Welcome to my Astrophotography Blog!

This is a journal of my adventures in astrophotography -- taking images of distant celestial objects. Please look around and feel free to add your comments, questions, and critique to any of the entries by clicking the "comments" button on the bottom of each entry -- or just say "howdy!

And don't forget to click on the images for a larger view!

So choose either the Red pill or the Blue pill and follow me down the wormhole....


Comanche Springs Star Party

Comanche Springs Star Party
Doin' my thang at the Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (where I often become a "red ghost")

Dallas Sky

Rancho Venado Sky

Atoka Sky

Camanche Springs Sky

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gama Cygni -- First Light!

Well, I went and done it -- I went ahead and bought a "true" astro camera to compliment my FSQ scope. After learning the ropes with my little QHY8 one-shot color camera (a really nice little camera by the way) I decided to step-up to the "big league" with the STL-11000M camera from Santa Barbara Imaging Group.

The STL is mono large chip (11 megapixel) that images through a built-in filter wheel to record color data in a series of passes. Why mono? Well, the mono chips are much more sensitive, and separate color passes provide much greater fidelity (think composite video vs. component video). Also this camera has much deeper wells than the QHY8, which translates into increased dynamic range, for resolving all those faint details. It also has programmable cooling and other features.

Processing the LRGB images (separate Luminance, Red, Green, Blue) is much more daunting than simple one-shot color. There is at least 4 times as much data, and additional calibration frames are a must. But the end results speak for themselves. Although this image is a quick test, I am already excited about the differences I am seeing in the data (and you know you're a nerd when "data" excites you).

This image is from the Gamma Cygni region in the Cygnus constellation. It is a large complex of Hydrogen Emission nebulosity. Hence, I shot my luminance data through the HA filter of my new camera (another boon to this type of camera -- just program the filter wheel to whatever filter you want, then bang away).

Anyway, this is my "first light" image -- the first time this camera has seen starlight. This is also my first attempt at using a new program to process my data (CCD Stack), and of course the first time I have tackled a LRGB image. But I must say, I am very happy with my progress thus far (and yes, it is also a bit nerdy to say "thus").

Image stats:

FSQ 106EDX f/5
STL-11000m -13C
CCD Stack, Cs3


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I'll be interested to see what you make of this new camera, as I'm considering a similar move next year, probably to a Starlight Express though.

Considering the extra work involved, it's a good first light.

I am JOhn said...

Thanks Dave. I recently returned from another trip to my dark site where I spent 3 nights imaging again with the STL -- I must say I am starting to get the hang of it (not to mention the processing flow).

I should have a new image of the Trifid/Lagoon posted in just a bit : )

Good luck with your Starlight purchase, they appear to be excellent cameras.