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Paramount

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Posts posted by Paramount


  1. Hi all

    A few weeks ago I had a go at NGC 281 in Ha and 2 nights ago after being set up and ready to start imaging at 10.30pm the clouds suddenly came over and it started to drizzle (British weather version not Meade's envisage software version) so I quickly disconnected everything, put the scope cover on and took my laptop back indoors to do a bit of web browsing. Half an hour later it was time to take the 3 Amigos out for their last toileting of the night and I saw the sky was as clear as a bell so not to be outdone by the British weather I rushed in, got my laptop, reconnected everything, just checked the focus and had a go at the "Little horny devil" again, but this time I decided to try for some OIII and SII as well as Ha.

    I managed to get 6x10 minutes unguided for each before it hit the meridian when the Paramount stops tracking (to prevent possible damage), although the sky was predominately clear for the rest of the night there were a couple of periods when some cloud went straight across where I was imaging but thankfully the sub frames looked ok.

    The end result is below and I have included the full widefield shot as well as a cropped closeup of the nebula itself. I definitely need more exposure time especially for the SII and OIII channels as I had to work overtime on the noise reduction routines and gradient removal to obtain a reasonable image.

    The image is dark subtracted using 10 dark frames median combined, but no flats or bias frames were used. I used the HST palette of SII=Red Ha=Green and OIII=Blue and although the colours aren't spot on I am pretty pleased with the results.

    Thanks for looking

    Best wishes

    Gordon:smile:

    pacmanSIIHaOIII.jpg

    pacmanSIIHaOIIIcrop.jpg


  2. Hi and thanks for the comments

    Currently I am experimenting with the darks, I used to use simple autodark subtraction in Maxim DL which takes a single dark frame at the beginning of the imaging run and then automatically subtracts it as each image downloads. Currently I am building up a library of darks ie 10 for each exposure time and median combining them and then subtracting them from each subframe as part of the preprocessing when I have packed up imaging for the night. As there is gng to be some discrepancy with temperatures etc I use the auto scaling and the calibration wizard in Maxim DL to get around this

    Best wishes

    Gordon


  3. Hi all

    Well according to the records August has been the wettest month on record and I can believe that. The weather was looking a bit more promising last night and following a suggestion from a fellow imager I had another go at NGC 6992 but this time I added some OIII data to it to make a bi-colour image. Luckily the sky stayed cloud free long enough to get 9x10 minutes unguided subframes for each channel. The seeing was poor due to very faint mist in the air later in the evening and the sky never got totally dark despite no moon being present. The subframes were dark subtracted (10 darks), then aligned and combined using median combine in Maxim DL and then the two resulting master frames were colour combined in Maxim DL using Ha for red and OIII for green. The resulting colour image was then processed in Photoshop CS2

    I have enclosed the full widefield version as well as a cropped closeup

    Thanks for looking and hoping for a better September

    Best wishes

    Gordon

    :smile:

    Since posting this image I had a couple of suggestions about adding data to obtain a blue channel so I have tried two methods

    1. Creating a synthetic blue channel from the red and green channels using Noel's tools in Photoshop CS2

    2. Using existing OIII in the blue channel and creating an RGB image in Maxim DL and then processing it in Photoshop CS2

    I have posted the images on my website http://www.imagingtheheavens.co.uk in the nebulae section of the image gallery along with the other images for comparison, I would be interested to know what people think

    NGC6992colour(1).jpg

    NGC6992colourcrop(1).jpg


  4. Hi

    I agree with Ray, I made the mistake of "downgrading" from XP to Vista only to find that it wouldn't recognise my Starlight Xpress cameras, Maxim DL and other software I was running, it kept crashing or locking up the computer and playing other various nasty tricks that really made me want to develop a new Olympic sport "Laptop throwing" (you never know it might catch on). Thankfully there are fixes availble now but like Ray I am sticking with XP and I will quote the following saying for you to dwell on

    "If it isn't broken then don't try fixing it!"

    Best wishes

    Gordon

    :itsme!:


  5. Hi

    The above methods using the camera and drift align are the two most reckognised methods of polar aligning. I use a different method as I am fortunate enough to have a Paramount ME which comes with The SKY 6 and T Point among other software packages, using T Point and doing 2 to 4 mapping runs of 15 stars each, the software tells you after each run how far to adjust the RA and Declination axes. Using this method I am able to get within 5 to 10 arcsec of true celestial pole within about 30 minutes or so which with the Paramount ME is accurate enough to do unguided exposures in excess of 10 minutes. The handy thing with this method is that any stars can be used for mapping and you can use the same stars on each mapping run. If it is clear I can see stars through the telescope long before I can see them with the naked eye and as the pointing accuracy of the Paramount is so good the star is always close to the centre of view, this means that in the summer months I can still get an accurate polar alignment even when it is still light enough to read outside, this is a real bonus as aligning the mount doesn't eat into valuable imaging time.

