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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice Lunar Eclipse

The last time there was a lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice, Galileo was serving his "sentence" for being a naughty astronomer. Although I had grand plans to do all sorts of shooting of the eclipse, in the end I merely observed the beautiful sight, then took a few snaps with my Nikon D700 and 180mm lens as clouds began rolling in (right after totality).

If you missed this Winter Solstice event, don't worry -- I believe it happens again in about 90 years.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

From Witch to Sword

Here is a 5 panel mosaic in Orion that I shot last week during 3 nights in my new observatory -- woo hoo! I especially enjoyed being out of the wind when it was 18 degrees.

I tried to shoot a mosaic of this last year, but the weather knocked me out (got a few subs, but could never complete it). So I am happy I finally got it.

A few things I noticed about this area...

There is a Ha ring of nebulosity around Rigel that I did not know about. I shot the Witch Head a couple of years ago w/o Ha (since the Witch is a reflection neb), but this time I used Ha in all panels since I was incorporating M42. I guess Rigel's stellar winds are carving out a bubble in the gas and exciting the Ha. Anybody know?

I also enjoyed all the cool galaxies that "litter" the area around the Witch.

FSQ 106EDX f/3.6
STL-11000M -25C
5 panels
HaLRGB 15,90,25,25,25 (per panel)
CCDStack, PixInsight, CS5

Bigger image seen here

Monday, November 22, 2010

The RED & the BLUE

Taking a slight break from "pure dust", I decided on something a bit more... COLORFUL!

I wanted to bring out the RED hydrogen alpha of the Cone Nebula region, along with the BLUE reflection nebulosity around IC 2169. The Cone is actually pretty small (upper center) in this wide field image. Below the cone is a nebulous region referred to as the "Fox Fur".

This field may not be as dusty as some of my recent targets, but it contains lots of interesting structures, including Hubble's Variable Nebula at upper left (white "V" shape object).

This image was shot during my 4 night stay at the recent Eldorado Star Party.

FSQ 106EDX f/3.6
STL11000M -25C
HaLRGB 75,135,30,30,30
CCDStack, PixInsight, CS5

Next up... more dust!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Bird and the Sisters

I recently attended the Eldorado Star Party in Southwest Texas. I had a terrific 4 nights of crystal clear skies. It was my first time attending and I had a great time.

Before heading out to dark skies to do my photography, I always plan what objects I want to shoot and make careful notes regarding composition, etc. When I was looking at some image data I shot at Okie-Tex back in October, I noticed my M45 and Vdb27 targets were very close and if I were to shoot a couple more panels, I could create a very large mosaic of this area in Taurus.

And so on my recent trip to ESP, I did : )

So here is a 5 panel mosaic. This area is just FILLED with dust! I love the dusty tendrils that seem to reach towards M45 (the Seven Sisters) in the upper left. In fact, the Sisters are so attractive it appears they have caught the attention of a dusty bird that shoots a glance their way (LBN777 in the center).

FSQ 106EDX f/3.6
STL11000M -25C
approx 18 hrs of exposure
CCDStack, PixInsight, CS5

Looking back over my last few objects I have lot of dust and reflection targets (okay, they ARE my faves). So next I'll try to do something a bit different... maybe.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A little Iris on the side...

Here is another shot taken from my recent expedition to the Okie-Tex Star Party. I was going after the dark nebulosity of LDN 1148 (the scorpion tail in the center), but decided to go wide and add the Iris nebula (blue reflection nebula on the left).

This large dust field is in the Cepheus area. I love these dark, spooky, vistas.

FSQ 106EDX f/3.6
STL11000M -20C
LRGB 150,20,15,20
CCDStack, PixInsight, CS5

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Another M31

Next to the Orion Nebula, M31 (the Andromeda Galaxy) is surely one of the most photographed deep sky objects. I last shot our "sister galaxy" a couple of years ago, so I decided it was time to check up on her again.

I shot a much wider field this time and with my newer STL11000 camera. I like the results. I often like to "step back" from these galaxies to see where they live, instead of so close-up.

One cool note about this galaxy... it is so big, when the light left the farthest edge of the galaxy disc mankind did not yet exist, but when it left the closer front edge man was walking the Earth. These kinds of facts add a cool footnote to the images : )

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dust Bunny

Here is my first CCD image to be processed from Okie-Tex. This is an enormous dust complex in Taurus, centered around the blue reflection nebula Vdb27.

