Continuing my imaging attempts on June 11th, I did some more of the moon from my backyard. All of the images are single frames with the iPhone, only flipped horizontally (I have a diagonal so have to flip the image to get it “right” looking). For all photos, I’m using:
Celestron NexStar 8SE
iPhone XS Max, f/1.8 lens
Night Cap software
Settings of ISO 24 and 1/250s were the sweet spot for me for the night given the brightness of the moon. I did a series of single frames, and this was the best:
Then, because I had a series, I tried stacking them in various software packages. This was the best one I got, but way too pale, I will need to work on that if I want to get true 3D depth in some of the images.
For fun, I used the zoom feature on the iPhone just to see what I would get, and I took three shots, capturing the craters Plato, Copernicus and Tycho. From the original, I even played with creating a map and then the three breakout images (note that in the map, the three images are not crops but actual full images that follow):
Plato, left of centre:
Copernicus in the bottom right:
And Tycho in the top centre (with the small round mountain in the centre):
My workflow seems to be working well for the moon shots at least, so I should be able to do some documenting of various features for different days of the lunar cycle. It might take a few months, I suppose but it should be fun.
Back on June 11th, I did some more testing of my imaging capabilities in my backyard, going for Jupiter initially. All of the images are single frames with the iPhone, only lightly tweaked in various edit photos and flipped horizontally (I have a diagonal so have to flip the image to get it “right” looking). For all photos, I’m using:
Celestron NexStar 8SE
iPhone XS Max, f/1.8 lens
Night Cap software
The first image is okay, and I’d love to know what the settings were, but for some reason, the EXIF data didn’t save it. I have no idea why as I didn’t change anything and all the others record it. Some banding, plus a visible moon.
If I crop it, not much different but the black doesn’t overwhelm it as much.
For the next batch, I set my ISO to 24 and then I played with duration a bit.
Starting at 4s (remember it stacks a series of images for anything over 1/2s):
When I dropped to 1/50s (i.e. .02s), here’s what I got:
I then took a series of three at 1/125s:
I’m pretty happy with those as a basic intro to the workflow, early days for trying, and single frames. Most people having a lot of success with the iPhone (or Android for that matter) on imaging planets are doing videos and then ripping and stacking them. All things considered, I’m pretty happy. The low ISO keeps the planet from washing out, although I lose the moons of course.
When I bought my new iPhone, I chose one that would allow me to do astrophotography with my telescope. If you’ve been seeing my last few posts, you see some of the results. The moon was easy. Planets? Not so much, but I’ll get there, even if I have to use filters or stack some images or shoot video. Stars are not as easy as I hoped, still getting a lot of blurry results on the bright ones. But as per my last post, I was able to get globular clusters. I had high hopes for that, as I got something previously with my wife’s iPhone 6 plus and the default software; with my new iPhone and Night Cap software, I knew I would “get there” eventually, just was pleasantly surprised to get there on the first real go at it. I still need to hone my technique, but it’s good enough for me for now. I took a shot at Ceres to try an asteroid, but well, I’m not likely to do much on that in the short or even long-term.
Which leaves me two outstanding targets, and the ones that the astrophotographers who use webcams and DSLRs manage to accomplish daily — a galaxy and a nebula. Galaxies only ever look like faint fuzzies to me, particularly in my light-polluted skies of a suburb in the city, and I’ve never really done a true dark sky location. But nebulae? I’ve seen them. Orion was easy, the Veil popped when I used a filter. So I know I *CAN* see nebula, but I wasn’t optimistic I would get much easily with my phone setup. But I gave it a go. I’ll share it in numerical order in the Messier catalog.
First to share is one of the ones that I am most proud about, and super excited. M8 aka the Lagoon Nebula has some amazing colour in it when you do some long-exposure shots with high-end setups. But you know what? A 10s exposure at ISO 9216 also gave me a bit of colour (top centre, a bit of red to the right):
Holy doodles! I did it! I still need to work on my technique, and it would be better without the suburban light pollution or the moon overlighting the sky, but I got it! I’d like to thank the academy for this honour…hehehe. Mostly I should thank my friend Loren who inspired me with his shots and advice on an active FB group. But I’m not done! Here is M8 again, with even MORE colour, although a bit fuzzy too. Remember this is a single frame exposure, not complicated stacking or retouching in any software:
M16, the Eagle Nebula, shows only a bit of a faint glow, so maybe I shouldn’t get completely cocky yet:
M17, the Swan Nebula, looks like a smudge:
Here it is again, but ooh, I managed to centre the smudge (hey, I’ll take what I can get for success):
I confess that I saw these in reverse order i.e. the smudges before the Lagoon ones with colour, so it was more of a build-up for me. I was like, “Okay, well, there’s something there, and if I stare long enough, I can imagine a bit of colour. It’s promising at least.” M20, the Trifid Nebula showed up as only a faint glow/fuzziness:
And because I was still a bit cocky, I also tried for an open cluster nebula, NGC6572. Nada.
But did I mention the first one had some colour? 🙂
All in all, I’m ecstatic about the night. My first real night going hard-core on everything, and I was doing a huge star tour all at once, not taking my time with specific objects or fine-tuning. About a minute an object at most. I tossed about 40% of the images I took, too rushed, too many star trails, etc. But considering I was trying for nebula and clusters, losing 40% is pretty amazing, normally you’d lose about 90% or more with the first shots. I’m not going to be featured on the Astronomy Picture of the Day anytime soon, or well, ever, but I’m accomplishing what I wanted. Souvenir shots of my observing. I’ll definitely accept these as “mission accomplished!” any night of the week.
I love viewing globular clusters — big giant collections of stars all together. Although they tend to be bright, when I tried to image them on my old Android phone, it couldn’t even DETECT any light coming in from them. I did get one image from my wife’s old iPhone 6 Plus a year ago (ISO 7200, 10s, f/2.2):
So I knew it was possible. And with my new iPhone, these globulars were high on my imaging list, but I honestly didn’t know what to expect. For Messier 4, I tried ISO 9200 and a 10s burst, which didn’t turn out too shabby:
M5 with the same settings was much more compact and bright:
For Messier 9, I bumped ISO to 10K, still 10s, and it is easily found, albeit a bit faint:
For Messier 10, I continued at ISO 10K, 10s burst, but I did it twice about 90 minutes apart:
A little better contrast in the second, but not a huge difference. I did the same with M12, although the second image wasn’t quite as bright:
M13 showed up really bright, but also a bit fuzzy (ignore the red circle, it’s a flashlight remnant):
M14 was really faint:
M19 was small and compact:
I liked M22 as well, even if I was getting some red light from my flashlight intruding on the image:
M56 seemed super faint, but it was still recognizable:
M80 is REALLY compact and tight, almost looks like a ball:
M107 was faint and a bit fuzzy:
Moving into the NGC catalog, there are five in the list…6293:
6304, including the red flashlight problem again:
6316, so small and faint:
And 6356, again with it being small and faint, and some red flashlight intrusion:
6712 is one I liked because it is so faint yet I still managed to capture something:
Finally, I have one of an open spiral cluster, and even though I normally don’t find open clusters that interesting, you can see the lines that make up the arms of the spirals:
So a bunch of globular clusters in there, and most of them turned out. I wasn’t being particularly meticulous, just trying them out to get going, but I’m really happy with the outcomes.