Revisiting an old image – and a happy new discovery !

In June 2017, I took this image of M57 (the Ring Nebula):

Martin Veasey | Orion Watching

It was a bit of a test-run for me: through my Explorer 200p with a mono ASI290MM CMOS camera – 50 integrations of 10 seconds each, gain set just a little high, with no filter other than an IR-blocker in place. The image is also in my Site Gallery.

This month, I fed the image through Astrometry.Net (for the full results click HERE). For those who may not have seen the site, it takes a star-field image and “plate-solves” the image to determine the position of the exposure against the night sky: coordinates, orientation and frame-size.

As a by-product it also identifies interesting objects in the image:

Martin Veasey | Orion Watching

You’ll see a number of Tycho catalog stars and a mysterious reference to IC 1296. I certainly had never heard of it but a little research produced the following information:

  • Low surface brightness, barred spiral galaxy
  • Visible magnitude about 15.5 – compared to telescope limiting magnitude of about 14.5
  • About 1 arcmin by 0.5 arcmin size
  • About 220 million light years distance – so an order of magnitude further than anything I’d seen before

So I went back to my source 16-bit image files and turned up the mid-range levels a bit (actually, rather a lot – so the resultant noise was horrible) and saw this:

Martin Veasey | Orion Watching

I was impressed – it really brings out the superior photon-capturing capabilities of a camera when compared to the human eye !

Let’s compare to a proper image from a professional (Brian Lula on the NASA APOD website):

Brian Lula - NASA APOD website

Author: © Martin Veasey 2015 – 2019
www.orionwatching.org

2 Comments

  1. Hi There,
    Just seen your article and read it with interest. I’m very new to astrophotography.
    I’ve always wanted to try it as I’ve a fascination with galaxies and most of the galaxies I’ve always wanted to see have been either too far south to see visually (M83, NGC 1365, Abell 1060 etc) or too faint.
    I have a Skywatcher 200P on a EQ5 synscan mount and a Canon 1100D camera which is I know at the moment not the best, but it’s seeing me right for the time being. All my sessions are done in my back garden which thanks to the neighbours is heavily light polluted.
    The city I live in has recently gone to all LED lighting so the sky is often BLUE at night with no chance of filtering it out.
    Even with this handicap I’ve managed to nail polar alignment and have managed 2 minuets unguided at times and I’m utterly amazed at what I’ve captured.
    The dimmest objects I’ve managed to image so far have been IC 4263 the Perseus cluster with NGC 1275, and Stephans Quintet!
    Never in a million years did I believe that I could image these by just banging off 10-30 images and stacking them.
    Last night I took 14 frames totalling 7 minutes of M57. The last time I imaged it my pictures turned out grainy, and horrible with M57 looking like a blurred tiny blue/green blob.
    Because we had more wind than I’ve ever imaged in before, I decided that I’d just snap away at M57 in 30 sec bursts and not bother with darks or flats as the images were going to be blurred anyway, so I’d just see what happened.
    Well I’ve just stacked them and after getting told off by DeepSky Stacker that I didn’t have any darks, flats bias frames I’ve managed to get a pretty good picture of M57 using photoshop to bring everything out.
    What is amazing though is that I can JUST make out the nucleus of IC 1296!
    So that now means on a much better night I’ve got to revisit Lyra and be a bit more serious with my imaging!

    All the best. James.

    • Hi James,

      Thank you for visiting the site and leaving a comment.

      It’s great to speak to a fellow deep-sky enthusiast – and our rigs do sound awfully similar. Congratulations on making the strides in astrophotography; whilst visual astronomy is tricky enough, I believe astrophotography to be a whole order of magnitude more of a challenge!

      You’ve certainly picked some challenging targets in terms of dimness so I’m really glad that’d make great progress; I find it amazing how much more of the telescope’s capabilities a camera can make rather than my tired old eyes…

      Great work so far and best of luck with the next run!

      Clear skies,

      Martin

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