My latest astrophotography, Orion Nebula, Running Man Nebula, Horsehead Nebula, Flame Nebula, plus how I did it


(click for large) 

I’ve made posters and t-shirts and other merch of the image, it’s here.
Some RGB re-arrangements I did of it, plus a mono:



My latest #astrophotography photo. It’s the Orion Nebula and Running Man Nebula top right, Horsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula bottom left. I’m BipTunia on AstroBin if you want to see more of my work.

Taken over two nights this week. I use an IR modified DSLR, a Canon 90D, RedCat 51 telescope, Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro mount. Guiding scope: ZWO 30mm Mini Guider Scope.

Guiding Camera: ZWO ASI120MM Mini. SharpCap on laptop for polar align and plate solving live. Used Phd2 on laptop for guiding.

This photo was done OSC (one-shot color), no filters, natural color. I did recently buy an Optolong L-Ultimate Dual Bandpass filter, but I haven’t tried it yet. Waiting for a night with a lot of moon when I can’t easily shoot OSC.

I shot about 5.5 hours total, all 60-second exposures, 800 ISO. Was 16 degrees F (-9 C) at the coldest part of the two nights, and 24 F (-5 C) at the warmest. All gear performed well, even with some frost on it. I used a generic USB dew heater on scope, right around the 51mm lens area.

Went through images manually to remove any that had odd framing, were blurry (usually at the start of session before tracking gets good), or there was a cloud or airplane. Deleted any of those. I know it can be done automatically in DSS or in PixInsight, but I’m new enough to get a kick out of seeing each image and doing it myself.) I’ve been doing this for about 3 months and half that time there was too much rain / clouds / forest fire scope to set up and do this.

I ended up with 5 hours and 9 minutes of good shots. (309 subs). Plus 72 dark frames, 15 flat frames, and 25 dark flats. Darks are same settings as lights, but with lens cap on. Flats were 1/200th second at 800 ISO with tablet in medium over scope end. Dark flats were same length but with lens cap on.

North East Oregon farm backyard. Bortle 3, though a bit of wind and a bit of forest fire smoke.

Stacked in DSS. Brought in lights, darks, flats, and dark flats I took during the session. Used defaults from there. Took about 20 min to process. I went and brought in my gear.

Brought output TIFF into PixInsight.

–AutoBackgroundExtractor. Target Image Correction (on bottom), Correction: set to DIVISION

Drag triangle onto image.

Delete ABE Background and Original file. Work now on (filename)_ABE

close AutoBackgroundExtractor.

–On ScreenTransferFunction, hit “Nuke” symbol.

–ColorCalibration / ColorCalibration. Hit little “document” icon (with nothing inside) at top below “workspace”.

Pick darkest small area of image, make a box.

On ColorCalibration, go down to BackGround Reference.

Click box to right of drop down area. Pick Preview01. Hit OK.

Change BackGround Reference Upper Limit to: 0.0050000

Drag triangle onto image.

close ColorCalibration.


ScreenTransferFunction: LINK LINK LINK and Nuke.


SCNR. Drag triangle onto image. (set to green) close SCNR. or skip if you want to leave some green.

–(still open): ScreenTransferFunction. Stay linked. Hit + Click on color bar to Zoom a few times. Click Arrow. Hit arrow left / top right, then Slide to change Background color.


Drag ScreenTransferFunction triangle onto HistogramTransformation bottom of gray bar at bottom of entire window.

–Drag HistogramTransformation triangle to image. Image turns white.

–ScreenTransferFunction reset. Bottom values should now be higher.

Use Bill’s Star Reduction (third party, free, I drag it in each time) to clone for Starless, then do Star reduction on Starless (name of clone image) with StarNet2 (third party, free, but after adding it shows up under “Ect” in PI process menu), then use Bill’s Star Reduction, drop on original image. I usually use the 2nd of Bills options, and if not enough use 3rd.

OUTPUT UNCOMPRESSED TIFF, pick 16 bit, the default is always 32 bit.
Bring into Photoshop, increase contrast, brightness, and saturation a tiny bit on whole image.

Selected M42 core, then feathered selection 8 px, then decreased brightness and increased contrast to bring out details. Did a few of those from different places around the core and around M42.

