Stars from Messier 67 in Cancer

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Messier 67 (M67) is an open cluster in the Cancer constellation. M67 has more than 100 stars similar to the Sun, and countless red giants. The total star count has been estimated at well over 500.

Here is a high-magnification view of some of those stars in the cluster.

Meade 8" LX200R with Orion G3 Starshoot CCD at prime focus, guided with Orion ST-80, PHD, 17x21 seconds, MaximDL. From a Port Orchard, Washington back yard.

Jupiter in fair seeing

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Tonight was my first-ever use of my new Celestron 132M camera. As my filter wheel has not yet arrived, I was limited to black and white exposures.

Here is my first stack and I'm pretty happy with it for my first time. Most of the battle was learning to use FireCapture, as I'd never used it before. This was a 60 second exposure through an 8" Meade LX200, stacked 50% of best frames.

Pretty good polar alignment

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Here's my PHD graph from this morning's alignment. The Meade LX200 is on a permanent pier in a backyard observatory, but it's alignment was off a bit over the long cold winter ... probably expansion/contraction of the pier, wedge, etc. So this morning, I got up at 2 a.m. and worked on alignment for a bit. Here, I did drift alignment on both axis and got the trendlines to flatline where they go. With any luck, I won't have to align again for another year. :)

M3 with the Orion Starshoot G3

Submitted by jimwcoleman

I was dismayed to see how out-of-focus this image turned out to be, especially after I spent 90 minutes drift aligning the scope at oh-dark-thirty this morning. I used a Bahtinov mask on Arcturus to dial in the focus, but there must have been some mirror shift while slewing to M3.

Anyway, here's what I got this morning using the Orion G3 Starshoot. It's been a long, wet Seattle-area winter, so I was just happy to FINALLY get back out under the stars. Even if I only got a poor-to-mediocre photo.

Focusing tips and tricks at high magnification are always welcome!

Orion G3 Starshoot is not a planetary cam

Submitted by jimwcoleman

This really puzzled me for some time. Every time I tried to shoot Jupiter with the Orion G3 Starshoot, I would get a vertical white line out of the top and bottom of the planet in the image. I soon realized that the image was way overexposed and started playing with the offset and gain. But then, after much trial and error, I realized that the Starshoot G3 is a deep-space cam, not a planetary cam. Just like the box says, heh heh.

In this image, you are actually looking at Betelgeuse ... overexposed to show you the same effect I was getting with Jupiter.

Astrophotography class

Submitted by jimwcoleman

I will be giving a one-hour astrophotography class/demo at work today... it will be similar to the one I did at South Kitsap High School and other presentations I have done... a full setup, but indoors. I love introducing this fascinating hobby to others and always hope that it will "stick" with someone who will then go forth and do great things in the field!

Star trails over Port Orchard

Submitted by jimwcoleman

Here is a time lapse showing the motion of stars over my Port Orchard back yard. There also are three aircraft and at least two shooting stars visible in this photo to the discerning eye. Smoke from my fireplace interfered a bit, giving some of the stars a "dotted" look as the smoke drifted overhead as the winds changed. This image represents 299 30-second exposures at six-second intervals using a Canon 60D, a 10mm Sigma lens at IS0 800 - for the technically inclined. :)