Messier 27 and the DSI

In case you were wondering,yes I am still here.I have been doing the normal life thing but,also I have been playing with a new toy that I was able to take for a test run last night.A fellow amateur astronomer/blogger was kind enough to give me a laptop PC!.In this day and age I was under the impression that kindness and generosity was all but lost in this world?!.So I would like to thank Peter from Top of the lawn and dedicate the image below to him.I must say,that having the ability to tweak the focus and keep the object centered on the screen was somthing that I was never able to do in the past.My normal LPI/DSI imaging sessions usually included me running up and down the stairs to my second floor apartment a couple hundred times a night.Doing this made for a long and tiring night with seemingly few images to show for it.Hehe,all of that has changed now.I set the scope up last night at around 8pm and was imaging by 8:30 under strangely dark skies…or at least darker than normal thanks to the renovations of the courthouse next door.I guess the city has finally realized that if nobody is in the building,then the lights don’t need to be on!.I didn’t tour much of the sky as I was trying to teach myself  the different functions of the DSI controls.A ability that I was limited at doing before.One of the objects that I practiced on was M27 a.k.a the Dumbbell nebula.What a thrill it was to center in in the eye piece and then connect the camera and see it on the monitor!!!.The image below is my very first neb ever imaged with the DSI.It isn’t a very good image but,it is a giant leap forward in my attempts at CCD imaging!!!.Once again thank you Peter!!!.



9 Responses to “Messier 27 and the DSI”

  1. Hi Andrew,
    Now I can’t be held responsible for any extra pounds gained now that you lose some exercise running the stairs. M27 looks really good, especially with those hooked ends. Just observed a couple of sessions ago in an Obsession 12.5″ from an old NYC airfield, Floyd Bennett Field.
    Look forward to more photos.

  2. Thanks Peter,
    Given my size,I doubt the extra pounds would be noticed….HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 🙂 .The laptop worked flawlessly as I was hoping.I need a lot more practice with the different settings but,the learning curve was to be expected.Unfortunately,weather will inhibit any further practice for this week.It was definitely a thrill seeing the object on the monitor as aposed to looking at it on the tiny screen on my DSLR.

  3. Really nice job Andrew. Which eyepiece did you use with the camera?

  4. Hi Michael,
    Actually their were no eye pieces involved.The DSI act as the eye piece.I would say it is equal to perhaps a 6-9mm so the FOV is real small.The image of the Dumbbell neb was cropped very little which is why it is tough to get it centered on the monitor.The DSI connects the same way a eyepiece would fit in the focuser.Yay,no “T” adaptor to mess with!!!.

  5. Being able to sit at the telescope with a laptop is a really fun experience. I’m glad you’re not having to run back and forth so much. It looks like you might have some hot pixels in that image? Are you subtracting dark frames? Also, is this a DSI Color or are you using filters?

    Anyway, I’ve been having a blast with my DSI Color for the past several weeks. I’m currently up to 33 Messier Objects with it. Let me know more details about how you’re using it. I may be able to help you skip some of the mistakes I’ve made. 🙂

  6. Hi Ed,I am kind of shooting from the hip with the DSI.I didn’t actually take darks until toward the end of the night…..yup,somtimes I seem to work backwards.The image is a stack of I believe….20@30 seconds exposure.If we ever get clear skies again,I am going to reduce the exposure time by 10 seconds.I seemingly got a lot of light pollution that I tried to get rid of ,which probably added to the funky look?!.Other than that I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants.I need to read through the manual again and try to absorb as much imfo as possible.I will be bugging you with questions from time to time….hope you don’t mind?!.

  7. That’s great. I’ve probably got about 40-50 hours of use out of mine in the past 2 months, so I’m getting pretty familiar with it. Here are a few quick pieces of advice that I’ve figured out on my own through experimentation:

    1) To get the most out of Dark Frames (this might not apply to the DSI II):

    a) Before taking your dark frames, find out what the temperature is. Let’s assume it’s 70 degrees out.
    b) In the settings for the Envisage software, set the darks directory
    to something like C:\Meade Images\Darks\70\.
    c) Take the dark frames. I normally do from 1-30 seconds, but periodically I’ll get ambitious and just run it for longer. By default, I’d do 1-30.
    d) When the temperature changes by 5 degrees, repeat steps 1-3.

    Then in the future, just make sure you know the temperature and enter the correct directory and you won’t have to re-take the dark frames each time. This has worked really well for me. I think the DSI II’s automatically do something equivalent to this. It will take more time initially to do this, but ultimately it’ll give you much better results. The difference (particularly from say 65 – 80 degrees) can be huge. Its only gotten down to around 60 degrees here in north Georgia so I’ve got folders for 60, 65, 70, 75, 80 and 885. There is a ton of noise at 85 degrees, but it’s pretty clear at 60. I’ve heard that putting a peltier cooler on the camera can get it down below 40 and removes the vast majority of noise. I’m going to look at that soon.

    2) The next thing I’d recommend is that when you are saving images, in the “Object Name” field, you can actually enter a directory name for example I’ll put “M31\M31-” in that folder and then it will create a sub folder called M31 under my main folder and name the images as M31-1-1 etc.. This helps keep things more organized.

    3) Don’t use the auto contrast when compositng images. It will cut of detail that you may want to keep (this doesn’t apply if you’re saving FITS files). I normally use auto contrast when finding my target and centering it and then I adjust the sliders until I’m happy with the result. Then I press start.

    4) Finally, have the software save all uncombined frames. That way if you have a plane fly through or have some movement or a car flashes its lights at your scope or you walk in front of it or whatever, you can recombine the images later. The Envisage software does a fine job of initial combining, but sometimes you can get better results when you use other software later.

  8. Okay – I don’t have a folder for 885 – it’s for 85. It’s been warm, but not THAT warm.

  9. Thanks for the info Ed,as soon as the clouds decide to break up I will give the DSI another go and give your instructions a try.Learning is half the fun of astrophotography 🙂 .It certainly is a bigger challenge than my DSLR!!.

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