Monday, October 28, 2013

Vale of Tears

Yay for new gear!  Don't you just love it when you spend hard earned cash for new gear and it all works wonderfully right out of the box?  So do I.

Wonder if I'll ever experience that.

Anyone who expects to solve problems by throwing around kilo-dollars has yet to experience all that astrophotography has to offer.  I have a story to tell - but it will be another time.  Let's just say I've survived -

"gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle" (mourning and weeping in the valley of tears)*

-my personal Vale of Tears with pretty much all new gear and have come out the other side with a nice deep image of the Veil Nebula (I'm feeling overproud with the use of the homophone).

I've set aside my lovely Canon lenses for a Takahashi FSQ-85 (the baby-Q) and a updated QSI683 camera.  Takahashi optics are the bees-knees but their mechanicals (read focuser) suck.  But as I just said I'll save that tale of woe for another day.  Even with the focal reducer bringing it to a focal length of 337mm its like looking through a soda straw to "us" camera lens folk.  How are you supposed to image anything through these refractor "pea-shooters" anyway?  Now, now,  I'm not complaining ... just saying its an all new way to "frame" the universe.  It'll take some getting used to.  And lots of mosaics ....

After I solved some of the hinted at "mechanicals" I decided on the Veil as a nice first object.  I already had the Ha and OIII filters so all was good there.  Framing experiments soon revealed that I'd have to shoot *two* frames to get the whole thing (is that my beloved 200mm EF-L lens chortling from the camera bag?)  So that just doubled the length of the project.  Next I made some terrible blunders errors in judgement like shooting the OIII all binned 2x2 and the Ha all 1x1.  That made for some hassles latter during processing.  I spread taking the data over some 20 different nights this summer/fall - not all nights were completely devoted to this project but most were.  And yes, the assorted screw-ups had me tossing full nights of data - but dang ... 20 nights!  That's some perseverance full on scratchy hair-shirt monkery!

Veil Nebula in Ha and O(III) 

All-in-all some 40+ hours exposure time.  Mostly in Ha and O(III) but also some RGB exposure for star color.

I know "conventional" bi-color Ha/OIII are red/teal.  I'm sorry but I don't like "teal" and while I know the O(III) line at 501nm is "teal" it's my data and I can make it any color I want.  I decided for blue-ish purple.  An imaging buddy suggested it looks like minerals under short-wave UV.  I like it!  Later I might come back and make it forest green/orange just to be ornery.

I wanted to control the brightest parts of the nebula (near 52 Cygni and also the "eastern" Veil) better than I did but what I really wanted was to bring up the super faint arcs and tendrils on the periphery.  I'm pretty pleased with that.

So, finally another image.  Hopefully it won't take another 6 months for the next!

* from the hymn "Salve Regina".  And no,  I'm not Catholic - it's just that the latin makes me feel smarter.

Bi-color Veil

QSI683, -25C
Astrodon Ha (3A), OIII (3A), RGB filters
RGB (15x2min) x2 frames bin1x1 3hrs total
Eastern Veil Frame Ha (36x15min) bin 1x1, OIII (30x15min) bin 2x2  16.5hrs total
Western Veil Frame Ha(50x15min) bin 1x1, OIII (46x15min) bin 2x2  24hrs total
AP900 Mount
Image Capture with Sequence Generator Pro
calibration, registration and post-processed in PixInsight

Taken at:  Bumpass Hell, Mt Lassen, California
                 South San Jose, California
                 Montebello Open Space Preserve, California
                 Lake San Antonio, California
Taken on: July 19,20
                August 11,15,16,18,22,24,26,27,31
                September 5,6,7,8
                October 2,3,4,5,6

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