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1 hr of Omega Centauri from Greater L.A.

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#1 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 07 May 2021 - 08:27 PM

Well, technically from the I.E.  Where does L.A. end, anyway?  If it even does...

 

A few weeks ago I posted up my unaligned feasibility test run on this plus some questions.  On Cinco de Mayo I decided to give it a real try, even though seeing wasn't quite so good.

 

This was probably the most fun I've had with the telescope so far.  Not because the image is anything great, it isn't, but just because of what it took to hunt this down and have all sorts of things all come together right.

 

Because my window to the south is right behind my garage wall with no north view, I spent a night using PHD2 to drift align the new mount location, then marked everything so it could be repeated.  A neighbor two yards over was having a late pool party, so I had to rig up a tarp to block his 1.21 gigawatt patio lights.  Goto was pretty rough, but I recognized some stars I could match up with Stellarium, and just had to slew the RA a little bit.  Amazingly, I actually found a good guide star down there, and PHD2 gave me reasonable enough guiding.  I took 30 second subs at iso100 (which looked like my coffee and milk in the mornings - must have been a lot of smog over SD that night!) and stuck to that, though 45 seconds might have been okay too.

 

Once NGC5139 cleared the last tree branches, I started BYN.  Eventually it went into some other trees, of course.  But I just let it keep riding, pausing acquisition and stopping PHD2 because it was really complaining.  I couldn't tell where in the world the target was, because it was hard to sight-line the telescope and I had no luck with binoculars or even a 60mm refractor.  But believe it or not, it eventually came out the other side of the trees still in FOV, and then skimmed along just above my neighbor's roof!  This was right after transit, so a tad over 8 degrees high and some better conditions.  I started everything up again and let it go until I hit a big tree from which there would be no recovery.  In the end I was able to piece together a full hour between the two "sessions."

 

I was able to run a pretty strong deconvolution on the data, maybe too much?, and star sampling to get the colors right just didn't work well at all.  Probably because of seeing through so many atmospheres.  So I looked at some APODs and tried my best to mimic those.  It's still pretty hard to get the right balance of white, yellow, and pale blue.  Mostly I wanted to avoid it looking like a bowl of M&Ms.  There's still some junk in the background.  I could have squashed it some more, but didn't want to shrink away any little stars surrounding the glob by accident, so just left it where I was at.

 

Anyway, a good night, and I had the biggest smile on my face.  smile.gif

 

Transit is something like 11:15 right now, so a pretty good time to try and catch this if you are within range.  I'm not going to set up the big scope again, this here is good enough for me, but if I can get a clear night I might try again with a wider field camera lens and see if I can pick it up.  Then either use Sequator to handle the landscape, or take a separate foreground exposure to blend in, maybe framed between some palm fronds or something. tongue2.gif

 

123 x 30s, Evostar 100ED .8x reduced, Nikon D5300.

 

[Edit, corrected current transit time for the big ol' glob]

 

gallery_345094_16052_195155.jpg


Edited by Mike in Rancho, 07 May 2021 - 10:01 PM.

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#2 Professor2112

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Posted 07 May 2021 - 09:07 PM

This has got to be the coolest name ever given to a dso.  I’ve always wanted to image this after going after m13, but I live in the mid-northern hemisphere, so yeah... but I love seeing the images like these that let the rest of us see what we couldn’t otherwise!  Great capture!


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#3 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 07 May 2021 - 10:03 PM

This has got to be the coolest name ever given to a dso.  I’ve always wanted to image this after going after m13, but I live in the mid-northern hemisphere, so yeah... but I love seeing the images like these that let the rest of us see what we couldn’t otherwise!  Great capture!

Thanks, and the name does grab one's attention!  I figured putting NGC5139 in the title would be lame.

 

Of course, "The Great Cluster in Hercules" is pretty heady too.  lol.gif


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#4 Professor2112

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Posted 07 May 2021 - 10:22 PM

Thanks, and the name does grab one's attention!  I figured putting NGC5139 in the title would be lame.

 

Of course, "The Great Cluster in Hercules" is pretty heady too.  lol.gif

That is definitely a cool name for sure!  And it definitely makes for a great target, but omega Centauri takes the cake for sure!
 

