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A moonlit night with an IIE, and AviStack

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#1 KJL

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 10:12 PM

I was in the Bay Area (Palo Alto) last week and despite a real lantern of a Moon I was able to really show my parents the night sky over the course of my visit. I only had my tiny (but cute!) Stellarvue SV50A 50mm f/6.6 doublet APO with me, but together with a Gen III thin-film IIE, a 25mm f/1.3 Computar (~1:1) lens, and a couple choice EPs, it was more than sufficient to show the popular targets. Reading off SkySafari Pro's brief but rather lovely descriptions of the California and Omega nebulas as they gazed at them; showing off M13 first as a blob in a 20mm XW and even a 3mm SV Planetary, then "blown apart" by the IIE; showing them their first dim but real view of a galaxy, Andromeda -- it was pure magic. They started the week wondering how I could have absorbed "all this information" (they didn't say "useless", lol) and ended up truly understanding that an interest in astronomy begins when you understand a little of the science behind the dim objects.

After they retired for the evening, I kept on staring at the dim blob that was M31 and out of simple curiosity tried holding up my iPhone 5 to the IIE and taking a video. When I got back home to Boston I realized there was no reason I shouldn't finally try my hand at AVI stacking. After wrestling a couple hours trying to get the iPhone's XVID-encoded (I think) .MOV files converted to a format that AviStack could digest, I tried a couple nearly completely-automated stackings. I only intervened at the frame alignment point, and to apply Registax wavelet post-processing. It was my first time with Registax as well!

The first photo below is the result of a 3-second burst of roughly 50 frames; the second is about 11 seconds long with about 130 frames. The reduction in noise in the longer exposure was a nice surprise, along with the detail: though the actual view through the IIE has much more speckles the overall resolution is similar to the second picture thanks to their brief and random nature.

(Right-click and choose "View Image" to show a bigger version of the photos.)

I was very pleased at just how easy the whole process was, and that I could do all this with just an iPhone hand-held up to the IIE's eyepiece. RIP, Steve Jobs.

I'm sure everyone here is already a pro at all this, but if anyone still wants to know what programs I used and the ridiculously simple steps I took in AviStack itself, just pipe up!

Thanks to cnoct and jdbastro for their significant help and continuous encouragement with getting me up to speed with my own IIE. Living in a white zone and with room only for small scopes, I'm eternally grateful that I got into image intensified eyepieces early!

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#2 KJL

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 10:12 PM

This is the second, 11-second, stack:

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#3 KJL

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 10:29 PM

Looking at the processed pictures now, I think I got a bit too wavelet-happy with Registax. In the originals M32 is more obviously fuzzy and M110 has also a touch more cloudiness (not that you can see it all that well anyway with the nearly-full Moon almost right next to it).

Well, there's always next time.

#4 jdbastro

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 12:36 AM

Nice attempts. Can you try this technique on a brighter H-alpha target at some point (e.g. M17, Lagoon) using an H-alpha filter?

#5 cnoct

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 01:25 AM

KJL,

It's great to see you getting some time with your image intensifier. I don't think you'll ever tire of using these little wonders of physics.

Steady hands you've got there, pretty neat images considering how and with what they were being taken :bow:

The addition of an iPhone adapter, such as this , could really complement your compact setup. If you get a chance, some iPhone videos through your setup would be cool.

Here's a really neat iPhone/Micro Monocular video of NGC 891






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