    Best wishes

    Gordon


  6. Hi All

    August has been such an abysmal month imaging wise with the typical British weather having its say. There appeard to be a bit of clear weather last night so I was desperate to get out and do a bit of imaging and I managed 50 minutes on NGC 6992 before the clouds came back in and stayed for the rest of the night. It was taken with the Starlight H36 on the TMB 115 with a 13nm Astronomik Ha filter, Paramount ME 5x10 minutes unguided, during the last subframe there was some thin cloud already starting to cover cygnus but I used the subframe anyway as it looked salvageable. Instead of using the simple autodark facility in Maxim DL I used 10x10 minute dark frames (taken a week ago) median combined and used those instead. Although more exposure time is needed to smooth the image I am quite leased with the result. I have included a closeup of main area of nebulosity as well. There are better quality images on my website http://www.imagingtheheavens.co.uk as I had to reduce the quality quite a bit in order to get the size down for posting

    Thanks for looking

    Best wishes and clear skies

    Gordon

    :smile:

    NGC-6992.jpg

    NGC-6992-crop.jpg


  7. Gordon, surely you don't lug that set-up out every time you image??? If so, it would definitely make me think the 'shed', needs a roll off on it!

    Hi

    You would be surprised at how easy it is to get in and out of the shed as the Tri-pier is set onto a custom set of wheely bars so it it only takes a couple of minutes to get in and out of the shed and as I mark where the supports go it is very quick to get in a rough polar position.

    Regarding security Ray, I am lucky in that I am surrounded by walls and 6 foot fences on all sides and out garden is not visible from the street, also we have the 3 Amigos as deterents, namely Blue, Storm and Gunner (German Pointers), lovely pets and companions. I have seen their reaction when they take a dislike to someone and believe me it is enough to scare the living daylights out of any intruder, they don't need to bite, they just sit there and their lips curl back revealing their fangs and they let out a deep throated growl and believe me if you are on the receiving end of that then it is time to change your underwear.

    the-3-amigos(2).jpg

    Best wishes

    Gordon

    :smile:


  8. My imaging setup

    Hi

    Here is my setup ready for a nights imaging and consists of the following

    Takahashi BRC-250

    FLI-PDF focuser

    TMB 115 f7 APO refractor with Starlight 3.5" focuser

    Starlight 3.5" extension tube

    TMB field flattener

    Precise parts adapter

    FLI CFW-5-1 filter wheel

    Precise parts adapter

    Starlight Xpress SXVF H36 16 megapixel monochrome ccd camera

    Paramount ME

    Tri-Pier 2

    Tri-Pier wheely bars

    Kendrick digifire 7 dew heaters

    All of this is connected to my laptop by numerous USB cables which is in the shed in the background (also where I sit for most of the night)

    Thanks for looking at my pride and joy

    Best wishes and clear skies

    Gordon

    :eartoear:


  9. Excellent shot Gordon!:bow::bow::bow:

    Gotta love the scale of that camera...

    What's funny, is I just finished processing 45min of luminence and 80min of ha on this object, was gonna post it, when I logged in and found this....:crazy:

    Maybe after I gather another 6hrs of data THEN I'll post it :biggrin: Mine's a little... 'weak'. The 'bubble', is a lot fainter than I thought.

    Top job!

    Cheers, :smile:

    Hi

    Thanks very much for the comments, camera is great, it is really satisfying when you finally get some pieces of equipment that really work together well and I certainly find that with the TMB/H36 combination, the Paramount doesn't need any mentioning as it speaks for itself but the camera/scope combination that I am using gives really good widefields, but at the same time because of the huge pixel count on the camera and the quality of the optics on the scope I am able to crop and enlarge without losing quality.

    Regarding your exposure of the same subject you didn't say what length subframes you were using. When using Ha the minimum should be 10 minutes but ideally longer, I am using 10 minutes as I haven't started using autoguiding yet but as soon as I do that I will be aiming for 20 to 30 minutes per subframe. I found that my raw subframes when downloading to the laptop screen showed quite a bit of detail, all of the bubble could be detected as well as the bright nebula in the top of the image and M52 could be seen clearly as well and you could even start to make out the fainter nebula in the right and left of the image. I would also say to try and do at least 3 hours total exposure (more would be better) for each narrowband channel as that will enable you to push it more aggressively in the processing to get the detail to show. As I am concentrating mainly on Ha at the moment I try for at least 18x10 minutes in subframes which gives me 3 hours of exposure which is just about right in the summer months as that is about the length of imaging time available.

