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M57, because I had to

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#1 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 03:43 AM

[TL;DR: took a pic of the first DSO I ever saw visually through an eyepiece / M57 is small, bright, and tricky]

 

Round about 15 years ago, armed with my Meade 90/800, its motorized alt-az, and the Audubon Field Guide to the Night Sky, I painfully star-hopped my way to M57 and...eventually...managed to see a faint fuzzy ring in the eyepiece using averted vision.  My first DSO ever!  smile.gif

 

I had tried M31 previously but failed, or thought I did.  But the Ring taught me that when I see a blurry spot that looks out of focus, even though I am in focus, that means I've found the DSO.  I then tried a couple galaxies and maybe a glob.  Yep, out of focus fuzz.  I was not impressed, and went back to planets and the moon for visual.  The equipment was limiting, of course, but come on already.  I did, however, make a number of attempts to attach a little point and shoot Panasonic to the scope with rubber bands, chewing gum, and what looked like old Erector Set parts, in order to photograph the Ring.  Pretty much failed, but the intrigue was there to actually use a camera to see something for real.

 

So a couple nights ago, with about a year of "real" AP now under my belt, on a whim I decided take a crack at M57 once more.  I really should have been getting some more Tulip data, but I've become bored with that, and it also reminded me that Vega would be going away soon.

 

So after setting up the rig I went inside to take my usual 10 second high ISO test shot to nudge my framing.  It's usually close.  The image came in and OMG -- a tiny little red and blue ring dead center!  I was giddy to see that, after so many years, and not just fuzzy nothingness.  Also great, no framing adjustments needed.  Granted, a GOTO from my alignment star, Vega, to M57 is not a very heavy haul.

 

I let it rip and got about 2 and a half hours, though 3 had been the plan.  Guiding was inconsistent, sometimes pretty good, other times completely out of whack with either DEC drift or bad RA oscillation.  Durn.  This has actually been on the increase for the past month or so.  In the end, I had 22 mostly usable subs, so 2 hours and 12 minutes.

 

After taking darks I broke the rig down and had a little revelation.  Seems that the big shaft/bolt up the bottom of the tripod that holds the mount head secure can work its way loose over time.  D'oh!  Well, I have a feeling that explains a few things.  doah.gif

 

Processing turned out to be a real bear, as I did not realize this was a bit of a tricky object.  Oops again.  So of course, stretching turns the Ring into a million candlepower white donut right in the middle of a black screen.  Ugh.  It took some crafty stretching, reallocation of dynamic range, and the use of HDR techniques in two different modules in order to pull it off.  That, plus a 2x drizzle of a cropped subsection of the stack beforehand.  The stars are kind of mush but, oh well.

 

And I didn't get the central white dwarf either.  frown.gif  Even if it's more legitimately a 15.8 than whatever it's usually reported as, I know I've picked up 16.x stars in this configuration before in a couple hours integration.  But, I don't think it's there, other than maybe a couple slightly brighter pixels near the center.  More likely it's just noise.  Maybe next time.

 

I'm also not certain the L'eNhance was the best choice.  I figured hey, it's kind of red and blue, right?  lol.gif  But I also had a pretty bright half moon shining on me, so it is what it is.

 

Most importantly...and even if it's kind of lame, I finally photographed the Ring!  smile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gif

 

gallery_345094_16052_251737.jpg


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#2 pyrasanth

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 04:26 AM

I would crop the image so it can be seen in all its glory at a better image scale for the forum- there is a lot of empty which draws your eye away from the target.

 

You have captured a lot of nice detail in the nebula. I noticed IC1296 is absent- out of field of view or not seen? (it can be very faint from some sites even with photography)- you can see it in this image https://www.astrobin.com/o71spv/


Edited by pyrasanth, 16 September 2021 - 04:29 AM.

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#3 Juno18

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 07:20 AM

Very nice image Mike!

You done good!

 

Nice bold colors and with the moon, I think that the L -eNhance definitely helped!

 

of course, you have the blue stars from the filter, but so what! Beautiful nebula colors.

I do like natural star colors, but with my crappy weather, I don’t ever follow up with a RGB star session.

 

I agree, a crop might help.
 

Nice image Mike! Nice processing!

 

Jim


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#4 ChiTownXring

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 09:56 AM

Mike, your story kept me reading and had a happy ending smile.gif. Congrats on the image as sometimes it's the little things that keep us coming back..

Keep them coming and clear skies.. 


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#5 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 10:58 AM

M57 was also my first DSO-through-the-eyepiece.  And I also just recently imaged it.  What an experience that was.

 

I love the depth of field in your image.  The stars look out of focus but the nebula is spot on.  Adds a lot of... depth.


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#6 F.Meiresonne

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 01:06 PM

Bright but bit difficult because it is so small...tried it in my 102 mm, too small...

 

To Mike, well done, nice catch


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#7 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 03:17 PM

Thanks for the tips!  laugh.gif  Yes I will be better prepared the next time I try it.  I just sort of charged forward here without target research, or even looking for something so obvious like a loose bolt on my mount.  lol.gif

 

I normally don't break apart images and piece them back together, but perhaps this special case warrants it.  I reprocessed just for the stars this time, ignoring the blown out Ring.  Once the stretch was done I applied a heavy deconvolution, and then worked them back together in a blend.  Still not great, but I think it is an improvement and brings the image alive a little bit more.

 

gallery_345094_16052_363149.jpg


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#8 Mike in Rancho

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 03:24 PM

Pyrasanth very nice image you linked.  waytogo.gif  You really got the spiral swirl of that tiny galaxy.

 

I think I was really pushing things here as-is, what with just a DSLR on a 100/900 doublet, and having already thrown one crop at it before the 2x drizzle.  But I cropped in again to about 50% on both X and Y before scaling to 1600.  Starts to lose the stars again.  Maybe cropping this way at the outset and then processing through would help, and again both target and stars separately?

 

That galaxy is there, but is just the faintest of little smudges.  smile.gif  No structure really, so who knows maybe just an overcorrected dust mote.  lol.gif 

 

Some future day I will get some RGB on this, which might pull more faint stuff out.

 

gallery_345094_16052_278894.jpg


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#9 pyrasanth

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 04:09 PM

Pyrasanth very nice image you linked.  waytogo.gif  You really got the spiral swirl of that tiny galaxy.

 

I think I was really pushing things here as-is, what with just a DSLR on a 100/900 doublet, and having already thrown one crop at it before the 2x drizzle.  But I cropped in again to about 50% on both X and Y before scaling to 1600.  Starts to lose the stars again.  Maybe cropping this way at the outset and then processing through would help, and again both target and stars separately?

 

That galaxy is there, but is just the faintest of little smudges.  smile.gif  No structure really, so who knows maybe just an overcorrected dust mote.  lol.gif

 

Some future day I will get some RGB on this, which might pull more faint stuff out.

 

gallery_345094_16052_278894.jpg

Thank you for your kind comments around my image.

 

The reprocessing has worked very well. The nebula core is now much smoother and your showing a lot of very nice detail. It is always a balance between wringing out all the detail & over cooking that detail. I think you got it just right- so well done on that.

 

I use IC1296 as a measure of transparency when I image M57, and I go back and visit alot, If I can see it as a faint smudge in a single sub I know the conditions are good for deep sky on that night (if M57 is around of course)

 

Keep at it-  challenging at times  but ultimately rewarding.


Edited by pyrasanth, 16 September 2021 - 04:10 PM.

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