After working on this image for a while it started looking to me like a giant bunny leaping right to lower left across the frame (please tell me you see a bunny too).

These types of targets are among my favorite to image. The illuminated dust has a very 3D quality that I really like and try to bring out in the photo.

FSQ 106EDX f/3.6
STL-11000M -20C
LRGB 150,30,30,30
CCDStack, PixInsight, CS5

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Okie Trails

Spent last week at the Okie-Tex Star Party in the Black Mesa area of Oklahoma (literally across the highway from both Colorado and New Mexico). It was a spectacular SEVEN CLEAR NIGHTS under the stars with some great folks.

I imaged every night until the sun came up, so I am gorged with photons! Before plunging into all of my data, here are a couple of star trail images taken with my Nikon D700.

If you have never attended a star party under extremely dark skies, you owe it to yourself. The feeling is like being on a spaceship drifting through the stars...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Upside Down!

Got back a week ago from our trip to Australia and New Zealand. Needless to say we had a GREAT time (despite the 20 days of rain). This was my first view of the Southern skies, and although the weather was a killer I managed to find 2 clear nights in dark parts of the countries to observe and image.

This first shot is of the galactic core of Milky Way that is straight over head. This is special because in northern latitudes, the core barely gets above the horizon and is harder to see through all of the additional atmosphere. But straight up at zenith... WOW!

I was on Thornton Beach in New Zealand and just finishing an imaging run on the Large Magellanic Cloud (yet to be processed), when I noticed an odd "fuzzy patch" rising over the sea. A few minutes later it climbed up and over the dormant volcano Moutohora... it was the (upside down) Pleiades!

So I took this shot about 1 AM. You can also see the star Aldebaran and the Hyades cluster peeking into frame on the right.

On another clear night I found myself in Wangaratta, Australia. So I drove over the hills and into wine country, parking next to a vineyard. It was VERY dark, except for a little light dome from a nearby town (that you can see in the pic). This was the first time I ever saw the Magellanic Clouds (the 2 fuzzy patches to the left of the Milky Way). They were fantastic! These two galaxies orbit the Milky Way and are only 2 of 3 galaxies (the other being Andromeda) one can see "naked eye" from Earth.

Here is another quick shot of the Milky Way dropping down over some palms on a beach near Cairns, Australia. It was a bit cloudy that night (evidenced by the red clouds drifting by, illuminated by light pollution) but still a great night on the beach.

All images were taken with my Nikon D700.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cepheus Mosaic

Here is a 2 panel mosaic from the constellation Cepheus. I wanted to frame both the Bubble Nebula (far left) and the Cave Nebula (far right) into one composition, so this forced me to shoot two different fields and blend them together into this mosaic. It was a lot of work, since I shot separate passes for L, Ha, R, G, B, and then not only did these pieces need to be registered, but also matched in terms of exposure (which can vary because of angle in sky and high clouds, etc.). But I am very happy with the end result.

There is so much to see in this field -- red emission nebulae, dark nebulae, reflection nebulae, dust, etc. Sometimes these images remind me of abstract surreal art by artists such as Tonguy, Matta, or Richard Powers (I am a huge fan of these artists).

This image represents about 9 hours of exposure last week at the 3RF astronomy campus.

FSQ 106EDX f/3.64
STL 11000M -10C
LHaRGB 225x135x65x35x75
CCDStack, PixInsight, CS5

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Dusty Serpent

This huge dust field resides in the constellation Cepheus. It stretches from reflection nebulae VDB 150 to VDB 152. This represents one of my favorite types of objects -- dusty reflection nebulosity.

Reflection nebula reflect light from nearby stars (duh) as opposed to emission type nebulae that glow like a neon sign. As such, reflection nebulae have a naturally cool 3D appearance.

I imaged this last week at the 3RF astronomy campus and had 3 excellent nights of clear dark skies! Not only that, but the Perseid meteors put on quite a show. It was a fantastic trip.

