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First astro photo ever - what did I photograph?

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#1 alberto2000

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 07:25 AM

Yesterday I went out and tried did my first astrophotography experience. My equipment is absolutely not suited (yet) but nevertheless, I just wanted to try.

 

The skies were perfectly clear and I drove 30min out of the small city where I live into a "yellow" zone according to darksitefinder.com. At around 11.30pm I got to the location that I had spotted at home using darksitefinder and google maps, a small wooden shed in the middle of nowwhere out here (north-west flatlands in Switzerland). I got the creeps first since all I could hear was animals (cows were sleeping a bit further away). Also when I arrived with the car I spotted 2 or three pairs of reflective eyes of unknown creatures, looking back at me.

 

I brought all I have which is an AT106 LE (690mm f6.7 tripled APO) on a Vixen SP (no tracking, no guiding) along with my trusty Fuji X-T10 with adapter and some eyepieces for visual.

 

Back at home I had planned on what to try to shoot. I had always been wanting to try shooting the Omega nebula which should be up in the south-east sky currently. Since I was not exactly sure if I'd get clearance towards the south I looked for a backup plan in the north sky and decided on the Andromeda galaxy.

 

As soon as I had arrived it was clear that the south sky was sadly not clear enough to find Omega. So I pivoted for Andromeda, which was well accessible.

 

I have no finder scope and neither do I have any goto system - so I used the "Sky Guide" app for iOS and my 28mm wide field eyepiece to look for Andromeda. I easily found Cassiopeia and used it as a guide to look for Andromeda.

 

After a bit of slewing back and forth and up and down I found a patch... but it appeared so small! Back home I had used Stellarium to get an impression of what to expect (having entered the details for my scope, camera sensor, etc.) and I had figured out that using my 690mm focal length scope I would get a massively magnified view on anything - Andromeda overlapping the sensor by about 150-200%. I thought, I migh be able to just shoot the core. Was that the core that I was seeing, through the 28mm eyepiece? That small patch? I searched around for a couple of more minutes but then decided to just go for it and shoot it.

 

So I set up the Fuji X-T10 for RAW, ISO 6400, 1 second shutter speed and interval shooting set to 10 pictures in series each 2 seconds apart. After each series I would readjust the RA to center the "patch".

 

I shot about 150 images, each 1s, accounting to around 2min 30sec of total exposure.

 

Attached is the result after stacking using DSS (only 50 stars were found using lowest possible threshold).

 

I doubt I really shot Andromeda - but what is it then? Can someone guess it?

 

You might consider this approach super naive. I must say, no matter what the result was, it made so much fun and I'm absolutely sure I want to continue AP. I will surely get a better mount with tracking and a guider scope. And think about using a 0.7x reducer or similar.

 

Capture.jpg

 

IMG_0066.PNG

 

bVyh0PI.png

 

kWDPM3r.jpg


Edited by alberto2000, 30 June 2020 - 07:32 AM.

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#2 OhmEye

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 07:31 AM

Yep, you have the core of Andromeda there. You need a lot more exposure/integration time though. 30x1s is not much time. 30x30s you would start to see a lot more. smile.gif 30s would be a long time without a tracker, but I bet you can do longer than 1s without trailing. It's been a long time since I've done that wide of a FoV so my brain isn't up to figuring that out this early in the day. smile.gif

 

https://nova.astrome...84491#annotated

 

Congrats though on being on target! My first time framing Andromeda without platesolving took me quite awhile!


Edited by OhmEye, 30 June 2020 - 07:41 AM.

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#3 kathyastro

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 08:23 AM

It looks like the core of M31.

 

With your 690 mm focal length, your maximum untracked exposure time without trailing would be about 0.58 seconds.  You did well with your 1 second exposures!

 

I would not suggest longer exposures, in order to avoid star trails.  Instead, take more, lots more.  It is total exposure time that matters.  At f/4, I aim for 60 minutes total.  At f/6.7, the equivalent would be 2.8 hours, or about 10,000 frames.  I am not suggesting you actually take or try to stack 10,000 frames, but it illustrates that you should take a lot more.


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#4 WarmWeatherGuy

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 08:29 AM

This animation shows what you see with a short exposure versus a long exposure.
 
Tiny_3.gif

 


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#5 mic1970

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 08:55 AM

This is how the sickness starts.  


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#6 Gipht

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 08:55 AM

That was an excellent job of finding M31.  Especially,  while being watched by critters of unknown species.  My first similar experience was in the Mountains in Arizona, where bear and cougar are occasionally seen.   Noises in the night made me jumpy too.


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#7 alberto2000

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 09:10 AM

Yep, you have the core of Andromeda there. You need a lot more exposure/integration time though. 30x1s is not much time. 30x30s you would start to see a lot more. smile.gif 30s would be a long time without a tracker, but I bet you can do longer than 1s without trailing. It's been a long time since I've done that wide of a FoV so my brain isn't up to figuring that out this early in the day. smile.gif

 

https://nova.astrome...84491#annotated

 

Congrats though on being on target! My first time framing Andromeda without platesolving took me quite awhile!