To add to what I mentioned in the last post about omega Centauri not being visible from my location, it indeed does pop over the horizon briefly in May... so about now, but the highest it gets is 1 degree.  So yeah, it’s basically insulting looking at the altitude graph doah.gif

 

How high does it get from your location? 


Edited by Professor2112, 07 May 2021 - 10:26 PM.

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#5 StarAlert

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Posted 07 May 2021 - 10:25 PM

Nice work. I live just down the road from you, in Claremont. I didn't realize Omega Centauri was visible from around here. My neighbor to the south has trees that restrict my seeing in that direction to above 15o.  That's usually fine with me because I don't like to get down in the muck. But, I may have to have a look if I can get out to my dark site this weekend. 


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#6 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 07 May 2021 - 10:40 PM

That is definitely a cool name for sure!  And it definitely makes for a great target, but omega Centauri takes the cake for sure!
 

To add to what I mentioned in the last post about omega Centauri not being visible from my location, it indeed does pop over the horizon briefly in May... so about now, but the highest it gets is 1 degree.  So yeah, it’s basically insulting looking at the altitude graph doah.gif

 

How high does it get from your location? 

Not quite 8.5 (trying to figure out the "minutes" in Stellarium).  My first sub was when it was a tad short of 6.5, and the last one 7-something when it was on the way down again.  I think the exact transit high point was behind a tree, so that was a gap in my imaging.

 

It sort of fools you, 6-8 degrees is higher than you would think when just looking out at the sky.  But yeah, 1 degree is quite rude of them.

 

But maybe diffraction would curve it up for you a bit?

 

 

Nice work. I live just down the road from you, in Claremont. I didn't realize Omega Centauri was visible from around here. My neighbor to the south has trees that restrict my seeing in that direction to above 15o.  That's usually fine with me because I don't like to get down in the muck. But, I may have to have a look if I can get out to my dark site this weekend. 

 

Thanks.  Yeah I've got a fair bit of that as well (though probably nothing like Claremont with some of the big forested yards they can have over there) - trees, roofs, chimneys, satellite dishes, and electric wires and poles.  I had to walk around the yard to find some southern gaps and as luck would have it I did, though the fact Om Cent skipped above the roof just to my south was an unexpected bonus.  However, I did have to put the HEQ5 tripod on full extension.

 

I'm just glad I didn't have to drag the rig up on top of my patio cover!  (probably would have had the Sheriff knocking on my door).
 



#7 Juno18

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 10:16 AM

Bravo! Very nice Mike!

 

Its’s amazing to me that you can image anything at 8 degrees of altitude! If I could see down to 8 degrees, I still probably wouldn’t have tried it.

 

You are right, 8 degrees is higher than you would think, bit only if you have a good view of the horizon!

 

Great catch in the “muck”! Congratulations on capturing a very tough target for such a short integration!


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#8 alphatripleplus

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 10:28 AM

Very nice. I was on Centaurus A last night, at 13 degrees altitude from my location on the meridian, but decided to take a pass on Omega Centauri at only 9 degrees altitude.


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#9 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 01:22 PM

Very nice. I was on Centaurus A last night, at 13 degrees altitude from my location on the meridian, but decided to take a pass on Omega Centauri at only 9 degrees altitude.

Thanks.  I keep noticing that label for Centaurus A in Stellarium but never checked it out.  Pretty cool looking galaxy!

 

 

Bravo! Very nice Mike!

 

Its’s amazing to me that you can image anything at 8 degrees of altitude! If I could see down to 8 degrees, I still probably wouldn’t have tried it.

 

You are right, 8 degrees is higher than you would think, bit only if you have a good view of the horizon!

 

Great catch in the “muck”! Congratulations on capturing a very tough target for such a short integration!

Thanks.  I'm not way up the hill or anything, but the ground slopes away from me towards the south, which probably helps some with trees and roofs.  The next mountain range down there (a shorter one at that, maybe 5.7K ft max) is quite a few miles away.  I'm much closer to the San Gabriels to my north, at 9K feet and which block me up to about 12 degrees alt.  That's a pretty good wall!

