September 14, 2012

Setup of Second Pier

At long last with the help of my good friend MrL I managed to get the second pier (Arthur Dent) polar aligned in the Observatory. For once everything went as planned, a quick visual alignment to get within the ball park then we connected the QHY8 to the William Optics 90, three quick runs through polar align max and we were done.
Things went so well that we couldn’t help ourselves and ran off a couple of test shots of M31 and NGC 7000, the images were unguided at 60 seconds 4 times bin, we were both quite impressed with the results to say the least.
It had been a while since both of us have had the opportunity to do any imagining and I think we had both lost some enthusiasm for the hobby but at one point during the night I glanced across at MrL and noticed he was looking up into the night sky, joining him I stared up and was treated to a fantastic view of the milky way!! I think I can safely say the passion for everything Astro related is back.

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February 23, 2012

New camera and other toys

Hi all

For a while now I have been on the lookout for a small mono chip camera and luckily last week I managed to get my hands on a second-hand Starlight express SXVF-H9 and as luck would have it I also found a SX filter wheel and OAG. Perfect me thinks, well not quite, the filter wheel, OAG, camera set up fits together like a glove. The only issue is that the OAG connection is a c mount and is designed to work with a SX guide head and lodestar, now while I would love a lodestar I’m having problems enough hiding my current expenditure from the misses without adding to it.
So I had to find a way of connecting a t thread DSI to a c mount which wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, anyway after a lot of goggling and chats with FLO and SteveL (many thanks again guys) we located this Compact C-to-T Adapter – Edmund Optics from Edmund Optics.
The connector itself is a bit loose on the threads of the OAG but some PTFE tape will soon resolve that, all I need to do now is get them par focal and we are all set to go.

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February 6, 2012

Another New Year!!

As you can see by the lack of posts in 2011 it wasn’t necessarily a great year for me for getting out into the Observatory, this year however started off very differently, I have managed three sessions already this year, the first two sessions were focused on setting up, making sure everything was working as it should, especially the guiding!!
I really struggled last year with guiding, for some reason I couldn’t get the C11/QHY8 rig at f10 guiding at more than 5 minutes before I got elongated stars and since I was imagining at f10 I really needed to get more towards 15 minutes.
Friday 3rd February looked as though it was going to be a perfectly clear evening, so I went down to the Observatory at about 5 o’clock to set up, I had bought a new dew band for the QHY8 camera which I attached to the nosepiece to stop it dewing up, I then rolled of the roof switched everything on and went back up to the house to enjoy a glass of wine.
Once it was dark enough I went back down to the observatory to set up for the imaging run, I had decided I wanted to image a Galaxy due to the field of view of the C11 and QHY8 really lends itself to galaxy hunting. The chosen galaxy was M82, this was the same galaxy I had used on the previous evenings while I had been testing that the guiding was working correctly.
One of the joys of a permanent setup is how quickly you can setup and begin imagining, alignment, focus, guiding took approx 15 mins  and by 6.30pm I was watching the camera download 20 minutes subs of M82. Although the PHD graph was a little up and down guiding seem to be working really well and the stars were looking nice and round.
I had set the system up to capture 3 hours worth of data so there was nothing to do but sit back and watch Starship Troopers on BBC iplayer and watch the images as they rolled in every 20 minutes.
Although it was a very clear night and perfect for imagining it was also very cold the temperature got down to -7.5° it was so cold that my diet Coke actually froze once I’ve completed my nine subs I went on and collected hundred and one bias and hundred and one flatfield frames, as I placed the ELsheet on the scope I noticed that all of the equipment in the Observatory was covered with a thin film of ice luckily though everything in the warm room was still nice and dry. I eventually closed at the Observatory at 1 o’clock in the morning pleased that I’ve captured some good data.
The image was processed using photoshop CS2, Noels actions and Noise Ninja, I seem to be still struggling with the colour in M82, everything seems to have a slightly green tinge to it, I’m wondering whether it’s got something to do with not using any filters in my current imaging setup, say that this is probably the best image I have ever gone out of the C11 and to be honest and one of the best images I think I’ve ever taken, it just goes to show that longer subs means more data and data is king when it comes to producing some good images.

Messier 82 (also known as NGC 3034, Cigar Galaxy or M82) is the prototype nearby starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The starburst galaxy is five times as bright as the whole Milky Way and one hundred times as bright as our galaxy’s center (Wikipedia)

Mount: EQ6 via EQMOD
OTA: C11 Edge HD @ f/10.0
Guiding: OAG + Meade DSI + PHD
Imaging: QHY8 9 x 1200s,

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January 12, 2011

A New Year!!!

OK, its been a whole year since I last posted, however I do have lots of excuses but a lot has happened.

I started planning/dreaming of an Observatory back in 2008 shortly after I started astro imaging but due to one thing and another ( 3 house moves falling apart at the last minute ) it was only in august 2010 I realised my dream.

