Astrophotography

Saturn as imaged on 21 July 2018 using the C11, 2 x Barlow and ZWO ASI174 monochrome camera.
Figure 1: Saturn as imaged on 21 July 2018 using the C11, 2 x Barlow and ZWO ASI174 monochrome camera.
This section will deal with my attempts to image various celestial objects. I started out with our solar system (see figure 1). Starting from 9 June 2018 images have been taken of the Sun, Venus, Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, as well as from the 2020 comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE.


The first deep-sky attempt: Hercules globular cluster M13 with in the lower left corner NGC6207.
Figure 2: The first deep-sky attempt: Hercules globular cluster M13 with in the lower left corner NGC6207.
On 2 November 2018, with the assistance of Rob Musquetier and Caspar Tielemans, the first deep-sky object was imaged from InFINNity Deck. Using the SkyWatcher Esprit 150ED and a ZWO1600MM Pro Cool camera pictures with 60 and 120 seconds were taken of M13 (see figure 2), better known as Hercules globular cluster. In the same frame galaxy NGC6207 is visible as are bright stars HIP 81848 and HIP 81673. The images were taken at around 9pm UTC with the cluster at approximately 15 degrees altitude, which is quite low for proper imaging, but setting up equipment and sequences and waiting for cloud cover to open made M13 drop lower than anticipated. Nevertheless I think we done rather well for a first attempt under challenging conditions.
More examples can be found in the Deep Sky section.
In May 2020 I swapped the old-style ZWO H-alpha and S-ii filters for new style versions of them. The old style filters produced terrible halos, which are now gone.


Sky conditions

The sky conditions at InFINNity Deck for the coming 70 hours:


Astronomical twilight

Imaging is of course preferably done under optimal dark conditions. For a part this depends on the (absence of) artificial lighting, but for a large part of course on our nearest star, the sun.
The image below shows the influence of the sun on InFINNity Deck. The colours go from daylight (the brightest, sun above the horizon) through civil twilight (sun up to 6 degrees below the horizon, nautical twilight (down to 12 degrees below the horizon, astronomical twilight (up to 18 degrees below the horizon) to complete darkness (sun below 18 degrees below the horizon). I have added a green boundary for the time that the sun goes lower than 16 degrees below the horizon. Measurements have shown that at about 15-16 degrees below the horizon little improvement in SQM value can be expected. The red vertical line represents today's date, the twilight times of which are shown below the graph.


The image is created by a script and can be placed on your own website using the following code:
<IMG SRC=http://www.dehilster.info/astronomicaltwilight.php?latitude=52.5402&longitude=4.662&zone=2&limit=-15.5>
Alternatively the following link can be modified and bookmarked:
The latitude, longitude, time zone and limit can be modified to match your observatory. North of equator and eastern hemisphere are positive figures. The limit is the altitude below the horizon at which the green line is drawn (default = -16).
If you prefer to see the effect of Daylight Saving Time, just add &dst=CEST for Europe or &dst=US for the USA.
When CEST is selected the zone is automatically set to 1 (UTC+1). For the US, the zone has to be specified, depending on your location.


Environmental data

At InFINNity Deck environmental data is supplied by a MGBox V2. Using a simple Java/Jacob/ASCOM application I collect data of the past 2 days and store them in a MySQL table from which the following graph is generated:
When the observatory is closed the temperature may differ from the outside air temperature. Opening the observatory may therefore cause a jump in the graphs. The horizontal grid lines are vertically separated by 15 units (so either ░C, mbar or %).


If you have any questions and/or remarks please let me know.


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