 

It was for sure a dirtier seeing night than I was hoping for, but still cool that something could be pulled out of it.  Nowhere near the full extent of that monster glob, but...hey it still looks like a glob!

 

This was the first usable sub, as taken.  They get slightly better after this, but still...yuck!  shocked.gif

 

Om Cent Sub1.jpg

 

And here's a shot during one of the foliage intermissions.  lol.gif   I flipped it right-side-up, gave it a little stretch to brighten it, neutralized the color balance, and ran some sharpening in Gimp.

 

Om Cent-Trees2b.jpg


Edited by Mike in Rancho, 08 May 2021 - 01:23 PM.


#10 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 02:17 PM

LOL... foliage intermission.

 

Even if I found my way to an open field, omega centauri doesn't even get to 3° above the horizon here.


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#11 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 04:53 PM

LOL... foliage intermission.

 

Even if I found my way to an open field, omega centauri doesn't even get to 3° above the horizon here.

3 degrees might be too tough a haul what with so many atmospheres plus any horizon glow.

 

Guess it depends on that field of yours.  Is it a designated dark skies field?  Still, in my upright picture above, the lowest star along the bottom is at 6 degrees, and that's still over my neighbor's roof.  The mount tripod was at full height, but the foliage photo is right at transit, so the scope is actually fully flopped down and even with the c/w on the other side.

 

One thing I've done a few times on a clear night where I don't feel like imaging, or perhaps it's too windy, is to take the camera and static tripod out into the yard (or, field is good too) and take some 5 to 10 second exposures in all directions from various spots.  Then I can match the stars up with Stellarium set to the same time as the image to find out what my seeing ranges are.



#12 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 05:39 PM

My normal imaging spot (i.e. the end of my driveway) is pretty sky-limited. The best views I have are to the north and west. Unfortunately, that's also where the Philadelphia light dome is. South, I barely have any sky at all. East I have practically none. There actually are open fields within a 30 minute drive. In fact, one of the local astronomy clubs has their events at just such a location. Unfortunately, it's a State Park, and it has yet to re-open thanks to the ongoing pandemic. When it finally does reopen, I will probably spend a few nights there as it is a B4 zone. If I want a true dark sky site... well, that's about a 5 hour drive.

 

At some point I'm going to take my Lumix G9 and tripod to the end of my driveway to photograph the skies and create the panorama for Stellarium. Will be interesting to see exactly how little of the sky I can truly image from my "backyard observatory" smile.gif.


Edited by jonnybravo0311, 08 May 2021 - 05:39 PM.

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#13 alphatripleplus

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 05:59 PM

Very nice. I was on Centaurus A last night, at 13 degrees altitude from my location on the meridian, but decided to take a pass on Omega Centauri at only 9 degrees altitude.

Seeing your success here, I'll try Omega Centauri next time I have a chance though.


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#14 alphatripleplus

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:01 PM

Seeing your success here, I'll try Omega Centauri next time I have a chance though.

You inspired me to try an EAA capture tonight. I managed to get this one at just over 5 degrees altitude earlier this evening.


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#15 ChiTownXring

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:42 PM

I have to give you props for staying with it during the foliage intermission as I am lucky to be able to see to the N, E, S and SW with no obstructions..


Edited by ChiTownXring, 09 May 2021 - 01:39 AM.

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#16 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:44 PM

My normal imaging spot (i.e. the end of my driveway) is pretty sky-limited. The best views I have are to the north and west. Unfortunately, that's also where the Philadelphia light dome is. South, I barely have any sky at all. East I have practically none. There actually are open fields within a 30 minute drive. In fact, one of the local astronomy clubs has their events at just such a location. Unfortunately, it's a State Park, and it has yet to re-open thanks to the ongoing pandemic. When it finally does reopen, I will probably spend a few nights there as it is a B4 zone. If I want a true dark sky site... well, that's about a 5 hour drive.

 

At some point I'm going to take my Lumix G9 and tripod to the end of my driveway to photograph the skies and create the panorama for Stellarium. Will be interesting to see exactly how little of the sky I can truly image from my "backyard observatory" smile.gif.

