|Orion 400hr Mega Mosaic!|
Now in the Zoomify pane, the 400 hour Orion Mosaic I started in 2011 can be enjoyed at 40% full size.
I began by taking a 4 pane mosaic in Luminance, Red, Green, Blue, and Hydrogen Alpha, of the Sword of Orion. The region including the 3 Belt stars, Flame Nebula, Horsehead, and Orion Nebula and ended up as a 56 hour 4 pane mosaic.
I was able to extend my stay in Spain, and I decided to try to image the main asterism, that is the "X" of Orion so visible in the Winter sky. In the Winter of 2012 /2013 I began by shooting in Black and White (Luminance) taking 30 panes at 530mm with my Takahashi FSQ106N, and Full frame CCD cooled camera. Each frame had 4 hours of data, totaling 120 hours.
I left Spain in the Summer of 2013, where I re-located my Telescope, Camera, and Mount to Olly’s Gite in Provence France. After upgrading our equipment to run a Dual Mounted Takahasi set up, I asked Olly to collaborate in the Orion Project with the RGB and remaining Hydrogen Alpha data collection.
Olly started on the remaining frames in 2014, and I brought over a 3rd Takahashi FSQ to the set up when I visited to continue the imaging.
In one December night, we managed to shoot almost 20 hours of data in one night with the 3 telescopes running.
To all of this data I added high resolution data Olly had taken with the TEC 140mm F/7 refractor at his site. The data was added into the Orion, Horsehead, and Flame nebulae regions.
Over the 4 years, between the single telescope set up in Spain, the dual, and then later the triplet set up from Les Granges, approximately 100 nights or work, gave us 1.44 million seconds of exposures, or over 400 hours to combine into a single large Mega Mosaic of the Orion region.
Throughout the image, there are both small and large extensive bright Hydrogen Alpha Emission nebula, many Dark Nebula, Open Clusters, multiple small Galaxies, Reflection Nebula, again both small, such as the Vbd objects, and large expansive nebula like the extended Witchhead region. There are even Planetary Nebula scattered through the image, but these are very small and difficult to find. All the various objects which can be found across many different Star and Deep Sky catalogues, with some of the deep sky objects in the image which I have not found any documentation for at this time.
|Cassiopeia 25 pane 350hr Mosaic!|
I began taking the Luminance data for this Mosaic in 2016. This was done over holidays taken at Les Granges using the Dual Tak scope set up. All panes were taken manually. So each night I would align the telescope to the section of Cassiopeia I wanted
to image. Once I was happy with the overlap of the stars to the previous pane imaged, I focused both scopes and started guiding. Constant checking on the focus was needed as the temperature dropped throughout the night.
Using the dual scopes over many holidays to Les Granges, I was able to complete the 25 Luminance mosaic. I stitched these frames into the base layer and lightly processed it as a single layer. I imaged some RGB panes in 2018 while beginning the Remote Observatory build, however some of these panes needed to be re-done due to high clouds.
The Remote Observatory came online in the Summer of 2019. Now imaging from Dublin whenever the skies were clear at Les Granges, I was able to collect all the RGB frames, Ha frames, and selected O3 data to complete all the data needed. The Breaking Wave Nebula at Gamma Cassiopeia which myself and Olly imaged gave additional Ha data.
The Dual Tak observatory which was available to guests in France has now been changed to a Dual TEC manual observatory where we now have two 140mm TECs with a focal length of 1m gathering data on the same Mesu mount.
I did not have a spare camera to offer up so Steve Milnes has joined in as part of the team by donating his Moravian camera. We now share the data between the three of us.
The guiding is excellent with this set-up, and by moving up to 1m focal length this has now opened up a whole new list of objects for us to shoot. Its currently Galaxy season and we have captured many little fuzzies already. See Gallery for M101, M51, Draco Triplet, etc..
With Summer approaching the Milky Way has a range of nebula we can zoom in on. I’ll have to make some suggestions for the imaging wish list.
|Achill DSLR Shoot|
I was asked if I could take a photographer out on a night shoot as a present.
I had suggested that we attempt a Milky Way Arc shot from the West Coast. Given the weather and the need to do this on a weekend, the choice of dates were limited.
In April we had a decent forecast of clear skies in Mayo, so we headed to Achill island. We had clear skies all night which was excellent. After a 45min hike up from Keem beach we settled in for a 4 hour shoot of the Milky Way. We had to wait 3 hours for the Milky Way to rise so this gave us a chance to shoot Star Trails and prepare for the direction of the Milky Way and to get a feel for the location. We were very close to the edge of the cliff, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Our location was 54 degrees North, so the Core of the Milky Way was still very low on the Horizon. There was a small bit of light pollution from the village of Dooagh.
While processing the image, I was thinking about making a mask. As I do this in black and white, I found that I liked the look of the B/W image and so I continued processing it that way. It helps with the Light Pollution, and also for dragging out some contrast in the image.
I’ll be starting a whole new DSLR Gallery page shortly. I also hope to go on more and more Ireland night shoots this Summer to capture the Wild Atlantic Way at night.
|Update on the Remote Observatory|
My remote Observatory in France is almost complete. After seeking the help from the Star Gazers Lounge Forum with Mount Issues, and Communications, it turns out that I had a Ground Loop problem on the USB comms cable from the Eagle to the Mesu.
