Bintel Astrophotographer of the year 2022
Platinum Award winners
Location: Makara, Wellington, NZ – SQM 21.85ish
Gear: Samyang 135 / Astromodded Z6 / Star Adventurer
Integration Details: 53m Total Integration for tracked sky. 10m for untracked foreground. Shot @ F2/ISO1600
Processing Details: Processing was fairly similar to the ‘Rho’ image, however, the major difference was the background extraction. As Orion set, it passed behind waves of airglow. This created very complex gradients in the final stack, which were very difficult to remove using a standard background extraction. The solution was to use the Multiscale Gradient Correction method described by Vicent Peris, which uses a wider image to generate a background model. A 40mm shot of Orion from the previous summer was used to generate this model.
Blending the foreground into the sky was done using affinity photos. As Orion was setting, a ‘reference’ frame was taken to ensure the alignment was correct. By chance, it had set perfectly over a distant lighthouse on the South Island.
Date captured: 2022-09-24
Location: Wiruna, ASNSW dark site, Bortle 2
Mount: Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro
Imaging scope: Sky-Watcher Esprit 100 ED APO
Imaging camera: ZWO ASI6200MC Pro, gain 100, offset 40, -15°C
Filter: No filter
Controller: Intel 8th gen NUC and Pegasus Astro UBP v2
Motor Focuser: Pegasus Astro Focus Motor Kit v2
Autoguider: PHD2 2.6.11
Guide camera: QHY5L-II-M
Guide scope: QHYCCD Mini Guide Scope
Rotator: Pegasus Astro Falcon Rotator
Image acquisition: Sequence Generator Pro 22.214.171.1246
Processing: PixInsight 1.8.9-1, Lightroom 6.14
M45 total integration time: 1 hr 39 min, 33x 3min subs, calibrated with flat/flat dark/dark
Both images were produced by myself at my home using my 16″ Hubble Optics Dobsonian on a home made Equatorial platform. The image train on both occasions was with a 3x Televue barlow from Bintel and a PlayerOne Neptune CII planetary camera. It is the rough equivalent of around 7000mm+-
Saturn image was a combination of 7 captures of 10000 frames Using my Optolong IR/UV cut filter. 1x widefield with the planet and all moons and the other 6x captures were close up of just the planet. 2000 frame stacks were used. They were all given a light sharpen in Registax then derotated in WinJupos and then the planet close up image was given a final sharpen in Registax and colour balance. Gimp was used for saturation. The widefield image was used for the moons, they were sharpened and then brightened to the level that one would see through the eyepiece when viewing this image as a whole as you cannot expose for both the planet and moons at the same time correctly. The planet was then dropped onto the moons image and merged.
The Carina Nebula is the gem of the southern skies in winter, sitting high and bright overhead for much of the night. This image was the result of around 5.5 hours of integration time using narrowband imaging techniques to isolate and capture the emissions of light from Ha, SII, OIII regions – compiled using a modified Hubble Palette. The imaging system comprised a SkyWatcher Esprit 100 Refractor, QHY268M Cooled Mono Camera and various other components such as an off-axis guider, and filter wheel – all mounted on an iOptron CEM70 mount and controlled using N.I.N.A. software.
NGC 6334 – Cat’s Paw Nebula without stars
The Cat’s Paw Nebula was a project over a few nights in July and August 2022.
It is made up of 2 different sub-exposure lengths, 180Sec and 300Sec. All subs were at 0°C and 55 gain.
100x Ha, SII and OIII at 180sec.
10x Ha, SII and OIII at 300sec.
I used a mix of Dark and Flat calibration frames to cover the different nights and different sub-exposure lengths. I personally wouldn’t recommend it.
I have taken the stars out of the Cat’s Paw to draw more attention to the interesting nebulae.
Most of the processing was done in PixInsight and a last little touch up in Adobe Lightroom.
The equipment I used was as follows:
Tele Vue NP127is OTA with Tele Vue Large Field Corrector (NP101/127is)
ZWO ASI2600MM-P Mono Camera
Skywatcher EQ6-R Equatorial Mount
ZWO EFW 7 x 36 – II NEW
ZWO 7nm Narrowband Filter Set
ZWO Off Axis Guider Large Prism
ZWO ASI290MM Mini Auto guider
ZWO ASIAIR Pro
My F.O.V. is 2.04°x1.35°
All of my equipment after polar alignment was run through the ASIAIR Pro Plan feature.
Lagoon Nebula in Rainbow SHO
The Lagoon Nebula is a vibrant target when captured with narrowband filters. Using Sulphur, Hydrogen and Oxygen filters, I considered creating an image using the HOO palette which would have made a “truer” image. However, the colours didn’t look right, so I therefore used SHO palette to create the rainbow appearance. As a SHO image is not true colour, the stars often appear a magenta colour which can degrade from the image. To combat this, shorter exposures using red, green and blue filters where used to filter through images that the stars were taken from to create true colour stars. I used a Skywatcher NEQ6 Pro mount that held a Sharpstar AL-90R Triplet Refractor. With a ZWO ASI1600MM camera with a ZWO 1.25”x8pos filter wheel loaded with ZWO narrowband filters, the whole setup was guided using a ZWO OAG with a ZWO 120MM Mini guide camera. The image comprises of 1 hour and 5 mins of Hydrogen (13x300s), 1 hour of Oxygen (12x300s), 1 hour of Sulphur (12x300s) and 4.5 mins per red, green and blue filter (R:6x45s, G:6x45s, B:6x45s). This all totalled up to be 3 hours, 18 mins and 30s of exposure time in this image.