Astrophotography 2021

For 2021 I tried to use -10C cooling for my QHY294C for all subjects. Only one hot summer evening where the air temp was 24C forced me to go back to 0C. I log both the total current used by my system and also the PWM output for the cooler as it is a parameter available via the QHYCCD.dll The temperature actually rose a little bit during that hot evening and I could see that the PWM output was quickly climbing. QHYCCD claims that the cooler is capable of -35C below ambient. My experience is that it may be capable of -35C but it would require high currents that might wear out the cooler. Keeping to -32c below ambient is a better recommendation. I log all of this data so I should put together an article detailing my experiences with controlling this cooler.

I also used the light table I bought on Amazon for all of my FLAT frames. I think it works very well. It is very light weight and has continuously variable light output. It’s output is pure white light. I always tried for roughly 1 second FLAT frames. Light Pollution Filters required low light output. The LeNhance Narrowband filter required full light output and it required 2 second FLATs. I don’t believe I saw any issues with my FLAT frames so I am very please with this item. My approach for taking FLAT frames is also unusual. I will put out an article detailing my experiences with this light table.

As I was preparing the photos for 2021 it really struck me how the forest fire smoke that blanketed Ontario during June and July really trashed my astrophotos. There were some nights where I new it was hopeless. Many of the nights that I did try resulted in very dim noisy images that were unusable. Climate change really sucks.

I also tried using a GAIN of 2500 for a few DSOs. Overall I was not happy with the results. 200 or 300 second exposures all seemed noisy even though the read noise of the QHY294C is lower at GAIN=2500 compared to GAIN=1600. My gut feeling is that GAIN=1600 is the “sweet-spot” for this camera. I have to admit that the forest fire smoke may be the main culprit here. Maybe next year will prove me wrong.

Control software changes that I performed were a new user interface for the Differential Flexure Comp camera angle determination. I also incorporate the PHD2 Server to move the mount for this interface. I like this approach because it takes into consideration any calibration errors that PHD2 may have experienced with the guide camera. I think the Differential Flexure Comp logic is more stable as a result.

My telescope control software, that I wrote, incorporates an image preview feature where a quick image stretch is performed so that a pleasing color image is displayed. As you move the cursor over the image the XY position and the RGB pixel values are shown in the title bar of this window. This year I incorporated plate solving into this preview. A click of a button causes the newly acquired image to be plate solved. Once the plate solver successfully completes the cursor position is converted into RA and DEC values. The values shown in the titlebar are now the Right Accession and Declination at the cursor.

I went one step further and modified my plate solving control so that I can reposition the mount using this image preview. If I move the cursor to a location on the image preview and double-click a little red cross appears on the image and the RA DEC information is used to preset the plate solving control. I just click a button on the plate solving control window and the mount is re-positioned so that where I double-clicked on the image preview has been moved to the center of the image.

Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress
The Wizard Nebula NGC 7380 November 8th, 2021 Hamilton, Ontario Air Temp=14C Humidity=52% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) L-eNhance filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=600 seconds Temp=-10C 1 Hour 30 Minutes total integration time 9 LIGHTs, 22 DARKs, 17 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Whale Galaxy (Herring Galaxy) C 32 – NGC 4631 and Crowbar Galaxy (Hockey Stick Galaxy) NGC 4656 June 19th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=14C Humidity=67% 8″EdgeHD @ F10(2,032mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=2500 Offset=0 Exposure=300 seconds Temp=-10C 2 Hours 25 Minutes total integration time 29 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 20 DARKFLATs, 21 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Triangulum Galaxy M 33 – NGC 598 September 30th, 2021 Hamilton, Ontario Air Temp=13C Humidity=70% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=300 seconds Temp=-10C 3 Hours 25 Minutes total integration time 41 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Sun November 7th, 2021 Hamilton, Ontario Air Temp=18C Humidity=47% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) L-eNhance filter and Aperture Solar Filter QHY294C Gain=0 Offset=0 Exposure=1/32th second Temp=0C Single LIGHT frame 1 LIGHT frame Processed Startools Lightroom
RS Ophiuchi recurrent nova August 13th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=14C Humidity=67% 8″EdgeHD @ F10(2,032mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=200 seconds Temp=-10C 0 Hours 13 Minutes total integration time 4 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 20 DARKFLATs, 21 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Needle Galaxy (Berenice’s Hair Clip – Flying Saucer Galaxy) C 38 – NGC 4565 June 16th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=14C Humidity=67% 8″EdgeHD @ F10(2,032mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=2500 Offset=0 Exposure=300 seconds Temp=-10C 2 Hours 25 Minutes total integration time 29 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 20 DARKFLATs, 21 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
M 106 – NGC 4258 June 10th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=24C Humidity=51% 8″EdgeHD @ F10(2,032mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=2500 Offset=0 Exposure=300 seconds Temp=0C Cooler could not maintain -10C 3 Hours 30 Minutes total integration time 42 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 20 DARKFLATs, 21 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Great Star Cluster in Hercules (Hercules Globular Cluster) M 13 – NGC 6205 May 29th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=12C Humidity=50% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=0 Offset=0 Exposure=200 seconds Temp=-10C 1 Hour 23 Minutes total integration time 25 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 20 DARKFLATs Fixed DARK Compensation=18% of Gain=1600 DARK Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
NGC 6712 Star Cluster and IC 1295 Planetary Nebula Aug 13th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=20C Humidity=71% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=200 seconds Temp=-10C 1 Hour 43 Minutes total integration time 31 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 20 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Fish Head Nebula IC 1795 – LBN 645 September 18th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=14C Humidity=73% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) L-eNhance filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=600 seconds Temp=-10C 4 Hours 40 Minutes total integration time 28 LIGHTs, 22 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Fireworks Galaxy C 12 – NGC 6946 July 9th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=16C Humidity=77% 8″EdgeHD @ F10(2,032mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=2500 Offset=0 Exposure=300 seconds Temp=-10C 3 Hours 30 Minutes total integration time 42 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 20 DARKFLATs, 21 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Elephant’s Trunk Nebula (The Misty Clover Cluster) IC 1396 September 19th, 2021 (One night before Full Moon) South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=18C Humidity=70% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) L-eNhance filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=600 seconds Temp=-10C 4 Hours 30 Minutes total integration time 27 LIGHTs, 22 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Elephant’s Trunk Nebula (The Misty Clover Cluster) IC 1396 November 7th, 2021 Hamilton, Ontario Air Temp=11C Humidity=67% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) L-eNhance filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=600 seconds Temp=-10C 2 Hours 50 Minutes total integration time 17 LIGHTs, 22 DARKs, 17 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
East Veil Nebula (Veil Nebula) C 33 – NGC 6992) August 17th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=22C Humidity=75% BK80ED+0.85FR+LPR (510mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=200 seconds Temp=-10C 3 Hours 30 Minutes total integration time 63 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Y Cyg Nebula IC 1318 – LBN 245 August 30th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=24C Humidity=68% BK80ED+0.85FR+LPR (510mm FL) L-eNhance filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=600 seconds Temp=-10C 2 Hours 10 Minutes total integration time 13 LIGHTs, 22 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Crescent Nebula (Ear Nebula) C 27 – NGC 6888 Sept 2nd, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=16C Humidity=71% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) L-eNhance filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=600 seconds Temp=-10C 4 Hours 0 Minutes total integration time 24 LIGHTs, 22 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Cocoon Nebula C 19 – IC 5146 Aug 2nd, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=19C Humidity=74% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) L-eNhance filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=600 seconds Temp=-10C 3 Hours 50 Minutes total integration time 23 LIGHTs, 22 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Cigar Galaxy M 82 – NGC 3034 June 1st, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=15C Humidity=70% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=2500 Offset=0 Exposure=200 seconds Temp=-10C 1 Hour 43 Minutes total integration time 31 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 16 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 21 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Bode’s Galaxy (Bode’s Nebula – The Great Spiral) M 81 – NGC 3031) May 30th, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=11C Humidity=64% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=2500 Offset=0 Exposure=200 seconds Temp=-10C 1 Hour 50 Minutes total integration time 33 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 16 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 21 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
NGC 6914 – LBN 280 – Ced 176d August 14th, 2021 and September 1st, 2021 South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=Aug 14th[17C Humidity=70%] Sept 1st[18C Humidity=64%] 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) L-eNhance filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=600 seconds Temp=-10C 7 Hours 40 Minutes total integration time 46 LIGHTs, 22 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Andromeda Galaxy M31 and M32 Oct 27th,2021 Hamilton, Ontario Air Temp=11C Humidity=67% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=200 seconds Temp=-10C 2 Hours 50 Minutes total integration time 51 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Andromeda Galaxy M31 and M110 September 29th,2021 Hamilton, Ontario Air Temp=13C Humidity=75% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=300 seconds Temp=-10C 4 Hours 30 Minutes total integration time 54 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Filamentary Nebula C 34 – NGC 6960 August 15th South Bruce Peninsula Air Temp=19C Humidity=74% BK80ED+0.85FR+LPR (510mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=200 seconds Temp=-10C 2 Hours 56 Minutes 40 Seconds total integration time 53 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom
Caroline’s Rose Cluster NGC 7789 September 30th, 2021 Hamilton, Ontario Air Temp=14.5C Humidity=67% 8″EdgeHD+0.7FR (1,422mm FL) Moon & Skyglow filter QHY294C Gain=1600 Offset=0 Exposure=200 seconds Temp=-10C 23 Minutes 20 seconds total integration time 7 LIGHTs, 20 DARKs, 15 FLATs, 10 DARKFLATs, 20 BIAS Calibration CaLIGHTs, Stacked DSS, Processed Startools Lightroom