Seagull Nebula

Seagull Nebula IC 2177 in the constellation Orion imaged with a Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED refractor at 628 mm focal length on DIY reducer, an ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera, a dual band H-alpha and O-III filter, and an ASI 174MM guide camera. Tracking was done using a Vixen GP mount with DIY controller.

Seagull Nebula, 3 hours exposure

Related link: Horsehead Nebula | 900 mm

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Whirlpool Galaxy | 628 mm

Whirlpool Galaxy M51 imaged with a Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED refractor at 628 mm focal length and an ASI 533MC astronomy camera. M51 is relatively bright and may be visible through a small telescope. Use the stars of the Big Dipper to find M51.

Whirlpool Galaxy M51, 1 hour exposure

Related link: Whirlpool Galaxy M51 | 900 mm

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Crab Nebula

Crab Nebula M1, a supernova remnant in the constellation Taurus, imaged with a Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED refractor at 628 mm focal length on a DIY reducer, an ASI533MC cooled astronomy camera, dual-band H-alpha and O-III filter, and an ASI 174MM guide camera. This photo was imaged and tracked using a Vixen GP mount with DIY go-to telescope controller.

Crab Nebula, 1 hour exposure

To find the Crab Nebula, locate Auriga first and then scan the region south of Auriga, near the bright star in Taurus. A narrowband filter helps in increasing the contrast between the nebula and the sky (such as using a 12 nm OIII for visual use, or 6 nm dual-band OIII and H-alpha for photography). Due to the nebula’s small angular size, a telescope with 4 inch aperture or larger with relatively long focal length is recommended for this target.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Flame and Horsehead Nebula

Flame and Horsehead Nebula in the constellation Orion imaged with a Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED refractor at 628 mm focal length on DIY reducer, an ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera, a dual band H-alpha and O-III filter, and an ASI 174MM guide camera. Tracking was done using a Vixen GP mount with DIY controller.

Flame and Horsehead Nebula, 2 hours exposure

Related link: Horsehead Nebula | 900 mm

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

C/2022 E3 (ZTF)

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) imaged in January 24, 2023 from Bacoor, Cavite, using a Sky-Watcher 100ED with a DIY focal reducer, ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera, a UV-IR filter, and a motorized Vixen Grand Polaris mount. I have observed this comet to be at about the same surface brightness and apparent angular size with the M51 galaxy. It is barely detectable visually using a 10 by 50 binoculars or 8 by 50 finder scope.

C/2022 E3 (ZTF), stack of 3 images at 180 sec each

Related Links:
About C/2022 E3 (ZTF)
Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Rosette Nebula

Rosette Nebula imaged with a Sky-Watcher 100ED with a DIY focal reducer, ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera, dual band H-alpha and O-III filter. Guided tracking using an ASI 174MM with DIY Off-Axis Guider and motorized Vixen Grand Polaris mount.

Rosette Nebula, 2 hours exposure

To find Rosette Nebula, point the telescope to Procyon and then lock the declination axis. While looking through the finder scope and moving the RA axis only, swing the telescope westward until you see the central stars of the nebula.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Orion Nebula | 628 mm

Orion Nebula M42 imaged with Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED with DIY reducer at 628 mm focal length, an ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera, and a dual band H-alpha and O-III filter. This image was tracked using a Vixen GP mount with DIY controller and an ASI 174 guide camera on a DIY off-axis guider (OAG).

Orion Nebula, 1 hour exposure

Related link: Orion Nebula | 900 mm

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Thor’s Helmet Nebula

Thor’s Helmet Nebula NGC 2359 in the constellation Canis Major imaged with a Vixen R114 reflector at 900 mm focal length, an ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera, a dual band H-alpha and O-III filter, with an ASI 174MM guide camera. This is a very faint target that requires a relatively large telescope with long focal length to frame properly and reveal details. This target is easy to locate using the three bright stars to the east of Sirius.

Thor’s Helmet Nebula, 3 hours exposure

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Carina Nebula | 390 mm

Eta Carinae Nebula (Carina Nebula) imaged with a 4 in refractor at 390 mm focal length, an ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera, dual band H-alpha and O-III filter, with an ASI 174MM guide camera. I am still testing the DIY focal reducer I’ve made using the objective lens of a Celestron Travel Scope 70.

Carina Nebula at 390 mm, 1 hour exposure

Related link: Carina Nebula at 565 mm
For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

DIY Portable Star Tracker

I have built a lightweight portable DIY star tracker for DSLRs. It uses a worm drive from an unused equatorial mount I have found in a local surplus shop. I used a geared stepper motor and an Arduino controller to spin the RA axis at the correct tracking rate to match the apparent movement of the sky. The setup was housed in a metal box that fits in a small camera bag. It mounts on a standard camera tripod. I have tested it to track accurately with a DSLR with an 80 mm to 210 mm telephoto lens.

Lightweight portable DIY star tracker for DSLRs

Related links:
DIY Ultra-Portable Tracker
DIY OnStep Go-To Telescope Controller

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Horsehead Nebula

Horsehead Nebula IC 434 in the constellation Orion imaged with a Vixen R114 reflector at 900 mm focal length, an ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera, dual band H-alpha and O-III filter, with an ASI 174MM guide camera. The nebula is not visible in small telescopes and requires a camera sensitive to H-alpha to reveal the deep-red ionized hydrogen gas obscured by an opaque cloud of dust and gas.

