One of those nights...

Everything seemed to be working against any sort of astronomy stuff happening. A nearly full moon, a crazy amount of condensation in the air, and a thick layer of haze that turned out to be smoke from some devastating wildfires in Canada and northwest US. Here's what the backyard looked like in infrared. I should have known to call it a night (earlier than I did) when Jupiter was the only object I could really see in the sky. These cameras are way more sensitive than our eyes, and with narrowband filters I can usually shoot on a full moon night, but Nature wasn't having any of it.

Click here to see the latest smoke map for North America. Here's what the smoke layer looked like at the time:

Posted September 10, 2022

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3...

I'm hoping for some clear skies tonight, enough to test out the #ZWOAM5 with my trusty William Optics GT81 and the ZWO ASI071 cooled color camera. It's a beautiful fall day out there right now, at quarter after 5pm, but I don't think this is going to last into the evening.

Posted September 7, 2022

Configuring an Off-axis Guider with the SpaceCat

Just wanted to document the spacing and backfocus distance for the ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro with the electronic filter wheel and OAG. The William Optics SpaceCat 51 allows a maximum distance of 57.9mm to achieve minimum focus, so I like to be somewhere close to 50mm when everything is totaled up--and looking good:

  • ASI1600MM 6.5mm
  • ZWO EFW 20mm
  • M42-M48 ~5mm
  • M48 spacer 5mm
  • OAG 10.5mm
  • 42-M48 ~3mm

Total: ~50mm

Posted September 7, 2022

NGC 1499 in Ha

The California Nebula (NGC 1499) in the constellation Perseus. Imaging notes: 3nm Antlia Pro hydrogen-alpha filter, William Optics SpaceCat 51 Apochromatic refractor, ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro monochrome camera. 

Posted September 5, 2022

Dual Imaging Rigs

A shot of my backyard last Friday. It was nice and clear, and I ran both imaging systems, the 250mm monochrome camera and narrowband (NGC 281, Pacman Nebula in Cassiopeia), and the 800mm with filtered RGB color (M33, Triangulum Galaxy).

Posted September 5, 2022

M31 and M33

I used the Optolong L-eXtreme for half of the exposures, filtering out everything except 7nm lines along hydrogen-alpha and oxygen 3, and then switched to full broadband, just the UV/IR Cut Filter. Notes: 8" 800mm f/4 Newtonian and the ZWO ASI071MC cooled color camera.

I'm not really a galaxy guy, more of a nebula guy, mainly because I don't have a scope over 1350mm, which is just long enough to get a handful of nearby galaxies. So, for now, I usually capture a couple of our galactic neighbors when they swing around this time of year--and if the moon and clear night skies line up for broadband color imaging! 

The central region of M31, Andromeda Galaxy:

The Triangulum Galaxy from my backyard--it's only 2.73 million light-years from Earth! I've said it before. Once we develop MFTL technology (Much Faster Than Light) and we have the ability to hop to nearby galaxies, count me in on a trip to M33, the Triangulum Galaxy. The chunky pinkish masses are vast regions of interstellar ionized hydrogen that make up the nebulae in M33, perfect for an astrophotography outing. Until then, maybe we can take a trip to the southern hemisphere? Notes: Apertura 8" Newtonian OTA--800mm at f/4, ZWO ASI071MC cooled color camera. Optolong L-eXtreme dual narrowband filter. 48 x 240-second exposures stacked in DSS. 

Posted September 4, 2022


A wide-field view of the Pacman Nebula (NGC 281, IC11, Sh20184) in Cassiopeia (Ha + OIII), about 9500 lightyears away. The massive star on the right is α Cassiopeiae (or "alpha Cass" if you're on friendly terms) which makes up the right lower point of the W asterism of the constellation Cassiopeia. The bright star at the top is eta Cass, a binary star system that's only about 20 lightyears away from us, downright neighborly, and is not part of the W asterism. 

Posted September 4, 2022

Cave Nebula, part one

The Cave Nebula (Caldwell 9) in Cepheus. I started the Ha run last night but Earth's atmosphere wasn't having any of it. Seeing was poor at best, and the random wisps of cloud passing through just made it worse. I stacked the first 30 subs just to see where it was going, and even with the excessive noise, I think this is headed in the right direction.

Posted September 1, 2022