    Best wishes

    Gordon

    :smile:


  10. Hi All

    It turned out to be a nice clear night last night despite the weather forecast and apart from a couple of small clouds passing across the imaging area at 2.30am it was clear. After having difficulty getting an acurate polar alignment (some stupid burk left the illuminated reticule eyepiece switched on from last week and the battery was as flat as stale beer) I decided to have a go at the Bubble nebula as there is a lot going on in a widefield shot of this subject. The image is made up of 18x10 minutes unguided with a 13nm Ha filter

    Equipment used was

    TMB 115 f7 with field flattener

    Starlight Xpress H36

    FLI filter wheel

    Paramount ME

    I have enclosed the widefield with all the companions and a cropped closeup to show just the Bubble Nebula and M 52. I had to use the lowest quality setting in Photoshop to get the size down so better quality images can be seen on my website http://www.imagingtheheavens.co.uk

    Thanks for looking

    Best wishes and more clear skies

    Gordon

    :smile:

    bubbleHa.jpg

    bubbleHacrop.jpg


  11. Hi Ray

    The company that made the Tri-Pier 2 that I use is called Pier-Tech in America and the Tri-Pier 2 cost $3,500 (US dollars). It has a battery operated motor that raises the central part of the pier up to 20 inches, it is very smooth and they quote that it won't affect the polar alignment. When I use it I will post a review on the site, The pier in itself is very stable.

    Best wishes

    Gordon

    :smile:


  12. Hi all

    Last week before I imaged the Pacman nebula (posted earlier here) I was doing a few test exposures of different subjects that were low in the sky. I thought I would try out the Eagle nebula and try for a few subframes to see what would turn out (to give an idea of how low it was in the sky the telescope was horizontal), unfortunately after the first subframe it decided to hide behind the roof of my shed, so that was that for M16, later on I carried on with the Pacman nebula after redoing the polar alignment due to me accidentally nudging one of the feet on the Tri-Pier.

    Anyway to cut a long story short I was bored this afternoon as the weather has turned nasty again so I was having a fiddle around with some images and noticed that the solitary subframe of M16 was still there so I loaded the FIT file into CS2 and had a go at processing it, rather than using the full widefield image I cropped it so only the nebula is filling the frame and the end result is below. Obviously it is over processed (my apologies for that) as I had to use a fair bit of noise reduction to help smooth the image, but I think I still managed to retain some of the detail. If ever it gets high enough I will have another go at a few more subframes or even use the pier raising motor on the Tri-Pier 2 (gives 20 inch extra height without affecting polar alignment). I hope it is worthy of posting

    Thanks for looking

    Gordon:smile:

    eagle-nebula-Ha.jpg


  13. Hi

    I don't think you can have overkill for a mount as I believe this is the most important link in your imaging train, and where the majority of your budget should go. The following are two outrageous extremes of how you could budget £12000 as an example

    RCOS 12.5" RC telescope £10,000

    EQ6 Pro £850

    Orion starshoot pro camera £800

    If the tripod and mount didn't break and you managed to get any images I suspect they wouldn't be very good and the buyer would give up, the mount is clearly not up that size of telescope

    However for the same budget

    Paramount ME £10,000

    WO zenithstar 66 £350

    Starlight xpress H9 £1,300

    This may seem totally overkill with the mount but the resulting images would be astoundingly good thanks to the stability and accuracy of the mount, you would never need to upgrade the mount and could then concentrate on the cheaper components in the system.

    These prices are approximate as some have gone up in price.

    I am speaking with a bit of experience as I was in a quandary as to what mount and equipment to buy and originally I was going to go for a CGE, then an Alter D6 then a Titan but there were delays with all of these, and I "iffed and ahhed" about whether to push the boat out and increase my budget for the Paramount ME for a while, but took the plunge and I have never regretted it, and although I wouldn't suggets everybody should go out and get a Paramount (unless they are seriously into the hobby and have the funds, in which case what are you waiting for:smile:) I would always advise that people should get the best mount they can afford. I know this is slightly off topic regarding refractor/reflector but it was my view on the mention of an EQ6 being overkill ---"No it is not"

    Best wishes

    Gordon

    (Paramount ME owner and proud to admit it)

    :smile:


  14. Another beautiful image Gordon. :bow::bow::bow:

    That SE has excellent crop capabilities, the image retains it's information well...

    I can't help but to commend you on your advancing processing skills. Reviewing several of your images from your website, there is a definite improvement in between your earlier images and later images. Quite an achievement I think.