The Observatory was built and installed by Alexander’s Observatories, its 16ft by 10ft has a 6ft by 10ft warm room and sits on paving slab base I have two piers installed on a concrete base that is independent from the raised floor. The interior walls are covered by plywood and painted with wood preservative.

I have two setups on individual piers, the first rig is a C11 edge HD SCT on a EQ6 mount for planetary and galaxy work and is guided with a off access guider. The second rig is a C8 SCT with a hyperstar and guided with a WO 90mm refractor on a Heq5 mount, both rigs are controlled independently using eqmod.

I’ve still got a few finishing touches to complete but we are all ready to go once these clouds disappear 🙂

Finally I would like to introduce you all to the The “ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha” Observatory 🙂

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December 23, 2009

NGC 6069

This image very nearly didn’t get taken at all due to a dew spot developing on the QHY8 nose piece and my scope very nearly running into the mount due to the fact I forgot I needed to do a meridian flip and fell asleep, luckily disaster was averted and the resulting image is below.
I’m still struggling with egg shaped stars with the MN 190 at exposures longer that 5 mins due to flex but DSS has made the best of what I got. The image is also cropped due to me framing the star in the centre of the FOV rather that the object!!!! DOH!!!!

OTA: SW 190 Mak Newt
Guiding: William Optics 90 DSI pro II PHD
QHY8 MaximDL, 30x300s
Stacked using: DeepSkyStacker
Processed using PSCS2


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December 23, 2009

NGC 281

Finally got round to processing some data I took at Kelling this year!!! Its been a busy 3 months with moving house and setting up my study but have finally managed to find some time to sit down and get some processing done.

As if capturing the data isn’t difficult enough, this processing stuff is sometimes beyond me but I’ve done my best although I’m sure the more proficient imagers out there could do a far better job with the data than I have but as they say “Rome wasnt built in a day”

Merry Christmas to you all.


Pac Man

OTA: SW 190 Mak Newt
Guiding: William Optics 90 DSI pro II PHD
QHY8 MaximDL, 30x300s
Stacked using: DeepSkyStacker
Processed using PSCS2

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July 5, 2009

Kelling Heath April Star Party M81-M82

This is the second time I have attended the Kelling Heath Star Party, the first time was September 08 where we had 3 clear nights!!! This time I only managed I night of imagining due to the sky being a bit milky. Kelling Heath is a really great site and I would recommend it to everyone, the site is well laid out, the people are very friendly and more than happy to share their expertise. Another great find this year was the breakfast you can get from the center, the perfect antidote to a all night session 🙂
I managed to get 4 hours of data but had to scrap approx 3 hours worth of subs due to flex (note to self, always remember to check kit is locked down tight prior to imagining )
I have struggled a bit with the processing as every time I tried to being the detail out in M81, I would blow out the core of M82, saying all of that this is my best image of these two to date so I can’t complain too much.

OTA: SW 190 Mak Newt
Guiding: William Optics 90 DSI pro II PHD
QHY8 MaximDL, approx 6x 600
Stacked using: DeepSkyStacker
Processed using PSCS2

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July 2, 2009

M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy

This is the second image I have taken with my Atik 16hrc ( which is a great camera for Galaxy work ). I still seem to be struggeling to get the vivid colours you see in other images of M51 but that gives me something to work on over the summer. It may just be washed out due to light polution

Cheers Jon

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March 9, 2009

DMK First Light


Well, when I stared out on this hobby I wish some one had told me how frustrating it is!!!!!!! I can’t believe how many cloudy nights we get in the UK, I am sure I have spent more time looking at my telescopes rather than looking through them. 🙂

Saying all that I did manage to get out under a clear sky on the 6th of March and had the opportunity to have First Light with my new DFK camera and William Optics 90.  I took around 1500 images at 60 fps which were the stacked and processed in Registax 5.



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January 22, 2009

NGC 2796

First clear night for ages so got home early and set the scope up, I had decided to go for M81 M82 with the MAKNEWT, so 4 star alignment, and M82 popped into the FOV (well, I thought it was M82). After centring the object I thought was M82, I changed the camera orientation to find M81 and after a hour of trying gave up and went for M82 on its own. I only managed a hours worth of data and the images on the screen didn’t look great so I didn’t bother doing any flats etc, I did stack the images, did a bit of curves and levels and ended up with a object that wasn’t M82. So I thought, I had either discovered a new DSO never before seen by man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, or my alignment was off and it’s a completely different DSO and since it couldn’t possibly be my alignment it must be a new DSO . Getting more and more excited I thought that before I ring up the Royal Observatory claiming I had found a new object and explaining to them the name I wanted to give it, I sent a quick email to SteveL to check it with

To my disappointment (as you may have guessed already) it wasn’t a new DSO ……………. So in answer to my question when is M82 not M82…………………. 

when its NGC2976 


NGC 2975

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