Moon | July 2021

This is probably my sharpest moon capture to date, taken with a ZWO ASI 533 camera and Sky-Watcher 100ED 4 inch f/9 refractor. This is a stack of 800 frames from a 25-second video, which I had to cut short since the file size is already 6 gig! Registered and stacked in SIRIL.

Moon imaged with an ASI 533 and a 4 inch f/9 refractor

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Jupiter | July 2021

I am learning how to process images using a dedicated astronomy camera. I tried recording a Jupiter video in RAW format. RAW needs to be reconstructed to form color images in a process called debayering. When debayering, select the correct matrix for your camera (RGGB in an ASI 533). If your images still show the bayer (grid) pattern even after debayering, try other configurations such as GBRG or GRBG and see if it removes the artifact (the capture software may have recorded with the incorrect bayer configuration).

Jupiter imaged on July 27, 2021 with a 4 inch f/9 refractor, 4x Barlow, and an ASI 533 camera, processed in SIRIL.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.
Related link: Dash Camera for Imaging Planets

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Counterweights Set

Equatorial telescopes near the equator have polar axis with very low elevation and as a result, the counterweights may hit one of the tripod legs. With this new set of DIY counterweights, I was able to reposition the weights just enough distance to clear the north-side tripod leg, while at the same time, shift the weights closer to the polar axis, making the whole system more stable.

Each counterweight measures 145 mm by 16 mm, and fabricated from unused plates I’ve found in a local metals supply shop.

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Related links:
DIY Counterweights
Kenko NES Mount

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Electronic Microfocuser

When imaging targets using a DSLR lens, achieving proper focus may be difficult even when using a Bahtinov mask. Focus adjustments involving very small and precise steps can be achieved using a microfocusing mechanism. In this DIY project, I have modified a Canon 50 mm f/1.8 lens and tapped onto its built in electronic microfocuser.

The focuser is ASCOM compliant and works with astronomy software such as the Nighttime Imaging N Astronomy (NINA) for automated focusing during unattended imaging. It runs on the firmware developed by R. Brown (2021). The modification should work with any lens with built in electronic focusers. To watch a demo video about this microfocuser project, click here.

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here. To get a copy of the sketch, please email eteny@nightskyinfocus.com.

Related link: DIY Electronic Automatic Focuser for Telescopes

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Veil Nebula in Cygnus

A filter such as a dual band Oxygen III (OIII) and H-alpha filter inserted along the optical train lets the light from the nebula (and the stars) pass through, but block out everything else, particularly light pollution. This image was taken in Bacoor, Cavite in July 2021, with an ASI 533 cooled astronomy camera and a 50 mm f/4 Tamron lens (at 210 mm focal length), with 27 frames of 240 seconds sub-exposure, for a total of 1.8 hours of exposure, tracked and guided using a DIY tracker. Only light and flat frames were used in this image, no darks and bias frames. This image was stacked and processed in SIRIL.

The Veil Nebula in Cygnus

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Saturn | July 2021

Saturn taken with a small 4 inch (100 mm) f/9 refractor. This is the first light image of a newly-bought ZWO ASI 533 I received last week.

Equipment: ASI 533 camera, Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED, ZWO UV-IR filter, 2 stacked 2x Celestron Omni Barlow lenses, and Kenko NES mount.

Processing is done in IRIS, 800 frames stacked.

Saturn imaged with a 4 inch f/9 refractor and an ASI 533 camera, processed in IRIS.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Related link: Dash Camera for Imaging Planets

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Jupiter | July 2021

Jupiter’s great red spot and the cloud bands are visible in this photo taken with a small 4-inch telescope and an astronomy camera.

Jupiter imaged with a 4 inch f/9 refractor and an ASI 533 camera, processed in IRIS.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.
Related link: Dash Camera for Imaging Planets

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Antenna Rotator | DU1AU

I’ve built a DIY motorized antenna rotator using a geared DC motor, a pair of metal gears taken from a laminating machine, bearings, and a power window switch. The large gear is free to rotate and is attached to the mast with metal bearings. The antenna attaches to the large gear using a clamp. The small gear is attached directly to the geared DC motor. A metal bar attached to the mast is used to fix the drive motor in place, so that the gears mesh perfectly. The motor is powered by a 4.5V to 15V variable power supply to allow adjustment of the slew speed of the rotator. A 5-pin power window switch is used to control the clockwise and counterclockwise movement of the rotator. Paint is used to weatherproof the whole rotator assembly.

The DIY rotator is low cost and can be made with simple tools and materials. It is relatively easy to scale up using larger motors and better gear combination.

Inexpensive homebrewed antenna rotator

I have tested the rotator to carry a 3-element by 4-element VHF-UHF Yagi antenna but it should be powerful enough for larger loads such as an 8-element VHF Yagi.

To watch a video showing how I built the rotator, click here.

