Archive for December, 2018

Best of Maximus Photography 2018

Posted in ASTRO, Evenimente, EXTREME macro on December 31, 2018 by maxpho

Following are what I consider my best results in terms of Photography for 2018.

Some are high resolution images (lunar craters, insects at high magnification), some are colorful (nebulae, butterflies), and some present interesting events (like the International Space Station transiting the Moon or the Sun, or planet Mars at opposition, or my baby daughter Zara 🙂 ).

Hope to have a great 2019 too 🙂

Happy New Year!!!



























Comet Wirtanen – December 27, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on December 28, 2018 by maxpho

A new session with 46P/Wirtanen, this time under poorer skies compared to my last session from two nights ago. The comet was visible with the naked eye but much ore difficult.

The images show a slightly elongated coma, but no sign of tail. The Larson-Sekanina filter shows a hint of the tail observed on December 25 (towards lower right), but the poor transparency affected too much the data.

Equipment: TS 65Q APO F/6.5, ASI 1600MMC Pro, Baader RGB filters. Luminance: 6x180sec, RGB: 2X120sec each. Tracking using a 50mm finderscope and ASI174MM and PHD.



Tracking the comet’s nucleus, and the LS filter result:


And a detail showing some faint galaxies below the comet:


Comet Wirtanen – December 25, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on December 26, 2018 by maxpho

A lovely evening with beautiful sunset colors. A nice drive to the Comana Woods with my brother-in-law. After that superb sunset our hopes for observing comet 46P Wirtanen were almost gone: a rapidly forming cloud covered the entire sky for about one hour. As a cold wind started, the cloud miraculously vanished into thin air, and we could see comet Wirtanen with the naked eye. A small, faint patch of light just left of the star Capella. My estimation was visual magnitude +4.7.

I did get, for the next hour or so, the chance to image the comet through a small 65mm refractor. The comet is now much dimmer compared to my last observation, 10 days ago.

There is a hint of a tail, faintly seen in the second image, where the Larson-Sekanina inset also shows it. It is confirmed by other amateurs.

Equipment: TS 65Q APO F/6.5 Refractor, ASI 1600MMC Pro (bin 1×1, gain 100), Baader RGB filters, EQ6, unguided. Luminance: 34x30secs exposures tracked either on the comet or the background. RGB: 4x30sec each. Processing in DepSkyStacker, Registax, AstraImage, Photoshop.

At sundown.jpg

46p RGB 3.jpg

TAIL 46P.jpg

A butterfly for Christmas

Posted in Evenimente on December 24, 2018 by maxpho

A lovely symbol of the Insect World, and why not of the Christmas also.

Parnassius apollo, one of the most beautiful and unfortunately threatened with extinction, with its trademark colors and spots: white for the snow, black for the longest and coldest nights in the year (for the Northerners at least), and red for…the Coca Cola trucks? It actually has the same colors as Santa 😉

Merry Christmas!


PS: The image is a multi-stack multi-frame mosaic, done with a Canon 550D, Sigma 50mm and Wemacro rail.



Mineral Moon and comet 46P- December 23, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on December 24, 2018 by maxpho

Lovely Moon one day after Full phase.

The great comet Wirtanen was almost completely washed out due to the interfering Moon, so I had to do “only” with our satellite. Which had its own beauty high up in the cold winter sky.

Great care was taken while processing this image. I believe it is my best and correct processing of a mineral color Moon. Using a reflector helped a lot, with no chromatic aberrations. Tech details: December 23, 2018 (21:12 U.T.) 200mm F/5 Newtonian, Baader MPCC, ASI 1600MMC Pro, Baader RGB filters. 2000 frames for each channel. Processing in AutoStakkert!3, AstraImage and Photoshop.

MineralMoon Dec2018.jpg

And some views of comet Wirtanen, almost washed out completely due to the Moon. Just a hint of the tail is visible on the Larson-Sekanina processing (Inset). The movement of the comet is around 8 arcsec per minute.


Comet 45p – December 13, 2018

Posted in ASTRO on December 14, 2018 by maxpho

After such a long period with cloud/fog cover, the sky finally cleared for a few hour today, allowing for a nice view of comet 45p.

Visually, with the naked eye, the comet was easily seen, with an estimated magnitude of +4.0 to +4.2 and an apparent diameter equal to that of the Moon. Through an 115mm refractor at 32x, the comet filled almost half the field of view, with a distinct but small nucleus, and an elongated inner coma.

