M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula. 30sec x20 @ISO800. Optolong L-Pro. DSLR. sn-10 OTA

The Dumbbell Nebula (also known as Apple Core NebulaMessier 27M 27, or NGC 6853) is a planetary nebula in the constellation Vulpecula, at a distance of about 1227 light-years.[1] This object was the first planetary nebula to be discovered; by Charles Messier in 1764. At its brightness of visual magnitude 7.5 and its diameter of about 8 arcminutes, it is easily visible in binoculars,[5] and a popular observing target in amateur telescopes. (Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumbbell_Nebula).

By Steve J Posted in Main

Tonight’s targets


…Processing images.

Next targets:

*IC342 spiral galaxy in Camelopardalis
*NGC 869 double cluster in Perseus
*IC 348 star-forming region in the constellation Perseus



10″ Schmidt-Newtonian telescope with Canon T7 DSLR w/ Optolong L-Pro.

By Steve J Posted in Main

Session Aug 19 2020

Deneb – IC1805 – NGC6884. Yes, I need to start using flat frames. Filter: Optolong L-Pro. Images are 180Sec @ 800ISO: Canon T7 DSLR. Also below is the heart of IC1805 and NGC6884.

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By Steve J Posted in Main

IC1805: Combined image – Take 1

Using GIMP to process images. I have not yet become skilled in gradient removal but I am improving somewhat. Here are some rough Ha images of IC1805 combined with images taken with the Optolong L-Pro filter: my first attempt at stacking different images with at various wavelengths – I do see the advantage of this; however primitive my process is now. Some of these images are sharpened; but I do prefer the un-sharpened images. BTW: Shooting with Canon T7 DSLR: 180sec, 1600ISO. Telescope: Meade LXD75 SN-10.

So what’s next? I will continue to learn with this object IC1805. My next exposures will have a lower ISO setting to bring down the brightness that is causing the vignette – 180 or 300 seconds with ISO 800 (using the Optolong L-Pro), and the same with the Ha. Anything higher than ISO 800 is just too bright with the light pollution at my location. I have been considering trying out the Optolong L-enhance filter: https://youtu.be/b1yVLG1q6Sc

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By Steve J Posted in Main

IC1805: Heart Nebula

Next target: IC1805. I have started to image this nebula in Ha the other week. I have decided to switch filters over to the Optolong L-Pro – a multiband filter in OIII (496 nm and 500 nm), H-beta (486 nm), NII (654 nm and 658 nm), H-alpha (656 nm), as well as SII (672 nm). Optolong_L-Pro-transmission-lines_grande

I use this filter frequently, as my location is at a Bortle 7 – high on the light pollution scale. I do aim to have my images completed this month in August 2020.

By Steve J Posted in Main

Shooting in Ha

Shooting in Hydrogen Alpha. I am finding out that to get a good image (particularly in narrowband) one has to take a LOT of images. Here are a couple for a start. The first is IC1805 the Heart Nebula in Cassiopeia. While a large number of additional images are needed to create a descent stack, we can start to see the detail in the heart IC1805. I also stacked about 15 lights of M57 for some fun. Canon T7 DSLR: 180sec, 800ISO.

By Steve J Posted in Main

Current targets

I plan on shooting in Ha and OIII. Shooting in Hydrogen Alpha and Oxygen III will bring out the fine details of these planetary nebulae. The Moon is waning but these filters should cut out that ambient light.

As the Northern part of the sky is the most accessible from my location in my little neighborhood, filters are a must.

Using the Mead LXD75 sn-10 with Skywatcher EQ6-r.

Current targets: 

Cats eye nebula in Draco (c6/ngc6543 9mag) in Ha and OIII.

Owl nebula in Ursa Major (9.90mag M97) in Ha and OIII. I have imaged this often, but never got a decent image, and there is so much light pollution in this location. These filters and image stacking should fix that. See: https://astrodonimaging.com/gallery/the-owl-gets-a-halo/

IC3568 Lemon Slice in Ursa Minor. Mag 11.10.


By Steve J Posted in Main


Images of Jupiter last night. Some are slightly out of focus to enhance the moons. One shot is a focus/calibration shot. Better images with greater magnification on the way tonight.

New WiFi focuser: nFOCUS from Rigelsys

I am beta testing the new WiFi nFocus from Rigelsys. I have set it up on the Celestron C6. The people at Rigelsys have worked with me to find the right fit for the C6 focuser base and have sent out this one. It installed easily with two screws and I am controlling it via the on-board PC: I use remote access to the PC via Windows RDP.

