Friday, December 28, 2018

December 28, 2018: Single Photo Astrophotos

Problem solving Astrophotos:  I took a series of images in order to stack and see the detail of the nebulocity.  Turns out, there is more detail in a single frame than the stack (using Deek Sky Stacker).  So I'm trying to figure out why stacking loses detail (I suspect its because of small errors in alignment)

M42 (Orion Nebula).   Single image, 2 min exposure, 200mm f/2.8, ISO 800

NGC2024 (Flame Nebula) and IC434 (Horsehead Nebula)

Original Image with NCG2024 (lower left) and M42 (upper right)

 M42 (annotated by

IC 434 (annotated by

Monday, December 17, 2018

December 18, 2018: Comets, Nebulae and a Galaxy

A progress report on my astrophotography adventure.   

I'm slowly overcoming obstacles.  Among them are mechanical stability, vibration control (iOptron Sky Guider Pro),  (delay shutter opening by 2 sec), equatorial mount polar alignment (in order to take longer exposures).

Here are results over the past month:
46P with the Pleiades in the upper left.   90mm Tamron 2.8 lens

46P Annotation from
46P   200 mm f2.8 lens
M31 - Andromeda Galaxy
M42, Orion Nebula

M42 annotation from

NGC 2024  (Flame Nebula) and Barnard 33 (Horsehead Nebula)  The bright star is Alnitak

Track of a geostationary satellite passing Alnilam

Artifact: Aircraft approaching Orion

Maybe artifact:  a strange object in a wide angle photo of the east

Cropped image of the strange object

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

November 13, 2018: More progress with astrophotography

Slowly, I'm overcoming problems - initially huge problems: vibration, tracking, noise and polar alignment.  For post processing, I'm using Deep Sky Stacker and then Lightroom 6 for post-post processing. Below are results from last night. Still room for improvement.

Orion Nebula, M42. 25 images stacked

Flame nebula (NGC2024) and the Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) - 46 images stacked (30 sec exposures)
Annotated image from
Full analysis with annotation at

Friday, November 2, 2018

October 31, 2018. Orion Nebula and flame nebula

More practice with astrophotography using DSLR camera telephoto lens.  I've encountered a new challenge - how to identify what I "think" I've photographed.  I've found a web site Astrometry: Images analysis and annotation. In addition, I've found that Amazon is offering an image and feature recognition site:  Amazon Image Recognition API.  This world of image analysis is a new world for me to explore.  

Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) above Alnitak (left most star in Orion's Belt)

Here is the analysis of this image submitted to

Placing my image in context

Analysis by Amazon's Rekognition

Orion Nebula 

Image and analysis of an unknown submitted to

Friday, October 26, 2018

October 22, 2018: Improving Signal / Noise ratio for astrophotography.

Learning about stacking images in order to reduce the noise and bring out faint features.  Here is M42: First is the stacked image (120 images) and below is one of the cropped original images.  I'm using a MatLab contributed tool called MastroStack 

Original unstacked image

Saturday, October 13, 2018

October 13, 2018: M31 and Orion Nebula

Better tracking this morning.   600 mm lens, ISO 5000 f/5.6 (Tamron 160-600)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Sept 24, 2018: Fun with a female Phidippus regius

Found a large female Phidippus regius and brought her home for a little studio poses.  She was quite cooperative and friendly.  Below is what she offered.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

September 23, 2018: More practice with the Orion nebula

My adventure with astrophotography is going quite well except that I'm a dusk and dawn target for mosquitoes.  Tracking is improving.  Vibration control is improving.  here is the Orion Nebula - cropped and uncropped.

Orion Nebula uncrossed:  ISO 8000 Exposure, 10 sec  400 mm 

Cropped: ISO 3200, 5 sec, 400 mm

Oct 5 Better tracking ISO 800 60 sec exposure, 200mm

The boundary around the reddish region is quite interesting.  The colors apparently come from UV radiation of hydrogen gas (ionized Hydrogen, H II)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Sept 18, 2018: Heat lighting

Watching a lightning display in the south.   Lots of clouds and the lighting was mostly hidden - but the result was back lit clouds revealing interesting overlays of clouds.

Sept 20, 2018: Long duration lighting

I have a Pluto Trigger, a gift from my son, and slowly I'm learning to use it.  My current curiosity is how to capture lightning.  The Pluto Trigger has a lightning mode where you set the sensitivity, and it's internal light sensor triggers the camera shutter each time some light event changes.   Lots of false positives, but a few quite interesting photos.

Last evening we had an almost storm -  i.e. dark clouds, lightning and no rain.  Perfect for trying to capture lighting.  I managed to capture one event in about 300 - but that event was quite interesting.  Two consecutive triggers a second apart displayed the same lighting event - suggesting the duration was > 1 sec.  Here are the images and its clear (at least to me) that they represent the same event - a discontinuous upper segment and the lower segment follows the tree limb.  I'm shooting at ISO 100, f/8, 1/10 sec exposure.

First event: 19:11:49 - a discontinuous top (probably hidden behind something) and the lower segment follows the tree limb

Second event: 19:11:50 - Same less bright, probably because the duration is less than 1/10 sec (exposure time).  However this suggests the total duration of the event was > 1 sec.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Sept 13, 2018: Lightning and Astrophotography

Photographing LIghtning

I have a Pluto Trigger that works quite well for water drop collisions.  I've decided to try to photograph lightning.    There was a convenient storm in the afternoon.  I set up looking out the back window through the screened area.  I got 1 success out of 322 exposures.  I saw several lightning flashes that triggered the camera but the exposure missed it.  I'm thinking that the delay between camera trigger signal from the Pluto Trigger and actually activating the shutter is too long - its the next problem to solve. 

Here is the result from the storm (18mm, f/16, 1/20 sec, ISO 100)

Encouraged by the lightning adventure, I thought I'd try more night experiments:  tracking stars.  Orion nebula

Uncropped image of the Orion nebula