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Fine detail in Elephant & Eagle

Galaxies - Colored deep sky objects.

Best resolution galaxies 480Ref/QHY(RGB) or C6SCT/QHY(RGB) 

Best filter  C6 RASA/QHY(HST)

Best resolution planets 480Ref/5x/QHY

Target Nov 2023

Color Galaxies 

Elephants trunk Mag6  RASA/QHY/RGBH  - at BB.  

N American Mag4  RASA/QHY/HSO


Best seeing, cool weather and high altitude. May would be best opportunity for Eagle and Elephant. 

Tripod 47lbs + protection. Lenses set 20lbs. 2 Full bags should work. $40 per bag. Where to go - Moab in May. 

f10/f2= 25x, f10/f6.3 = 2.5. 


Seeing forecast

Pillars of Creation SCT

Rho Ophicio 

Stephans Quintet




Leo triplet

Flame Horsehead

Next opp.

N Am and Andromeda 100mm HSO 

Elephants trunk  C6RASA  RGB 

Galaxies C6RASA 100s exposure low gain. 

Pillars C6SCT RGB much brighter 

Elephants trunk  C6SCT RGB 300s guided exposure, max gain 36 - needs darksky and best seeing - wait 

Milky Way  f2 20s base ,  60s for detailed nebula

Andromeda HSO.

Stephans Quintet

SUMMER Core May am July-Sept pm

Cats paw  Nebula NGC6334  M 35 arc min  in emission nebula Antares  - good target for HSO.

Rho Ophicio M7.5 f2 45s  Antares IC4604 Rho Ophico - needs 100mm lens and low noise  - 5 sec no track. Try using Fornax or mount. 1 hour of collection needs really dark sky. - 1 hour window in between dark sky and moon rise. Mosaic to get to 50mm equivalent.


Eagle Nebula M6.4 f6 60s  NGC6611  (Pillars of creation) 35 arc min in Core, pillars is 6 arcmin across  

160mm f3.3 Newtonian- RGB 30s up to 3 min each 16x more light than C6SCTf10. with HS

RASA Try Whirlpool Galaxy, Eagle HSO 300s exposure

Leo Feb after 9 pm 

Leo Triplet  = 60x25s Exposure

Orion, Flame, Horsehead

Flaming Star Nebula  - first then leo triplet.

Deneb  May am Sept - Jan pm

Elephants Trunk IC 1396  mag 5.6 35 mins close to Deneb, head is 6 min  

Nav challenge - FOV for SCT-QHY is 30'x30'.  Accuracy of laser pointer is about 1 degree. Use Sony a7s to find, then step down to QHY.   HD 239712   +8Mag - saturates at 120s G50 (ISO50125) no tracking needed. 30x over f2 benchmark, f2/f10=32x. Estimate +12Mag just visible. can find identify  star if lost.

The tripod navigation IC 1396 centers on nebula and HD 206267 triplet. E Trunk is 1 frame to left.  Aim to HD 206267 - triplet group in middle of IC1396 Nebula, as it is easy to find, small gap points to Elephant. Look for doublet and position away from triplet rotate so doublet is on long axis. 


Literature - Elephants trunk 150mm Aperture 750mm FL   f5 17x300s, g20dB,  1.5 asecs/pix,  Bortle 6.  With C6 SCT and 2 asec seeing should get excellent results after sharpening.  Benchmark in Austin. HSO RASA f2  120s ISO3200 (g30)  cooled. Ha Bkg 4, Nebula 8. 

In Wimberley, 400mm / sony a7s Bkg = 0.004 which is about right.  Elephants trunk just visible in 5 frame average. 

C6 SCT / QHY183C   4.5 asec seeing. FWHM 10 asec so poor seeing.  QHY183C 100s G34 (ISO800) exposure unguided shows blurring.  A 8 frame stack shows that edge to center of Trunk is 4IU at ISO 800, so at 60IU at ISO12800, with noise 4IU after 10 frame stack.   E Trunk just visible about the same as camera noise similar to 400/Sa7s.  

In Austin 100mm Son7as - 5s ISO3200 f2.8- 4x less exposure - background 95IU Trunk will be 1IU so not visible, Nominal seeing 2.5 asec, clear flicker in video, noise 15IU FWHM or 60IU at nominal (20s ISO2000 f2). 

Move to 100s exposure at low gain for any dim nebula exposure. 

When you view straight through a refractor or catadioptric telescope (and assuming no funky optics) the image will be turned through 180*, so it's upside-down and backwards. If you're using a star map you can just turn it upside down to match what you see.