FSQ 106EDX f/3.64
STL 11000M -10C
LRGB 195x40x40x40
CCDStack, PixInsight, CS5

(imaged flipped for presentation)

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Blast from the Past

Here is a shot of the Cygnus & Cepheus region of the Milky Way I took last fall at the Okie-Tex Star Party. I never processed it because I never thought the data was very good. But a week ago I started testing a new (to me) piece of software called PixInsight designed specifically for processing astro images. I decided to go back to old data to see if I could resurrect anything. I'm pretty happy with this test run!

Not only is this data a "blast from the past", but you can see the remnants of a literal blast from the past -- the Veil Nebula (a supernova remnant). Look closely and you can see some tiny semi-circular "arc" type structures at the far left.

Canon XSI at ISO 800
AstroTrac mount
Nikon 85mm lens (I think)
15 x 3min
DeepSkyStacker, PixInsight, CS5

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Aussie Rig is GO!

Kim and I will be heading to Australia and New Zealand soon and I am planning on photographing the southern skies as much as I can! We will be traveling fast and far and I need to go very light, so I have assembled a rig that is not only very accurate but very light and small.

Using a QSI 583 camera (mono w color filter wheel) tracking on an AstroTrac mount, I can get 10 min sub frames with nice round stars. I am using a set of Nikon lenses (instead of a heavy/bulky telescope) that I can also share with my Nikon D700 camera. I am controlling everything with a little Toshiba netbook. All of this will fit into a backpack.

Here is my first test shot I took last weekend with the rig -- a wide field in Cygnus using a Nikon 85mm lens. I'm very pleased with this QSI camera!

So why go to all the trouble to carry this stuff all over Australia and New Zealand for several weeks? Because there are sights in Southern skies that we cannot see in the Northern hemisphere. The sky is very different! Not only is the core of the Milky Way straight overhead, but there are incredible objects like the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (viewable with the naked eye), as well as BUNCHES of constellations and nebulae that one can see nowhere else.

Kim and I are also going to attend a couple of nights at the Border Star Gaze -- a star party near Albury. We just happen to be there at the same time.

Hopefully I will have many new photos to share soon (but they may appear upside down)!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Foot Fetish!

Well, I FINALLY was able to collect some data with one of my scopes (been doing mostly DSLR stuff lately because of crappy weather).

Anyway... I got a good night at the ranch last week while the observatory was going up. This is a wide field image that includes two large emission nebulae -- the Cat's Paw and the Bear's Claw (guess which is which).

These nebulae reside in Scorpius' tail. As such, they do not get very high and only viewable here in the summer. As with all Ha emission nebulae, they are very very red. They are basically like red neon.

Summer is filled with so many great targets like these, now if only the weather will continue to cooperate!

FSQ 106ED f/5
STL-11000M -10C
HaLRGB 120x45x15x15x15
CCDStack, CS4

Saturday, June 26, 2010

There's a NEW observatory in town, pardner...

Bucksnort Observatory near Adamsville, Texas!

Scott, Don, and Jeff from Backyard Observatories made the trek from Ohio to battle the Texas heat and break ground on my new observatory. They began last Saturday and completed early Tuesday morning. They did an incredible job -- I'm VERY pleased! This is Backyard Observatories 132nd build, and it was obvious since they never looked at any plans or notes -- they just measured, cut, and nailed. Heck, they didn't even have to talk to each other!

I've named it Bucksnort Observatory because it is built on a deer trail, and when I am imaging, the deer snort at me all night. After a couple of years hauling my gear back and forth to the ranch, I decided to bite the bullet and build something permanent. Since I do imaging, I really wanted to be able to also remote control the observatory from my home in Dallas when I can't leave town. I also decided to build slightly larger and add a second pier for a visual scope and/or a second imager. Didn't really cost much more and adds flexibility. I also went with Don's powered Omega Piers and the MI Oasys automation package.

The next few months will have me programming for remote operations, installing my Paramount ME, and adding my buddy's new Planewave 12.5 and Apogee U16, along with my FSQ and STL-11000M. I hope to be ready to roll by the Fall.

Pictures of the build are found here

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Zion National Park has been one of my favorite places ever since visiting there back in 1990. I have always wanted to return, as well as explore the many other parks in and around the "Four Corners" area on motorcycles. So when my buddy Trey suggested we go to Vegas, rent bikes, and ride to Zion, it was a big "hell yeah!"

