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Posts Made By: Charles Stevenson

July 26, 2015 02:22 AM Forum: Digital SLR AstroPhotography

Star trails goofing around...

Posted By Charles Stevenson

We've had terrible nights for imaging lately. Out of desperation, I snapped a quick star trails with the DSLR and 500mm mirror lens Wednesday night, technically Thursday morning, 7/23 @ 1:23am... 601s @ ISO 400. Added star spikes with plugin to make Polaris a little more interesting. Noise Ninja and various other goofing around. Still have a gradient but whatever ;-)

July 30, 2015 11:08 AM Forum: Digital SLR AstroPhotography

NGC 6946

Posted By Charles Stevenson

In between grinding with 120 carbo on my 8" pyrex blank, I would run out and check on the imaging of NGC 6946. MetaGuide somehow is preventing a meridian flip which doesn't seem right. I might have to write the author and see what I'm doing wrong or if there's a bug. Thankfully, babysitting it I was able to turn off guiding... flip... and resume. Hot and humid last night but at least stars were visible (moon was invasive).

Here's a ROUGH draft. I have some cleanup to do for sure... 55 x 180s @ ISO 1600... C8-A XLT, WO focuser, Baader MPCC, Canon EOS 6D. Deep Sky Stacker and Photoshop. Crazy gradients might be due to a problem when I made my flats. I didn't think much of it last night but I removed the dew sheild to lessen the effects of the wind which at some point started giving me oval and squiggly stars. I know in the morning when I shot flats that there's no way I got the flexible shield on in the same exact orientation.

July 31, 2015 10:16 PM Forum: Telescope Making

AWOL OWL? (Edit: Nope. My mistake!:)

Posted By Charles Stevenson

Edit: Very soon after I posted Cary wrote and said my mirror was ready to ship. Lesson learned is to relax and be patient. Good things come to those who wait. Original post follows...

I sent a mirror to OWL to be coated at the end of June and it arrived July 2nd, got a quote July 8, and gave the go-ahead to refigure to a higher standard and receive enhanced alum coating. I haven't heard a peep since. I've emailed a few times and left a voice message. Any idea of Cary's Ok or just busy? Very curious... sending another email tonight.

August 16, 2015 09:43 PM Forum: Telescope Making

5-micron Alox Stubborn

Posted By Charles Stevenson

My first mirror is coming along. I'm using an 8" Pyrex blank full thickness and an 8" plate glass tool. Tonight I made it down to 12 micron and finally started with 5 micron. I'm having issues with the two wanting to lock together when I work the air bubbles off the edge. I have found that rapidly moving whatever is on-top and only sliding bubbles off the edge when using a center-over-center motion that I don't feel it begin to seize. Thankfully I've always been able to prevent them from locking together. I'm using a wee bit of soap and that seems to help. Any other suggestions??

August 16, 2015 10:51 PM Forum: Digital SLR AstroPhotography

Perseids & Milky Way

Posted By Charles Stevenson

This is the best one I was able to capture. I found about 2 hours of my subs were ruined because of dew. Fortunately, a friend who was also imaging set me up with his dew heater controller! :-)

August 26, 2015 10:16 PM Forum: Digital SLR AstroPhotography

Aug 26 Moon

Posted By Charles Stevenson

Shot some video with the Canon EOS 6D and C8. Processed in PIPP and stacked in AS!2. Noise Ninja, unsharp mask, auto contrast and color....

September 18, 2015 11:36 AM Forum: Digital SLR AstroPhotography

Caldwell 4

Posted By Charles Stevenson

I love that it's getting dark earlier. Last night I setup the tripod while the kids were playing and got all ready to go before supper. After supper I got the little man in bed and it was dark enough to run through the alignment stars. I spent a bit of time with polar alignment. I also wasted quite awhile (well not really wasted) trying to figure out MetaGuide's Meridian Flip feature. I did discover an "advanced" mode that suddenly displays many more buttons and widgets including one to Kill Hot Pixels as my friend Ken had recently done with PHD. Wish I had known about these hidden features earlier.

After all the goofing around it started getting cold and I was getting tired. I decided I had enough shots of the heart nebula and moved on shopping around. The triangulum was in the Worcester glow and low so I moved to an object I'd never seen before from the Caldwell objects book I borrowed from the club library... C4 aka NGC 7023 aka Iris Nebula. This is a beautiful target and I wish I could do it more justice. These was also an experiment. Being very lazy I decided I wanted lots of color and didn't want to run for two nights to get it. I also didn't feel like mucking around with flats etc.

Summed up... 124 x 90s @ ISO 25600 RAW format exposures taken 9/17-9/18 with the Canon EOS 6D DSLR, Backyard EOS, via the C8 guided with 80mm guidescope Basler firewire camera and metaguide on a CG5 mount on a tripod on grass with paver stones (how I long for a pier ;-). I have to be really careful approaching and leaving the scope as my footsteps ruin subs. Anyways... stacked in Deep Sky Stacker no flats, bias, or darks. Processed in Photoshop CS6 with Noise Ninja 2 plugin and Star Spikes Pro. I like it. I did a Google search to see if I was close and it seems so... thoughts? Seeing hasn't been the best. The new dew heaters are rockin' (thanks Alan!)

September 19, 2015 10:46 AM Forum: Digital SLR AstroPhotography

Eastern Veil Nebula

Posted By Charles Stevenson

Another clear night (9/18) by New England standards... can't believe what a nice stretch we've had. Here's my first attempt at part of the veil. I think this is called the Eastern Veil. 32 x 90s @ ISO 25600 w/darks this time. :-) No star spikes... couldn't get the plugin to recognize the stars within the veil and didn't feel like hassling with it. Larger version in ATWB customer gallery.

September 26, 2015 12:41 PM Forum: Home Observatories

My first pier

Posted By Charles Stevenson

After 9 months of hauling the tripod outdoors in the evening and indoors in the morning, a permanent pier began to have an overwhelming appeal for me. I needed to act fast since the frost is coming soon. I dug down all the way until I hit ledge, which was only a little under 4'. I think that'll make a nice solid base. I laid some rebar in the lower portion, as I'd heard due to lightning and ground surges they shouldn't go all the way up the pier. I mixed and poured 9 x 80lbs bags of Quikrete. The last bag went into a scrap of 16" sonotube from my club's project. Into that I sunk 3 large anchor bolts which I had fastened into a plywood template to hold the bolts straight.

The pier itself has a story behind it. It was the base of an old fire alarm call box and is made of sturdy box aluminum. The man who built my house had been a firefighter and the fire alarm call box was setup as a path light. Can't beat a free pier ;-) I'll post photos of that soon.

September 26, 2015 08:21 PM Forum: Digital SLR AstroPhotography


Posted By Charles Stevenson

Here's one from last week with the newly refigured 10". I must say that my mount is not equipped to handle the 10" and I cobbled together some rings out of scrap wood. Add to that the lack of sufficient counterweights and I'm very pleased with this image! I didn't dare add a guide scope to the already overloaded CG5 mount so I used a Soligor 135mm f/3.5 lens w/Basler A102f mono Firewire camera. I had trouble finding enough weights to balance things out. I'm not sure if it was the lens type or the lack of balance but I didn't have much luck getting metaguide calibrated or working well. Guiding was pretty off and my stars got stretched. Here's andromeda @ ISO 1600 180s exposures... 23 of them but only stacked about 10. Processing is actually pretty bad now that I look at it. My 2-year old was getting into things so I rushed.

Photos of my rig will follow.