N.American NGC7000 Mag4 , Deneb or Sadr - 100mm + Sony and NF QHY in March in Wimberley

Veil Nebula - close to N American  Mag6  

Heart Nebula IC1805, NGC 1027.   Mag18.3 3deg

California Nebula Mag5 2deg

Orion Sept - Jan 

Orion NGC1976 & Flame Nebula

Flaming Star IC405 or Caldwell 31 Mag6 1.2deg, next to Tadpole Nebula NGC1893

Andromeda 3 deg NGC224 or M31


ARP 273 -300 Mlyr away, 2amin across, Mag13,  C6 RASA 4 asec resolution,  30min exposure G10. Nearby star  HIP 10999A  TYC 2856-02335-1. HD 14607 close to Almach and Andromeda.

Stephans quintet  NGC7320  7331 neighbour  near Andromeda

Phantom Galaxy  20' M74 between Orion and ANdromeda

Leo in March- June

Bode Galaxy

Leo Triplet

Whirlpool Galaxy NGC5194  18min Mag8  near Ursa  Minor

Antennae galax NGC4039  - April.May  near VIRGO - Southern cross end  MW

Gamma Leonis Group NGC 3190 in leo 

Perseus Galaxy Cluster nr. Andromeda. 15 amin 


Markarians Chain 

Sombrero Galaxy 15 amin in Virgo.

Needle Galaxy 15 arcmin in Coma next to Canis 

Planetary Nebula 

NGC7293 Helix 20' M7.6 in Aquarius  - -early morning summer, evening in winter

Cocoon Nebula 18'  M7.2 in Aquarius 

Crab Nebula NGC1952  6 arcmin M8.4  supernova remnant

M76 Little Dumbell Neb  4'

NGC7009 Saturn 1'

Cats eye  NGC6543 1min in Ursa Major 

Sony 7as with bulb and Darks. ISO 6400. 

Milky Way  baseline 20s ISO2000.  Spectacular results at 90s, needs very dark skies. 

Milky Way with foreground  - 8mm  & Ha filter. 180 deg FOV  - Deneb overhead in AK Sept.   20mm f2 ISO640 120s - deep nebula. 

Milky Way full spectrum - 8mm/filter/QHY = 90 deg FOV

Milky Way time lapse -

8-20mm Sony 7as  - 30s @3200 = 65 sec cycles = 1 frame every 10 arcmins of motion. Compress to 20 fps for smooth action. Make corrections to RAW files. Use Photodirector - 0.02 per frame. 45 mins of 8mm lens = 2 secs of video.  2 hours for 30 degrees of motion.  Need battery extender.

iPhone14 Night mode - on tripod.  Much noisier than Sony RAW. 

Colorado23  - 3 hr window  between sunset and moon rise, so not quite dark skies. 

Antares -

         100mm - 30 secs Sony 7a. need to mount on big tripod for long exposure.

         100mm filtered Sony 7a, do darks >30 secs.  Use the QHY.

          Exposure 15s ISO3200 f2.8 has background of 65 IU N 95=8IU, with a nebula +10 IU. Nominal black is 60 IU +- 10I U, so plenty of backlight. Needs much better S/N, and full dark skies. More averaging, cooled camera probably essential. Need at least 60s 3200ISO with Sony a7s 100mm, need Junction dark skies. 

Lagoon  - SOny 7as/480mmRef good image 15s ISO3200 f6 = +75 IU. 

Eagle / pillars of creation 80mmRef - not enough pixel resolution for the pillars.  15s ISO3200 f6 is 2-3x underexposed +22 IU, f2.8 overexposed. Use 480mmRef   with QHYR/G/B  60s ISO3200 to get pixel resolution, Wiess should be fine.



Eagle Nebula with RASA 120s ISO3200 Ha was underexposed, need at least 300s, with darker skies.

Elephants trunk redo with 480mm to get resolution. 

Northern Lights -

iPhone 1x 24mm best resolution, small tripod ? 

14mm & 20mm Sony 7as, UV/IR clip filter, snap tripod, tip tilt stage, intervalometer, external battery.  Baseline RAW, 1600 ASA, 5-20 secs. Use intervalometer for video. For 10 secs video, need at least 100 frames = 10 mins @ 5 secs. 


Leo Triplet  M66

Markarians Chain.


Long term

Eskimo - Clown faced nebula   54 arcsecs  M9.1

Cats eye 38 arcsecs M8.1  in Drago

Stephans quintet M14 in Virgo near Andromeda


Spring Northern  Galaxies, MW low in sky 

Summer  Core, rho, Eagle N, Lagoon N

Fall Andromeda, Deneb, Elephants trunk N 

Winter Orion N.