The following shot was acquired using a Canon 550D at ISO 1600, Sigma Macro 50mm at F/4, and 12 exposures each a 30 sec sub, for a total of just 6 minutes under mag +6 skies.

Seen here the comet forms a triangle with the Pleiades and the Hyades clusters. In the next few days 45p will glide close to the Pleiades making for a nice photo-op. Hope to have clear skies again…


A couple of images acquired with the 115mm refractor and ASI 1600MMC Pro camera. Using rather short 15sec exposure I was able to get a clean view of the nucleus; this allowed the use of the Larson-Sekanina filter which reveals the inner coma jets.

46p Dec13, 2018Nucleus.jpg

Processing part the frames in a different manner, one can show just how the comet looks through the eyepiece between the stars:

46p Dec13, 2018NucleusAndStars.jpg

First light – LOMO 3.7x

Posted in EXTREME macro on December 6, 2018 by maxpho

Extreme macrophotography is one hobby that I hope to master someday. But until that moment comes…I’m learning, and I’m buying equipment 🙂

The micro world requires equipment that must meet some criteria in order to get a good view of the subjects. One of these criteria is the optical quality of the lens used (free of optical aberrations, long working distance, and other).

Until now I’ve used a couple of 10x microscope objectives (Olympus and Nikon) and my old trusty Pentax SMC 28mm lens reversed mounted. They are OK in sharpness or depth of field, but they are far from how a good lens should perform. The problems with all these lenses are the chromatic aberration (which is pretty annoying sometimes) and diffraction softening when pushed out of their normal magnifications.

This is why, in the last few weeks, I’ve been researching some information regarding the rather well known LOMO 3.7x microscope objective. Some photographers use it with excellent results, and some compare its optical performance with the expensive Canon MP-E 65 dedicated macro lens, which is pretty strange when you consider the price gap between the two (about 950 dollars, with the Lomo around 50-60$ on eBay).

Since I was in “desperate” need to get a new “macro” lens for my setup, and at the time of my “need” I had no significant cash in my pocket, I’ve decided that the 50$ Lomo objective could be the way to go (at least for now). After waiting for some weeks for the lens to arrive (from Ukraine), I’ve finally got my hands on the rather dull-looking LOMO:


Not much to look at, but from an optics enthusiast point of view, the objective intrigued me with its large front element. Mounted on my normal setup it offers a very long working distance (about 25…35mm, depending on the distance to the DSLR sensor), which helps a lot with better controlling the light falling on the subject.

First light with this small lens was done on a medium-sized longhorn beetle. For testing purposes alone, I did not clean the subject, both in real-life or in image post-processing.

The equipment used: Canon 550D at ISO 200, mirror lockup and 2s shutter delay, Wemacro stack rail, 20 microns per step for all images, 3 flash units, homemade diffuser.

And again, just for testing the objective, I’ve decided to go for the extremes, varying the distance of the lens to the sensor plane: about 85mm at minimum (I could go perhaps lower here) and about 200mm at maximum (this could also be increased with more macro tubes). Some measurements on the images and the scale showed that the magnification was varied from 1.9x to about 5.5x, which is not very far from the “PRO” lenses like the CANON MP-E or LAOWA 2.5-5X.

Now, the quality of a lens resides partially in its resolution, so here is the first test shot (50% resize, same processing with a bit of mild unsharp mask applied):

Detail comp.jpg

The details in both images are pretty good for the corresponding magnifications. The larger images show this well. Again, no intensive processing for the following shots, just a mild unsharp mask and levels adjustments. The 5.5x magnification image is actually a 4-image mosaic (not very well done), each a 120 frame stack.  Both images were cropped.

The 1.9x image:


The 5.5x image:


As it can be observed, the details in both shots are good and free of chromatic aberration, despite the rather difficult subject (white hairs and reflective hairs).

The above images are definitely not “pretty” due to a very dirty subject and no post-processing, but they are actually my best in terms of optical quality (contrast and resolution per pixel).


After spending a lot of time preparing to buy a LAOWA macro lens (about 400$), and after researching for some cheaper possibilities, and also after doing the 2x to 5.5x tests, I can only be very happy with my 60$ choice (50$ for the lens, 10 or so for shipping): the LOMO 3.7X microscope objective.

And now lets put this lens to work 😉