I solved the problem by adding in an Opto-Isolator on the USB cable. This blocked the ground voltage that was interrupting the Comms. Some settings needed to be changed also on the Control and Settings for the Mesu SiTech Software to track the mount correctly.
The observatory works remotely now from my PC at home, and a first light test pic can be seen below.
I'm still learning the Automation side of SGP, and I hope to be soon fully Automated. For the moment I can run the observatory and monitor the actions from the sofa.
This is a huge step forward in imaging, allowing me to avail of the excellent dark skies, and many more clear nights than Ireland.
|Mayan Astronomy Expedition|
A few months ago I was asked if I would be interested in joining a party to Belize to prove a theory on the Mayans and Meteor Showers.
The group comprised of Astronomers David Asher and Miruna Popescu, along with Mayan expert Hutch Kinsman. The idea was to stay overnight at the Caracol site in Belize and observe the Eta Aquariid Meteor shower from the A 3and A6 complex. We were to show that the Meteor shower was seen by the Mayans, and that it was a very important event from the Heavens for them. Hutch was able to read the Hieroglyphs from Caracol showed that the Mayans crowned Kings after certain Meteor Showers. David had calculated Meteor outbursts, at the same time as these Kings came to power.
My role was to photograph the night observations to create an image showing the Caracol Pyramids, and the Radiant of the Meteor Shower from the East over the A6 Complex.
While we did observe meteors for the Las Cuevas Research centre, we were unable to get a permit to stay overnight at the Caracol site. We had located to Aernal where a Mayan temple was still semi covered in vegetation. Unfortunately this was in an area where after Sunset, low lying cloud and fog rolled in on us.
After deciding to change site we spent out last night back in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. While this was after the peak of the Meteor Shower we saw some meteors although only one was caught by the camera.
We may go back again to have another go at this project. There was time to visit Guatemala to see the stunning Tikal site, a huge complex of 4000 buildings and 500 square Kms of Mayan buildings. We even made it to a Live Radio and TV streamed show to explain the project and our interest in the Mayan culture and History.
We want to thank the guides and farmers who helped us out showing us around the sites, and helping us with our late night trips, strange requests and exploits.
Images below are from Tikal, Las Cuevas Research Centre, Love FM Radio / TV, and a Composite photo of Caracol, showing my representation of what the Eta Aquariid Meteor shower would look like from Caracol at night. The Foreground was taken from our daytime visit there. The night sky was taken from 30Km from Caracol, on our last night out observing, and the Meteors were added from the August 2016 Perseid shower I captured from France.
|Construction of my new Remote Observatory in France!|
Over the past few months, I've been travelling back and forth to the south of France, where I have been constructing a Remote Observatory, kindly helped by various friends - it's a huge and very exciting project which I've been documenting, as the process
may be of interest to others - to find out more, check out my new Remote Observatory section, to see how things have
been progressing! :)
|Images of Starlight Exhibition (Botanic Gardens in Dublin)|
Images of Starlight Exhibition returns to the Botanic Gardens in November 2018, with 60 new framed photos from Astrophotographers from all over Ireland.
The first exhibition was a stunning success, with images spanning every type of Astronomical object and phenomenon, wowing the huge crowds.
I've been branching out in DSLR night shoots from home in the last year. After a few clear nights from trips around the country in 2018, I submitted some photos to this year's exhibition, showcasing the Wild Atlantic Way at night. Please do head along to the Botanic Gardens to see the exhibits!
|Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018|
Congratulations to all the winning images at this years Astronomy Photography Awards in London.
While we did not win a prize this year, myself and Olly Penrice were shortlisted in the Galaxy category for our "IC342 Hidden Galaxy photo taken last December.
Further to this, our 400hr Orion mosaic was selected for the 10 year Anniversary exhibit which will be on show until next year, along with the winning images from this years competition. Click here to see them
|Star Trail Imaging on the Wild Atlantic Way coast|
In March, I returned to Sherkin Island to try a Milky Way Arc shot from the Horseshoe Cove.
It was pouring rain on the 5 hour drive and boat trip to West Cork, but the forecast was for clearing skies. I went to the beach after a 2.5km walk with all the gear from the catering accommodation. I waited on the beach for over 3hrs!
Finally, with about 45mins before the skies brightened with the morning Sun, the clouds disappeared. This is the darkest area I have ever been to - this, despite the brightish glow on the left of the image which is from the mainland small town of Baltimore. The town is to the North East, and so out of view for regular Galactic Center images, but due to the 180 degree panoramic photo here, its lights can be seen as a glow on the horizon.
This is a stitched, 6-pane Panoramic shot of 20s each ISO 10000 and f/2.8 Canon 5D
|Star Trail Imaging on the Wild Atlantic Way coast|
In February, I traveled to the Wild Atlantic Way coast in North Mayo. This was my second venture to the Sea Stack after a reconnaissance trip on a very wet November weekend.
This time I had better luck with the weather and clear skies and I ended up spending 4 hours on the cliff edge taking 3min exposures to stack for Star Trails.