    Cheers:smile:

    Hi

    Thanks for the comments about the processing, I am finding different things and tips as I go along and am gradually working towards a workflow of processing stages that works for me.

    Best wishes

    Gordon


  15. Hi all

    Well I have managed to do two nights imaging in a row (that's got to be a first with our weather). I managed to start imaging at 1am after having to redo the polar alignment as I accidentally nudged one of the legs on the Tri-pier (that's enough of the excuses). For once the skies were clear with no sign of cloud but the seeing wasn't brilliant partly due to the moon nearby but also there appeared to be some very thin mist in the air as the stars didn't seem as sharp as usual.

    I managed 16x10 unguided subframes finishing at 4am. The image was aligned and combined in Maxim DL and I did two aggressive iterations of curves mixed with levels in Photoshop, local contrast enhancement using Noel's tools and some extra processing using gradient xterminator and noise reduction was used to try and get rid of the effects of the mist which I think I managed to reduce to a minimum. I have had to reduce the quality to be able to post it so as always there are better quality images on my site http://www.imagingtheheavens.co.uk. I have also included a cropped closeup to better show the detail in the nebula itself

    TMB 115, Starlight Xpress H36 with Ha filter on Paramount ME

    Thanks for looking

    Best wishes and clear skies

    Gordon:smile:

    pacmannebulaHa.jpg

    pacmannebulaHacrop.jpg


  16. Hi Guys

    Thanks for the comments. Ray, I think the dark nebula is one of the many Barnard catalogue of dark nebulae but I haven't been able to ascertain which one yet.

    Tim, had a great time in the States, was invited round to Richard Crisp's place for a barbecue (moderator of Yahoo narrowband imaging group) which was good fun. I haven't had much chance or time to do the full colour narrowband stuff since my return, I will probably have another go when the nights get a bit longer and I am able to get more data.

    Best wishes

    Gordon


  17. Hello fellow insomniacs

    After an hour of cloud cover after aligning and focusing and ruining the first 5 subframes I let the camera run as there was no sign of rain and true to form with the British weather the skies cleared. I managed to get 18x10 subframes of the The Wizard in Cepheus, details are as follows

    TMB 115 f7 with field flattener

    Starlight Xpress SXVF H36 with FLI filter wheel using Astronomik 13nm Ha filter

    Paramount ME

    18 x 10 minutes unguided

    Simple autodark subtraction in Maxim DL, no flats or bias frames

    Aligned and combined in Maxim DL using sum

    Saved to 16 bit tiff, using full pixel value and gamma value of 0.8 to stretch

    2 x aggressive curves and 1 minor curves alternated with levels in Photoshop CS2

    Local contrast enhancement using Noel's tools in Photoshop CS2

    Clone stamp tool to tidy image

    Final minor cropping to remove effects of stacking

    I have also included a rotated cropped closeup of the Wizard to show the detail better.

    I had to reduce the quality of the image somewhat in order to post it, better quality versions are on my site http://www.imagingtheheavens.co.uk

    Thanks for looking

    Best wishes

    Gordon:smile:

    wizardnebulaHa.jpg

    wizardnebulaHacrop.jpg


  18. Hi Guys

    Thanks for the comments, Ray I would say the Paramount is just about the best £8900 I have invested, it is awesome in every respect. Tim I think the depth in the image is more to do with with the Ha filter than the camera although I would say that a good scope and camera do contribute to the final result. Personally I really like the monochrome Ha images for the following reasons

    1. They are easy to take and process

    2. Can be done in full moonlight or under light pollution

    3. Don't require flats to be taken

    4. The end result looks very dramatic

    5. They show an incredible amount of detail

    This is not to say that I won't be doing colour as well. One thing I will be trying at some point is this region of nebular cloud with the Starlight Xpress H36 camera and either a 135mm or 200mm camera lens of which I have both and a Ha filter as this expanse of nebular cloud is much bigger than the field of view with my TMB and H36 combo.

    This will be one of my projects when I get back off my holiday

    Best wishes and clear skies

    Gordon

    :smile:


  19. Hi all

    A good bit of weather last night enabled me to get 14x10 minutes unguided on Sadr in Cygnus taken with a Ha filter, I tried the same image last week when there was thin cloud about all night and you can compare the results on my website http://www.imagingtheheavens.co.uk where there is also a better quality image

    Due to time constraints no guiding or flat fields were used, just simple auto dark subtraction in Maxim DL and then processed with levels and curves and contrast in Photoshop CS2. I am off on my hols to San Francisco and Las Vegas this weekend so I am having an enforced break from imaging for a couple of weeks.

    Thanks for looking

    Best wishes and clear skies

    Gordon:smile:

    SadrnebulaHa.jpg

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