Thanks a lot! I'm glad at least the target is correct! 

 

It looks like the core of M31.

 

With your 690 mm focal length, your maximum untracked exposure time without trailing would be about 0.58 seconds.  You did well with your 1 second exposures!

 

I would not suggest longer exposures, in order to avoid star trails.  Instead, take more, lots more.  It is total exposure time that matters.  At f/4, I aim for 60 minutes total.  At f/6.7, the equivalent would be 2.8 hours, or about 10,000 frames.  I am not suggesting you actually take or try to stack 10,000 frames, but it illustrates that you should take a lot more.

Thanks! Yes I see. Next time I will take much more frames. But effectively I will be looking to start shooting with a motorized mount and guiding. I'm still quite happy with this initial experience!

 

This is how the sickness starts.  

On with it!

 

That was an excellent job of finding M31.  Especially,  while being watched by critters of unknown species.  My first similar experience was in the Mountains in Arizona, where bear and cougar are occasionally seen.   Noises in the night made me jumpy too.

Thanks - yes, being alone out there was indeed quite something and for a minute I thought of going back. But as soon as I found that patch and photographs started coming in I felt suddenly quite secure and safe :)

 

 

This animation shows what you see with a short exposure versus a long exposure.

 

Yeah well, next time :)

 

-

 

I took another go with more aggressive post processing (mostly levels and background subtraction):

 

W1Res3H.jpg

 

Now this at least looks indeed like a galaxy! :)


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#8 rajilina

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 09:37 AM

This is how the sickness starts.  

I love OP's post! There's such a sense of adventure in it and a willingness to try, try, try... and not to let equipment or lack thereof to stop one from pursuing one's interest.

 

It does indeed sound as if the sickness has started. grin.gif


Edited by rajilina, 30 June 2020 - 09:39 AM.

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#9 mic1970

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:28 AM

If I can recommend a second try.  Try the North America Nebula.  My earliest of shots was 200 five second shots from a camera tripod, and it is still one of my favorites.  Also... there is a guy in Canada that one a bunch of prizes with one second subs.... I guess he took thousands of them.


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#10 alberto2000

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:34 AM

If I can recommend a second try.  Try the North America Nebula.  My earliest of shots was 200 five second shots from a camera tripod, and it is still one of my favorites.  Also... there is a guy in Canada that one a bunch of prizes with one second subs.... I guess he took thousands of them.

Totally, skies look clear for tonight as well so I might have another shooting coming up :) will for sure take much, much more subs. Sadly not able to pull off 5 second shots since trails become quite apparent at 2 seconds already...

 

Interesting, would love to know more about that guy and his award winning 1-second sub photographs... any idea who she/he is?



#11 rajilina

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:46 AM

Totally, skies look clear for tonight as well so I might have another shooting coming up smile.gif will for sure take much, much more subs. Sadly not able to pull off 5 second shots since trails become quite apparent at 2 seconds already...

 

Interesting, would love to know more about that guy and his award winning 1-second sub photographs... any idea who she/he is?

Following this thread. I want to see your progress!


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#12 mmflytie

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 11:20 AM

explorer 1,
Congratulations on your first attempt and getting it in FOV. Most people don't realize how tough it is to photograph something you can't really see (I recently took 3 hours of images , and thought sure I had the Sombrero galaxy in FOV....missed it by a 1/4"!!).   I'm a newbie as well and had the same experience you did photographing M31.  So disappointed when all I saw was a fuzzy glowing dot.  I too thought I had missed it.  Then ( also learning Pixinsight software) after going thru post processing I realized I had indeed captured enough light to bring out the galaxy.  You'd have thought I had found buried treasure!!.  I did however take 50- 3.0 min exposures cause I have a IOPTRON  skyguider pro tracker for my camera.  I highly recommend this unit and coupled with an auto guiding scope it is very accurate.( very few start trails. at longer exposures.  And my telescope is just 360mm!!.   I wanted to show you my first image I just finished but unfortunately I can't figure out this forum as to adding images to a post.  It ask for a URL which I don't have.  I just have saved jpgs on my computer.  I did create a media gallery album and put it there but I don't know if this actually works if you click on it.
Anyway. good luck and happy hunting, you are gonna have a lot of fun with this.
 
 
Marc
 
 

 

 


Edited by mmflytie, 30 June 2020 - 01:01 PM.

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#13 deanlee

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 12:22 PM

I started to already hate you when I read

 

[The skies were perfectly clear and I drove 30min out of the small city where I live into a "yellow" zone according to darksitefinder.com.]

 

I would love to be in a "yellow zone" 

 

You can actually see Andromeda is already amazing.  


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#14 mmflytie

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 12:41 PM

okay, thanks to Chris, moderator ,    I figured it out.......

