares .5 focal reducer. This reduces the focal length to 1500mm. The camera was an SX M25C. Stacked and pre-processed in AstroArt4 and finalised in Photoshop CS2.
There aren't many objects up there with green in them but some planetaries are so endowed, due to the oxygen in their gas clouds caused to fluoresce by the ultraviolet light from the white dwarf in the middle

Mercury and Venus - 7th April 2010

Mercury is currently having its best apparition of the year and can be easily found lurking next to the much brighter Venus in the early evening twilight. This picture was taken using a Canon 550d and 300mm telephoto lens, 1.6second exposure at f8, ISO400. I even managed to get a TV aerial in the shot just for Brian :)

M3 - Again.....

Here's another picture of M3 to compare with Brian's below. I took this because I didn't want to stay up and wait for M13 to swing into view! It's still a fine example of a Globular Cluster though. Seven 30second exposures, taken using a Canon EOS550d (ISO1600) and my 8" Skywatcher, stacked with DeepSkyStacker and tweaked using the GIMP. 7th April 2010.

A second version of M3, reprocessed another way. Better? Worse? Very much in the eye of the beholder.

M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy (7th April 2010)

This image is a combination of ten 30second exposures stacked using DeepSkyStacker and edited with the GIMP. Taken using a Canon EOS550d DSLR and Skywatcher 200p Newtonian on a driven, but unguided, EQ5 mount. I took over 20 shots but a lot had to be discarded due to star trails and passing clouds. ISO 1600 was used, as the sensor in this new camera is much better than my old one.
An alternative method of processing the same frames. As always, it's in the eye of the beholder.

M3 - 100322

Taken with a William FLT98 and SX M25C on an AP 900GTPO mount. Guided by an H9C in a Vixen VMC260L. This is the first guided try with the AP mount and all seems to be working well. The exposure was 7x120sec, which isn't much but the night wasn't good enough to be worth more between clouds. Pre-processed and averaged in AstroArt4 and finally in Photoshop CS2.