Comet C2022/E3 ZTF – First View

There’s a new comet in the morning skies that hasn’t been in the inner solar system for 50K years and may not return.  I got up at 4 AM on Saturday morning to try to catch it.  You know I love this hobby since I got up early in the cold!  It was an obvious fuzzball in a single 1 minute telescope image, but I couldn’t spot it with image stabilized binoculars.  I’m hoping for more clear days as it gets closer and brighter!  Have you tried to spot it?

I spent about 8 hours learning how to process comets in PixInsight and trying to get rid of the residual star trails.  I’m happy with this image, but look forward to learning some more tricks to improve it!

Camera geek info:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode, 60 second exposure, ISO 800, custom white balance 3500K
  • Williams Optics Zenith Star 73 III APO telescope
  • Williams Optics Flat 73A
  • iOptron CEM40
  • Friendswood, Texas Bortle 7-8 suburban skies

Processing geek info:

  • PixInsight
  • 51 1 minute lights
  • 60 1 minute darks
  • 40 bias frames
  • 20 flats

Andromeda Galaxy – Processed

I spent my Christmas holiday working on learning how to use the astrophotography processing tool PixInsight.  There’s an enormous amount to learn, and I’m looking forward to learning more.  But I am happy with the results of my first project – the Andromeda Galaxy.

For comparison, here is a single 3 minute shot with only basic processing.  I think the processing is worth it!

Camera geek info:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode, 179 second exposure, ISO 1600, custom white balance 3500K
  • Williams Optics Zenith Star 73 III APO telescope
  • Williams Optics Flat 73A
  • iOptron CEM40
  • Dell City, Texas Bortle 2-3 dark skies

Processing geek info:

  • PixInsight
  • 18 3 minute lights
  • 10 3 minute darks
  • 50 bias frames
  • No flats 
  • ImageIntegration Darks to make Master Dark
  • ImageIntegration and Superbias flats to make Master Flat
  • Lights processed with
    • Blink
    • Subframe Selector
    • Image Calibration
    • Cosmetic Correction
    • Debayer
    • Star Alignment
    • Image Integration
    • Automatic Background Extractor
    • Background Neutralization
    • Color Calibration
    • Histogram Transfer
    • HDR Multiscale Transform
    • Curves Transformation
    • DarkStructureEnhance
  • About 20 hours of labor learning the tool. Whew!

3 Minute Andromeda Galaxy Comparison Part 2

After my previous 3 minute Andromeda Galaxy comparison, I decided I needed to get a light pollution filter to get better pictures from my driveway given our Bortle 7 skies.  I picked up a SkyTech 2” LPRO-MAX CCD Filter and the image above is the result. 

For comparison, here is a picture using the same settings and location with no filter.

And here is a picture using the same settings from Bortle 2 skies.

All these pictures used the same equipment and settings.  For the purposes of this comparison, I did not do any processing.  I think the filter was worth it.  Dark skies are definitely worth it!

Camera geek info:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode, 179 second exposure, ISO 1600, custom white balance 3500K
  • Williams Optics Zenith Star 73 III APO telescope
  • Williams Optics Flat 73A
  • iOptron CEM40

I also experimented with settings to use from my driveway.  Results are in the table below.  Lowering the exposure length and ISO cut down on the sky noise.  I’ll have to see what I can do with the 1 minute ISO 400 images in PixInsight.  

SiteBortleFilterExposure LengthISOResult
Dell City, Texas2 – 3None3 minutes1600Gorgeous detail in M31, M32 and M110 visible
Friendswood, Texas7None3 minutes1600Almost all white picture
Friendswood, Texas7Light Pollution3 minutes1600Bright blue background, M31 as a fuzzball, M110 visible, M32 not obvious
Friendswood, Texas7Light Pollution2 minutes1600Teal blue background, M31 as a fuzzball, M110 visible, M32 not obvious
Friendswood, Texas7Light Pollution1 minutes1600Dark blue background, M31 as a fuzzball, M110 visible, M32 not obvious
Friendswood, Texas7Light Pollution1 minutes400Very dark blue background, M31 as a smaller fuzzball, M110 visible, M32 not obvious