Related links:
DIY Satellite Tracker | SATNOGS
DIY Satellite Tracker | SARCNET

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

SSTV from the International Space Station | June 2021

The International Space Station (ISS) recently conducted a week-long radio transmissions test by sending encoded signals in Slow Scan Television (SSTV) image transmission format to be decoded by anyone with the proper amateur radio equipment tuned at 145.8 MHz and an SSTV decoder app such as Robot 36. This activity is part of the program Amateur Radio on the International Space Station or ARISS.

Certificates are given to stations who have successfully decoded SSTV images from ISS

SSTV images are sent and decoded line by line, much like how scanners and printers work. To watch a video showing an SSTV image being decoded as the ISS passes above the Philippines on June 25, 2021, 2:30 am, click here.

Related link:
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)
PSAT2 SSTV Images

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

The Big Dipper and Polaris

The Big Dipper is a prominent star pattern in the constellation Ursa Major. It is visible to the unaided eye and best observed in the Philippines in January to March each year. You may use the Big Dipper’s two bright stars to locate Polaris, The North Star.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Albireo

Double star Albireo A (top) and B (bottom) in the constellation Cygnus, imaged with a Canon 450D DSLR and a 4 in refractor at 1800 mm focal length (f/18). Note the striking color contrast between the two stars.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

California Nebula NGC 1499

NGC 1499 California Nebula imaged with a 50 mm f/1.8 lens and a Canon 450D DSLR on a motorized mount with DIY controller. This photo is a stack of 12 frames at 20 seconds sub-exposure, for a total of 4 minutes, processed in SIRIL.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

M31 Andromeda Galaxy

M31 Andromeda Galaxy, imaged with a 50 mm f/1.8 lens and a Canon 450D DSLR on a motorized mount with DIY controller. This photo is a stack of 12 frames at 30 seconds sub-exposure, for a total of 6 minutes, processed in SIRIL.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Equatorial Wedge

I have fabricated a customized equatorial wedge for a colleague. An equatorial wedge is simply a platform that is tilted to precisely match the latitude of a place. When used with a wedge, an altitude-azimuth telescope mount may be used in equatorial configuration.

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Related link: Kenko NES Mount

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Counterweight

I have fabricated an additional counterweight for my equatorial mount. It did not cost much since it was made from repurposed iron weight and was relatively easy to make.

Do not go beyond the mount’s maximum payload capacity when adding new equipment along with the corresponding counterweight.

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Related link:
DIY Counterweights Set
Kenko NES Mount

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Baader ND 5.0 Solar Filter

I have been using a Baader Neutral Density 5.0 Solar Safety Film filter for several years now in solar photography and visual observation. According to the specifications, it reduces solar intensity by a factor of 100,000.

The filter looks like a thin reflective plastic sheet, about A4 size (20 cm by 29 cm). When used with binoculars or telescope, it must be cut to the right size to cover the whole aperture of the optical instrument and installed securely on a rigid frame. Alternatively, the filter may be used without a telescope. Based on my experience, while the solar film may look very delicate and fragile, it is very durable and does not easily get damaged. Special attention, however, must be given to ensure that the film does not get stretched or folded to retain its properties.

Sunspot AR12192 | Sky-Watcher 4 in f/9 refractor

The Baader ND 5.0 solar filter produces sharp images with good contrast without changing the white balance. The filter I purchased in 2011 which has been used extensively in almost every solar event visible in my locality is still in excellent condition.

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Satellite Tracker | SARCNET

I have built a DIY satellite tracker based on the SARCNET project. It is a simple Arduino-based motorized azimuth and elevation rotator that uses DC motors to move the antenna, and gets position feedback using an accelerometer and compass.

The tracker receives satellite’s azimuth and elevation info using the tracking software Gpredict. Hamlib is then used to establish a link between the computer and Arduino through USB connection via EasyComm II protocol.

To watch a video of the satellite tracker, click here.

Related links:
DIY Satellite Tracker | SATNOGS
DIY Antenna Rotator
DIY Satellite Antenna
Portable Satellite Radio Setup

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Flat Field Panel

I’ve built a DIY dedicated flat field panel using a repurposed LED light fixture. The flat field panel is a light source with relatively uniform brightness. The panel attaches directly onto my telescope and can be used for taking flat frames.

If a telescope with camera captures a target that is known to have a uniform brightness or illumination (such as this DIY flat field panel), the unevenness in the illumination of the field such as vignetting or presence of dusts are revealed. When a flat frame is applied to an image, any variation in brightness or illumination across the frame is leveled out, thus, vignetting and dusts are removed in the image.

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DUCWNET holds Kalayaan 2021 Morse Code Net

Philippine CW operators celebrate 123rd year of Philippine independence through a special DUCWNET. Morse code and CW enthusiasts particpated in the Kalayaan 2021 special DUCWNET by checking in and sending the greeting (in Morse code) “HPI 123 PH ID” at 7.102 MHz (HF, 3:30 pm to 5 pm) and at 145 MHz (VHF, 7 pm to 8 pm) on June 12, 2021 (Saturday). DUCWNET aims to keep the CW spirit alive by conducting daily nets and training aspiring operators to communicate using Morse code.

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines