Browsing around Orion with a small spaceship Tak FS60C

I used to use my Takahashi FS60C to do visual observations at home. It is a convenient scope for casual lunar & planetary observations. However, I bought a Tak f6.2 flattener for unsound reason, Deep Sky Imaging! It has been hanged around for more than a half year. Two days ago, 28/12/2010, I have a chance to try this little spaceship. The best destination for small spaceship in winter is the good old Orion region. Here are the products.
Takahashi FS60C
Tak FS60C Flattener f6.2
350mm guide scope (A modified 9x50 finder scope)
ISO 800
Dark frame
M42 (6x6mins = 36mins)
Horsehead Nebula (5x6mins + 1x10min = 40mins)

M42 (resized centre crop)

M42 (resized 100% crop)

Horsehead Nebula (resized centre crop)

Horsehead Nebula (resized 100% crop)


The First Light of Lunt LS80THa/PT

This is the first light of LS80THa/PT. The sun is not active today. Nothing special can be seen… The focal length of LS80T is 560mm, the DMK cannot image the full disc in one go. Luckily the width of the DMK sensor is able to cover full disc, the other shorter direction is being captured by drifting. One can see there is a slight horizontal artifact in the image. I don’t know how to get rid of it.
In general, the scope deliveries uniform images for both visual & photography. The newly equipped pressure tune of LS80THa/PT is gorgeous! It just likes the Feather touch version of etalon tuning. This sophisticated design makes fine Doppler tuning possible.


My First M42

I started DSI since this summer.
M8 & M20 are easy targets in the summer. I have seen lots of M42 in Internet. Last night the sky condition was good and enabled me to image my first M42. In the middle of the imaging, LVI complainted several times of loss star! I looked at the sky. The guide star was not covered by clouds. Gosh! The guide scope was fogged! I have no heater. In fact both guide scope & main scope were fogged. I didn’t know when this happened. I have no cleaning kits! This certainly caused loss some contrast & resolution etc. Perhaps there is lots of room for improvement, I am very happy with this image. It marks my first winter DSI this year.
Equinox 80ED
Astrotech Zero Power flattener
350mm guide scope (A modified 9x50 finder scope)
HEQ5 Pro
ISO 800
2x30s, 6x2mins, 2x5mins, 2x10mins = 43mins (Total)


24-10-2010 High Resolution Lunar Mosaic of 29 Pieces

I've been waited for full moon for more than half year since last encounter!
Finally I made it on 24-10-2010!!! This is a resized version. The original size is 5261x4628. I wish I can break the world record one day.
Best 95% of 100 frames per avi files are stacked. HKT 01:00, 24-10-2010, Moon age 15.9, Equinox 120ED, Baader UV/IR, EQ3Pro, DMK41, Registax 5, PS CS4


The Harvest of Taiwan Star Hunting Trip

After a week back from Taiwan, I have just finished processing all the raw deep sky objects’ images. As a novice in DSI and an illiterate in processing DSI, I spent extra time to refine the images. Perhaps the quality of the images are average, I learned a lot and received positive feedbacks from other stargazers. The sky in Hehuan Mountain (合歡山) was not as dark as expected. It was much better than the sky of Hong Kong already. There were too many stars in the sky and made me difficult to identify the constellations. Gorgeous! The spectacular Milky Way was engraved in my mind and it was the second time I saw it. I was told that the sky in Australia is extremely dark. The Milky Way is able to cast you a shadow. I have put Tasmania in my vacation list. Hope to visit Tasmania in near future. Anyway, these are my harvest:
M31 Andromeda Galaxy 仙女座大星系: APM-TMB 80/480, AstroTech zero power flattener, Baader LPS-P2, ISO 800, 4x10mins, No flat field, No dark frame

North America Nebula 北美星雲: APM-TMB 80/480, AstroTech zero power flattener, Baader LPS-P2, ISO 800, 6x4mins, No flat field, No dark frame

M13: APM-TMB 80/480, AstroTech zero power flattener, Baader LPS-P2, ISO 800, 9x6mins, No flat field, No dark frame

Double Cluster (NGC884 & NGC869) 雙星團: APM-TMB 80/480, TV 0.8X Reducer/Flattener, Baader LPS-P2, ISO 800, 2x3mins, No flat field, No dark frame

Rho Ophiuchi Nebula 星空調色盤: Canon 135mm f/2.0 @f/2.8, Astronomic CLS clip-filter (CCD version), ISO 800, 10x3mins, No flat field, No dark frame

Sagittarius M8 M20 人馬座天區的 礁湖星雲、三裂星雲: Canon 135mm f/2.0 @f/2.8, Astronomic CLS clip-filter (CCD version), ISO 800, 8x3mins, No flat field, No dark frame

Scorpius M6 M7 天蠍座天區的 M6 M7: Canon 135mm f/2.0 @f/2.8, Astronomic CLS clip-filter (CCD version), ISO 800, 10x3mins, No flat field, No dark frame

