One of the reasons I spent the money for the Astrodon OIII and SII filters is the Wizard Nebula, NGC 7380. I think it looks fantastic using the Hubble Palette, and I wanted to be able to create a version of my own. Last night I started collecting the data for this. The night started out quite clear but unfortunately after just 5 Ha subs of 30 minutes each, the clouds rolled in and I was done for the night. Still that is 2.5 hours of data and will make a start. I did not bin the HA data since this nebula is really fairly bright. Here is a quick pass at processing it.
Goofi at Cloudy Nights was imaging this in Ha and I decided to take a crack at in RGB since there are significant reflection components to it. Gamma Cassiopeia is magnitude 3.0 and like Alnitak creates all kinds of problems because it is so bright. IC 63 is to the left with a strong HA component whereas IC 59 is dominated by the reflection component.
Just for the fun of it, I thought it might be interesting to see what I would get if I had 100,000$ to spend. That is completely crazy money for me, but some people do drop incredible sums on this hobby so expensive equipment is there to be had.
There is no point to buying a big telescope and mount if you don't have a place to put it.
Backyard Observatories - Club Model 2: 16'x24' on slab with 16'x8' warm room - 11,800$
A good mount makes imaging a pleasure. A bad mount can make imaging frustrating and miserable.
ASA Direct Drive Mount DDM85 Premium: 19,256$
This mount is direct drive, can be used without guiding, and has a payload of 100 kg.
PlaneWave 20 inch CDK Optical Tube Assembly: 32,500$
This f/6.8 telescope has a 52mm image circle that is flat, astigmatism and coma free. It weighs in at 64kg, well under the mounts capacity.
SBIG STX-16803 and FW7-STX Filter Wheel - 11,590$
Off Axis Guider:
Astrodon MMOAG - 825$
Money Spent = 75973$
That leaves about 24,000$ for such minor items as pouring the slab, running electric, filters, automating the roof, and all the myriad other expenses.
Active amateur astronomers tend to be very aware of the weather for obvious reasons. That is another way of saying that we tend to complain about it a lot. And certainly if you are waiting for the perfect night, you won't be imaging or observing all that often. The Moon is up, or the clouds are out for part of the night, or the humidity is high and the scope stays unused.
What I have found is that if you grab the opportunities while they are there, you can get a lot more imaging done. For example last night, I setup and got only 3 hours of good data. On a perfect night I would have gotten 8 hours or slightly more. But 3 hours of data is still longer than many amateurs spend on an entire image!
I continued to image CTB 1. Here is the latest version.
A while ago I changed what I was doing for dew control. What I was using originally was a secondary dew heater from Kendrick and while that worked, because of wire routing, it did bad things to my star shapes. I switched over to the following system some time back and it has worked quite nicely.
The Pyramid PS15KX 10A 13.8-Volt Power Supply with Cigarette Lighter Adapter is currently available from Amazon.com for 59.37$. I image from my observatory so a power supply like this makes sense.
The SDCC Two channel/four output standard dew heater controller is available from Astronomics. Currently it is priced at 114$. This is a basic controller but it gets the job done.
Last but certainly not least is the Dew-Not Dew Remover model # DN09. It is currently available from Agena Astro for 44.75$.
The other day I got an e-mail from Dave Kriege of Obsession Telescopes. It turns out he is going to be distributing an English version of the Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas.
There are a number of very appealing features of this Atlas, not the least of which is that it looks great. The deluxe version he will be distributing is also printed on plastic and is completely waterproof. While looking at some sample pages, I noticed an interesting looking object called CTB 1. Since the objects shown are supposed to be visible in large amateur telescoped, it should be able to be imaged.
I looked around and sure enough there were some images of it and it continued to look like an interesting target. I decided it was going to the front of my to-do list.
Sunday night it finally cleared after a long spell of bad weather. The forecast was pretty iffy but it did clear up, and even better, it stayed clear the entire night. Since I suspected this one was on the dim side, I took a test shot at 5m binned 2x2 with my 7nm Baader Ha Filter. There wasn't much there. I decided on 30m subs binned 2x2. That was a new record sub length for me, but the equipment held up. All told I ended up with 8 hours total integration time.
I think this is the dimmest object in HA that I have imaged. I hope to add more HA to it.
It is also worth mentioned that I was experimenting with a different spacing of my CCDT67. Experiments by Richard Flynn seemed to indicate that the field would be a bit better corrected if I increased my spacing slightly. I added a 1/4" spacer to my existing setup and went from .93 arc-seconds per pixel to .955 arc-seconds-pixel (binned 1x1). At least binned 2x2 as here, the result looks very promising. Here is a view of the corners and center using the AberrationInspector script in PixInsight. Not much to complain about, especially given the 30m subs.
Here are my occasional thoughts on Astrophotography, Astronomy, and whatever else catches my attention.