I have become a big fan of Wally Pacholka's night photography of the National Parks, so I instantly planned to take my camera kit and tripod with me and try my hand at some night shots. While I was on a Harley Road King, Kim rented a trike (she always wanted to try one). This was perfect, since the trike could easily carry my camera gear!

Me, Kim, Trey, and his wife Laura had a great time riding through the switchbacks and tunnels late at night. We stopped and enjoyed the stars for a while, while I took a few shots.

After returning to the motel, I decided not to retire just yet. Even though we had a big day ahead of us (hiking and the long hot ride back to Vegas), I had not taken the shots I was hoping for. So, I took the trike and headed off into the night while the others slept.

This kind of photography is dependent upon a balance of lighting. If there is no light (no moon or nearby "light pollution"), the terrain will remain dark and featureless in silhouette against the canopy of stars. But if there is too much light (high full moon, big city lights) the terrain will overexpose by the time the stars are looking good, or perhaps blow out the sky altogether.

The moon was due to rise late and I was hoping to use it as a rim light, but there are so many mountains it took too long to see the effects. So I ended up shooting mainly around the Visitor's Center and using the lights there to illuminate he mountains. This worked pretty darn well!

Anyway, this was a LOT of fun. It was really serene without any other tourists (at about 3:00am) and the desert was gorgeous.

These are a few of the photos I took. They were all taken with my Nikon D700 at ISO 3200, 20mm lens at f/4, single 35 sec exposures, just using a tripod.

I'm really looking forward to doing more of these type of images.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Cosmic Camel

One of my favorite areas of the sky! I wanted to compose a shot that featured both the Rho area (multi-colored nebula on the right) and the Blue Horse (blue nebula on the left), with the dark nebulosity streaming down. Upon showing this image to my buddy Phil, he commented it looked like a camel -- it does! Just follow the blue horse (camel) head down then back up to the Rho "hump". Pretty funny.

This is one of my "project images" I have been working on for a few weeks. It took a while because I kept screwing up! I started this project as a multi-focal length mosaic (using multiple exposures with different size lenses to gather more detail in specific areas, then composite).

I gathered the detail on the Rho and Blue Horse areas while at the Texas Star Party, but my wide field image composition was no good. So, I traveled to 3RF to finish collecting the data. I managed to get good skies and finished, but my calibration frames were messed up. Soooo... after jumping through many hoops, I finally got my image done!

This area of the sky is in Scorpius, near our galactic center. It is a summer classic : )

Image stats:
Nikon D700 at ISO 1600
Rho detail -- 180mm f/4 22x3min
Blue Horse detail -- 180mm f/4 12x3min
Wide Field -- 85mm f/4 40x3min

CCDStack, CS4
Mosaic registered in Registar

Monday, May 24, 2010

Simply Awesome

Here is a simple shot of the Milky Way I took last week at Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus. It is not a great photo with a wonderful foreground of beautiful mountains or a well framed landscape of trees and lakes. Nope, it is just a quick shot looking toward the center of our home galaxy... but it is awesome.

I never tire of photographing it. Nothing gives quite the same "sense of place" as seeing this view from Earth. And watching the summer Milky Way spiral arm rise and fall is positively hypnotic. It makes all the problems in the world seem less important... as we spin eternal.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What a dish!

Kim and I just got back from the Texas Star Party in Fort Davis, Texas. We went with our friends Trey and Laura and had a blast. It was also great seeing my pals from the local TAS group, as well as some new astro buddies.

During the week long event, we stayed at the Sproul Ranch. Right next door is this huge Radio Telescope. The first night of the star party was partly cloudy, so I decided to shoot some wide fields of the dish. I really like how the lighting and clouds worked out with this shot.

This telescope is one of several that are connected together in a huge array. Others in the array are as far away as Hawaii. The resolutions achieved by the array is amazing (they could read the fine print of a newspaper on the moon)! We actually got a great tour of the telescope a couple of days later and were allowed to climb to the top and walk on the dish -- awesome.

Nikon D700
Nikon 20mm lens (borrowed from my pal Hugh)
45 sec f/4 (ISO 3200)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Got Cepheus?

The Cepheus constellation is one of my favorite areas of the sky (along with Orion and Scorpius), and it is slowly coming into view for photo ops -- I can't wait! I'll be trying to hit some Cepheus targets from The Texas Star Party in Fort Davis next month (I'm a sucker for the Iris nebula).