Summer Triangle 夏天大三角: Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 @16mm & f/4, Astronomic CLS clip-filter (CCD version), ISO 800, 8x3mins, No flat field, No dark frame

Polaris, M31 and Double Cluster 北極星、仙女座大星系、雙星團: Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 @16mm & f/3.5, Astronomic CLS clip-filter (CCD version), ISO 800, 7x3mins, No flat field, No dark frame

Milky Way 銀河: Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 @11mm & f/4, ISO 1600, 30s, No flat field, No dark frame

Equipment list:
APM-TMB 80/480
TV 0.8X Reducer/Flattener
AstroTech Flattener (zero power)
Guide scope (modified Takahashi finder scope)
Canon 40D (Baader modified)
Canon 135mm f/2.0
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
Baader LPS-P2
Astronomic CLS clip-filter (CCD version)


Unexpected weather of Hehuan mountain

Totally unexpected! The weather last night was so dramatic!!! It started with rain, lightning & thunder. After the rain stopped, the sky was clear! We ran up to a site called 武嶺 at once. In the middle of setting up the equipment, terrible fog came. Savio & I were punished to stand & wait! In the midnight, the sky was clear again. We started the setting again. There were terrible people around & they used torches!!! Anyway, the sky was unstable until 3:00am. I was on the point of giving up, but finally I got everything work!!!! These are my M31 & Double Cluster! I found that when I use the auto Noise reduction in D40, there is a dark band in the lower part of the images!!! In addition, dews were formed in both the main scope & the guide scope. I don’t have any heater to avoid it. So I can just use an air pump to rectify the problem. It couldn’t be fixed completely anyway! The lucky thing is that it didn’t cross my DSO. Otherwise, it wasted my time. Sometimes we really need some luck to take good photos. When the sky is OK, no people & car making any forms of light pollution, there was a satellite crossing my 10 mins M31 photo. Good grief! Well, I posted both cropped & un-cropped versions here. I will not use the noise reduction function in the coming night, unless I fixed the problem.

APM-TMB 80/480
TV 0.8X
M31: ISO 800, 600s, single frame, No flat frame, No dark frame (There was a satellite crossed my photo!!! I will make it again!!!)
Double Cluster: ISO 800, 300s, single frame, No flat frame, No dark frame

Double Cluster: The dark band due to 40D's noise reduction

Double Cluster: Centre Crop


LVI guided stably

Our Equipment


The daybreak of Hehuan mountain


Taiwan Hehuan Mountain Star Hunting Trip

Savio and I arrived Hehuan Mountain (合歡山) yesterday. We must express our heartfelt thank to Henry that he helped us to do the transportation and accommodation. In addition, he lent us two HEQ5Pros to us. This is crucial important to us, as the weight we need to ship to Taiwan is much lower. One more point I would like to mention is that we found a Taxi driver to drive us around this week. Originally I want to hire a car and drive by myself, which is always the way I do when I go aboard. However, Savio’s suggest is right! The road in the mountain area is very rugged and difficult to ask for help when needed. So, found a tour guide Taxi driver can save money & convenient. Our base is around the Chingjing Farm (清境農場). Since there are much visitor recently, we stated in 觀星園 http://starry.nantou.com.tw/. The altitude of觀星園is about 2000m. The view of 觀星園is good and leisure. The Birdseye view of 觀星園is great. As the altitude is quite high, we are above the top of low altitude clouds. However, there are still high level clouds above me. Anyway, it should be much better than sea level. Hopefully I can shot some nice photos this trip. It was a long day! Both Savio & I slept for only 2 to 3 hours before we went to Taiwan. So we took a bit more rest before we went to 小風口 and it’s altitude is about 2800m. We don’t have thermometer, but I guess the temperature is below 10 degree. Both Savio and I wore down. As the weather yesterday in the daytime was foggy & haze. We don’t expect too much last night. It turned out that we have occasionally clear skies after 2:00am. It was on and off anyway! Time is limited! When Savio was taking a rest in the Taxi, I took a few Milky Way shot. At about 3:00am, the clear sky suddenly came out & we started to work! Poor me! The sky became bright at about 4:00am and we were running out of time. I am too inexperience & sucked finally!
The photographic detail of the Milky Way is following: Modified Canon 40D Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 @ 11mm f4 ISO1600 30s
Highest altitude Convenient store
On top of low altitude clouds

APM-TMB 80/480, HEQ5Pro

Savio & I at about 2800m and below 10 degree

Milky Way


My first DSI: M8 & M20

Last week the sky was exceptionally clear. I’ve been waited for clear skies for more than a half year. This was the first time I did DSI. This image was jointly taken with my friend. In fact he did most of the setting and the APM 80/600 and the 5DII were owned by him. The seeing was so so that night and the clouds were just running around and made us lost guiding star several times! We only shot one M8 & M20 before the moonrise. Although we have taken a few M8 & M20, I don’t know how to use DSS. I just use the PS to tune the Level & Curve. Here is the photographic detail:

