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Grant Privett

I've been doing astronomy for 50 years (eek), so I am probably not giving it up any time soon.

Astronomy has changed and over time my interests have evolved from planetary observing, into meteors, through variable stars and, finally, to the deep sky. These days I'm especially interested in imaging of various sorts and find making pretty pictures increasingly dull. Its just not a challenge anymore - todays's kit pretty much does it for you. 

I generally use a 250mm f4.3 Newtonian on an EQ6 and Starlight SX694 camera from a site in Wiltshire near the Dorset border where the sky is mag 21. I also have sporadic access to a Celestron 11" RASA.

Fortunately, given the UK weather, I like programming and so write my own MS VB6 code to run a Starlight camera and interface it with TheSkyX software. Its a worthwhile skill for when I finally retire and get the chance to observe more - I want to make the most out of every night.

My current software project is writing code to automatically locate asteroid/NEO trails on large field of view imagery, while my observing interest is in seeing how far a 250mm can be pushed and, also, satellite imaging.

2019 Mar 9

23:01 UTC

Sorry. While sorting some old images I came across these and had a nostalgic moment. :)

2019 Feb 27

00:08 UTC

A nice night last night.

Managed to spend a little time looking at McNeil's nebula again before Orion starts to vanish into the spring evening twilight. To a cursory glance, its gone but, as previously seen, there are very faint hints of the nebula visible in a sum of 58x60s images. At that altitude and with an 11" and Trius 694 CCD used, the image must be reaching stars in the region of 19-20th magnitude range, so its not a lot to write home about. Perhaps thats what is normally there when the nebula is quiet. Wish I had spent more time dithering the image and also on the focus - it seems to have slipped over the observing session - probably after I imaged a comet at 7 degrees altitude...

Alas, this evening is also nice - Mercury particularly clear from here - but DIY has left my back shot, so while its a shame to waste it, tonight is an evening of image processing for me... 

2019 Jan 30

 7  
20:26 UTC

Gyulbudaghian's nebula as seen on a very windy night. The wind was howling roiund the RASA and on occasions you wondered if you needed to hang on to the roof or watch it blow away. So, anyway, I stuck with 20s exposures and even then some of the images are a bit blurry. Gives a feel for the approximate form at the moment though.

Later in the evening I went over to 60s frames and had a look at Comet 64P/Swift -Gehrels. Easy to image but no obvious tail.

The field of NGC1275 was pretty impressive too. Loads of galaxies. Very rich area. Unfortunately as I was fighting the wind a lot of the time (must be me age)  I didnt get the chance to sort out a flat - so this is just the central portion of the image.

Similarly for IC1613, the local group galaxy was worth a look. I've been meaning to image it for years, but never got round to it. Must start imaging mor of the deeper local group galaxies. This was a bit like IC10 - a bit bright too be a challenge - though it is a bit bigger than IC10.

2019 Jan 28

22:10 UTC

Finally managed to get a night out after a miserable few weeks of cloud.

The wind was howling though, so some images are a tad blurred (went down to 20s exposures at one point to reduce the failure rate) and the wind made it freezing (it was 1C) so I should perhaps have checked the focus more often. 

Either way got some useful stuff.

2019 Jan 12

22:52 UTC

While working out how to use Virtual Dub (sounds like a Bob Marley record from the 70's) I came across a bunch of pics from La Palma. Its pretty difficult to take a bad picture there. So heres one...

2019 Jan 11

22:52 UTC

The run of bad nights has sent me back to some old data to have some fun.

I dug out 3 sets of images I took with a 10" f4.3 Newtonian and a Starlight SX7. For 2 of the 3 sets I used a linear polariser - pretty low quality - and on the final set captured a  normal unfiltered image. I used the unfiltered image as the luminance and green band while the 0 degrees and 90 degrees filtered images were used to synthesise the red and blue. 

The effect is interesting, so that any colour you see in the frame isnt down to the wavelength of light, but the polarsiation state of light leaving the nebula. With a highly ionised gas and a magnetic field there was bound to be contrast. Theres other games you can play using the degree of linear polarisation to things clearer but this is a start.

2018 Nov 22

 8  

2018 Nov 18

14:26 UTC

As winter is clearly on the way I decided to have a go at some variable nebulae again.

Tried McNeil's nebula (any excuse to image M78) with 34x120s and 2x binning on a Trius 694 using a 0.279m f2.2 Celestron RASA. As has been said, therea bit there but its only just visible - I estimated it at 1.5% of sky count. I forgot to autoguide but still got a tolerable result. 

I also had a go at Hind's nebula (NGC1555) adjacent to T-Tauri and found it broadly similar to last spring.I was worried the sampling wouldnt be up to it but it looks good enough to me. I set up too late for a flat field unfortunately.

In addition I had a bash at Gyulbudaghian's nebula. That was looking particularly nice. It looks slightly more dramatic when it has the full fan shape, but this was pretty good and I especially liked the fine detail. Reminded me of V900 Mon - which I didnt get round to.

And yes, I do know some images need mirroring...

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