August 2016: Stellar nurseries

The Lagoon and the Trifid are some of the most visited objects in the summer sky. Favorite targets for astrophotographers, I had previously imaged them with my 8″ LX200 and the QSI. The Trifid was perfect for my photographic field, but the Laggon required a 2-frame mosaic to fit inside it.

With the new setup (the 80mm TS refractor and the QSI) both objects fit perfectly inside the field!

M8 and M20 signed

This is a cropped version of the image:

M8 and M20 cropped signed

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August 2016: … and now, the Eastern part

Yes, while testing my new equipment I imaged the Eastern Veil, one of my favorite objects in the summer sky.

With my “traditional” setup (the 8″ LX200), this object needed a 3-piece mosaic to be framed inside the field. But now, with the 80mm TS refractor and its huge photographic field, the Veil simply floats in the middle of the frame surrounded with thousands of Milky Way stars.

Veil east signed

This is a cropped version of the image:

Veil east cropped signed

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August 2016: the Western Veil, my new mobile setup first light

Since some time ago I began thinking of a new setup. A “portable” one, which could be easily trasported in my car and get ready in the outdoors for a night-long astrophoto session.

My beloved LX200 is way too heavy for transportation and for a quick setup. It remains in my permanent observation site in Falset, And this location is away from my home. So I wanted an equipment that could be ready at home for transportation, and that was easy to setup in the field.

I also wanted to have a wide field scope. This has to do with an easy setup and operation. The wider the field, the more forgiving it would be regarding alignment and guiding.

After some due dilligence, I selected a TS 80mm APO astrophoto refractor, with a focal reducer-flattener to give a F4.7 system. An ideal configuration to pair with the QSI583WSG (a pixel size of almost 3 arcsec at bin 1). And a iOptron iEQ30Pro mount.

This is my first final picture with this scope. The quality of the system is remarkable, and although I struggled for some months with balancing issues I finally had it ready for operation. In the field I found the problem of having enough electrical power for everything… but this is explained in the articles section.

Veil signed

I’m quite happy with this performance. The field is really wide: about 2.5 x 3 degrees. The color balance is very good, and the operation (alignment & guiding) very easy as wished.

This is a cropped version.

Veil cropped signed

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July 2015: the Trifid Nebula

The Trifid, or M20, is one of the most imaged targets in the sky. But I had a pending issue with this baby. The only picture I had with the QSI CCD wasn’t good, as I had had a problem with focus during that night. And my list of targets was long, so that M20 had to wait.

Now, it’s been time to fix my relationship with the Trifid.

I imaged woth H-alpha filter, 500 second-log exposure, and with RGB (300 seconds each). The tracking performance was very good during all the session.

Trifid HRGB

I processed creating a “synthetic” L and R channels by means of a combination between the original H-alpha & R subs. Deconvolution applied to the final L layer enhanced the nebula details.

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Milky Way from Montsec

This is an image of the Milky Way, taken with my Canon 70D and the iOptron Skytracker. The sky was pristine and wonderful, in the Montsec area in Catalonia. This is, in fact, a Starlight certified sky.

The image was taken with 4 minutes of exposition at ISO3200, and the tracking was excellent even with a quick & dirty polar alignment.

Via Làctia Montsec

This is a crop of the previous image, highlighting the area between Saggitarius and Scorpius.

Via Làctia detall Montsec

Huge dust lanes obscure the view towards the galaxy center. A number of deep sky objects can be identified in the picture.

More pictures. This time, a 3-image mosaic, showing the Milky Way in its full glory ove Montsec Observatory domes.

Montsec Via Làctia panorama de 3 signed

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More Lovejoy! And Orion

While comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy brightened in the night sky, I tried to chase it with everything I had.

Happy with the results, piggybacking my Canon 70D on the telescope:

lovejoy v1


The comet is passing near Tauro & The Pleiades. It is a 10-minute shot, at ISO1600, on a clear and cold night in the country.

Some days before, Lovejoy was lower, near Orion. 20 seconds of exposition were enough to show the tail. Again with the Canon 70D:

Lovejoy 10-01-2015 Falset


And while piggybacking I tried Orion with the Canon and a longer zoom:

Orion region

December 2014 & January 2015: Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy

Comet C/2014 Q2 arrival has been a good opportunity to try photography without telescope, through a regular DSLR camera.

These are some of my tests. I’ve used a Canon 70D camera, with a 18-135 lens, working mostly at F3.5, ISO ranging from 800 to as high as 1600, RAW, tripod, delayed shooting through cable, and 15s (or sometimes 20s) exposures.

lovejoy 1 assenyalatlovejoy 2 assenyalat

Of course I also imaged it with mu telescope and beloved QSI583. Here is the result:

Lovejoy tricomia

Comet Lovejoy appears as a fuzzy green ball. The intense green is due to the ionization of diatomic C.

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August 2014: stunning Milky Way from Tanzania

Taking advantage of my summer trip to northern Tanzania, I took some pictures of that wonderful night sky. Far from any urban presence, and sorounded by bright eyes illuminated with my flaslight, I pointed my Canon 70D camera up to the sky, using a sturdy tripod, and a cable shutter to avoid vibrations. I tested some configurations, but in all of them I used a 18mm, f3.5 lens, and ISO from 200 to 400. Exposure times from 15 to 20 seconds. And image quality set to RAW. I used dark frames for processing, and I stacked up to 8 subs for image.

Here are some of the results. I have marked in them interesting objects:

sky03 iso400 15s 8frames


sky03 iso400 15s 8frames identification

sky05 iso400 15s 5frames

sky05 iso400 15s 5frames identification

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July 2014: M106

After some time without imaging (I’m very busy with my astrophysics master program), I came back to my CCD with this galaxy. The imaging session was abruptly terminated when some high clouds had my star guide lost. I could only cath 3 subs for each filter. Althpugh I used 500-second exposures for my subs, this was not enough to clearly uncover the weak and subtle external parts of this beautiful spiral. I trued to do my best while processing, to extract light from this area. As always, deconvolution worked miracles on the central part of the galaxy.



   Go to this object description and this image technical detail.