Archive for December, 2017

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:



Moon near Aldebaran – December 30, 2017

Posted in ASTRO on December 31, 2017 by maxpho

Just a fast shot with the nice pair at -6 degrees Celsius. I could not wait for the actual occultation to occur, so this is about three hours before it actually happened.

I’ve used the 65mm APO refractor and ASI 1600MM with a Baader H-alpha 7nm filter (I was doing some deep sky at that moment…). 200 frames stack.

Aldebaran is at the right hand margin, and the shot is with South up.



Bubble Nebula – December 25, 2017

Posted in ASTRO on December 27, 2017 by maxpho

And another H-alpha image, this time acquired with the 115mm APO Refractor. This object requires much deeper shots and a lot more integration time in order to reveal its true nature…


Heart and Soul Nebulae – December 26, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on December 27, 2017 by maxpho

One more test of a deep-sky imaging setup to be used in H-alpha light. This time it was the 100mm Canon Macro lens that I’ve decided to use. Too bad that at f/4.5 it is still pretty bad, with comet-like stars visible in 1/3 of the frame. But somehow, the final image looks nice in my eyes due to the very similar results I’ve got early in this hobby, back in 1997-1997 with Zenit cameras on film. Memories…


Canon 100mm lens at F/4.5, ZWO ASI 1600MM, Baader 7nm H-alpha filter, NEQ 6 mount, guiding with 200mm lens and Meade DSI I using PHD2 software. Sensor temperature +7 C.

6×600 sec exposures, with 50% gamma and Gain 100. Only one dark acquired. Sky conditions: some fog, cirrus clouds, Moon one day after First Quarter, -2 degrees Celsius.

First, the colorized version:

heart and soul nebulas color.jpg

And the Black-n-White version:

heart and soul nebulas BW.jpg


California Nebula – December 23, 2017

Posted in ASTRO on December 24, 2017 by maxpho

The following shot is a “double-first” for me: it is my first H-alpha deep sky image of a nebula, and also the first time I image this object.

The tricky part for this two hours session was to learn again how to guide using the PHD software using this specific setup (a 65mm APO refractor and ASI 1600MM camera).

Of course some issues were noticed (excluding here the -6 degrees Celsius and some fog): my laptop batteries just couldn’t supply the power for too long (they are getting rather old), so the entire session was cut short. Another issue, this time with the Firecapture software (control of ASI camera) made me lose 5 or 6 frames. This is why only 12 frames were acquired. I think at least 30-40 frames are required with my setup for this object.

Next time…

And the image, Black/White:


And a colorized version, using my own “artistic feeling”:


This object resembles a little the “Nexus ribbon” from one of the Star Trek movies 🙂


Posted in Canaraua Fetii, Concedii, Plimbari, Specii rare on December 1, 2017 by maxpho

For some time now I’ve been waiting for the right moment to write a post about some of the reptiles I’ve met during my field trips in Romania.

I believe that the “right moment” is close, so I’m slowly starting to post a few shots of some of the vipers and other snakes.

The first one, showing perhaps the smallest of the viper individuals I’ve ever, a young Vipera berus, with an interesting “scale bar” near-by:)

It was found in the Retezat Mountains, near the “Pietrele” cabin.


And another Vipera berus individual, also from the Retezat Mountains, this time a fully-grown adult, of a very interesting coloration:


One of the first Vipera berus found in the Retezat Mountains, back in 2011. This specimen was again found in 2012 and 2013 at the same location.


A shot of my very first viper species ever found in Nature, back in 2010. This individual is of the species Vipera ammodytes mondandoni. It is found only in Bulgaria and South-Western Romania. I think that after meting this guy, handling it and take a few photographs, I was totally devoted to finding vipers and snakes in general wherever I went. “Thank you little one!”. It is also quite sad to find this shot, since, after 2011, I was not able to find any other vipers at the same location…I do suspect human activities were the main reason.


A few shots of a young Vipera ammodytes ammodytes, a species found in south-western Romania, and one of the most recognizable vipers in Europe due to that little horn on its nose. This individual was found in 2013 while basking in the Sun; when approached it remained perfectly still, playing dead. It took some time to have it move and be friendly enough for some closeups.



And another young of the same species, at almost the same location, but this time in 2016.


And this time a large, actually very large, individual of Vipera ammodytes ammodytes. This guy was found hiding under a large boulder; after persuading him to come out, I’ve noticed that it was badly injured. Apparently it did recover, at least partially, and now was preparing to molt.  This is the reason for its blue eyes:



Another viper species, one that made me travel a few hundreds of miles from home in order to find it. Rather difficult to observe due to its small size and perfect camouflage, so after two years only two individuals were found. One of them was spotted as it was rushing towards me in the grass. Its name: Vipera ursinii moldavica.