Tag Archives: Vixen Polarie

Chasing Comet Neowise, July 18th-21st

I got two days off from work so I packed my stuff and went to South Tyrol, Switzerland and Italy on Saturday, to travel to some high alpine passes I always wanted to see but haven´t been able to in the past. Stilfser Joch, Umbrail Pass and Gavia Pass were the chosen ones, all of them ranking between 2500 – 2800 m. The first night was a blast; the sky cleared up and comet Neowise was easily visible to the northwest, while the Milkyway was towering in the south. Around 4:00 am, the last crescent Moon before New Moon rose to the east, with Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter wandering along the ecliptic. The impressions of those nights are almost not bearable, and since I´m traveling on my own, there is no one to talk to about feelings and emotions. Very intense nights. From crystal clear skies to sheet lightning, I got it all, not to forget the stunning scenery during day time. So here are just my favorite comet images from those three nights and hopefully I will be able to process/stack a set of single frames of Neowise from the first night. Enjoy!

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The sky cleared up on the first night, Stilfser Joch, 2757m, South Tyrol…

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Comet gazing…

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Colorful comet Neowise…

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What a beauty, 81 sec., 200 mm, Polarie…

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Neowise to the left, Venus, Hyades and Pleiades to the right…

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Fading away during nautical twilight…

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Lots of airglow around on the second night, Umbrail Pass, 2501 m, Switzerland…

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Neowise hiding behing 3000 m mountains, just showing its tail, surrounded by airglow, Gavia Pass, 2621 m, Italy…

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but finally showed up during nautical twilight, making one last impression…

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New Moon Nights

Some impressions from last weeks drive to the Großglockner High Alpine Road, Austria. Two nights in a row during New Moon with almost clear skies. What better? Enjoy!

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Around 12:00 pm, the sky cleared up, giving way to the Milky Way, and lots of light pollution along the horizon, Jupiter (center) and Saturn (to the left)…

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Brennkogel, 3018 m, feat. the Milky Way…

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Stargazing @ 2517 m a.s.l….

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A bit hazy on the second night…

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Star tracking…

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NGC 7000, the North America Nebula, 35 x 120 sec…

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Beauty of the night sky, 44 x 20 sec…

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Orion At Simplon Pass, Switzerland

Just a quick impression from last weeks tour to Simplon Pass, Switzerland. Two nights in a row with clear skies and moderate temperatures at an elevation of 2005 m – what more to ask for. Images are shot with a modified Canon 1100 D with a Sigma 1.8/20mm lens on a Vixen Polarie. Enjoy!

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One of the single shots for the stars straight out of the camera, 240 sec./f 2.5…

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A single shot with the Polarie turned off to get a clear shot for the foreground, 240 sec./f2.5, already processed…

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Stacked images, with PixInsight, a total of 76 min…

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Final image: foreground and background image combined, with the constellation of Orion in all its glory and the Rauthorn, 3268 m, to the left…

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Baade´s Window and SWEEPS

I got my first glance of Baade´s Window through Serge Brunier´s book “The Universe”, p. 24/25, in 2011 and  it almost felt like I could put myself into a bed of stars. The area looks like a nebula made out of stars, but in real, the millions of stars are separated by thousands of billion kilometres by each other. The area is mostly free of interstellar dust and therefore astronomers use it to view the galactic core of our home galaxy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baade%27s_Window. Within Baade´s Window is another small window called “SWEEPS”, used for monitoring the visible stars for extrasolar planets in 2006, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagittarius_Window_Eclipsing_Extrasolar_Planet_Search. Being able processing images I had taken back in August 2013 in Australia and seeing the results now in 2018 is very satisfying and makes me wanna go back “to the stars” every time I look at the image. Enjoy!

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Looking straight at the core of our home galaxy, the Milkyway, towards the constellation of Sagittarius. 66 images stacked, with a total of 29 min. of exposure time, using a Vixen Polarie and a Canon 1100 Da with a 70-200mm lens @ 70mm, processed via PixInsight, ColorEfex and Lightroom, East coast Australia Aug. 2013, processed Feb. 2018

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Annotated image…does anyone notice the “skull like shape” between NGC 6357 and M6?

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The Milky Way-In All Its Glory

When starting digital imaging in 2010, I admired all the images showing  the milky way in all its glory, not knowing a single thing about how they were taken or even how they have been accomplished/processed. I knew back then, that there is a software out there for stacking multiple images, but that has been all Greek to me. While being in Australia in Aug. 2013, I took heaps of images of the milky way, which is in its own full glory at that time of the year, using a modified Canon 1100 D camera and a Vixen Polarie  star trekking device. Being back home, I had the images, but I still couldn´t figure it out how to process them and using a Mac/iOS made it more difficult to find a proper/for free stacking software. A friend of mine introduced me into PixInsight software, which is a fantastic tool, but it got a very steep learning curve. After years of try and error, being unsatisfied with the outcome, I neglected the project of stacking the images and putting together a multiple mosaic panel of the milky way. Again with the aid of my friend Bernd, who introduced me into processing the images via PixInsight, and a lots of free time during the winter months, I finally have been able to figure things out  I started almost six years ago. The downside of this? The longing for the stars increases more and more every time I look at the final image. To view the image in all its glory – click on it, best seen on a 27″ screen. Enjoy!