As you can see below, I ended producing two versions from the nights outing.
This is a superb location with very dark skies, and really highlights the diverse and rugged West Coast of Ireland.
|Four nights in Iceland!|
In November, I had another successful trip to Iceland. While only one of the four nights were clear, I headed out to Pingvellir and set up early in the night.
At about 22:30, the skies lit up with a superb display!
Here are two images taken from the front of the Church by the Lakeside and in front of the lake from the Bridge.
|US trip to observe the Total Solar Eclipse!|
After two unsuccessful attempts previously to see all the stages of a Total Eclipse, the prospects to view the American Eclipse in August were excellent. The path of the shadow was to cross the entire country, giving plenty of locations to view it from.
I had booked accomodation in Wyoming a year in advance, at Fireside campside in Jackson Hole. This area has very good weather forecasts at this time of year. There was also the bonus of the stunning local scenery from the Teton Mountain range, and Yellowstone park just a short drive up the road.
My friend Gretchen joined me on the trip, and I was to meet up with another Dutch astrophotographer Andre Von Hoeven, who had informed me about the campsite the year earlier.
The night before the forecast looked perfect, with any small thin clouds dissipating early in the morning. A few hours before Contact 1, where the Moon can be seen to touch the Suns edge, we had 100% clear skies.
Equipment and Location
I had brought over a Takahashi FS60 CB telescope to take my eclipse photos. This is actually my guidescope for the Spanish and French Deep Sky setups, but I had taken it back from Ollys just for the Eclipse. I added an extender section in the middle of the tube. This took the focal length from 355mm, to 600mm, and the focal lenght to F/10. I was using a Canon 5D Mk3, all on a Star Adventurer mount. There was some wobble, and vibrations when you focused that took a few seconds to die down. All in all, I had taken 22 Kg out of an allowable 30Kg in equipment for the Eclipse shoot, and for Panoramic holiday photos.
I set up beside Andres RV as he had a clear unobstructed view to the South / South East in the direction of the eclipse. I wanted to view this eclipse, and let a small laptop automate the exposures. A huge thank you to Liam Hackett for lending me the small light laptop.
The night before I checked the equipment, and all worked as it should. However 45mins before totality, I ran a test, and the laptop would not communicate with the Camera. This brought on a mild panic, but after checking all connections and re-booting everything, the laptop was back in control, with no clear reason to what the issue was. I had set up a small pocket camera also to take a video of the event. Sadly it ran out of memory before C3, the time when the Sun begins to re-emerge. However the excitement of everyone at the campside could clearly be heard.
I did not notice the shadow approaching as I was focussing the camera, and removing the Solar filter just before C2. We had however been enjoying the views of the Crescent through the leaves of the trees, and also the effect of hands at 90 degrees to each other with different sharpness to their shadows. I found the last few seconds to C2 came on so quickly. The changing light and the drop in temperature was incredible. I loved the deep Blue hue on the sky, and I managed to spend some time scanning the 360 degrees around at the horizon, where it seemed to be twilight everywhere.
The Coronal streamers were gorgeous. There were 3 very pronounced tails reaching far out a few radii of the Moon. Regalus, Venus, and Mars were very bright in the vicinity also.
All too quickly, at C3 (Contact 3) the re-appearance of the Sun via the Diamond ring began to brighten up the sky. I did notice the shadow leaving us during this stage.
That just left us to pop the Champagne and relive the experience with Andre and his family, and all those other eclipse chasers around us. The laptop did its job, and I managed to obtain the following images of the Eclipse.
Note: All my Solar Eclipse images below are available for purchase - please click here to go the Print Purchase page.
|Interview with French Photography Agency 'Alter-View'|
In July, I did an interview with French Photography Agency Alter-View. They interview photographers who shoot unusual forms of photography, and those who go to
great lengths to get the images they want.
You can read the interview on their website here.
|Return trip to the Armagh Observatory, after 26 years!|
While in secondary school, my friend John Caffrey and I entered and won the Senior category of the 'Irish Young Astronomers of the Year' competition back in 1991, as part of the 200th Anniversay celebrations for the Armagh Observatory. This was a one-off
national competition to observe Jupiter's four Galilean moons over a two month period. From here, we had to plot their orbits and prove Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion.
As part of the prizes, there was a ceremony at the Armagh Observatory, and a trip to Jodrell Bank in Manchester, one of the world's largest radio telescopes.
Fast forward to 2017, and John had contacted the Armagh Observatory to see if our winning competition project entry still existed and after some searching, they found it which was great to hear - we hope to visit them again to see it, and also excited to hear that it is being digitized and added to their archives.
Meanwhile I managed to get an updated picture from the front of the Observatory, 26 years later! (I'll get other pic in 2043!)
John's two youngest daughters, Ellen and Chloe also had a blast at the Armagh Planetarium (which is well worth a visit!)
|Beta testing the 'Astro Pixel Processor' software|
I was asked to join the Astro Pixel Processing team as a Beta tester for the Astro Pixel Processor product. This will be a new Astrophotography Processing
software package, and it has some great features.
I have been mainly testing the Mosaic capabilities, and so far it has been very good at registering and stitching the 25 panes of Luminance for my third project of Cassiopeia.
The result was almost flawless with only some small mis-shapen stars in one small region. The success of the software is that I can stitch the mosaic in Linear format. This will allow me perform many other steps before stretching the mosaic.
Here is a little teaser of what the next Mosaic will look like:
|Published in the US Edition of 'Sky and Telescope'|
I had my first publication in the US Edition of Sky and Telescope magazine, where they published my 400-hour Orion Mosaic in the March 2017 edition.
This was followed up again in June's Edition, with a full-page devoted to a central crop of the Galactic Centre mosaic.
|New images of IC447 and NGC2170|
Over the Winter period, Olly was capturing data in the TEC140. I had suggested that we go for IC447 and NGC2170.
Both objects contain Reflection and Dark nebulae, with NGC2170 also having some Emission nebula.
I had captured both nebulae from Spain, and so myself and Olly decided to combine our RGB data, and mix it with the higher resolution TEC data.
IC447 has 20hrs of data, while NGC2170 comes in with just over 27hrs of data.
Both of these images are now available to purchase (in the 'Print Purchases' section) in 18x12 format.
|My M22 Globular Cluster image|
Following last Summer's trip to Les Granges in France, I finally got around to processing the first image I took on the imaging holiday.
M22 is a Globular Cluster in Sagittarius approximately the same size as the Moon. At 10,000 light years from Earth, this is the brightest Globular visible from Mid and Northern Europe. Accompanying M22 is the much smaller globular cluster NGC 6642 in the top right corner.
This image was taken in August 2017 with a TEC140 refractor, Atik 11000 ccd camera, and is 7 hours of LRGB images.
Just a quick reminder that I'll be exhibiting at the Galway Astronomy Festival on Saturday the 28th of January 2017, at the Westwood Hotel in Galway. More details to come soon!
Lots of news to report as we close out 2016... first up, an update on my wonderful aurora-hunting trip to Iceland recently...
|Northern Lights Photography Tour!|
I had a very successful trip to Iceland to photograph the Aurora Borealis!
After staying an extra two nights, I weathered a snow blizzard to get to Pingvellir Park, a dark location in one of Iceland's National Parks. While it was mostly cloudy that night, the aurora could be seen through clouds, all night!
During a ten minute gap in the clouds, I set up the camera to take still images for a video I captured, which I've posted on my Flickr site here and also below :-
You can see what I call the "Christmas Tree Nebula" below (which is also up on my Flickr site here) :-
Here's another picture taken the previous night (on Flickr here)...
|My article in December's edition of the "Sky at Night" magazine|
I was honoured to have been asked to write the monthly "Image Processing" article in this month's "Sky At Night" magazine for December 2016, where I give details on how I stitched the Orion Mega mosaic!
You can find more info on the contents of the Dec 2016 issue by clicking here!
Interested in a digital subscription to the 'Sky at Night' magazine?
I see that you can now subscribe to digital editions of the magazine which is very cool for reading on iPads, etc. More info can be found here.
|EAPOD : "European Astronomy Picture of the Day" website!|
I'm excited to announce that a new EAPOD website has been created to promote Astrophotography and Astronomy in Europe, and to showcase the efforts of European Astrophotographers.
I was honoured to be asked to be a judge on the team.
As one of the ten judges, I review images on the Flickr page, and put forward my own suggestions on images that I think would be good to publish on the site. If the other judges approve of the suggestion, the image gets published (provided the photographer has given the go ahead to do so), together with a detailed write-up about the image content.
You can submit your images to our EAPOD Flickr group here
As an example of the quality of pictures which have already been submitted to EAPOD, here's a video showing the "Top 16 Most Viewed Pictures of 2016"... enjoy!
|I'll be exhibiting at the Galway Astronomy Festival in January 2017!|
|Just to finally mention that I'll be exhibiting at the Galway Astronomy Festival on Saturday the 28th of January 2017, at the Westwood Hotel in Galway. More details to come in the coming week or two - stay tuned! :)|
|Join us on the Northern Lights Photography Tour in Tromso, Norway!
24th-29th November 2016
I'm thrilled to have joined up with Project Travel (Twitter: @TravelNorway)
to lead a tour to see the stunning Tromso Northern Lights!
We will head into the Artic Circle to view one of nature's most extraordinary sights. The tour will consist of three Aurora Hunts with a driver, and a lecture / workshop by myself on how to take Aurora photos, where I'll show the best settings to use and some techniques on how to improve your photos.
The group will be small and there are limited places available so please book by October 14th @ https://project-travel.ie/northern-lights-photography/.
Hope to see you there!
|Awarded 3rd Place in the "Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016" in the "Stars and Nebulae" category!|
Last Thursday (Sept 15th), I attended the awards ceremony for the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2016 competition
in the beautiful Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The standard of images this year was incredible, with over 4500 entries from 80 countries!
I was lucky enough to be shortlisted again this year, this time for my "Starlight and Silhouettes" image in the "Stars and Nebulae" category, and I was thrilled to receive a "Highly Commended" (3rd Place) award in my category! Huge congratulations to Yu Jun for his stunning "Baily's Beads" image - definitely a worthy winner!
It was wonderful to meet up with the various judges (including the folks from the Sky at Night), other winners and nominees on the night.
Just to mention that all the 2016 winning images are currently on exhibit at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich from Sept 17th - more info here.
Here's a picture of me after the awards ceremony at the display of my "Starlight and Silhouettes" image, with a celebratory glass of bubbly in hand!
By the way, here's a better quality image of my winning entry:
Note: available sizes and prices of this image are listed here
Finally, just to mention that a 1m x 0.67m version of my "Starlight and Silhouettes" image (plus last year's award-winning Orion image!) are both on display in Belfast until Sept 30th, and they will then move to the "Images Of Starlight" exhibition in Trinity in October! (More details are below!)
|"Images Of Starlight" exhibition : Science Week @ Trinity|
The highly successful Images Of Starlight exhibition which is currently running in the Linen Hall Library in Belfast up to the 30th of September, will then move to Trinity College Dublin for Science Week.
The images from Ireland's Astrophotographers, will be on display in the Fitzgerald Building (Physics Building) from the 5th to the 14th of October.
More info can be found on the Spaceweek website here.
|UPDATE: Base luminance layer captured for the next Mega Mosaic!|
After another successful imaging trip to Les Granges France, the base Luminance layer for the next Mega Mosaic has been captured!
I managed to image 100 hours of Luminance on a 5x5 mosaic format. The picture above has been constructed to show how all the 25 panes match up. I use this layer to register all frames to, before the blending process begins.
I'll continue to report on progress here so stay tuned for further updates! :)
|You've heard of "Breaking Bad"... meet "Breaking Wave" !|
While imaging the Cassiopeia mosaic, myself and Olly found a Ha signal below the Gamma Cass IC 59 and IC63 nebulae. We thought this was worth some further investigation!
As a result, we ended up collecting 51 hours of data in a two panel mosaic with the Dual Tak set up. We took 24 hours of Ha data over the two panels, which showed a weak single continuing from the IC nebulae around Gamma Cass.
After processing the image, the nebula appeared to be of the same structure. Olly coined the name Breaking Wave, which I hope sticks. We have not seen this extended Ha signal imaged before, so this was a great discovery too!
|Total Solar Eclipse talk @ Dunsink Observatory!|
On June the 11th at Dunsink Observatory I'll be giving a talk on the Total Solar Eclipse that's occurring across the USA in 2017.
While its over a year away, its time to start planning your trip, and in my talk I'll be discussing the best locations based on weather prospects, things to see and do, photography tips, and more.
Dunsink Observatory has beautiful grounds to stroll around, and with tours of the Famous Telescope Dome, Solar Observing, and plenty of talks to attend, its sure to provide a fun day out.
Watching the Sun through a properly filtered telescope is amazing. Being able to view prominences, filaments, and sun spots, changing every few minutes, lets us know how dynamic the Sun is. Don't miss an opportunity to see such wonderful sights!
|Public Astrophotography Exhibition @ the Botanical Gardens!|
|In February (2nd-21st), astrophotographers from all over Ireland (including myself!) will have an opportunity to showcase their work in an exciting exhibition in a collaboration between the Irish Astronomical Society (IAS) and the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies (IFAS).
I'll be attending, exhibiting my newest images, plus a number of others from my back catalog! :)
It would be great to attend and show support for the many talented astrophotographers from around the country!
Update: I was lucky enough to feature in the very nice RTE segment on the exhibition on Feb 2nd... here it is...
|Kerry Dark Skies Workshop and exhibition in Galway!|
|Happy New Year!
So to kick off the new year, there are already two events lined up for later this month... i.e.
January 16th : Astrophotography Workshop @ Kerry Dark Skies event
I'll be returning to the Kerry Dark Skies for another DSLR Astrophotography Workshop scheduled for the 16th of Jan 2016.
January 30th : Exhibiting @ Galway Astronomy Festival
I'll be exhibiting the 400 Orion Mosaic and the new 100 Hour Galactic Centre Mosaic at the Galway Astronomy Festival in Galway on the 30th of Jan.
Both of these will be framed with Art Glass at a very large format. You'll be able to walk right into the image and see the high resolution data that has gone into creating these pictures.
Details can be found @ https://www.galwayastronomyclub.ie.
|Happy Christmas and New Year!|
|At the end of 2015, just a quick note to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year!
It was a hectic year but it was wonderful to meet and chat with so many of you at my various talks and exhibitions! I'm looking forward to an exciting 2016 with lots more on the horizon - more details in the upcoming posts!
Finally, a big thanks to everyone who purchased prints of my photos this year!
|Arctic Circle trip photographing the Northern Lights!|
|I had a very successful trip inside the Arctic Circle to Tromso, Norway, in Mid November to photograph and view the Northern lights. While we had some cloud on the first few nights, I had managed to scout a great white
sandy beach on the West Coast near Sommoray on one of the nights.
I returned on my last night to the beach and witnessed a beautiful Auroral display.
On one of the mornings, I made a time lapse movie showing how the Sunrise to Sunset at this time of the year only lasts 3.5 hours, with the Sun only reaching a maximum of 2 degrees above the horizon.