Nebulae HOS  - large 100mm, small needs RASA

Milky Way HOS - needs 8mm and ASI

Galaxies high res - needs C6 and good seeing

Planets high res - needs C6  and good seeing

Total Eclipse   April 8 13:30   65 deg above horizon

Full sequence single view....  cell phone. 

Full sequence scanned From just before to 20s  in, 20sec before to end - Bailey beads/Diamond - need video on Fornax scan stage - 480mm /FF/ Sony a7s

Corona  2 degree edge to edge  - Multiple exposures every 2 settings on Fornax scan stage - 480mm - Keep lens COG over stage.  Lens parallel to stage plane.

Protrusions  30 asecs similar to Jupiter - Telephoto  find protrusion - P1000 video on portable tripod. 

Use scanning stage to track and create a time lapse video. How to deal with transition in and out of totality.

Use Hyperlapse on phone to cover whole transition. Do not perfect tracking, just keep in frame. 


In 4 min the moon is going to move 1 degree or 2 moon diameters. 

On scanning stage stage - Movie the whole thing, particularly first and last 20s of totality.

Full texture  f6.5 ISO100, 1/5000 - 4 secs with 24 levels. Alternate time choices  on camera = 1.6x per level. 480mm f6.5 / FF/ Sony a7s. Should take 5s each = 100s. 

Then Prominences f6.5 ISO100 1/1000 s - 2 fps - Nikon 3000mm telephoto, on portable tripod.

Exposure conditions

Example from 2016  1/60 middle corona, 1/20 upper corona. 1/3 outer corona ISO500 1000mm on NikonP1000. Need to be on tripod and need much shorter exposures, use Sony for lower noise. Ay ISO500 1/400 inner corona, diamonds 1/1000, prominences 1/2000 ISO100, chromosphere 1/5000 ISO100, Baileys beads 1/5000 ISO50.

At ISO100  6 levels - 1/2000 - 1/400 - 1/80 - 1/16 - 1/3 - 1.5 secs prominences to outer corona. 

Annular Eclipse

Oct 14 2023, at noon 52 (46) degrees alt due south.  90% coverage  lasting 4 minute moving 1 arc min. 

Generates ring, needs an interesting center for the bulls eye.

Equipment list; glasses 

400mm Pentax, Sony a7s, filter, tripod, timer

Nikon P1000, filter, tripod.

10 min - time lapse - 20 frames @ 30 secs. 

f22, 200ISO, 1/200s with NR filter. 

Best choice.......       Need 2 filters....

San Antonio Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower, 1715 N Zarzamora St,

400mm lens from Astro rig  / Sony a7s  at f22 has 132m-inf DOF will require refocus, needed for good resolution. 

Need photos fill lit sun out frame 10 degrees at 15 secs min-1 will take an hour to clear field. 

Nikon P1000. take exposure series to get  ring and back lite roof features


A wind director to form an arrow. Or Texas capitol statue. Pleasanton, Sonora, or Rocksprings in center of totality. Kerrville about half way out - Kerrville clock is a possibility, . The Alamo.


These are the next 12 oppositions and the constellations Jupiter will be in for each one:

  1. November 1, 2023: Aries

  2. December 6, 2024: Taurus

  3. January 9, 2026: Gemini

  4. February 10, 2027: Leo

  5. March 13, 2028: Virgo

  6. April 13, 2029: Virgo

  7. May 14, 2030: Libra


Video tour

Milky Way visible with Nebula foregrounds. 

Northern Hemisphere with Galaxy foregrounds

VIDEO tour script


Tour Milky Way 

Planets - Moon - Mars - Jupiter - Saturn add light year clock in bottom right from here
Plieades - Antares - Orion & Flame & Rosette  - Lagoon & Eagle    - clip all and superimpose on full pan all to give depth scale full MW 10% for Orion and lagoon.

Isolate  lagoon (may be at 400mm) and zoom in keeping full MW background fixed

Pass Lagoon and zoom in to MW, scan and exit (100 mm images) 

LMC_SMC (all deep sky from here)


Triangulum  2Mly

Bode 11 then Cigar 12

Whirlpool  23

Leo M61 32 then Sarah 36 then M65 41

Hubble  11Bly

Create foreground and background for zoom.

Select key area - inverse - copypaste new layer - select big star - enlarge 3 - copy paste to form star layer - copy star layer - select bkg - inverse - enlarge 5 - move /copy/paste in original layer to replace foregrounds. Now have foreground and background. 

