Rosette Nebula

Opportunities for astrophotography are few and far between: one needs clear, Moonless, windless nights; something interesting to shoot and a couple of hours spare time. I had no such opportunity for more than a year, and was keen to try a few new pieces of gear I got in the meantime.

Rosette Nebula

Rosette Nebula

The above image was the first light for my 5DS R (performed very well, it seems to be sensitive to hydrogen alpha wavelength range without the overly reddish appearance of astro converted cameras), 500mm f/4L IS II and the IDAS LPS-D1 light pollution suppression filter (did an admirable job – the above image was shot from our backyard in the countryside). Well, I would expect this level of performance from a filter costing over 250 Euros in 52mm size…

A stack of six exposures, 4 minutes each with another 4 minutes for the dark frame subtraction. 4m was the upper limit dictated by tracking precision that night (even 5m exposures were not skyfog limited). Had to throw away another four frames because of wind gusts. Shot at ISO 1600. The frames were converted in Capture One 10 (moved to C1 from DxO Optics Pro because I get much more details this way) and then processed in Photoshop.

All in all, I’m very satisfied with the result and looking forward for the next opportunity.

Eclipse Through the Clouds

When I was a kid, I had a dream of viewing the night sky through a telescope operated from the warmth of my room. Now I’m not doing just that, but also capturing the images of the current lunar eclipse.

Unfortunately clouds are eclipsing the eclipse… But this resulted in a rather unusual image of the partially eclipsed moon seen through the moving layer of clouds.

Eclipse Through the Clouds

Eclipse Through the Clouds

The Canon 5DS R with my 500mm f/4L IS II lens sits atop an Astrotrac in lunar tracking mode. The above image was exposed for 15 seconds at ISO 1600. The camera is controlled with my Kuuvik Capture app.

And still waiting for the clouds to part…

Update: they finally did part! Seeing is still less than favorable, but fortunately the camera captures more light than my eyes.

Blood Super Moon

Blood Super Moon

After shooting from the balcony, we headed out with my better half to the local cemetery. Yes, you read that correctly… Some may find shooting blood moon during the night in a cemetery somewhat intimidating… I had a specific image in mind, and although was not able to photograph that, the following image is a great one to close this eclipse session.

Eclipse Ends at Dawn

Eclipse Ends at Dawn

The next time a total lunar eclipse will coincide with a super moon will be in 2033, but don’t worry, there will be three total eclipses during 2018/2019.

The Giant Pac-Man

Photographing partial solar eclipses usually isn’t that rewarding. A yellow disk covered partially with a black disk. Nothing to write home about. But today’s eclipse was different: a lone Sunspot (actually two, in region 2303) turned the Sun into a giant Pac-Man.

Partial Solar Eclipse with Sunspot 2303

Partial Solar Eclipse with Sunspot Region 2303

Not being rewarding doesn’t mean that it’s without any challenges, though. A special filter is needed to protect the lens, the sensor and – most importantly – the photographer’s eye. And the filter must be mounted in front of the lens.

The filter I have is a piece of thin metal foil mounted in an aluminum ring. It was made for my former 70-200/2.8 zoom some 7-8 years ago.

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Sun filter on the 500mm f/4

But I wanted to use my 500mm f/4 with a 2x teleconverter on a 7D Mark II today to make the Sun large on the image.

Somehow I had to mount the filter onto the much larger front ring of the 500. Cardboard and gaffer tape to the rescue! The adapter ring was completed in about 20 minutes and worked perfectly.

I lost about 4cm clear aperture this way, but that isn’t a problem when photographing the Sun. You still have plenty of light and contrast.

Another challenge was focusing. The turbulent air made it hard for the AF to catch the best focus. So I tethered the 7D Mark II to my 11″ MacBook Air and fired up Kuuvik Capture to do the focusing. And it was also a joy to watch the event unfolding on a notebook screen.

Note that I had been using a special build of Kuuvik Capture with 7D Mark II support – the currently selling one doesn’t support this camera. A privilege for being the developer of the app 🙂

The Andromeda Galaxy

The last couple of days presented great opportunities for astrophotography. Clear, windless nights, coupled with fine winter sky subjects – such as the M31 (and its two companions, M32 and M110).

The Andromeda Galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy

Taken with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens, mounted on my Astrotrac. This image consists of 16 frames exposed at ISO 1600 for 1 minute each. Well, I was skyfog-limited at 1 minute exposures.