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Mike Barrett
Worked at PocketGPSWorld
Attended SEEVIC College
Lives in Essex, UK & Davenport, FL
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Mike Barrett

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So last weekend's star party had 3 good nights, but as usual technical issues abounded.  I had the singular aim of imaging the Bubble Nebula and M52 in LRGB.  Unfortunately I only managed to get LRG I will have to wait until I get to our club camp next new moon to grab the blue data.

I am reasonably happy with the result the image is pretty much full frame just cropped slightly round the edges to get rid of the stacking frame.  It has been scaled down 50% to be 1024x814 pixels.  The second image is a full sized crop of the Bubble Nebula.  When I get time I will add some colour and maybe some HA  that I grabbed last month. 

There is 11 x 10 minute subs combined into these images.  Taken at Kelling Heath using a William Optics GTF-81 mounted on a SkyWatcher AZ-EQ6 mount.  Camera is an Atik 460EX with Atik filter wheel and off-axis guider using Baader LRGB filter set.
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Dave Smith's profile photoMary Wilby's profile photo
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Hi Mike

That is a great image no wonder you are pleased with it.

Best wishes. Mary

Mike Barrett

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My new Atik 460EX arrived yesterday and in a somewhat unusual turn of events it was partially clear last night so managed to get first light on the day of receiving it, very unusual.

My first problem came when trying to focus it.  I was unable to get anywhere near focus, which was not helped much by my mount not being synced properly.  Once I managed to get onto Castor I was able to work out that I needed an extension tube to achieve focus.  I should have realised this as I needed a 2" extender for the DSLR and the 460 has less backfocus so would need more extension.  I solved this by using a diagonal and finally managed to achieve reasonable focus, I still think that I can do better.

Anyway the result was that despite the moon I was able to get 50 minutes of subs on M81/82 and also built up a library of darks and bias (which I did not use in the images) I grabbed some flats this morning and processed.
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Mike Barrett

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I had had a couple of cable snags on my telescope recently. Fortunately no damage was done other than to one cable. This gave me the incentive to reachable my setup and I can now reach all parts of the visible sky with no danger of any snags or collisions. 

To test it I set up in the back garden in the blazing sunlight of a cloudless day.  Of course as soon as I had finished setting up the clouds rolled in for 100% coverage.  After checking a number of times during the evening I was surprised to see 100% clear skies lit by a bright moon.  Not to be deterred I ventured into narrowband imaging and took about 2 hours exposure of the flame and horsehead nebulae in 7nm Ha.  The resulting image still shows quite a bit of noise, but also a lot of detail.  The moon is no longer an issue for me!!!
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Alan Radley's profile photoMike Barrett's profile photoDave Smith's profile photo
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The forecast isn't too promising and the Moon is getting closer each night - so good luck.

Mike Barrett

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Guess when new moon is?
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Dave Smith's profile photoMike Barrett's profile photo
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The text should have been "Guess when new moon is? We have had loads of cloudy nights when it has been dark, now at full moon it clears up. Guess I should take up moonbathing, can I get a moon tan?" not sure what happened to the rest :(

Mike Barrett

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What a night last night.  Clear all the way from dusk to dawn.  I spent 9 hours imaging 4.5 lights, 4.5 darks plus a load of flats and got this result.  

The Bubble Nebula or NGC 7635 is in the constellation of Cassiopeia and was pretty much overhead when I started imaging at 12:30am.  The image is composed of 25 x 10 minute exposures taken at ISO 800 combined with 25 x 10 minute darks and 60 flats.  The resulting image was processed in Photoshop to bring out the details.  This is a crop of the full frame of my Canon T3i modified for astrophotography by Hap Griffin and is actually 100% i.e. 1 to 1 pixel.  I am very happy with the noise, but the image is over processed.  I will make some further attempts to improve it over time.
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Looks fine to me Mike :)

Mike Barrett

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My first light in Ha with my new Atik 400EX camera had mixed results.  I was imaging in Ha as there was a full moon, hence the lower detail in the images.  The first is a stack of 26 x 5 minute exposures combined and processed.  The second a single 20 minute exposure showing that despite the 'low' amount of light admitted there is still a lot of detail there and third is an enlargement of 400% that shows the issue that I had despite guiding it looks like the mount was pulled in at least 2 different ways during the exposure making the the stars elongated.

For those of you who do not recognise this image it is the heart of the Heart Nebula.
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Nice image Mike

Mike Barrett

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Well I definitely saw Comet Lovejoy last night. I managed to get about 90 minutes of exposure on it before it disappeared behind the trees at the bottom of the garden. There is some detail in the tails, but not enough to be brought out.
I was doing 5 minute exposures with the guider on the comet nucleus making the stars trail. I tried two different methods of stacking: Average and Standard Deviation. As expected the Average shows the trailing stars, but the SD has removed the stars as the 'artefacts' do not remain in the following frames.
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Mike Barrett

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On Saturday it was lovely and clear for a change.  I took the opportunity to test out my new guided mount with Canon T3i camera.  I went for the Heart and Soul nebula as I have been wanting to get round to imaging them again, last time was 2 years ago.

I am reasonably pleased with the results.  This represents 40x300s RGB exposures combined with 40x300s darks.  A total of 3 hours 20 minutes of lights.  I did notice some slight field rotation when processing so I had to rotate as well as translate to get them to align properly.
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Very nice Mike

Mike Barrett

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Watch as the dramatic events of the failed Antares launch unfold pictures and video from the cameras placed on the launch pad.

Antares rocket explosion from the launch pad
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Mike Barrett

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With the moon just past full the sky was way too bright for any serious astrophotography, and of course there were clear skies, I took the opportunity to do a little testing.  I have a new bar with dual cameras on one for guiding and one for imaging.  This time I am using my 200mm prime lens rather than a telescope.  This allows me to get some of the larger nebula like the veil and the Heart and Soul in a single frame. 

To test this system I stopped the lens right down to F16 set the ISO to 800 and ran a 10 minute sub.  As that worked very nicely producing perfectly round stars I then decided to up the exposure to 20 minutes.  Once again there were perfect round stars, though the sky was washed out.  Cant wait until the moon gets out of the way and I can take some serious exposures.
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Dave Smith's profile photoMike Barrett's profile photo
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Indeed, but my Ha filter will not fit on the camera lens :-(

Mike Barrett

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This is another crop of the image at 50% showing the Bubble Nebula and M52.  The whole area is covered with nebulosity which is picked out very nicely by my modified T3i DSLR
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Mike Barrett's profile photoDave Smith's profile photo
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Feel free MIke but I don't expect to get any better.
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