Comet PanSTARRS (C/2016 R2) – January 18, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on January 19, 2018 by maxpho

A rather difficult comet for small instruments. Imaged under decent skies in the Comana Woods. 26×120 sec, with the 115mm APO and ASI 1600MM in Bin2x2. Guiding via PHD in windy conditions at -2 Celsius.

Comet R2.jpg

And a short animation, showing the movement of the nucleus in about 70 minutes.

R2 Jan18.gif


M1 – the Crab Nebula – January 2018

Posted in ASTRO on January 9, 2018 by maxpho

This is another work in progress. But it will take some time to finish this one….

Using the “add hundreds of short frames” technique with the 14inch scope, I’ve managed to add some 900 frames of the very interesting object called “the Crab Nebula” in Taurus. The local conditions were very poor, with mostly mediocre seeing and cirrus clouds with some light fog, far from what “deep sky photography” requires. Nevertheless, the sole goal of this project was to get as many frames as possible of this object, and try to extract some fine details of the intricate structure inside it. After processing the following image, I’ve concluded that I need at least 2000-4000 more frames in order to get a nice final image of the object…So, the next couple of nights with clear skies will be dedicated to this crab…


And a wide field shot, reduce to around 50%, made out of only 100 frames. But these frames ranged from 20 to 60 seconds at gain 150 to 200; the scope was being guided using a homemade 60mm guidescope and PHD2 software. It seems that it is possible to get decent results with the 14inch Newtonian on the eq6 mount…


The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Mars – January 7, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on January 7, 2018 by maxpho

A rare conjunction occurred in the morning of January 7. Mars and Jupiter gathered (apparently) very close in the morning sky, less than half of the Moon’s diameter.

Of course I had to image the event, and got to my usual observing location early in the morning, only to find that fog was filling the entire area. I did however managed to capture some scenic shots, and eventually also some telescopic views.

First, the scenic shots (Canon 550D with Canon 100mm lens and the old 18-55mm kit lens):




And the first telescopic view, this one being acquired with the 115mm F/7 APO refractor and ASI1600MM camera with no filters. 190×5 sec frames. There are a few small galaxies also in this shot.


A comparison shot of the recent event, showing the Moon and Jupiter+Mars at the same scale. Images acquired with the same equipment, and thus at the same scale.


More shots are being processed…

ISS over SI – January 5, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on January 5, 2018 by maxpho

A short trip with a friend outside Bucharest for a much shorter astro-event: the transit of the ISS over the Moon.

A beginners mistake made the shape of the Station a bit blurred (didn’t set the exposure time correct-  2.4 milisec instead of less than 1 milisec). But it will be different next time 🙂

The station passed over the large lava-filled crater Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows), this is where the “SI” letters in the title come from.

ISS-Moon transit.jpg

And a short animation, showing the station move across the lunar surface about 10 times slower compared to the actual event time:


And a view of Mare Crisium on the terminator. Only 400 frames out of 1000 with the 8 inch Newtonian and ASI 1600MM and Red filter in 5/10 seeing.


And a larger mosaic, again in mediocre seeing conditions. I could not finish the entire mosaic due to dew forming on the secondary mirror (no dew heater for this one…).



Training for the Moon – December 2017

Posted in ASTRO on January 3, 2018 by maxpho

The following image shows just a segment of the Moon, acquired in December “last year” (already).

It represents my “first-light” test of the APM Coma Correcting 2.7x Barlow. Unfortunately, the image is far from what a 14-inch scope can do, and this was due to bad seeing (some fast westwind also). The shot is cut from a larger mosaic made up from 4 areas only.

It appears that this lens actually does what it says it does: corrects the coma of a F/4.5 Newtonian, and quite good actually! It paves the way for a full mosaic of the Moon…

Setup for the image: 355mm F/4.5 Newtonian, APM CC 2.7X Barlow, Baader Red filter, ASI 1600MM. Image resized to 70% (poor seeing).



First Full Moon of the Year – January 1, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on January 2, 2018 by maxpho

My very first astro-shot of 2018. It shows our Moon just a few hours from Full Phase.

The image was acquired from my balcony, using a small 65mm Refractor and ASI1600MM camera at the focal plane with RGB filters. The entire setup was placed and tracked manually on a simple photo-tripod.



And a Lunar Corona, shot only 20 minutes after the above images, with the 100mm lens and Canon 550D.


The Winter Rose/Rosette Nebula – December 30, 2017

Posted in ASTRO on December 31, 2017 by maxpho

This is definitely one of the most beautiful nebulae in the sky, and its shape and location near the Orion constellation surely assures its informal name of “the Winter Rose”.

For now this is “work in progress” since I’ve acquired only 21 frames for the following shot. More will be added in the following days and eventually a nice (I hope) image will result.

So, for now: 21 frames of 300 secs each, acquired with the TS APO 65Q Refractor (F/6.5), and ASI 1600MM camera (gain 150, bin2x2) in H-alpha light (7nm). Guiding with PHD2 and a 200mm lens with ASI 174MM. These frames were acquired near Runcu Stone in Dambovita, at -6 degrees Celsius.

The black-n-white version:


And an end-of-the-year colored version (with color from an old DSLR shot):


And a bit more play, trying to combine data from three sources: the recent h-alpha image (done with 65mm APO and ASI 1600MM), the 2016 full-spectrum image acquired with the 115mm APO and ASI 1600MM, and the 2015 image from the 65mm APO and a Canon DSLR. Not much care for star-processing, but the results points to an interesting conclusion: more frames from the 115mm scope are required!

The colored version:


And the B-W image: