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Collimation, Focusing and Seeing
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 20:54

Over the last few years, I have been trying in vain to get good images of the planets.  I've blamed it on alot of different things, however, I think the real problem was insufficient attention to detail!

To try and correct my problems, I've been checking the collimation and focusing of my VC200L with my Skynyx 2-1c and Televue 3x barlow.

This first video shows the collimation of the setup.  To obtain this video, I pointed at Vega, and then racked the focus in and out.  It was a little cloudy as well, as you can see from the video!  I hope to run this past other astronomers as well to see if they think my setup is collimated 'enough' - because I really am not sure at this point!!!

Update: Damian Peach kindly looked over the videos - his opinion is that my collimation 'looks pretty good to me'

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Now for focusing.  I use a Bahtinov mask to achieve my focusing with Deep Sky objects, and so thought it might work here too.  This is a video shot with the Bahtinov in place - I am winding the focus knob in and out before finally achieving a 'good' focus.  Notice that the diffraction spikes jump around alot - I guess this is indication of bad seeing (and vibrations whilst I am touching the scope!)

Comments appreciated on this one also....

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Update: Damian also looked at this video, and commented 'the seeing looks a bit ropy in the video when focusing'

So to get a gauge on this, I shot this video, which shows the star Hamal in Aries both with and without the Bahtinov mask.  As you can see, the star dances around alot, which when compared to Damian's Pickering Scale videos seen here: - I reckon that is about a pickering scale 4...  Poor....  No wonder my Jupiter images are coming out pants!

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Pinwheel Galaxy Supernova
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Sunday, 11 September 2011 22:16

The recent Type 1a Supernova discovered by the Palomar Transit Factory, and labelled as PTF11kly.  It was discovered on 24th August, and anyone with images showing this supernova earlier should contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The skies have not been kinda for me to image this Supernova, however, I did manage to get some red frames for photometry purposes on the 6th September 2011.  I measured the magnitude of the supernova as 9.9 from this image using the wonderful Astrometrica software from Herbert Raab.

I hope to be able to image this galaxy over the next few weeks, and discover whether it continues to brighten, or starts to diminish.

If you wish to find and view this supernova for yourself, my friends over at the Society for Popular Astronomy have produced this wonderful guide.

A Supernova, some galaxies and a handful of clusters!
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Saturday, 07 May 2011 01:14

Its been an interesting few weeks.  My new Starlight Xpress Filter Wheel and Off-Axis Guider has arrived, and I've now got a set of LRGB 2" Astronomik filters to go with it.  Waiting for the Ha and Oiii, but for now I am strictly confined to true colour imaging!  It couldn't have been timed better - the last few weeks have been warm and mostly clear.  I've had chance to shoot a relatively new supernova (SN2011by) in NGC3972, and also been catching up on Globular Clusters with Messier 3, Messier 53 and NGC5053.

NGC3972 and a few other galaxies in Ursa Major.  SN2011by is marked.  Click for the image capture details and a large version.

Preparation for this months Under British Skies show has also been quite hectic.  We've got an update from Nick Howes on his recent grand astro tour of NEAF and NAM.  John Zarnecki kindly took some time to speak to Sam Hawkins and I, and Paul Harper and Tavi Greiner interviewed Geoff Notkin, one of the famed Meteorite Men.  I've still got to get that little lot edited up before the next show on the 15th!

I have also just uploaded my latest 'Clear Skies' talk, so you can have some fun investigating the night sky.  Get it here as a pdf.

Clear Skies All!


Isle of Wight Star Party and a new piccy
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Sunday, 13 March 2011 22:03

Just got back from the Isle of Wight Star Party, had a thoroughly great time as per usual.  Stephen, Lucy and Bill did a wonderful job yet again.  Good times.

Whilst I was on the island, I captured a few Ha exposures of the Rosette Nebula, and decided to finish it off with some Oiii when I got home.  The weather was kind on Monday night, so I was able to grab 14 x 15 minute exposures to go with the 12 Ha exposures I captured on the island.

After a bit of processing, here is how it came out.  Very pleased with the result, and it is now entered into the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.  Fingers crossed!

Click for full image and capture details:

A work in progress
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Friday, 07 January 2011 19:25


You know that feeling that you are just not happy with something?  Well, I've got that at the moment.  I wanted to put M42 to bed once and for all.  Its a lovely target in our Winter skies, but how many images of M42 does a man need?

This year, I have an excuse though.  The H18 and the Televue Genesis give me a 2" field of view.  That alone is a good excuse to re-visit the area in my book, so I did.  So far this year, I've captured 8 and a half hours worth of data, and thats not including the data I threw away!  My official standpoint is 'its getting there' - Ha and Oiii have been the focus so far.  I have enough data in those bands now, giving a nice and smooth result.  But I don't like the way the Running Man Nebula (to the left of the image) is not showing his true colours.  There should be more blue evident in the image that the Oiii filter just is not picking up.

The plan?  I want to see if I can capture some Blue filter data before the end of the Winter.  With any luck, that will combine well with the Ha and Oiii filter data and finally put this one to bed.  And as for the rest of the Winter skies?  Once this is done, the Vixen will be going back on the EQ6, and its back to capture this years Messier 1 data to see if I can pickup any changes since last year.  I've left it a bit late in the season, but beggars can't be choosers!

Happy New Year and Clear Skies Everyone!


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