Amateur Astronomy from Edinburgh

This website is a place where I can post my images purely for the fun of it. You can find more information about the equipment I use on the About/Equipment page. Some of my best images are on display on the Showcase page.

To give me something to aim for, I have set up pages to get as many Messier and Lunar 100 objects as I can. The Deep Sky page is for objects not in Messier’s catalogue and includes some more recent lists such as the Caldwell and Finest NGC catalogues.

Light pollution is a serious problem for amateur astronomy here on the edge of Edinburgh, Scotland, so this is a battle of photons vs sodium! Please come back and visit as the site develops, I make lots of mistakes, the weather gets worse and the skies get brighter.

Mark

Recent posts

NGC 6992/6995 Eastern Veil (C33) – reprocessed

21 February 2017|Caldwell, Finest NGC, Nebula, News, NGC Summer|

Supernova remnant, Cygnus
Caldwell 33, Finest NGC 99b, SAC110 45
Size 60’x8′
2011-08-24
200mm f5 Newtonian MPCC Guided
Canon EOS 350D, Astronomik CLS
5x240s 20x180s, darks, flats,  ISO 800
Captured in APT
Processed in Nebulosity and PS CS5
2017-02-21 Re-processed in Lightroom CC

NGC 6995 is the irregularly shaped nebulosity in the left of the image, and NGC 6992 is the curved arc in the right of the image.

An incredibly rare and clear night with the Milky Way easily visible.
Original image:

M51 (NGC 5194)

17 February 2017|Galaxy, M31-60, News|

“Whirlpool”, Spiral Galaxy, Canes Venatici
Mag 8.4 Size 11.2′ x 6.9′
2017-02-16
200mm f8 RC
Piggyback guiding with 70mm f/7 refractor
L 10×240s 2×2, RGB 10×120s 4×4 Darks Bias Flats
Atik 460EX (-25C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

Best clear night for a while. Quite transparent and still.

Wide angle test – Orion

1 February 2017|News, Other|

Driven camera mountDIY wide angle mount using old ETX90EC mount. Horrible vignetting caused by IDAS filter in front of lens, but could be removed with flats. Proves the drive works though. Using an old fixed 135mm film lens (approx. 80mm equivalent).

2017-02-01 18:50UT
Canon EOS 600D, ISO 1600
5 x 25s, auto darks
135mm film lens – very cheap and old
2″ IDAS P2 LPR filter in front of lens
Processed in Nebulosity, PhotoShop and Lightroom.

Cone Nebula and Christmas Tree Cluster

30 January 2017|Nebula, News, NGC Winter, Open Cluster|

NGC 2264
Star forming nebula and Open cluster, Monoceros
Mag 3.9, size 20′
2017-01-29
200mm f8 RC at f6 (Revelation x0.75 reducer)
Piggyback guiding with 70mm f/7 refractor
L 5×240s 2×2, RGB 5×120s 4×4 Darks Bias Flats
Atik 460EX (-25C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

Bad planning in that the object went behind the observatory roof after only 5 sets of exposures. Not great but better than expected though.

Good quality flats make such a huge difference. Much easier to process, especially when using the reducer.

M81 Technology comparison

22 January 2017|News|

Following on from last month’s talk at the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh about astronomical sensors, this image shows how current amateur technology rivals that of the professionals from the past.

The first image I took using glass plates on the James Gregory Telescope 37″ SCT, the largest operational telescope in the UK, at the University of St Andrews in 1984. The one on the right I took in January 2017 using readily available amateur equipment.

Modern sensors make a huge difference. Undoubtedly the JGT can do much better now!

M81 (NGC 3031)

22 January 2017|Galaxy, M61-90, News|

Spiral Galaxy, Ursa Major
Mag 6.9, size 21’x10′
2017-01-02
200mm f8 RC at f6 (Revelation x0.75 reducer)
Piggyback guiding with 70mm f/7 refractor
L 10×240s 2×2, RGB 10×120s 4×4 Darks Bias Flats
Atik 460EX (-25C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

Terrible trouble with LP, noise and flats. Hard to process out the flaws.

Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. Due to its proximity to Earth, large size and active galactic nucleus (which harbors a 70 million M☉ supermassive black hole), Messier 81 has been studied extensively by professional astronomers. The galaxy’s large size and relatively high brightness also make it a popular target for amateur astronomers.

Messier 81 was first discovered by Johann Elert Bode on December 31, 1774. Consequently, the galaxy is sometimes referred to as “Bode’s Galaxy”. In 1779, Pierre Méchain and Charles Messier reidentified Bode’s object, which was subsequently listed in the Messier Catalogue.

Wikipedia

M42 for 2017

2 January 2017|M31-60, Nebula, News|

Got to do it every year – this is the 2017 version. Also trying out my new Revelation x0.75 reducer for the RC8. Seems to work very well for a very reasonable price £69. Spacing should be 80mm +/- 5mm. I managed to get 75mm with my filter wheel and 460EX.

Orion Nebula, Diffuse Emission Nebula, Orion
Mag 4.0 Size 85’x60′
2017-01-01
200mm f8 RC at f6 (new Revelation x0.75 reducer)
Piggyback guiding with new 70mm f/7 achromatic refractor
L 15×60s 2×2, RGB 15×30s 4×4 BPM
Atik 460EX (-25C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

New grab-and-go mount plus freebie

2 January 2017|News|

Skywatcher Mercury-705 on AZ3 Happy New Year

So I wanted a simple altaz mount to keep in the house and grab-and-go to have a quick look at stuff and show things to others without having to open the observatory. I chose the Skywatcher AZ3 mount which I thought would suit my C80ED refractor well.

I found it for about £120 at most places which seemed reasonable. However, I also found it for £99 at Wex Photographic including a 70mm f/7 achromatic refractor. So £20 cheaper plus a free telescope! Obviously the telescope isn’t as good as the C80 but I am now using it as a guidescope instead of the C80, which was too good to be used solely for that purpose. Can’t be bad!

NGC1977 Running Man Nebula

26 November 2016|Nebula, News, NGC Winter|

Another attempt at this with the CCD this time. Images get progressively worse through the night as equipment mists up despite attempts to stop it. Flats were useless and made it all worse so a little vignetting.

2016-11-25
200mm f5 Newtonian, piggyback guiding C80ED
L 9×180 1×1, RGB 9×120 2×2
BPM
Atik 460EX (-25C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom

How not to image NGC 2175

23 November 2016|News|

Just about everything is wrong with this image: framing, camera alignment, elongated stars, light pollution from car headlights, noise, dead pixels, haze, frost, …

Basically just an ugly image! Nothing has been going right with imaging recently. Software and hardware don’t play nicely, PC crashes, balance is never right, bad guiding, bad weather, optics fog up,… Think I’ll give up! Maybe 😉

Time to take the Newt off and put the RC8 back on.

2016-11-22
200mm f5 Newtonian, piggyback guiding C80ED
L 8×300 2×2, RGB 8×240 3×3
BPM, flats
Atik 460EX (-25C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC

M31 core

3 October 2016|Galaxy, M31-60, News|

Haven’t visited this one for ages. FOV obviously too small to fit the whole galaxy in.
Had to stop after 6 exposures because sky transparency was reducing and dew was becoming an issue.
Dust lanes show up nicely.

2016-10-02
200mm f5 Newtonian, piggyback guiding C80ED
L 6×90 1×1, RGB 6×60 2×2
BPM, flats
Atik 460EX (-21C), LRGB filters, IDAS P2 LPR filter
Captured in APT, Processed in Nebulosity3, PS CC, LightRoom