Horsehead Nebula, 1 hour exposure

Related link: Flame and Horsehead Nebula | 628 mm

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Orion Nebula | 900 mm

Orion Nebula M42 imaged with a Vixen R114 reflector at 900 mm focal length, an ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera, dual band H-alpha and O-III filter, with an ASI 174MM guide camera. M42 is visible even with binoculars or small telescopes.

Orion Nebula, 1 hour exposure

Related link: Orion Nebula | 628 mm

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Total Lunar Eclipse | 08 November 2022

Totally-eclipsed moon imaged with a 114 mm f/7.8 reflector and an ASI 533MC astronomy camera on 08 November 2022 in Bacoor City, Philippines. The bright object near the moon is the planet Uranus during its conjunction with the moon coinciding with the total lunar eclipse. The moon and Uranus appear close together in this photo due to a chance alignment of Uranus, the moon, and the Earth. Uranus is much farther behind the moon, by a distance of about 2.7 billion kilometers.

Totally-eclipsed moon with Uranus imaged with a 114 mm f/7.8 reflector and an ASI 533MC astronomy camera on 08 November 2022 in Bacoor City, Philippines. To watch our guided lunar eclipse observation (livestream), click here.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Jupiter | November 2022

This is my first test image of Jupiter using a Vixen R114 telescope on a tracking mount. I used a stack of two 2x Barlows to magnify the image. This is a stack of 2000 frames imaged with an ASI 533 camera and a UV-IR filter.

Jupiter, 2000 frames stacked

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Triangulum Galaxy

Triangulum Galaxy M33 imaged with a 4 in refractor at 565 mm focal length, ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera with UV-IR filter, and an ASI 174MM guide camera. Use the three prominent stars of the Triangulum constellation to find M33.

M33 Triangulum Galaxy, 44 minutes exposure

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Pleiades

Pleiades M45 star cluster imaged with a 4 in refractor at 565 mm focal length, ASI 533MC cooled astronomy camera with UV-IR filter, and an ASI 174MM guide camera. This target is very prominent and can be seen very easily with the unaided eye, binoculars, and small telescopes.

M45 Pleiades, 1 hour exposure

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Sunspot AR 3057 and AR 3059

This is an image of the Sun showing two prominent sunspots AR 3057 (upper right) and AR 3059 (lower left), imaged with a Vixen R114 reflector, ASI 533 MC camera, and a Baader ND 5 solar filter. Never observe or image the Sun without the proper solar filters.

Sunspot AR 3057 and AR 3059

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

DIY Microfocuser

I’ve built an electronic automatic focuser (EAF) for my Tamron 80 to 210 mm telephoto (zoom) lens for automated and precise focusing. The focuser was built with a stepper motor, an A4988 stepper motor driver, an Arduino Uno, and a repurposed azimuth adjustment mechanism of an old Vixen mount.

DIY microfocuser for a telephoto lens

Vixen’s alt-az mount azimuth lock mechanism happens to be wide enough to fit a telephoto lens. It allows fine movement using the fine adjustment knob attached to a stepper motor with 60:16 pulley and belt system. It features a clutch mechanism that allows for manual focusing. The lens and the camera are held in place with mounting rings from an old 80 mm Vixen refractor. An aluminum baseplate is used to mount together as a unit the lens, camera, focuser, finder scope, and guide scope. The controller for the focuser was housed in a project box. A dovetail bar connects the whole assembly to the telescope mount.

I have tested the focuser on several imaging runs now and it appears to be working fine, especially with wide-field targets such as the Lagoon and Veil Nebula. To watch a video showing the microfocuser in action, click here

Related links:
DIY Electronic Automatic Focuser (EAF) | Refractor
DIY Electronic Automatic Focuser (EAF) | Reflector

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

Moon | Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED

The moon imaged with a 4 in Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED refractor at 0.65X DIY focal reducer and an ASI 533MC camera. Registering and stacking done in SIRIL.

The moon imaged with a 4-inch telescope and an astronomy camera

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines

DIY Polar Scope for Vixen GP Mount

I have installed a Kenko polar scope to a Vixen Great Polaris (GP) mount. I modified the polar scope’s coupler to fit the Vixen GP mount. Instead of the standard threaded coupling, I used three screws to attach the polar scope onto the mount. A separate set of centering screws allow alignment of the star map overlay with that of the actual stars in the sky.

Kenko polar scope attached to a Vixen Great Polaris (GP) mount

A polar scopes is helpful in aligning the mount’s polar axis with that of the Earth’s axis of rotation, but it lacks the precision required for astrophotography. When imaging at longer focal lengths, I recommend not relying on a polar scope, but instead use the declination drift alignment method for polar alignment. It looks at two stars, one in the eastern or western horizon, and another in the meridian near the celestial equator, allowing for better polar alignment even without the view of Polaris.

Star chart from a 1990 polar scope still works!

Related link: Kenko NES Mount

Night Sky in Focus 
© Anthony Urbano | Bacoor, Philippines