Celebrate Dark Sky Week - Revisited (warning long post)

El GatoEl Gato Global TrekkerRegistered Users Posts: 879 Major grins

Back around 14 April under the post “Celebrate Dark Sky Week,” I discussed a bit about astro-photography and stated “I am, however, but an amateur in this astro-photography field.”

I promised to provide a photo from one of the members of the astro-photography group I belong to, demonstrating the type of imaging these astro-photography pros (in my opinion) take and produce.

The image below, is used with permission of Dale Chamberlain, the individual who took the image. Dale is a serious astro-photographer with his own observatory, which he built to observe and photograph the heavens. More about Dale, his observatory and his amazing astro-photography images can be found at Dale’s website…https://chamberlainobservatory.com/

The image below is of NGC 2174 aka The Monkey Head Nebula. This is an emission nebula located about 6,400 light-years away in the constellation Orion.

Here is the meta data associated with Dale's image....

The image was taken over the evenings of March 31, April 1, April 2, 2021

Telescope used: Astro-Tech 14” RC with Starizona Apex-ED L 0.65x focal reducer

Mount used: Paramount ME II

Camera: ZWO ASI2600MM-Pro (cooled to 0C; Gain 100) Bin 1x1

Guiding scope: ZWO ASI290MM-Mini with ZWO M68 Off-Axis Guider (OAG)

Focuser: Moonlite Nitecrawler

Rotator: Moonlite Nitecrawler

Filters used:

Chroma Ha. H-alpha (Ha) filters are essential for imaging nebulae and other objects which are rich in ionized hydrogen. At 656.3nm, a narrow-band emission filter is required to separate H-alpha from the SII doublet (671.6nm and 673.1nm).

OIII. OIII (“oh- three”) emits light near 500 nm and is a blue-green- or teal-colored filter. OIII filters have been very specifically designed for the visual observation of gaseous and planetary nebulae. They show great structural detail, but have natural colors, looking like an RGB image.

SII (Suphur II) 3nm narrowband filters with a ZWO 7-position Electronic Filter Wheel (EFW). Sulfur is in the deep red of the spectrum near 672 nm. When combined with H-a and OIII (Hydrogen-Alpha and Oxygen III, or double ionized oxygen) SII will produce images with colors that are reminiscent of those taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Number of Exposures:

40x180 seconds with a Ha filter;

40x180 seconds with an OIII filter;

55x180 seconds with a SII filter;

Total number of combined images: 135

Total exposure time: 6.8 hours;

The final 135 images were stacked and calibrated with 40 dark frames, 40 flat frames with 40 dark-flats and 100 bias frames.

Note: Usually three different types of image are required for the stacking process: Light frames, Dark frames and Flat frames. The images containing the astronomical motive are called Light frames. Dark frames are images obtained by taking images with a closed lens cap. They do not contain any real image information but merely consist of sensor noise. These images provide important information on the electrical and thermal state of the imaging sensor. The third type of image is Flat frames. They are usually taken against a synthetic white background and help to eliminate effects caused by dust on the sensor and vignetting (source: https://bit.ly/3xpgLte).

Seeing Conditions: 4/5 above average. Bortle 5 region

Image capture and telescope control: Sequence Generator Pro and TheSkyX Pro

Processed with PixInsight, Photoshop CC 2022

There you have it…as I said, serious, pro-level astro-photography. I want to thank Dale for allowing me to share his amazing image with you.

As I mentioned in my original post, if you haven’t yet, put visiting a dark sky site on your bucket list. Just sit back and stare up into the heavens and be amazed by the billions and billions of points of light one can see, leave the camera in the bag and be spellbound.

Here is NGC 2174 aka The Monkey Head Nebula, taken by Dale Chamberlain...

Comments

  • black mambablack mamba Major grins Jacksonville, FLRegistered Users Posts: 7,618 Major grins

    First, Al, let me thank you for the effort you put forth in presenting this posting. I've always appreciated the spectrum of skills and attention to details that it takes to produce top-flight images of this nature. To see and read about what it takes to excel in astro-photography really strengthens my admiration for those practitioners of this highly specialized art.

    I always wanted to lie naked on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace. Cracker Barrel didn't take kindly to it.
  • StumblebumStumblebum I shoot, therefore I am San Jose, CARegistered Users Posts: 8,246 Major grins

    Wow!

  • El GatoEl Gato Global Trekker Registered Users Posts: 879 Major grins

    @black mamba said:
    First, Al, let me thank you for the effort you put forth in presenting this posting. I've always appreciated the spectrum of skills and attention to details that it takes to produce top-flight images of this nature. To see and read about what it takes to excel in astro-photography really strengthens my admiration for those practitioners of this highly specialized art.

    Tom, I couldn't agree more. I am constantly blown away buy the quality of the images that these serious astro-photographers produce. I know that there is a lot of gear, equipment, time, effort, energy, patience and skill put into taking these images. Yet, what really makes one pause for a moment, is that this is an image of a celestial object that is 6,400 LIGHT YEARS away. Light years!!! It boggles the mind when you really think about it.

    It is just amazing to get a glimpse of what is actually out there in the sky above us, through their images.

    Thanks for your comments Tom.

  • black mambablack mamba Major grins Jacksonville, FLRegistered Users Posts: 7,618 Major grins

    Consider that the distance light will travel in a single year is 5,878,625,373,184 miles, and you multiply that number by 6,400....well, it's hard for me to get my head around such stupendously large numbers. I'm personally fascinated by astrology, cosmology and other related disciplines. I try and absorb as much as I can about the facts and concepts that apply to our universe and the rest of our cosmos .The concept of infinity, in particular, gives me fits. Truly getting a grasp on gravity and its origins is another mind-binder. It goes on and on. Hell, I'm about to believe that there are parallel universes and that one day we may learn to jump from one to the other.

    I always wanted to lie naked on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace. Cracker Barrel didn't take kindly to it.
  • JuanoJuano Major grins Lima, PeruRegistered Users Posts: 4,317 Major grins

    @Stumblebum said:
    Wow!

    I agree, wow.

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