Anyway, I was playing around with the new CCDStack 2.0 upgrade (which includes support for native DSLR Camera RAW files) and dug up some old DSLR data from the last Okie Tex that I never processed -- a wide field in Cepheus, focusing on IC1396. I had not collected many subs before getting clouded out, so I never processed the data. Though not terribly deep, it actually turned out kinda cool.

AstroTrac mount
Canon XSI ISO 800
85mm Nikon f/4
18 x 4min

CCDStack, CS4

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cabbage Slice

There are many catalogs in astronomy -- Messier, Caldwell, NGC, IC, Abell, LDN, LBN, VDB, etc. Why so many catalogs???

Well, for one thing there are a LOT of objects out there. I'm talking DOZENS (as in billions of dozens). People keep trying to divide them into various groupings for easier management. Plus its just fun to count things, right? Right!

So this galaxy is called NGC 4236. That means it has the privilege of being object number 4236 in the NGC catalog (where NGC stands for "New General Catalog"). But like the hero Number 6 from my favorite TV show, The Prisoner, surely a galaxy resents being reduced to a mere number.

Some galaxies are more fortunate. If a galaxy is especially shapely, then it transcends its' numerical prison and is given a catchy nickname, like "Whirlpool", or "Sombrero", or "Sunflower". So even though this little galaxy in Draco may not be on anybody's top ten list, I think it deserves better than a mere number. So let's hear it -- what would YOU call it? Until somebody suggests something better, I'm calling it "Cabbage Slice".

Taken at the Ranch a couple of weeks ago...

TEC 140
STL-11000M -30C
LHaRGB (180, 90, 40, 15, 25) RGB binned 2x2
CCDStack, CS4 (and a dash of Carboni's Star Spikes Pro)

Also of note, the little galaxy at the upper left called PGC 40367 (that's right, another catalog).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

On Newsstands Now!

Just tootin' my own astro horn! I currently have a couple of images published in two different magazines out now...

My Orion image got "pic of the month" in the April ish of the UK mag Astronomy Now. They even sent me a check for 25 pounds, so I am officially stinkin' rich now.

My NGC 1333 image was also published in the gallery of the May ish of Astronomy Magazine. The kicker is my buddy Phil Jones has his image published right next to mine -- us Texas astrophotographers are takin' over!

Both of these can be found at Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Messier One Hundred and One

Number 101 on the Messier list of "not comets", this large spiral galaxy fits nicely into my FOV.

I shot this last week on my second night at the 3RF Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (after Markarian's Chain). In addition to the standard LRGB data (color and luminance), I also shot through a Hydrogen Alpha filter to capture the bright red "knots" of star formation going on in the spiral arms.

Look closely and you can see many more galaxies in this shot!

Imaging stats:

TEC 140 w/flattener
STL-11000M -30C
LHaRGB 120/75/30/40/25 (RGB binned 2x2)
CCDStack, CS4

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Workin' on the Chain Gang

This is a galaxy group called "Markarian's Chain" that is part of the crazy massive Virgo Cluster of galaxies.

Beniamin Markarian was an Armenian astronomer who really dug galaxies. Obviously this group was a particular favorite. If you look closely, you can see his face in the lower right corner : )

Like our Milky Way, each of these galaxies has hundreds of billions of stars... and there are billions of these galaxies. Dang!

I photographed this galaxy cluster last week at the 3RF astro campus in West Texas.

Image Stats:

TEC 140
STL-11000M -30C
LRGB 180/50/50/50 (RGB binned 2x2)
CCDStack, CS4

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Here Comes the SUN!

As you may know (or not), the Sun goes through phases. Solar activity rises and falls over a relatively predictable 11 year solar cycle. When activity (flares, sunspots, prominences, etc.) is at a low, the sun is said to be at "solar minimum". When it is at a peak, it is said to be at "solar maximum".

After the last couple of years of relative non-activity, the sun is now heading towards solar maximum again... the sun is waking up again!

A couple of days ago I was at the 3RF's astronomy campus. Jeff Barton, the astronomy director there, set up his solar scope and we watched this HUGE prominence. Jeff suggested I try to image it and so I did.

