This is the first "real" winter in the Pacific Northwest that we've had in a long time. It reminds me of when I when I was growing up. We have had a lot of snow, freezing weather in the -8 to -14 C range, and mostly overcast skies. As I set up each time, it hasn't been practical to set up for the few clear nights we've had in over a foot of snow. Time to process my summer image data. I have experimented with combining Ha and RGB image data using and adapting the technique found on Kayron Mercieca's web site, Light Vortex Astronomy. See my link page to connect with Kayron. I think my image of The Wizard Nebula (NGC7380) is okay but I'm really not happy with it but not bad for a first attempt. I will venture into guided imaging with my Canon 600d DSLR and Hyperstar combination in order to obtain longer subs. Something new to learn! In the meantime, I am working through the post processing of the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101; NGC5457) and will post an update when complete.
Our summer here in the Pacific Northwest started off slowly with cool wet weather but finished with some gorgeous opportunities for imaging.
I have spent most available nights imaging and collecting data for processing later in the Fall. I have branched out to include some narrowband Ha data but have yet been able to successfully add it to my lights using PixInsight PixelMath. Just another step on the learning curve which I'll work out. I have added NGC 6992 The Eastern Veil Nebula to my photo gallery. Hopefully, I'll be able to add the Ha data to it to further enhance the red detail in the image.
It has been quite a while since I've updated my blog. This is partially due to just being too busy with family stuff but mostly due to the horrid weather we've had up until recently. If it hasn't been raining it has been overcast with our usual summer temperatures in the mid twenties to low thirties being in the high teens to low twenties. Certainly climate change here and not a warming trend! To top it off, we have road work going on in our area with, as you can imagine, night work complete with high powered lamps!
I have been able to get out and observe over the last couple of nights and have some promising data of the Elephant's Trunk Nebula and the Fireworks Galaxy. I will try to add to this data and perhaps choose another target before the rains return next week. I m only doing cursory checks of the data so that I can maximize my imaging time and save the processing for the quieter rainy days ahead.
I recently received my PoleMaster, from Cyclops Optics, to use with my EQ6 Pro mount. The weather has been uncooperative until now and last night I gave the PoleMaster a test run. I had read the manual and watched a video a week or so prior to setting up but tonight I just went by the on-screen directions. I was pleasantly amazed at how easy it is to use and the accuracy was bang on. With a one star alignment I was able to place my other alignment stars near centre every time. It seems a one star alignment will provide a very good goto capability. I still prefer to create a model using EQMOD but there is no question that the PoleMaster is a more than capable product. I actually didn't notice any significant increase in accuracy from the one star alignment but old habits are hard to break. Even though I took my time for a first-time setup it probably took me no more than about 15 minutes to polar align and get my first alignment star. This time will be shortened as I become more proficient with it. Also, using a mouse rather than a touchpad would save a lot of time. All in all, I am very pleased with the PoleMaster.
I must also make a special comment about the customer service from Cyclops Optics. I was contacted by Robin and kept informed as there was a wait for the product to be received before shipment could be made. As soon as the product arrived at Cyclops Optics I received an update email. From there on it was the normal shipping notifications. I was very pleased with the service and, while I'm glossing over the email exchange, it had that personal touch that you rarely find these days.
Living on the west coast of British Columbia @49*/123* gives you a real appreciation for those few clear nights during our cold, I have had my eyepieces freeze to the tray, and wet winters. The last time I was able to image on consecutive nights was back in November 2015. The drawback, aside from lack of imaging for 4 months, is that you have too much time on your hands to look for that next piece of "essential" equipment.
I am awaiting a Skyris 236m to use as a guide camera with my Stellarvue FM60. I may get into planetary imaging in the future which, of course, will mean filters and a filter wheel. Right now, I am looking to improve my guiding and tracking.
Hand in hand with improving guiding and tracking will be a new polar alignment camera from QHY, the PoleMaster. I will do a review of this to see how well it performs. The results expected from the specs should provide a very impressive polar alignment. This would be a great time saver for those of us without a permanent setup.
I also have on order a Windows Vensmile W10 computer which is about the size of an iPhone. My intent is to be able to access this remotely through team viewer from the comfort of my home. Right now I am hard wired from my caravan to my mount which is more comfortable than being outside at the mount but still not as pleasant as being indoors with a cuppa.
I will update this blog once the new toys arrive and I have had a chance to test them out.
This is my first blog post. I'm getting started with the web site and, while it is fairly intuitive, it is another learning opportunity for me. I hope to work on this site in between imaging and processing sessions and as time allows with my coursework, work, church, and family commitments. I welcome any constructive comments for improving this site and ask for your patience as I stumble along in uncharted territory.