MAS Observtory: RC-16 Ritchey-Chretien Astrophotography
Page 4 RC-16 Images (click on images to enlarge)













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M74...Poor Seeing

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The weather in Maine has been awful...and the "seeing" (based on a FWHM of 8 pixels and an image scale of 0.51 arc-seconds/pixel) has been about 4 arc-seconds/pixel (versus the Florida and west coast seeing of 1.5-2 arc-seconds/pixel).  Deconvolution brought this down to about 3 arc-seconds/pixel (FWHM of 6 pixels).  The data was obtained over 3 nights with about 14 hours of useful data collected.  The object is a very dim Messier object and I should have imaged it on a better series of nights (which would mean waiting for the earth to tilt another 15 degrees !!).  I was VERY careful NOT to overprocess this image, as it was a total disaster each time I did.  The final result was a real disapointment, though that could have been predicted from the weather conditions.  The problem is one of less than optimal detail and contrast (I was lucky to get as much as I did out of this data).  Perhaps some of this could be made up for by doubling or tripling the number of exposures (increase the signal to noise ratio), but I'm on to new objects....
      Imaged with an SBIG STL-6303 using CCD AutoPilot II.  About fourteen separate 15 minute exposures for each of the L.R.G,B filters obtained and processed as an LRGB image.  Imaged with CCDAutoPilot II, calibrated and registered with MIRA AP 7.0, deconvolution with AIP and processed Maxim DL and  Adobe Photoshop CS.  KBQ, November3-15, 2005.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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M1:  The Crab Nebula

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This supernova remnant, found in the constellation Taurus, is a favorite of amateur astronomers.  The supernova event was recorded by the Chinese in 1054 AD, and was actually visible during the day.  Unlike the Veil Nebula, this one occurred relatively recently and therefore has maintained some remnants of a "shape" (which will not last for long as it is expanding at over 1000 miles/second.  There is a rapidly rotating star neutron star (pulsar) at its core. 
    Imaged with an SBIG STL-6303 using CCD AutoPilot II.  About fourteen separate 15 minute exposures for each of the L.R.G,B and H-alpha  filters obtained and processed as an H-alpha/L'R'GB image.  The L' image is a 70% Luminance image combined with a 30% H-alpha filter (using Pixel math in Maxim DL).  The R' is a 70% red and 30% H-alpha image.  The resultant L'R'GB with layered (in Photoshop) with an H-alpha image (about 30% H-alpha contribution).  Imaged with CCDAutoPilot II, calibrated and registered with MIRA AP 7.0, deconvolution with AIP and processed Maxim DL and  Adobe Photoshop CS. Images obtained from 1/16/06-2/2/06, by KBQ.
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NGC 4631

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NGC 4631, also known as the Whale Galaxy, is a large edge-on spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici.  The distortion is believed to be due to the campanion galaxy seen above.  There even appears to be a connecting bridge of hydgrogen between the 2 galaxies.
    Imaged with an SBIG STL-6303 using CCD AutoPilot II.  About twenty separate 15 minute exposures for each of the L, R.G,B filters obtained and processed as an LRGB image (25 hours of imaging time).  Imaged with CCDAutoPilot II, calibrated and registered with MIRA AP 7.0, deconvolution with AIP and processed Maxim DL and  Adobe Photoshop CS.  High Pass filter used to bring out details of galaxy.  KBQ, March 31 - April 11, 2006.
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M33-View of Core

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 This is a view of the core of M33.  Seeing conditions were at about 3.5 arc-sec/pixel and deconvolved to about 2 arc-sec/pixel.   This image is less challenging than M74, haivng a greater surface brightness.  The weather was not entirely cooperative (whats new).   
A Change in technique ?:    I will be increasing the time of my R, G and B components of my images dramatically, in order to improve the color Signal to Noise ratio (removing some of my reliance on the luminance images for image resolution).   
     Biology and CCD imaging diverge on this subject.  Visual acuity is largely due to closely packed cones (color receptors) in the fovea centralis of the eye.  The black and white perceiving rods are more suited for detecting motion and seeing in low light.  Nonetheless, with CCD imaging, the Luminance or Clear filters are responsible for the "detail" or "resolution" of our image (as you don't loose much of the 'light' as happens with the colored filters).  The color filters bring in 1/3 as much light as our clear filters and so are often binned to make up for this.  By binning we also get less readout noise.  One way to "make up" for this problem is to simply shoot more RGB images.  This improves the signal to noise ratio of the colored components of the image.  From my perspective, this is the best way to approach the problem.  The only down side is the time needed to take these images !!
     Imaged with an SBIG STL-6303 using CCD AutoPilot II.  About fourteen separate 15 minute exposures for each of the R.G,B filters and 40 separate 15 minute L frames obtained and processed as an LRGB image.  Imaged with CCDAutoPilot II, calibrated and registered with MIRA AP 7.0, deconvolution with AIP and processed Maxim DL and  Adobe Photoshop CS.  KBQ, December 28, 2005.
 
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Horsehead Nebula in H-alpha

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I'm sure everyone who's had a chance to image the Horsehead Nebula at a long focal length has felt the same excitement I did after processing this image.  This is an absorption nebula in Orion.  The associated emission nebula ( NGC 2023) can be seen in the lower left corner.  The horsehead-like image is about one light year in length. Then faint glow about the top of the nebula emanates from another nearby emission nebula (IC 434).  I'm still working on the color composite image and will post it soon. 
    Captured with an SBIG STL-6303 and the RCOS-16.  Fourteen separate 15 minute exposures in H-alpha were processed for this image.  Imaged with CCDAutoPilot II, calibrated and registered with MIRA AP 7.0 and processed with Adobe Photoshop CS. Images obtained from 2/4/06 - 2/10/06, by KBQ.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Just For Fun

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During our December 2005 Star Party, the RCOS-16 was aimed at Neptune for the first time.  A single RGB image was taken with the STL-6303.  I have never imaged Neptune before, and questioned whether I was looking at a slightly blue star, or at Neptune.  When we zoomed in on the image an obvious occultation was seen.  The arrow marks the occulting object (possibly a moon) in the upper left hand corner (at about 2200).  It could be a star, though this is unlikely in view of the other 4 objects (presumably 4 other moons) seen within the same (orbital) plane. One of these days I'll aim the ToU Camera at Neptune and try to get a better 'quality' image of the planet.   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Horsehead Nebula in Color

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This image, without a doubt, was one of the most challenging for me, from a processing point of view.  I was definately pushing the limits of what I know (which is easy to do...), and all I can see are the imperfections.  In my initial attempts I either lost the wispy details of the H-alpha image or ended up with the classic  "salmon" colored image, whether I assembled the image as an H-alpha-LRGB or as an LR'GB (with the red and H-alpha channels merged).  Finally I assembled an LR'GB which I merged with an H-alpha, using this as my composite image to merge with the LR'GB.  This took some of the "salmon" color OUT of the "composit" image and allowed me to retain MOST (not all, darn !!) of the H-alpha details.  The image is therefore a LR'GB + Ha-LR'GB image.  I can't see straight after 6 hours of procesing, so hopefully its worth looking at. 
    Imaged with an SBIG STL-6303 using CCD AutoPilot II.  Twenty separate 15 minute exposures for each of the H-alpha, Red and Luminescence filters and 10 separate 15 minute exposures for the G and B filters. Total image time was thereefore 20 hours (another 15 hours worth was tossed).  Imaged with CCDAutoPilot II, calibrated and registered with MIRA AP 7.0, deconvolution with AIP and processed Maxim DL and  Adobe Photoshop CS.  KBQ, Febuary 7-March 28, 2006.
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