For more shots of the Aurorae I saw plus a nice Sunrise timelapse video, check out my Flickr site!
|FUTUREPROOF radio interview on Newstalk this Saturday (Oct 3rd)|
|This coming Saturday (October 3rd), I've been invited in for a chat with Jonathan McCrea on the excellent FUTUREPROOF Science & Technology show at
12-1pm on Newstalk Radio 106-108 FM.
I'll be discussing my photography and talking about the Astrophotography Awards from the Royal Observatory Greenwich London.
Please tune in if you can, but if you miss it, I'll add a link to the podcast afterwards! :)
UPDATE: The FUTUREPROOF interview was cancelled - hopefully it can be re-arranged for a future date in 2016.
|Runner-Up in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Awards 2015!|
On the 17th of Sept, I travelled to the Greenwich Royal Observatory for the Awards Ceremony for the "Astronomy Photographer Of The Year Awards 2015".
Against some very stiff competition, I'm thrilled to say that the Orion Mega Mosaic was awarded Joint Runner-Up in the 'Stars and Nebulae' category!
This is my second 'Runners Up' Award in 3 years in this competition - it was also a great chance to meet other photographers and discuss imaging, techniques, and other Astronomy related topics.
More details of the event and to see the other fantastic submissions, go to the 2015 Insight Winners Astronomy Photographer of the Year site.
|See you at the Astronomy Ireland Star-B-Q on Saturday, Aug 15th!|
Would you like to see the highest resolution image ever made of a constellation by an amateur?
On August the 15th, I'll be displaying the Orion mega mosaic at Astronomy Ireland's Star-B-Q at Roundwood in Wicklow!
This is a photo with over 400 hours of exposure, more than the famous Hubble deep field galaxy image. 4 years of work and many months of post processing were needed to complete the photo. The result is a 34 pane, full-frame mosaic at 0.53m of resolution. The Horse Head, Orion, Flame, and Running Man nebulae have higher resolution data added of 1.0m.
Enjoy getting up close to these objects with the 48x27 (1.2m x 0.7m) framed version that will be on show!
More details of the event can be found on the Astronomy Ireland Star-B-Q page.
|Orion Mosaic Complete!|
After four years of data collection, and a further six months processing, the 34 pane mosaic of Orion is compete! The result is just over 400 hours, or 1.44 million seconds of total exposures -- to put that in context, this image has more exposure time than the famous Hubble deep field image!
|Feb 21st: I'll be exhibiting at the Galway AstroFest 2015!|
I'll be exhibiting some of my framed photographs at the Galway AstroFest 2015 event next Saturday, and I'll have prints and framed images available for purchase.
I may even have a sneak preview of the Orion Mega Mosaic on show! :)
Check out the video below for more details of the event, the speakers, and other exhibits:
Venue: Westwood House Hotel, Galway
Time: Doors at 9.15am on Feb 21st 2015
Admission: 20 Euros
Full details of the event can be found on the Galway Astronomy Club website.
|Feb 4th Talk: "Astrophotography: From Single Pane to Mega-mosaic" in Queen's University at 7.30pm (all welcome!)|
In association with the Irish Astronomical Association, I'll be giving a free talk in Queen's University!
The topic: "Astrophotography: From Single Pane to Mega-mosaic"
Venue: Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast
Time: 7.30pm (free admission, refreshments served)
Full details of the talk can be found on the Irish Astronomical Association website
|Interview with Ruth Medjbar for "Out of the darkroom" on AdoramaTV|
Happy New Year everyone!
So to start off the new year, in association with AdoramaTV, Ruth Medjbar interviewed me for her great "Out of the darkroom" series, where we chat about all things Astrophotography. Really enjoyed the interview and you should definitely check out Ruth's other online interviews.
Here's the interview in full:
|My Astro-Expo 2014 talk in Dublin on Sunday Dec 14th!|
Astronomy Ireland's Astro-Exbo 2014 was cancelled last month, and the re-scheduled event is taking place on Dec 14th (next Sunday!) from 12-6pm in Buswells Hotel, 27 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. (directions)
I'll be giving a lecture on "The Evolution of Astrophotography" at 1pm! All are welcome!
More details of the Astro-Expo 2014 event, all the lectures (including mine!) and booking details can be found on the Astro-Expo 2014 website
Note: I'm leaving on an imaging trip to France the following day, so please let me know at the Astro-Expo 2014 event if you'd like to order any of my astrophotography prints for delivery in time for Christmas!!
Happy Christmas everyone!
|Upcoming Exhibition & Beginner's Workshop in Kerry on Oct 31 & Nov 1st!|
I've been invited to run an exhibition and workshop by the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve.
On the Friday, 31st of October at Tech Amergin Arts Centre Waterville, I'll be giving a lecture on Astrophotography and displaying some Framed Images of my work.
The following day, the 1st of November, I'll be running a Beginner's Workshop on DSLR Imaging. Weather permitting when its gets dark, we'll venture outside and try to put into practice what we learned in the workshop.
