Here are my long awaited pictures from the lunar eclipse on Wednesday. This first one was taken around 9:10pm. I was using a lunar filter that is good for bringing out contrast detail, but has the side effect of filtering out any unique colour changes. So the moon looks very white here. I colour corrected it and brought out more yellow.
This next one was taken 10 minutes later. There is a slight increase of darkness and this is a good demonstration of how fast the moon was moving into our shadow. Also note how the bright part is starting to get washed out due to the extremes in contrast.
Finally, at about 9:55pm I took this last one showing nearly complete shadow. I removed the lunar filter so that the colours of orange really start to show. This is ambient light filtering through all the crap in the earth’s atmosphere. Also note how the bright part is maxed out, so there is very little contrast detail here, even when I tried to strech out the histogram.
Each of these pictures is built from about 30-40 “raw” pics taken with my Meade LPI and then processed with Maxim DL. I tried Registax too, but the results weren’t as good.
I’ve heard about it, but I never thought it could happen to me. That’s right … I’m talking about thermal noise. I’ve been out in the cold lately and I’ve noticed that my new CCD has been very noisy. I thought I was doing something wrong (not configuring the software correctly etc.) but I now realize that my $99 CCD does have its limitations. I’m sure those CCD’s costing $1500 probably have similar problems, but hopefully this issue will be less pronounced once the weather warms up.
Thursday night was gorgeous. Cold, dark (with no stupid moon blinding me) and no wind. So I decided to take another crack at the Orion nebula. I took about 60 images that look about like this … pretty crappy, I know.
Then I thought hey, let’s grab a few dark frames that might help explain a few things. Here one such frame. You can really see that it ain’t dark, even with the lens cap on. I suspect much of the noise along the bottom is from heat or the nuclear radiation from the CCD electronics.
At this point, maybe I should mention again that Registax totally rocks. Take 60 crappy images of a fuzzy cloud that keeps bouncing around because of my $300 telescope and then load in the “dark” frame as a flat frame, let it make some pretty graphs for a few minutes, then you get this masterpiece. You can almost make out the whispery blue arms of the nebula just above and to the left of the central pair of stars. Click on the picture to see a more detailed version. Very cool. This technique deserves more experimenting.