APM-TMB 80/600
TS flattener (Zero Power)
350mm guide scope (A modified 9x50 finder scope)
ISO 1600
Single frame (180s)
No flat field and no dark frame
100% crop and 25% resize


My ND3 has gone! Correct way to used Herschel Wedge

My ND3 has gone! Today I found out the reason that why there are unknown marks on my Herschel Wedge images since last solar observation in 25/5/2010. The marks on the image would not rotate with the camera. And I found there was no dust on the CCD, the filters and the Herschel Wedge. There were no visible damages in any optical parts. However, the problem was more pronounce in high magnification. Today I detach the ND3 and inspected it under the sun. Gosh! There were cracks on the ND3. I remembered that last time I reversed the order of assembling the Herschel Wedge. The ordering was:

Objective side, ND3, Herschel Wedge, Polarizer or Green continuum, Eyepiece side (WONG!!!)

This ordering terms out to be wrong. My ND3 cannot stand for the heat energy and micro cracks formed! I need to buy a new one now! Dear Herschel Wedge users, don’t repeat my silly fault. The correct ordering should be:

Objective side, Herschel Wedge, ND3, Polarizer or Green continuum, Eyepiece side (RIGHT!!!)

Cracks under strong light

No visible damage under normal light

Unknown marks on the image


24-5-2010 Sun (Active region 1072)

A long waited blue sky! But the weather forecast in the coming week is bad! Just one day!!!

LS 35T, TV 5X, DMK41, Best 95% of 150 frames

LS 35T, TV 2.5X, DMK41, Best 95% of 150 frames

LS 35T, DMK41, Best 95% of 150 frames


The treasure solar image in 24-4-2010

The sky in HK is really disappointing! It has been cloudy, foggy and misty for more than 3 months! Even the sun is hardly found during daytime! This is a treasure shot recently!
LS35T, stack of best 95% of 450 frames

2010 Easter Taiwan Trip

This Easter I went to southern Taiwan for a vacation. I visited Kaohsiung(高雄), Hengchun Peninsula(恆春半島), Szchung River Hot Springs(四重溪溫泉), Kenting(懇丁) etc. This was the first time I did stargazing overseas. However, starting from 1/4/2010 to 7/4/2010, the sky was not cooperating. I took only one photo of the big dipper. During the last night in Taiwan, I drove about 20km from the hotel, Maya House (瑪雅之家), to Lungpan Park (龍盤公園) and Fengchueisha (風吹沙) alone and try my final effort to see if any chance for me. Well the sky was very dark. Nothing can be seen in the rear mirror of my car. The road was dead silent! It is quite scary to do stargazing alone in this situation. Anyway, the sky was covered by clouds! I finally quit!


26-3-2010 Sun (1057 Active Region)

I just find this organization provides the solar information, including the nomenclature of action regions.
Seeing: 3/10
Transparency: 4/10

LS35T, DMK 41
LS35T, DMK 41

LS35T, TV 5X, DMK 41

Equinox 120ED, Herschel Wedge, TV 5X, DMK41


Small scope & big prominence

The big prominence diminished a bit today.



LS35T + TV 5X


The First Light of Herschel Wedge

Due to the recent poor weather in Hong Kong, my new APM 1.25” Herschel Wedge has been waited in the storeroom for a few days. Although both transparency and seeing were bad today, the sun was awaken! After I used my LS35T to shot the big prominence, I compared the Thousand Oaks Optical Solar Filter Type 2+ & Herschel Wedge. Luckily, the sun has a very small sunspot. It is not obviously showed in my little LS35T. The resolution of LS35T is not high enough to see the detail of the small sunspot. I deliberately used the Oaks Optical Solar Filter Type 2+ & Herschel Wedge on Equinox 120ED respectively. The sun surface showed by Thousand Oaks was quite flat. However, the sun surface showed by Herschel Wedge has details! The color of Herschel wedge is natural and the image is of high contrast compared with Thousand Oaks filter. In terms of safety, I like the Herschel Wedge because if it is taken away, basically one cannot do observation. On the other hands, if a front solar filter is accidentally dropped off, one can still place his or her eyes behind the eyepiece. This is disastrous! In terms of flexibility, the Herschel wedge wins. It just virtually turns any refractors into a solar scope! Well nothing to say & let the photos speak for them.
Equinox 120ED, TV 5X & Herschel Wedge

Equinox 120ED & Herschel Wedge

18-3-2010 Small Scope Big Prominence

God bless! We have sunshine today and I have 2 free lessons at the right time. Sun light just shone on the corridor just outside the laboratory! I setup my LS35T quick and did observation. Gosh! I saw a very big prominence and it was the biggest prominence I have ever seen! May be I am too green in solar observation, but it is biggest prominence recently. See if I have to monitor it tomorrow.

LS35T, DMK41, Stack best 95% out of 150 frames