In the workshop, we'll learn the basics of the cameras settings, and how to take your first astrophotos. We'll talk about equipment, techniques in widefield photography, objects to photograph, and for those with Photoshop I can demonstrate some basic steps to take to really boost your images quality.
More details of the event are on the flyer, and from the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve website
|Damian Peach in Dublin|
In September, the world's leading Planetary Astrophotographer, Damian Peach, gave an excellent lecture at the Scopes and Space shop in Dublin.
It was a full house, and Damian was signing copies of his newly released DVD on Planetary Imaging and Processing.
As well as picking up a DVD, and getting my copy of "Lessons from the Masters" signed, I also managed to nab him for a quick photo! :)
|Update on the Galactic Center Project|
After another imaging trip to France in August, I managed to continue capturing the RGB data for the Galactic Center project that I'm under-going. While I didn't get enough clear nights to collect all that I needed, the next 2 Rows are almost complete,
and more of Rows 5 and 6 are ready for blending.
After the Galactic Center set, myself and Olly turned 3 Takahashi FSQ106s with full frame CCDs on the beautiful Van Den Bergh 14 and 15 reflection nebula, and the accompanying Sharpless 202 Emission nebula.
This photo is a 33hr image of Hydrogen Alpha, Luminance, and RGB data taken over 5 nights.
Upcoming event date: Saturday, the 26th of July
FREE ALL-DAY WORKSHOP IN THE "SCOPES & SPACE" SHOP IN AIRSIDE, DUBLIN!
I'll be giving an all day workshop in the upstairs room of the Scopes and Space shop in Airside (directions), on Saturday the 26th of July!
This is a free workshop starting at 12 noon and lasting approx. 5 hours. The workshop is intended for those wanting to learn about the Image Processing involved in making Deep Sky Astro photographs. I'll be discussing the equipment required (DSLRs and CCDs) and will explain how to take darks and flats, and how they are used to calibrate the Deep Sky shots. From there I'll run through the s/w processing of the stacked images to bring out the best of the data that was captured.
We'll show Levels and Curves, Smoothing, Sharpening, Noise Reduction, Gradient Removal, LRGB imaging, Layers, and Image clean up, as well as lots of tips and tricks.
Attendees are welcome to bring their own data that we can work with in the workshop. Most of the processing work will be done in Photoshop, with some steps processed in PixInsight, while the Calibration will be demonstrated in AstroArt 5.
Those who wish to attend the workshop should contact Scopes and Space to check for available places. (01) 890 2736, or e-mail [email protected]. The upstairs room has space for 30 people.
I'm really looking forward to this workshop on July 26th! Should be great fun - thanks also to Scopes And Space for hosting this exciting event!
Exciting update on the 6x5 Galactic Centre Project!
I'm happy to say that I've completed the Luminance for the 6x5 Galactic Centre project that I'm currently working on! This is a 6x5 Full Frame Widefield Mosaic of the Galactic Centre that stretches from The Globular Cluster M22 in the bottom left to Barnards
72 Snake nebula in the bottom right, all the way up to Eagle nebula in the top left, and across to the star fields of Ophiuchi in the top right.
The focal length is 530mm, and the total area covers approximately 18 degrees x 15 degrees of the sky. I have 3 rows of RGB data and I hope to complete the colour data next month when I travel back to France for another imaging trip.
April 4-6th 2014
Midlands Astronomy Weekend
|I really enjoyed attending the Midland's Astronomy Weekend on April 5th!|
January 9th 2014
Astrophotography Workshops at the BBC Stargazing LIVE 2014 event
On January 9th (Thursday this week!), I'll be giving 4 workshop talks with hands-on photography, at the BBC Stargazing Live 2014 event at The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Holywood.
The workshops will be entry-level and suitable for all ages, where I'll be teaching newcomers how to start in astrophotography. We'll be using DSLRs in this beginner's guide to taking the first photographs of the night sky.
|The workshops are free and all are welcome, so why not come along and ask lots of questions, which I'll hopefully be able to answer! :)|
Upcoming event date: February 1st 2014
"Cosmic Vistas: The Universe in Colour" talk at the Galway Astronomy Festival 2014 (City of Stars)
On the 1st of February, I'll be giving my Cosmic Vistas: The Universe in Colour talk at the Galway Astronomy Festival 2014.
I'll have the large 30x20 framed images of the award winning "Rho Ophiuchi and Orion Nebulae", as well as some of the smaller 15x15 images on view.
|This promises to be a great day out with a variety of speakers giving lectures, workshops, and trade stands on view.|
Date: November 2013
NEWS: 2nd Place in the Las Palmas Astrophotography Competition!
|Back in November, I came 2nd in the Las Palmas Astrophotography Competition which was another highlight from last year!|
Date: September 2013
Rho Ophiuchi and Antares Nebulae take 2nd place @ the "Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013" competition in Greenwich!
I'm thrilled to report that my 'Rho Ophiuchi and Antares Nebulae' picture (shown below) was awarded 2nd place in the Deep Space category of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013 competition, which I'm literally over the moon about! :)
All the winning pictures can be seen on the 2013 Winners page.