I use APT (Astro Photography Tool) for my imaging and via ASCOM, the nFocus interfaces well with APT. Upon connecting to the focuser in APT, it calls the installed nFocus software.

For an official announcement from Rigelsys on this new WiFi nFocus product, see this link to CloudyNights.com here.

By Steve J Posted in Main

April 2-3 2020

Sprint weather is back: clear skies for two days and temperature is around 45deg F. Moon is over half phase. Bright, but I managed to capture these two images of it on April 2nd and M37 on the 3rd. No filters. The first image of the moon is a little over processed – sharpened. Exposure: 1/125 sec. ISO 100. Imaged with a Canon T3 and Celestron C6 on Skywatcher EQ6-r mount.

M37 is a stack of 10 images during this moon – lights only. It is not a good image, but this was a quick take with no filter during Moon. Messier 37 is the richest open cluster in the constellation Auriga. It is the brightest of three open clusters in Auriga and was discovered by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Hodierna before 1654 (Wiki, 2020).

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By Steve J Posted in Main

Return of the Refractor

Tinkering in the basement with the Explore Scientific AR152: I had installed it on the older Meade LXD75 mount. I am currently calibrating the telescope, as it has severe astigmatism.

The AR152 will be used for visual use only as the optics (a doublet) have not passed my tests for astrophotography – Stars have blue edge and are just not sharp.

In the background is the next project: a restore of a vintage Meade 6600 – a 1986 6″ Newtonian reflector with original stained wood tripod. The mount has no drive; just adjustment knobs. There are plenty of dents and scratches on this one – I have used it over the decades in the field and it shows.



By Steve J Posted in Main

C6 Setup and changes

Made some changes on the C6; it is ready for first light. At the time of this writing, it is in the middle of winter in Northern Ohio – cold and grey skies. I usually take a break from astronomy at this time of year; as the older I get the less I like standing out in the cold. The tinkering is done and this rig is ready for work. I have been thinking about setting up an observatory for it, using a shed from Home Depot: modified, of course.

I have just set up the alignment of the finder, autoguider, and the main OTA with the help of an artificial star.

By Steve J Posted in Main

Early Winter project

Turning into winter again with turbulent cloudy skies; so it is a good time for changes and building the new. I have just acquired another EQ6-r Pro mount and have set it up with my Celestron C6. I have just added an electronic focuser to the C6 with the Orion mini autoguider. A new BeeLink mini PC manages it all.

This rig will be used primarily for DSLR and close-up imaging, as the C6 is at f/10 with a focal length of 1500mm as compared to the LXD75 sn-10 at f/4 and 1016mm. I have been wanting to get a good close-up image of Neptune: December is a good time for that.

Equipment update

Equipment update: out with the new, in with the old (yes, that’s right).


I had disassembled the 10″ Schmidt-Newtonian and cleaned it: there were small spider webs in it, and the mirrors needed cleaning. It was Collimated and mounted again on the main Skywatcher EQ6-r mount. Another EQ6-r is going to be purchased soon for alternating use by the Explore Scientific AR152 (for optical use) and the Celestron C6. The C6 is being used for DSLR. It is currently sitting on an old Meade LXD75 mount but the Orion autoguider cannot be used with this mount – I prefer to get another EQ6 to resolve this.

Starhopper.orgThe Explore Scientific AR152: Let’s just say I am replacing it with my 6″ Celestron SCT…Explore Scientific does make quality products, but it seems in my experience and opinion that sometimes defective things can slip through quality control.

When I had received it, the light shroud and entire objective lens assembly was loose and I could move it from side to side. I called Explore Scientific and told them the model was an AR152 and the support person said that this was normal and that the light shroud was designed to move up and down the tube – he was wrong; as this cannot be done on the AR152: the technician was thinking about another model.

I had found that the objective lens assembly was held in by only one screw – the other two were stripped (probably on assembly by too much torque) and laying within the tube; and fell out when I removed the objective assembly. I had to replace the screws and it is now on the tube is on solid.

I have tried laser collimation, but this did not eliminate the chromatic aberration but it still persists.

This is the first and the last Explore Scientific product I will own. I will fix the issues with this AR152 and use it for visual observing only – as it is a telescope for basic visual use only and not for any kind of advanced imaging.

The C6 – prepped and ready DSLR imager:


Celestron C6 with right-angle finder w/illuminated eyepiece, Orion StarShoot AutoGuider Pro & 30mm Ultra Mini Guide Scope, and and old trusty Cannon T3. The old Meade LCD75 mount that this is currenly on will soon be replaced with a second Skywatcher EQ6-r.

By Steve J Posted in Main