Tag Archives: astrophotography

Venus Observation – July 8, 2015

I’ve finally made an effort to learn how to process video feeds into usable images. This image of Venus, taken last evening (July 8, 2015), is a composite image using a video from my Canon 6D.  The phase of Venus was 27.8% full. How can you check the current phase? Visit the U.S. Naval Observatory at this LINK. Plug in the specifics, and you will be presented with a nice image of how Venus should look in your telescope.


Here is my setup for this shot:

Canon 6D mounted on a Celestron C6-A SCT, between the camera and telescope I used a Televue 5x Powermate lens for magnification. All of this was mounted on an iOptron ZEQ25 mount for guiding.

A video format was used at 1920 x 1080 (571 frames) and the best 50 frames were used to create this image. Images were processed in Planetary Imaging PreProcessor (PIPP), Registax and Corel Paintshop Pro X5.  Sky conditions were turbulent with passing clouds.

To give you an idea of the turbulence in the atmosphere I have uploaded the Venus video clip to YouTube.

I’ll share additional processing steps as I have time!


MESSIER 31 – Andromeda Galaxy Processing

LSci LogoI have been working at adding additional time to my observations of the Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31 or M31) and will hopefully add several more hours of data this summer/fall. I currently have collected 4 hours and 20 minutes of light frames on Andromeda.  As you know, the area also includes M32 and M110.

The image below shows the stacked images that have not been stretched or edited in any way.  Stacking of the 278 individual images was performed using the software package called DeepSkyStacker.

All 278 images were taken using a Canon 6D with a 400mm f/5.6 lens attached to an iOptron ZEQ25 mount.  You can read more about my setup HERE.

Full frame image that has not been edited.

Full frame image that has not been edited.

After the images were stacked, the image was cropped and stretched using Mike Unsold’s software program called ImagesPlus. I have been practicing using the Feature Mask tool in ImagesPlus, I still have a lot to learn using this process, but I’m getting there. Basically, the feature mask allows you to extract the stars from the image, edit/stretch the nebulous area, and then recombine the images into the final product. The stretched image was then further enhanced in Corel PaintshopPro X5 and Adobe Lightroom.

Andromeda Galaxy - final image.

Andromeda Galaxy – final image.

After processing this image I then tried something different.  I’ve been playing around with plate-solving images and trying different software packages and techniques. In basic terms, plate-solving allows you to analyze an astronomical image and identify what is on the image, the image location, and much more. I used to do this by hand, having my trusty copy of Stellarium or Starry Night Pro open in one half of my screen and the image in the other half, I would try and find each object and then label using my paint program.

For this test, I uploaded the image above to Astrometry.net and used the power of the internet to analyze my image and tell me details about it. The results are shown below.

Image processed at astrometry.net.

Image processed at astrometry.net.

Not only did it identify the objects in my image, it also provided the following details:

Center (RA, Dec): (10.728, 41.329)
Center (RA, hms): 00h 42m 54.739s
Center (Dec, dms): +41° 19′ 45.115″
Size: 3.1 x 2.71 deg
Radius: 2.058 deg
Pixel scale: 6.91 arcsec/pixel
Orientation: Up is 89.3 degrees E of N

Check it out and try some of your own images!

Back to work on my Andromeda processing and sending more images up to astrometry.net for processing, see you soon!

Clear Skies!


Broken Astrophotography

The Leisurely Scientist is looking for astronomical photographs that have been ruined by planes, objects, lighting, etc. to compile an album of ruined astronomical images called “Broken Astrophotography”.

Do you have an image of a plane flying through a Messier object? Please submit it! Please include a brief description, what was being imaged, and a link to your Facebook or personal web/blog for image credit/links. Images may be submitted to:  tom@leisurelyscientist.com

You can also upload them to our Facebook page, Leisurely Scientist.

I will be compiling the best of the broken images into an upcoming gallery here in the blog. Thanks for sending them!

My image is a plane flying through a sub-frame of Messier 51, still makes a pretty image.

Plane through M51 image.

Plane through M51 image.

MESSIER 12 – Globular Cluster

This is the second globular cluster I photographed on the evening of June 6, 2015 – it was like a globular cluster bonanza, as this part of the sky contain several that I planned to acquire that evening. This most recent observation was made using a Canon 6D with an attached Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens using my STANDARD ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY SETUP.

Messier 12 (M12 or NGC 6218 in the New General Catalog) is a globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus. Through my online research I also found that this cluster is referred to as the “Gumball Globular”, that’s a new one for me. It was discovered in 1764 by the French astronomer Charles Messier who described it as a “nebula without stars”. M12 is approximately 15,700 light-years distant. You will definitely need binoculars or a small telescope to see this cluster. This cluster contains about 200,000 stars, the brightest of them are about 12th magnitude.

By IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg) ([1]) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

You can use the finder chart above to locate M12. With GOTO scopes readily on the market, finding it is as easy as selecting M12 on the controller and hitting the GOTO button. Back in my early days of using a small refractor telescope, in the 1970’s, this was a tough object to find as there are not a lot of stars to help guide you to it.

Below is an image of Messier 12 from a 10-minute total exposure using 1-minute subs. The images were taken on the evening of June 6, 2015 before moonrise.

Messier 12 - Wide-field view.

Messier 12 – Wide-field view.

The image below is a zoomed-in and processed image of Messier 12.

Messier 12 - 200% zoom and edited.

Messier 12 – 200% zoom and edited.

I have a few more images to process, until then….

Clear Skies!


MESSIER 10 – Globular Cluster

Globular clusters have always amazed me. I’ll never forget viewing Messier 13, the Hercule Cluster through my first telescope. I’ll have to check my log book from the 1970’s to see if it was the first Messier Object I observed, if not, it was in the first 10 objects. My first telescope was a Tasco 2.25″ refractor that my grandfather, Michael Hichok, purchased for me. At that time, I could only see some of the outer stars in the cluster, much of it remained a cloudy soup of stars.

This most recent observation was made using a Canon 6D with an attached Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens using my STANDARD ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY SETUP.

Messier 10 (or M10) is a globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus. It is approximately 15,000 light years away. You can use the finder chart below to locate M10.

By IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg) ([1]) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

 Below is an image of Messier 10 from a 9-minute total exposure using 1-minute subs. The images were taken on the evening of June 6, 2015 before moonrise.


The image below is a zoomed-in image of Messier 10. I’m still impressed how much you can do with a 400mm lens in astrophotography.


June 6th seemed to be globular cluster night, so I’ll share additional images soon!

Clear Skies!



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