The BBC also have a wonderful 6-minute compilation video on their Science & Environment page, showing a number of the winners (and the music soundtrack includes a Manics song which is extra cool!) - my 'Rho Ophiuchi and Antares Nebulae' picture is shown in the video from 3:33->3:43.
Congrats to all the winners and entrants - definitely worth checking out the amazing pictures which can seen on the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Flickr group page.
Returning to Ireland and my collaboration with Olly Penrice
I have returned home from Spain after 3 years imaging, but the photography will continue. I will be producing new photographs by obtaining my data with Olly Penrice from Les Granges in France. I have donated my FSQ106N EM200, Atik 11000, and its filter wheel to accompany the same set up from Olly for a dual rig system. In this side-by-side configuration, both Takahashi's will be obtaining the data at its native 530mm focal length. Myself and Olly will then share the collected data for processing of large scale high resolution mosaics.
Latest on the Galactic Center image
My final picture from Spain is currently only completed in Black and White (see below). It's a 25 frame, 5 x 5 full frame mosaic at 530mm of the centre of the Milky Way. The image goes from Messier Globular Cluster M22 in the bottom-left up to the Eagle and Swan nebulae in the top-left, across the centre of the Milky Way, and down to Barnards B72 dark nebula, also known as The Snake. I have the first 2 rows of RGB data for this image, and the remaining 3 rows will be collected from Les Granges once the system is up-and-running. In the future, we hope to have the system running remotely so I can success the controls of the scope from Dublin, freeing up Olly for running the Astronomy Gite.
My talk in the Almanzora Camera Club in Arboleas
Before I left Spain I gave a talk to the Almanzora Camera Club in Arboleas in early June. This was my 2nd "International" talk you could say, after having an Exhibition and talk in the Tennis Club in Albox back in May. We had a great turnout of about 45 people for the show which went down very well with the people who were very aware of the quality of the dark skies of the area.
My next exhibition & talk
My next "official" appointment is the Galway Astronomy Night which is currently penned in for the first week in February 2014. I will confirm these dates once I know more. I hope to be exhibiting my photographs and I'll be giving a talk on how I put the images together, from the equipment set up to the complex processing steps involved.
Two new pictures added to the Gallery
For anyone who has bought any of my pictures, you know that I include an info sheet about the image, equipment used, etc. I've had a lot of feedback saying that the info is really useful, so here's a summary of the latest two pictures (which can be seen in more detail in the Gallery)...
This is a project I started last Summer, and I hope to add more data to it this Summer. I had the chance to finish more frames in August, but I switched back to the Bubble to Cave nebulae to complete that in time for the exhibition. I had all the data before the exhibition opening, but I didn't have the time to process it.
My plan here is to make a 5x5 pane mosaic, with the 5th frame on this bottom row strip to be stitched to the left side. This should give me enough field of view to allow me to go all the way up to the Eagle nebula.
Each of the 4 frames contains 60mins of Luminance, and 90mins RGB. Normally I take many more hours of data perpanel in a mosaic but this area of the sky is bright, and more signal can be captured than other areas of the sky. So I can spend less time on each pane. I can then take one pane a night, so 25 nights will be needed to complete the full image. I have not taken any Ha for this region, but I think the upper panes will benefit from their addition.
This part of the sky only reaches about 25 degrees at its peak, so conditions are difficult, and some data needed to be retaken due to low lying clouds and mositure in the air, causing very bad gradients. As I complete the higher panes, they will be higher in the sky, giving better conditions for photography, and they will also be at a favourable position for a little longer each night. At the Eagle nebula, I should be able to take about 4 hours of data a night, as it'll reach about 35 degrees.
Update! The below is the latest version of my Galactic Center image! (Click on it for a larger, more detailed version!)
M45 published in the "Astronomy Photographer of the Year" book!
My Pleiades (M45) picture can be seen in the Royal Observatory Greenwich's "Astronomy Photographer of the Year" book on page 169!
You can learn more about the book on their website - there's also a great 50% off offer on the Amazon.co.uk site for the Hardcover version (so it is priced at only £12.50!) - the link is here.
Well its Winter and each night Orion rises majestically in the East about 11pm. This may be my last Winter shooting from a dark site, so I have decided to try an ambitious project. So far its well under way, but also under wraps. I'll be releasing more infomation on this in the coming months so stay tuned!
Location: Roundwood, Co. Wicklow.
More information can be found @ https://www.astronomy.ie/sbq/
I had a stand at the Astronomy Ireland "Star-B-Q" on September 15th 2012 in Roundwood, Co. Wicklow and enjoyed chatting with everyone about my pictures. A bonus on the night was meeting Pete Lawrence, presenter from The Sky at Night, who also gave a very enjoyable talk on the night on the Northern Lights.
Also thanks to the Sunday Business Post for dropping by and featuring a picture of the exhibition in their national Sunday paper! For anyone interested, here's the picture which was published...
Location: The Centre for Creative Practices on 15 Pembroke Street Lower, Dublin 2
Can I see all the photographs on this website which were exhibited?
Yes! All my photographs can be previewed on my Gallery page!
On August 28 2012, my Rho Ophiuchi Nebulae photograph (shown below) was selected as NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day" (APOD), as can be seen here