This is my first attempt at solar imaging. I just mounted my Canon XSI camera to Jeff's refractor and fired away. It was really fun. So here is a single exposure at ISO200, 1/1000 sec. Be sure to click the thumbnail for a BIGGER look.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Hey, I'm a bit late posting this one (sorry, forgot). Anyway...

This is a galaxy in Leo called NGC 3521. I imaged this with my new TEC 140 scope, which is capable of pulling out some of these "smaller" galaxies.

The cool thing about this target is I did not know much about it, and had seen only a few examples. The images I DID see merely featured the core. So I was a bit surprised and excited to see these cool stellar clouds surrounding this galaxy that I had never seen before!

I showed this image around and discovered it was indeed rarely imaged this wide/deep but certainly had been imaged before. In fact, the stellar cloud is referred to as the "hammerhead" because of the hammerhead-shaped formation in the lower right.


TEC 140 w/flattener
STL-11000M -20C
LRGB (180,30,30,30) RGB binned 2x2
CCD Stack, CS4

And stay tuned... I have some exciting astro news coming : )

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Norse God

This nebula is affectionately referred to (or is that "humbly" referred to) as Thor's Helmet. It is a "bubble" nebula (the helmet part) that is generated by the intense radiation of the center Wolf-Rayet star carving this bubble out of the local gas and dust. The "wings" on either side of the helmet complete Thor's iconic head piece.

The nebula is about 30 light years across and resides in the Canis Major constellation -- be sure to visit when you are in the area : )

This image is the "first light" of my new TEC 140 scope. Though I got the scope back in November, my imaging attempts were thwarted by weather until last week -- but it was worth the wait! I am very impressed with this scope.

For all you "tech heads", here are my imaging specs...

TEC 140 w/ field flattener
STL-11000M -20C
LRGB (210,30,45,60) RGB binned 2x2
CCD Stack, CS4

Monday, February 15, 2010

Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus

I have volunteered at the Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (CSAC) several times and must say that it is an extraordinary facility.

Located in West Texas near Vernon, it has incredibly dark skies. But more than that, it is a place to study the night sky with good friends, and introduce the wonders of astronomy to the public (during public star prties held twice a month).

The campus contains a plethora of state-of-the-art astro gear -- four domes, a large roll-off observatory, and a powered viewing field... all filled with large aperture scopes. One of the domes is currently being wired for remote astrophotography (controlled via internet).

In addition to the observatories, there is also a classroom, bunkhouse, restrooms and showers, and a full-time staff. And the guys at Three Rivers Foundation (3RF) that are responsible for this incredible campus are just getting started -- there are dorms and a dining pavilion on the way.

But the best part of the CSAC is the folks that run the place and all the volunteers that show up every month -- a great bunch of folks who love the night sky and joyously pass their knowledge along to anyone making the trek out to CSAC.

It is about 4 hour drive from Dallas. I've been out there 3 times now and I hope to make the trip at least 4-6 times a year.

For more info on 3RF and their CSAC, check their website:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Horse, Flame, M78,and Loop

After a long dry spell (haven't completed a data set through my scope since September) I finally completed a new image -- yea!

This is a large field in Orion stretching from the Horse Head (upper right) to a chunk of Barnard's Loop (lower left). The blue reflection Nebula to the right of the Loop is M78.

This is my deepest image yet -- 10.5 hours of exposure! I collected 5 hours of Hydrogen Alpha (narrow band emission) data from home, then headed to the dark site at the Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (3RF) to collect another 5.5 hours of LRGB (color and luminance).

I had a great time at 3RF and one fabulous night of imaging (one out of three ain't bad). I'll post some DSLR images from the trip later.

Here's the stats:

FSQ 106EDX f/3.65
STL-11000M -20C
HaLRGB (300x150x60x50x60)
CCD Stack, CS4

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

Although I have not had good luck with the weather these past few months, I have managed to shoot some quick pics with my DSLR. These two images (Orion over my house and the Moon over the park across the street) were taken on Xmas Eve.

You will notice snow on the ground in the moon shot -- in my 47 years of living in Dallas this is the first white Christmas I've ever seen!

Both of these images were taken with my new Nikon D700 (awesome sensitivity and noise management). I decided to retire my Nikon D80 and get myself a Xmas present : )

Anyway, here's to a happy, safe, and prosperous New Year... and many more CLEAR nights!