Friday, June 15, 2012

Astronomical imaging

A week has passed since the Transit of Venus, or I as have affectionately begun to refer to it, the TofV.  While I purchased a new Canon T2i to capture the once in a lifetime event, I have been having a lot of fun with the camera learning how to take digital  pictures of all kinds.   I still have not attempted to learn any processing techniques, but have managed to connect the camera to my TEC 140 and take some more shots, both during the day (solar) and at night.

I should mention that I am also playing with some great software called Backyard EOS which I used to capture all these pictures.  The software seems fairly intuitive considering I have never done any computer controlled imaging before.  You can download a free 30 day fully functional trial, and the lifetime license is only $30.  I will certainly be purchasing the software when my trial expires.  Here are some single shots taken last night from my backyard.  All I have done in terms of processing is to slightly sharpen the images and adjust the contrast and brightness to make the background sky appear more black than it does from my observatory.  Click the images to enlarge them.

M 11 the Wild Duck Cluster
M 27 the Dumbbell Nebula
M 56 a Globular Cluster

Of course, the real reason I purchased the camera was for Solar imaging and I did manage to snap a pretty picture of the Sun this morning at 1407 UT (7:07 MST).  You can see that active region 11504 which has been churning out solar flares over the past day (9 of them at my last check) dominates the southern hemisphere with its large and dark spots.  I am pretty happy with this shot given that once again I am shooting through smoke from a wildfire.  Unfortunately, this wildfire is burning in Reddington Pass, within about a dozen miles of my house....regardless, here is today's sun taken through my TEC 140 and Lunt Herschel Wedge.  1/4000 of a second at ISO 100.

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