Solar Eclipse and Airplane transit

The partial solar eclipse on October 25th happened conveniently during lunch break, and the skies were perfectly clear. I opted for the big refractor (Astro-Physics 127mm f/8) combined with a 2x Nikon teleconverter in the hope to capture some detail in the form of sunspots on the solar disc.

I setup the camera to record a set of timelapse images, taking a picture every 20s. After I while I also setup the 60mm refractor to be able to observe the eclipse visually.

Shortly after maximum eclipse I noticed an airplane with contrail heading to the area of the sky where the sun was located. From past experience I thought that it will miss the sun (the apparent diameter of the sund and moon in the sky is only about half a thumb’s width at arm-length), but switched the camera to video and started recording.

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Rosette Nebula

I chose the Rosette nebula again as my target of choice when I wanted to test if I can improve on the image quality when using the 0,7x reducer.

The Rosette nebula is a large and relatively bright emission nebula in the constellation Monoceros. Various parts of the nebula have separate NGC numbers and the embedded star cluster itself is NGC2244

This wider view was taken with the Takahashi FS-60CB and shows the surrounding area of the sky.

Later I discovered that the reducer only provides a 10% reduction in focal length, while introducing quite a bit of vignetting.

Rosette Nebula, Nikon D750a, Optolong l-enhance Filter, Astro-Physics 127mm f/8 with 0.7x Reducer, 61x120s, ISO400, Blur Exterminator, Noise Exterminator
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Andromeda Galaxy – M31

In Autumn the Andromeda galaxy is conveniently placed in the darkes part of the sky for my home, the eastern sky.

Due to the vibration prone location of my telescope on the top of our house, I had to throw away 2/3rds of the individual exposures due to trailed stars, so I ended up with only 22,5 minutes of data. Another possibility is, that the guiding didn’t work properly, calibration was suspiciously short.

Anyways, here is the Andromeda galaxy at 1016mm focal length, Nikon D750, 45x30s, ISO 1600, Astro-Physics 127mm f/8, Meade LXD 650 mount.

45x30s, Astro-Physics 127mm f/8, Nikon D750, ISO 1600, preprocessed and stacked in Regim, developed in Photoshop and Lightroom.

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Venus at 4%

Today Venus was a very delicate crescent, with only about 4% of it’s visible disc illuminated by the sun. I used the 127mm f/8 refractor with a 1.4x teleconverter and took a number of images using the Nikon D750. 20% of 46 individual images were used to create this image using the software Autostakkert:

127mm f/8 Astro-Physics, Nikon D750, TC-E14II

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M13, M5, M57

In spite of bad seeing and strong gusts of wind I did set up the big refractor to do some astrophotography. I spent quite some time to get things running – in the end the spring galaxies were already too far west in the glare of the train station, so I switched my targets to two globulars and a planetary nebula. Here is a list of what went wrong:

  • I wasn’t aware that the D750 uses a non-standard USB port on the camera, I had to search for half an hour to find the original cable
  • the laptop I usually use has been upgraded to Windows 10, installing the drivers for the guiding camera did not work
  • on the backup laptop guiding with PHD worked, but Backyard Nikon crashed and/or got no connection to the camera, I tried many combinations of USB extension cables, USB ports, removing the SD card, formatting the SD card, upgrading to BackyardNikon 1.0.5, in the end I focused using live view of the camera and used the built-in interval timer of the camera to shoot 30 second exposures…
  • the seeing was really terrible, making focusing difficult, and bloating the stars during the exposure
  • for reasons unkown (user error?) the quality setting on the camera was changed to FINE, so I only took JPEG images instead of NEF( Raw)

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