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Six-panel mosaic, stacked with PixInsight and stitched together with Lightroom, no adjustments applied…focal length: 70mm…

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Six panel mosaic of the center of the milky way, each panel is a stacked image of multiple photographs. The final image contains 181 single frames, with a total of 74.6 min. exposure time. Stacked with PixInsight, some enhancement in ColorEfex and global adjustments with Lightroom. My all-time favorite is the so-called Cat Paws Nebula (NGC 6334), but there is so much more in it: NGC 6357, M6, M7,M8, M20, the Galactic Center, the “Kiwi” to the lower right and some sort of “skull” right in the center…

Re: The Milky Way – By Canon 1100 D(a) & Vixen Polarie

In 2012 I did a post about imaging the Milky Way combining it with a photogenic foreground (https://wp.me/p1aVSr-A8). The images were taken more than five years ago now, using a Vixen Polarie  and a modified Canon 1100 D – which makes it a 1100 D (a). Back then I took a set of images of the same subject, with exposure times up to 5 minutes, hoping that there might be some software out there for stacking star images and combining them with a static foreground image, preferably (but not always) taken with the same camera settings prior to the others. The only difference: turning off the tracker device while shooting the foreground. The shown images in this post are all composites, with a “tracked” background and a “non-tracked” foreground, using PixInsight (stacking), Gimp (merging), Viveza (local adjustments) and Lightroom (general adjustments). Next step will be putting together a mosaic of a set of stacked images of our Milky Way, taken in August 2013, East coast Australia. Enjoy!

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South Tyrol, Italy, left: 5 images stacked with Pixinsight, right: final image with a total of 423 sec. for the stars and 179 sec. for the foreground…

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The Dolomites, Italy, left: 6 images stacked with Pixinsight, right: final image with a total of 1024 sec. for the stars and 25 sec. for the foreground…

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Großglockner Ridge, Austria, left: 14 images stacked with Pixinsight, right: final image with a total of 1318 sec. for the stars and 357 sec. for the foreground…

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The Großglockner, the highest mountain in Austria, left: 23 images stacked with Pixinsight, right: final image with a total of 1191 sec. for the stars and 169 sec. for the foreground…

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Brennkogel and Hochtor, Großglockner High Alpine Road, Austria, left: 10 images stacked with Pixinsight, right: final image with a total of 1625 sec. for the stars and 25 sec. for the foreground…

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Rho Ophiuchus, Unmodified

This is the next shot of our Bavarian/Austrian collaboration, the famous Rho Ophiuchus region in the constellation of Scorpio, close to the center of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. My first stacked deep sky image done with an unmodified camera, the 5d III, processed by my friend Bernd Weinzierl from Eisenerz/Austria. Please take a look at Bernd´s great work here: http://innerberg-astro.lima-city.de/index.html. and a high-res version here: http://innerberg-astro.lima-city.de/Bilder%20gross/Widefields/Rho%20Ophiuchus.jpg . Some three years ago when I looked at such images, I was blown away by the sheer beauty of them. Today, I´m still blown away…only difference – I´m doing them by myself now – LOL. Here´s an interesting link if you want to go deeper into Rho Ophiuchus: http://www.constellation-guide.com/constellation-list/ophiuchus-constellation/. Enjoy!

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One of the original Raw-files…

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Rho Ophiuchus: 34 images stacked, with a total exposure time of 30 min., East-Coast Australia, Aug. 2013, 5d III & 70-200 @ 70mm…

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Going Deep With: Canon 1100 d(a), Vixen Polarie And PixInsight

Since about one year now, I got those deep sky images lying on my hard drive, which I took back then while traveling the East Coast of Australia in August 2013. All I could do was processing the single images via Lightroom and even making mosaics via Hugin software. The results have been satisfying, but I knew there must be more to it. So I got myself PixInsight (http://pixinsight.com), a special software for processing deep sky images, and most important to me, it also runs on a Mac. Taking images is one thing, but processing them (to me) is much more complex. So I got myself that miraculous piece of software, but could´t work with properly until my Austrian based friend Bernd Weinzierl got to my aid. Make sure you take a look at his stuff at: http://innerberg-astro.lima-city.de/index.html. We did some sort of joint-venture then; Bernd processed my images with PixInsight and the result almost blew my mind. Never before had I dreamed about making such MilkyWay shots myself – until now. Makes me want to head back to Australia right now and shoot the hell out of it while the center of our home galaxy is still at the zenith – a paradise for deep-sky-imaging. But for now, I got enough stuff already to process to, not speaking about the mosaics possible now…stay tuned. All you need for doing this is: a modified camera like the Canon 1100 d, a startracking device like the Vixen Polarie, a sturdy (carbon) tripod, two ballheads, an intervalometer, a fast lens (f2.8 or less) and of course clear skies. And most of all, someone who can operate the complex PixInsight software. Once you are into it, new dimensions will unfold – the stars are yours! Enjoy!

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Original Raw-file: 119 sec., f 3.5, Iso 1600 @ 20mm…looking right at the center of our home galaxy, the Milkyway…Scorpio to the left, Sagittarius to the right…including star clusters and hydrogen-alpha nebulae…

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Processed Raw-file via Lightroom 5 only…

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Screenshot: eleven images, stacked with PixInsight…

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Final outcome, done with PixInsight and CS5 by Bernd Weinzierl…high-res image can be seen here: http://innerberg-astro.lima-city.de/Bilder%20gross/Widefields/Milchstrassenzentrum.jpg

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“Life is like a camera. Focus on what is important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives. And if things don´t turn out, take another shot.”

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Another Night Out – With The Polarie

Haven´t used the Vixen Polarie since almost one year now, everything what is needed to use that star tracking device fell into place last night. The high towering MilkyWay, a nice foreground and a starry night two days before New Moon got me going. For the first time since six month, I have spent the whole night out, first catching the MilkyWay and later on waiting for the Crescent Moon to rise over my old home turf. What a night to remember…watching the MilkyWay and Andromeda Galaxy, the conjunction of Mercury, Venus and the Moon, the ISS flying by (with Germany´s own Alexander Gerst), and the change of colors during the different times of twilight in the morning. But most of all: feeling the serenity and silence of the night again, feeling being one with the universe. Like Neville said: ” The world is an ocean of liquid light in countless different states of crystallization.” Enjoy!

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Prunn Castle, MilkyWay & Andromeda…

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Prunn Castle, MilkyWay & Andromeda, with Canon 1100d (a) and Polarie, with some faint Air Glow…

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Crescent Moon rising above my “home” church”…

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Crescent Moon rising two days before New Moon…

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Venus to the left joining the show…

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ISS on the way or how to build a triangle…

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Mercury (lower left), Venus (center) and Crescent Moon at the end of nautical twilight…

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The Milky Way: New Processing

Imaging the Milky Way is quite rewarding – provided that you got clear, dark nights and being away from light pollution on a moonless night. Once you got those conditions and the equipment is doing its work – that´s half of the game. Processing the images back home can become difficult while using a modified camera like my Canon 1100 d. Since one year now I´m using that camera, along with the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker. The images from the modified camera are quite reddish and every image from a different series got its own “character”, so there is no global adjustment or recipe you can use for them images. I mainly develop them in Lightroom 4, export them to Nik Color Efex Pro, and bring them back to LR to do again some minor adjustments. To get much better results, “Stacking” a bunch of images would be the way to go. I haven´t figured it out for myself that really well so far, so I can´t give you much recommendations on that – I´m still trying and learning myself. The only freeware I have found for Mac so far is Lykenos and it takes some patience to get through it. Commercial solutions would be Pixinsight and of course Photoshop. Either way, but the main difference is Color Efex Pro. It´s unbelieveable how much information just one image got, and it is waiting to be brought out. So, if you got RAW images on your hard drive you think them to be “unprocessable”, don´t delete them, the time will come for them to be developed (see below at one of my images). I did a post a while ago about this theme which you can find here: https://wernerpriller.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/the-milky-way-by-canon-1100-da-vixen-polarie/ . Enjoy!

Update: there are two more new posts about the “Milky Way processing stuff”…

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Private wigwam, Lower Bavaria, Germany:

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1. Original Raw-file, 119 sec., f 2.8, Iso 400, 10 mm…

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2. Processed in LR 4 only…

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3. Final image via Color Efex…

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Rieserferner Ridge, South Tyrol, Italy:

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1. Original Raw-file, 25 sec., f 2.8, Iso 3200, 20 mm…

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2. Processed in LR 4 only…

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3. Finale image via Color Efex…

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Großglockner Ridge, Hohe Tauern NP, Austria…

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1. Original Raw-file, 147 sec., f 2.5, Iso 400, 20 mm…

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2. Processed in LR 4 only…

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3. Ten images stacked with Lykenos…

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4. Final image via Color Efex…

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North America Nebula, Lower Bavaria, Germany…

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1. Original Raw-file, 29 sec., f 3.5, Iso 3200, 200 mm…

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2. Processed in LR 4 only…

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3. Six images stacked with Lykenos…

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4. Final image via Color Efex…

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Prunn Castle, Lower Bavaria, Germany:

I took this image almost one year ago and haven´t been able to get a decent result so far. Due to the unstable  weather since a couple of weeks, I came across this one and started a new try, which I just finished the other day and thus has been the trigger for writing this blog post!

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1. Original Raw-file, 30 sec., f 2.8, Iso 1600, 10 mm…

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2. Processed in LR 4 only…

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3. Final image via Color Efex…notice the Andromeda Galaxy to the lower right;

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“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn´t work if it is not open!”

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