P r e t t y     P i c t u r e s     T o u r




        created: 02-26-2019.             revised: 07-05-2019.

Hello!

Hi, welcome to my tour of pretty astronomical pictures!
For nearly 20 years, I've been an early adopter and advocate for videoastronomy. First using old modified 1/4" CCD security cameras for Lunar/Solar/Planetary viewing, then progressing on to the StellaCam line of deep-sky cameras, doing video-observing.
As the StellaCam's advanced in their capability, going from being able to expose up to 2 seconds, then up to 8 seconds, then multi-minute exposures with a peliter cooler, my skills and telescope equipment also advanced, learning how to better polar align, balance my mount, and autoguide. I also began dabbling in taking dark frames and using imaging filters, and basic image processing.

But I never was very interested in moving up the ladder to become a full-blown astrophotographer, just too much post-processing on the computer for my taste. I enjoyed the near-realtime video observing experience and for years kept finding ways to continue expanding my observation projects using the monochrome 1/2" CCD StellaCam-3. But with the new astronomical CMOS 'video capable' cameras entering the mainstream, and the new "LiveStack" realtime ability of the SharpCap imaging program, I decided the time was right to begin phasing out my old analog camera.

      


Having already become familar with ZWO branded cameras from using my ASI120MC autoguider camera as a planetary camera, and reading the great reviews of their products, particularly their recent model - the "ASI294MC Pro", I took the plunge and bought one.
(you can thank me for the cloudy February weather,,, :) )

ZWO "ASI294MC Pro" color CMOS Peliter cooled astronomical camera
      
ZWO ASI294MC weblink:


Prior to ordering the new camera, I used my ASI120MC autoguider camera to self-train on using the latest version of the SharpCap imaging capture software program. I was already familar with the basic program features, having used it for the past year doing frame grabber video-capturing with my analog cameras. But the ASI cameras unlocks much more functionality, including the realtime stacking ability using short exposures. By activating the "LiveStack" feature, you can watch as the image begins to build in realtime from the stacked frames, and then you can adjust the Histogram and color levels on the fly. Once you are happy with what is being displayed on the screen, you simply pause the livestack, and save the image. (can also save the individual frame 'subs' if you want).
This is a game-changer! I can continue to enjoy the near-realtime experience of video-observing while acquiring 'astrophotography' quality images that reqire very little post-processing.

SharpCap: Using the "LiveStack" option Histogram function.



So below, you will find my 'Pretty Pictures' as I slowly begin to re-image the showcase objects that I've observed over the years. Other than resizing the saved image to fit on this webpage, (and perhaps a little brightness/contrast tweaking), I don't intend to do any other post-processing, so what you see is what I observed.



ZWO "ASI294MC Pro" image captures using SharpCap.

Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M42 Emission Nebula Orion 02/25/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 fork wedge 4144x2822 15 sec 51 765 sec none no
       "the Orion Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 200 40 50 50 -28.5 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M13 Globular Cluster Hercules 06/02/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 1024x768 15 sec 20 300 sec IR no
       "Hercules Cluster"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 260 40 57 57 -24.5 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M57 Planetary Nebula Lyra 06/02/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 1024x768 15 sec 60 900 sec IR no
       "the Ring Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 285 45 57 57 -25.2 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M27 Planetary Nebula Vulpecula 06/02/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 1024x768 15 sec 80 1200 sec IR no
       "the Dumbbell Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 -24.2 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
B86 & NGC6520 Dark Nebula Sagittarius 06/02/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 2072x1410 15 sec 80 1200 sec IR no
       "the Inkspot Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 10.5 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M8 Emission Nebula Sagittarius 06/02/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 4144x2822 15 sec 80 1200 sec IR no
       "the Lagoon Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 9.4 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M17 Emission Nebula Sagittarius 06/02/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 2072x1410 15 sec 60 900 sec IR no
       "the Swan Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 9 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M16 Emission Nebula Serpens 06/02/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 1600x1200 15 sec 60 900 sec IR no
       "the Eagle Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 9 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M51 Galaxy Canes Venatici 06/03/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 1280x1024 30 sec 60 1800 sec IR no
       "the Whirlpool Galaxy"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 -25.2 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M82 Galaxy Ursa Major 06/03/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 1024x768 30 sec 60 1800 sec IR no
       " "
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 -25.2 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M101 Galaxy Ursa Major 06/03/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 2072x1410 30 sec 80 2400 sec IR no
       "the Pinwheel Galaxy"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 -26.3 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
B72 Dark Nebula Ophiuchus 06/03/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 4144x2822 15 sec 60 600 sec IR no
       "the Snake Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 -25.2 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
NGC40 Planetary Nebula Cepheus 06/03/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 1024x768 15 sec 12 180 sec IR no
       "the Bow-Tie Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 -24.2 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
NGC6905 Planetary Nebula Cepheus 06/03/2019 8" SCT @ f6.3 CGEM 1024x768 15 sec 12 180 sec IR no
       "the Blue-Fash Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 399 45 57 57 -25.2 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
M22 Globular Cluster Sagittarius 07/01/2019 14" SCT @ f10 fork alt-az 4144x2822 15 sec 1 15 sec IR no
      
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 365 45 50 50 -15 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
NGC6543 Planetary Nebula Sagittarius 07/01/2019 14" SCT @ f10 fork alt-az 1024x768 15 sec 1 15 sec IR no
       "Catseye Nebula"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 250 45 50 50 -14.8 Yes




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
NGC7662 Planetary Nebula Andromeda 07/01/2019 14" SCT @ f10 fork alt-az 3104x2116 5 sec 61 305 sec IR no
       "Blue Snowball Nebula"
(image zoomed)
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 365 45 50 50 -14.8 no




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
Jupiter Planet Ophiuchus 06/28/2019 14" SCT @ f10 fork alt-az 1024x768 0.04861 sec 400+ 17 sec IR no
       "Moon Io to the left, Callisto to upper left"
processed using RegiStax
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 50 9 50 50 23.5 No




Object Type Constellation Date Optical Tube Mount Capture size Exposure Stack# Time Filter Guided
Saturn Planet Sagittarius 07/01/2019 14" SCT @ f10 fork alt-az 800x600 0.4 sec 350+ 16 sec IR no
       "processed using RegiStax"
Color Space Binning Gain Brightness White Bal (B) White Bal (R) Temperature Dark Frame
RGB24 1 0 9 50 50 2.1 No





Hope you enjoyed the visit. Come again soon!
Larry McHenry,   Pittsburgh, PA. USA

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