Match middle ground to background, zoom in final step. Start foreground 1/3 frame early to get sense of foreground relative to background.

ET1 copy.jpg
image_123650291 (19)_edited.jpg

Saturn and Jupiter grand conjunction (one day before)

Camera is a Nikon P1000 on a Fornax tracking stage so the planet stays in frame. Get the zoom setting right at 6000 mm equivalent. Take 1 min videos at different ISO settings for the moons and planets. Wait for the perfect align to get a single align shot. Wait for planets to move away. Go back and get a video of the right bit of foreground. Use software to separate into frames and then stack 100+ frames to a single low noise image at each ISO using AutoStakkert. Then assemble the images in Photoshop. Using the align image as background image in the layers, cut around the foreground, planets and moons layers to form a spatially correct, very high dynamic range, composite. You have to size the cuts to cover up the overexposed planets in the background layer. Merge the layers and adjust to taste !! Its the better part of a day post processing to get it to work. The key really is the frame stacking it reduces the low light ISO noise and the atmospheric noise. QED!

Sky Stack3Best-DeNoiseAI-denoise.jpg

Andromeda (M31) Mag.  3.4, Size 3 degrees.

Above M110 Mag. 8.9, Size 21'.


Photographed using a Canon 7as

400mm f6.1 exposed 10x30 secs @ 25600 ISO at 1.5M ISOsecs, Fornax tracking stage.

Bortle 2 sky - background at Mag. 11. 



Flame Nebula in Orion Mag. 7.2, Size 30', illuminated by the neighboring star Alnitak Mag. 1.74.

Photographed using astro mod Canon 7as 400mm f6.1, exposed at 0.6M ISOsecs. Fornax tracking stage. 

3 degree field of view. 

Bortle 4 sky - background at Mag. 9

HDR created with the stars imaged by 4 smaller exposures, converted to B&W and stacked, then stacked with the nebula image. 


Stitched fish eye view panorama June, Sept and Dec, March in southern hemisphere. 

20 mm lens with a  84x61 degree field @ 20secs 2000 ISO. In landscape orientation starting  20 degrees angled up. In 4 vertical rows 25 degree increments; on the horizon 25 x 15 degree rotations, 12 x 30 degree, 4 x 90 degree, 1 vertical view. Assemble each session using PTgui software using equirectangular mode and linear corrections, discard any excess images.  Combine sessions by manual stich, and take out edge illumination artifacts using PS level in +- 10% level increments.  

Saturn stack4-Shapen-DeNoiseAI-denoise.j
Jupiter close.jpg

I have a new appreciation for the nerds at Nikon. Here is a picture of Saturn that I think provides a direct measure of the optical performance of the P1000. It was taken at 12,000 mm zoom – 3000 mm optical and 4 x digital (i.e. cropped and resampled). The image was taken as a video on a tripod with a Fornax tracking stage. The focus was set manually using the remote control. A selection of the 250 best frames in a 2 minute video were averaged using Austostakkert. The results is the image with my best focus, least atmospherics, and minimized digitization.  Atmospherics dominate so frame count and pixel count is more important than low compression.  The NikonP1000 supports higher video resolution and better pixel resolution at 12kmm zoom, than the Sony 7as.   If seeing creates 20 pixel noise in 1 frame, 100 frames  = 13 pixel noise, 2000 frames = 10 pixel noise, 4000 frames 25% = 5 pixel noise. 

The dark band (Cassini’s Division) between the 2 major rings is hinted but not resolved. The average Saturn diameter is 14.5″ to 20.1″ excluding rings, 35" for outer ring. Using a high resolution Hubble photo of Saturn, also shown, Cassini’s Division is about 0.5 arc secs wide, and the dark band between the planet and the first ring is about 5 arc secs wide.

The aperture of the P1000 is 70 mm, which translates into a Rayleigh diffraction limited resolution of 1.97 arc secs. ( Rayliegh limit (1.22 lambda/d) = 1.8 arc secs, edge resolution 0.9 arc secs, recorded at 2160i video so pixel = 0.25 arc secs, with 4x video compression.

At 3000 mm, the pixel resolution of the P1000 is 0.7 arc secs, equal to the edge resolution – as it should be !

It looks to me like the limiting resolution of the P1000 must be close to the diffraction limit of 2 arc secs based on almost resolving Cassini’s Division at 0.5 arc secs, and clearly resolving the first dark band at 5 arc secs.

BRAVO – to Nikon nerds !

BTW In 1675, Cassini in the Paris Observatory used telescopes with focal lengths up to 136 feet long to observe Saturn and its division. (

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