I have considered doing the same, and even looked up the procedure.  But man, the way that Stellarium normally displays things I think it would be depressing.  It would be pretty much just my wall taking up most of the screen on one side, a fence on the other, trees to the rear, and oh...mountains to the front.  lol.gif

 

But really it's not a bad imaging spot - I chose it after all.  It give me a good north-south rectangular opening, with the width allowing at least a couple hours or more on either side of the meridian.  My wall, roof, and fences are kind of blocking out LP-impacted areas anyway.  So, most stuff just sort of rotates right through my little rectangle, except specialty items like Omega Centauri of course.  And even better, if the altitude allows it in respect to the tripod, I often don't even have to flip and can just keep tracking through the other side all the way.

 

That'd be great if you can get to a dark site.  I'm not sure I'm up for hauling out myself, and I'm only set up for AC anyway.  Unless I could bring my little Yamaha inverter generator, that is..

 

 

Seeing your success here, I'll try Omega Centauri next time I have a chance though.

Awesome.  I bet you'll catch a lot of it, especially if you have good skies.  I assume you normally post in the expert forum?  Would like to see that and the Centaurus A.  In my earlier thread, James7ca gave a link to an Omega Centauri he did from a dark site near SD, and it was pretty impressive.

 

Which I looked up more as well.  What a wild-looking object.  I don't suppose you have radio, microwave, and x-ray in your filter wheel? tongue2.gif

 

It looks like that galaxy gets up to 12 deg 50' for me.  I'd still have to deal with some palm fronds but it might mostly clear the trees and provide a much longer track.  Of course I have plenty of galaxies up here to practice on as it is.  Oddly, according to Stellarium the magnitude and surface brightness, taking extinction into consideration, are comparable to the M106 we are working on right now.  Doesn't take LP glow into consideration though I bet...

 

 

You inspired me to try an EAA capture tonight. I managed to get this one at just over 5 degrees altitude earlier this evening.

5 degrees!  Even lower than my starting point, which I think was 6 deg 20'.  Good globular look to it also, and seems really magnified.  waytogo.gif

 

A bit on the grayscale side though. confused1.gif  Of course I don't know anything about EAA.

 

EDIT:  I found your Centaurus A in that same EAA images thread.  Nice!


Edited by Mike in Rancho, 09 May 2021 - 12:58 AM.

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#17 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:49 PM

I have to give you props for keep with it during the foliage intermission as I am lucky to be able to see to the N, E, S and SW with no obstructions..

Mostly I stopped the shutter once I realized it was in the trees.  But I'd have to check every now and then and take a shot.  And of course PHD2 had to be stopped because it was yelling at me and making wrong movements.

 

Interestingly, because of the nearer-field obstructions, the imaging telescope, guide scope, and RACI were all looking at slightly different things with different timing.  As fortune had it (not planned!) I picked a guide star that was leading Omega Centauri, and so I could get PHD2 going again first, then take individual test shots with Backyard Nikon until the imaging camera was clear again also.

 

Totally silly...but it really was a great deal of fun.



#18 alphatripleplus

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 07:06 AM

 

 

 

5 degrees!  Even lower than my starting point, which I think was 6 deg 20'.  Good globular look to it also, and seems really magnified.  waytogo.gif

 

A bit on the grayscale side though. confused1.gif  Of course I don't know anything about EAA.

 

EDIT:  I found your Centaurus A in that same EAA images thread.  Nice!

Yep,  I got lucky that I hit it before it went behind a roof. All my EAA shots are just in mono - can be kind of boring. Maybe I'll go back to a one shot colour camera sometime.smile.gif


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#19 Professor2112

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 11:46 AM

I think those captures are very nice!  I think some of my best captures have been straight mono images especially with an Ha filter. Here’s NGC7000 with the rasa 8/2600mm when it was just high enough to image above some trees and powerlines across the street in a bortle 8 sky with about 1.6hrs integration.  It was a last min. target and ended up being the star of the show that night.  https://astrob.in/mgwyzt/0/


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