Only cropping I did was when I was all done to remove a slight weird halo border where I didn’t quite manually frame up the same the second night.



It was 40 years ago today….

It was 40 years ago today….
October 1982, my first year at Jamestown Community College in Western New York State.
One of my classes was music theory. A guy in that class played bass in a punk band called “Amyl and the Accidents.” (Pictured here, from when they were on the cover on “Nite Line Magazine”, a local music rag.) He invited me to play solo electric guitar opening for that band, on Halloween at a redneck bar in Salamanca New York.
No pay, but it was “exposure.” I jumped at the chance.
The guitarist in that band, Skip Lunch (Harry Lardner), was about to become my friend for life. He’s one of the few people I’ve known that long that I still talk to.
I didn’t have a ride to the gig. I hitchhiked 35 miles there. Took me hours and several rides. Skip tells me I was barefoot and had my guitar in a garbage bag, because I didn’t have a case for it.
I don’t remember the bare feet, but don’t doubt it. I do remember carrying my guitar in a garbage bag. (Punk rock Johnny B. Goode?)
The bar was packed three hours before the music was scheduled. They weren’t there for the music. It was 25 cent draft beer night with free chicken wings. Mood was very rowdy. I was expecting to have a fight break out or get my ass kicked.
I met Skip outside and liked him instantly. We talked a little bit, and he said he was tripping. He asked me if I wanted some LSD. I said “Sure!” and he put a blotter on my tongue.
About 45 minutes later I plugged my guitar into Skip’s amp. I was starting to trip, hard. My guitar seemed sort of wobbly, like it was made of rubber. I had to have Skip help me tune it. I played my set….solo electric guitar, doing originals, plus Rush, Pink Floyd, Sex Pistols, and Bach while people threw chicken bones at me and yelled “GET OFF THE STAGE!” and “PLAY FREEBIRD!”
Then Amyl and the Accidents played. Crowd didn’t like them much either, this audience was people who thought Blondie was hardcore punk and hated it, and probably would have preferred .38 Special and Bad Company. Skip’s band did mostly originals, was more like the New York Dolls, and even covered one of their tunes.
Later we went back to Jamestown with The Accidents in their van. I sat up with Skip and his bass player and a few friends in some cold empty crappy apartment talking all night. Skip and I became fast friends. He was a year or two older than me and sort of became a mentor.
After that night I envisioned, based on what went through my head throughout that evening, a unified field theory of life that I called “The Hum of the Universe.” I told Skip about it. He dug it. I told a few friends about it. They dug it.
I wrote it up for Nite Line Magazine. I wrote for them at the time (no pay, but exposure). They published it.
I remember every detail of The Hum of the Universe.
But it’s secret. I can’t tell you yet. But Happy Halloween! And if you take LSD tonight, please have a designated driver.
Below is a photo of me (right) from the same year, playing in a band I started not long after, called “The Armless Children”

My pic of Perseus Double Cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884)


I shot 188 minutes of this last night. Less forest fire smoke than lately, but still some.

The two clusters in the middle are about 700 stars total. The clusters are relatively young, both 14 million years old. They are 7,500 light years from Earth.

This is an area the size of about an American quarter held at arm’s length.

I can’t help be in awe of this stuff. Every….dot…is…a sun, many with planets.

Tech specs: Total integration (combined exposure) 188 minutes.
Was 188 Lights. 60 second exp each at 800 ISO. 57 Darks. 29 Flats. 30 Dark Flats. Bortle 3 (backyard Oregon farm.) Processed in PixInsight and Photoshop. Image cropped.

RedCat on Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro with Zwo mini guide cam and scope via PhD2. Cam: stock DSLR…Canon 90D. Polar align via SharpCap.

North America Nebula. My second DSO astro shot.

North America Nebula in constellation of Cygnus.
My second try with PixInsight. Backyard, North East Oregon. Bortle 3.
Total Integration: 1 hour 41 minutes. 800 ISO. 60 sec exposures. RedCat on Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro with guide cam and PhD2. Cam: DSLR, Canon 90D. Cropped.
101 Lights. 41 Darks. 33 Flats. 52 Dark Flats.