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Novice Astrophotographer Discovers Supernova

  1. Oct 21, 2005 #1

    russ_watters

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    I'm not usually a big fan of advertising, but the MEADE ad for the LXD-75 in December's Sky and Telescope was way cool. It is the story of the discovery of SN2005cs in M-51 this spring, by Wolfgang Kloehr. THIS site has the discovery story in blog form, but leaves out the beginning - the part about him being a novice. In the ad, he says he bought the telescope and camera just 5 weeks before and had no prior astrophotography experience (but clearly, some knowledge of astronomy).

    THIS site has a number of pictures of the supernova.

    I realize that he got pretty lucky - M51 is one of the more photogenic of galaxies, so it's no surpirse amateurs were looking at it that night. But still, he recognized what he saw and got credit for it. So cool.
     
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  3. Apr 29, 2011 #2

    Borek

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    Unfortunately, first of the original links is dead.

    If not for the fact you just linked to this thread I would not necropost in 6 years old thread to state something like that.
     
  4. Apr 29, 2011 #3

    Drakkith

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    Lol. I JUST bought an LXD-75 myself about 2-3 weeks ago..maybe I'll discover something too. If only I can get my DSI 2 to work correctly....sigh.
     
  5. Apr 29, 2011 #4

    ideasrule

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    What's wrong with your DSI 2? I'm thinking of buying one, so I'm curious what problems you're having with it.
     
  6. Apr 29, 2011 #5

    Drakkith

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    I don't know if it is the dsi2 itself or just how I'm using it. I've been trying to get a simple picture of saturn for 2 nights now, and I can't. Its way too bright, looks like a splotch with 2 bulges, and has zero detail at all. But I can take out the camera and put in an eyepiece and immediately see the rings and start to see bands in the atmosphere.
     
  7. Apr 29, 2011 #6

    ideasrule

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    Have you tried lowering the exposure? The DSI can get down to 1/10,000 s, and although it's a sensitive chip, 1/10000 should be more than low enough for Saturn.
     
  8. Apr 29, 2011 #7

    russ_watters

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    Nothing like googling an obscure story from 5 years ago and finding the most descriptive source is you! :biggrin:

    I'll see if I can find the ad.
     
  9. Apr 29, 2011 #8

    russ_watters

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    Most of my photos were taken with a DSI-2 (monochrome). And the LXD-75 came in second in the bidding for me...

    There's a learning curve to astrophotography, but once you get the hang of it (note: you'll never stop learning, though), you'll be amazing yourself on a regular basis, I promise.

    The two sliders at middle-left, under the histogram are on auto by default and that'll destroy most of your images. You need to move the upper one to the right to get it to display correctly....

    ....though when you take pictures, you should be using FITS format (for a DSI monochrome) or BMP (for a color) and for FITS at least, it ignores the histogram data and gives you the full brightness range.

    Also, Saturn is pretty dim, particularly at high magnification, so you're probably going the wrong way with your exposures. At prime focus, you should probably be between 0.01 and 0.1 seconds. If you're Barlowed, you should probably be at 0.05 to 0.25 seconds - I wouldn't go higher than 0.25, because atmospheric distortion becomes a big issue.

    Once you get the hang of that, I have a Registax processing tutorial on my website that'll help you turn that fuzzy little string of bmp's into a spectacular photo of Saturn [/shamelessplug]
     
  10. Apr 29, 2011 #9

    russ_watters

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    Here it is. I don't think Wolfgang or Meade will mind me posting it...

    I love the teaser:

    "Observatories survey the sky.
    Computers analyze the data.
    Scientists sleep.

    Meanwile, some guy named Wolfgang discovers a supernova in his background."
     

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  11. May 1, 2011 #10

    Chronos

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    i too bought a Meade lxd75-10sn about 9 months ago, with dsi III, The scope is awkward, but, has excellent optics and tracks well. I am still struggling with the canera part. Looking forward to summer skies.
     
  12. May 1, 2011 #11

    Drakkith

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    Mines been acting weird. When I first installed the batteries and aligned the scope using autostar, the alignment worked fine but then the scope decided to point in like the completely wrong area of the sky for what I was selecting. Somehow it fixed itself or something, and I didn't have any problems until I had to switch out the batteries last night. After that is was a 3-4 hour battle between autostar errors, my software on the laptop telling me that it couldn't transfer images from the imager and to disconnect all USB 1.1 items or switch to USB 2.0, and the increasing wind.

    I got a couple of pics, the best of which was one of the Black Eye Galaxy. I have no Idea how good it is supposed to be, I just know its not quite the HST quality lol.

    Also, I swear my scope isn't tracking the sky correctly or something...even after enabling the astronomical items setting and such. After like 20 min the item I was looking at was drifting off of my imagers view area. I don't know if my scope just wasn't tracking, or if it was just minor errors that is within it's normal operating range...
     
  13. May 1, 2011 #12

    Drakkith

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    Here's my only semi-decent pic. (Semi-decent being as it's my first pic of anything in deep space, and first pic that actually looks like something)
    Looks to me like tracking wasn't very good or something. And I have no idea why some dots are spread out everywhere and other aren't.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. May 1, 2011 #13
    It's really needle in a haystack stuff.

    Observatories usually don't survey the sky. If you've got a big telescope you are going to point it at the one object that you are interested in, and you ignore the rest of the picture. I remember once I was doing some spectrophotometry of supernova and I got some beautiful pictures of some nearby galaxies, but I was interested in this one dot in the corner.

    I was thinking to myself that there may well be aliens saying "Look at me" but because one dot looks like any other dot, there would be no way for me to figure this out. One interesting thing is that we have good quasar light curves going back to 1875. Quasars have been observed since some of the earliest photographs. It's just that it wasn't until 1960 that there was something "odd" about that one point of light.

    Also for the most part computers don't do much direct data analysis. I can't think of many situations in which you just run a computer against an image and let it go. Usually there are a ton of hand adjustments that you have to make before you get spectrum that are usable.

    The other thing is that all of the tools that professional astronomers use are available for use by amateurs, and the data reduction that amateurs use isn't that different from the one's used by professional astronomers, and the instruments are basically the same.
     
  15. May 1, 2011 #14

    russ_watters

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    That's minor errors accumulated over time, typically due to an imperfect polar alignment. Drift aligning will help, but what is really needed for long-exposures is a second camera and autoguiding.
     
  16. May 1, 2011 #15

    russ_watters

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    The streaks don't match the pattern of the stars and the stars are perfectly round. It looks to me like you may have been stacking images and got a handful of images included in the stack that don't belong.
     
  17. May 1, 2011 #16

    Drakkith

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    That was auto stacked by the meade software that took the pictures. Hrmm...hopefully the skys clear up soon and I can get back to practicing.
     
  18. May 1, 2011 #17

    russ_watters

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    Did you save the originals? You can go back and look at them individually, find the good ones, and stack them with 3rd party software such as Registax. That's how I do it. Envisage is only really good for taking pictures, not for processing. I only look at the auto-stack for informational purposes while imaging (seeing how my tracking is, for example).

    Also, I don't know what format you had Envisage saving them in, but you'll need to be using FITS if you aren't already.
     
  19. May 1, 2011 #18

    Drakkith

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    Hrmm...no I didn't save them individually, I just left most everything on the default settings I believe. It also saved as JPEG. I'll change the settings and such and try again as soon as I can. Thx russ!
     
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