 

 

First  is a single raw image of M31 in my heavily light polluted skies with a  waning moon( single 3.0 min exposure at ISO 800 ).  Second is the integrated fully processed( lights , darks, flats, bias) image

 

 

M31 raw single.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

M31 processed and resized.jpg

 

 

 

 

Marc

 

 

p.s.  these images are cropped to roughly same size too.


Edited by mmflytie, 30 June 2020 - 01:04 PM.

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#15 APshooter

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 02:48 PM

To the OP may I suggest a simple barn door mount for next time?  Easy to make, cheap, and fun to use!  I used mine for several months when I first started, taking exposures up to a minute without trialing. 



#16 gravy11

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 03:06 PM

okay, thanks to Chris, moderator ,    I figured it out.......

 

 

First  is a single raw image of M31 in my heavily light polluted skies with a  waning moon( single 3.0 min exposure at ISO 800 ).  Second is the integrated fully processed( lights , darks, flats, bias) image

 

 

attachicon.gifM31 raw single.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

attachicon.gifM31 processed and resized.jpg

 

 

 

 

Marc

 

 

p.s.  these images are cropped to roughly same size too.

Outstanding Mon Frere! I’m just getting started out with this so Astro photography as well beyond my petty guide right now. I want to take a class maybe. I loved your story. I felt like I could retell it to my children around the fire in the middle of winter to really paint a picture.


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#17 alberto2000

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 06:12 AM

Second try!

 

Last night I took my second attempt in Astrophotography. Skies were perfectly clear again. Instead of going out into the wild, this time I decided to try shoot out of my apartment window (just to add more complexity crazy.gif  ) which faces towards SE and there should be enough clearance, so maybe this time I could try and go for the Omega nebula.

 

I live in a small city with about 150000 inhabitants and the zone is marked as red in darksitefinder.com. My apartment is directly on a street with quite a few orange-red street lights.

 

To find the Omega nebula I again used the Sky Guide App on iOS (which is fantastic btw). I used Saturn and Jupiter to draw a imaginary line to Antares and halfway that line I started using the 28mm eyepiece to freely move around the scope, looking through the eyepiece, drifting by the Trifid nebula, Messier 23 cluster until I found Omega.

 

From my first attempt at Andromeda and from the feedback from you guys I learned it's important to take much, much more shots for a longer total integration time. So this time I shot about 8 minutes in total using no focal reducer at ISO 6400 and then another round accounting to 11 minutes total with a 0.5x reducer at ISO 3200. Since I still have no tracking I had to shoot 1 second exposures. So lots of photos!! I shot dark and bias frames too for each photo series.

 

Then I used Deep Sky Stacker to stack the photos. The 400-something shots with no focal reducer took about 3 hours to stack on my laptop. The 600-something photos with the focal reducer I chose to stack using the 2x drizzle option ... I knew this was taking up to 4x more space and time but I just decided to try. It took about 10 hours of stacking. Considering my super-amateur approach I'm not sure if it was worth it though.

 

So here's the results of my second round in Astrophotography, with increased difficulty level as shot out of my city apartment:

 

220630 omega 3200 autosave
 
220630 omega 3200 1
 
220630 omega 6400 4
 
220630 omega 6400 3
 
220630 omega 6400 2

 

I feel like I'm learning so much stuff in a very compressed amount of time. Also in photo editing. I used GIMP to edit the shots, using per channel levels and curves and I feel like already after 2 times of using it I know so much more than I did before. And I'm sure that's just the beginning.

 

I'm still super excited about these first experiences and can't wait for the next clear skies...

 

Very much looking forward for the GP-DX which I'm going to buy from a fellow astronomer enthusiast not far from here. Also going to build a TeenAstro controller for it - quite a project coming up. Man this stuff takes up time!


Edited by alberto2000, 02 July 2020 - 07:07 AM.

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#18 alberto2000

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 06:21 AM

okay, thanks to Chris, moderator ,    I figured it out.......

 

 

First  is a single raw image of M31 in my heavily light polluted skies with a  waning moon( single 3.0 min exposure at ISO 800 ).  Second is the integrated fully processed( lights , darks, flats, bias) image

 

 

attachicon.gifM31 raw single.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

attachicon.gifM31 processed and resized.jpg

 

 

 

 

Marc

 

 

p.s.  these images are cropped to roughly same size too.

Marc, congratulations to these shots!! Absolutely stunning. I can't wait to be able to shoot some like these.

 

Outstanding Mon Frere! I’m just getting started out with this so Astro photography as well beyond my petty guide right now. I want to take a class maybe. I loved your story. I felt like I could retell it to my children around the fire in the middle of winter to really paint a picture.

Nice! I really like that "story to tell around the fire" aspect of astrophotography too :) 


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#19 alberto2000

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 05:03 AM

Went out yesterday for another shot at Omega... 200x 1-sec subs, ISO 6400

 

mVhIHUd.jpg

 

IvpSWLB.jpg


Edited by alberto2000, 10 July 2020 - 05:05 AM.


#20 mic1970

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 10:40 PM

Very Nice.


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