December 28, 2012

The Night The Moon Stood Still!

Yes, I made the moon still for a while and let the stars move!! Nope, this is just a result of my imagination and a trick of blending photographs taken at same time. Below is the details of camera settings and software used for this photo...
For Moon:
Camera: Canon EOS 550D
Lens: Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS, was set to 250mm
Exposure: 1/400 seconds
F-stop: 7.1 and ISO Speed: 100
For Stars:
Camera: Canon EOS 550D
Lens: Canon 18-55 Kit set to 18mm
Exposure: 100 x 20 seconds
F-stop: 5 and ISO Speed: 200
Softwares: StarStax 0.52 and Photoshop CS6

December 17, 2012

Geminids 2012 Observing Report!

the only meteor I could capture!

We observed the Geminids during December 11-12 and December 12-13 and this time the meteor shower left a mark in my life as this was the most fertile shower I have ever witnessed! This time two amateurs Ambarish Gawande and Vivek Wadekar from Pune and Mumbai respectively joined us who were visiting Kutch (in fact Gujarat!) for the first time and were very eager to observe and photograph meteor shower from one of the darkest places in India. 

The first day we went to Dhosa-Mahadev, our regular stargazing spot near Bhuj and spent most of the time in photographing the meteors. Though we spotted more than 80 meteors during the session. Other friends from Bhuj also joined us and brought my 10-inch Dobsonian telescope. 

Star trails in the northern sky

Eastern star trails

The south-west

Cameras on their target!

The next day, four of us went to Vekariya Rann, exactly where the Tropic of Cancer passes through. It rained that afternoon but the sky became clear around 8 pm. From there we had the most clear sky for the Geminids! We had 6 cameras covering different directions of the sky. Our president Mr. Narendra Gor counted more than 500 meteors overall the session! The average was 2-3 meteors per minute and I must say we missed most of them. Most were faint and the camera didn't record most of them. However I was lucky to capture one along with Orion and its surrounding during the first day session. 

December 10, 2012

The Great Orion Nebula, NGC 1977 & NGC 1981

Yesterday on a very clear night I decided to take photograph of Messier 42, The Great Orion Nebula. I used my Sky-watcher short-tube achromatic refractor for the first time to photograph this object. I used my unmodified Canon EOS 550D and took 10 JPEG images, each lasting for three minutes at ISO 1600. When stacked this morning the final image that came wasn’t very promising and there was lot of noise.

I then deleted four images having little trails and processed rest of the images in Photoshop before I stack in Deep Sky Stacker. I adjusted levels and reduced the noise in each six images and then stacked them in deep sky stacker. Finally after post processing in Photoshop CS6 this is what I got! Below is the detail of my set up and camera settings…

Date: December 10th
Location: Bhuj, Gujarat -India
Telescope: Sky-watcher st102 f/5 Achromatic Refractor
Camera: Canon EOS 550D
Exposure: 6 x 180 seconds (unguided), no darks and no flats
Mount: Sky-watcher EQ5 with single axis motor tracking

December 8, 2012

Asteroid Vesta to visit NGC 1647 on 31st December!!

On the evening of 31st December, bright asteroid Vesta will pass close to an open cluster NGC 1647 in Taurus. The asteroid will be barely half degree away from the center of the cluster. Asteroid Vesta currently shines at magnitude 6.25 in Taurus and is easily spotted through binoculars if we know where it is in the sky!

December 6, 2012

Messier 35 In Wide Field

Messier 35 is an Open Star Cluster located in the constellation of Gemini. The cluster is 2800 light years away from earth. The cluster appears as a misty patch of light when observed through the naked eye under dark skies!

Date: 6th December 2012
Camera: Canon EOS 550D
Lens: Canon 55-250mm set at 250mm
Exposure: 20 subs of 30 seconds + 10 darks
Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and processed in photoshop CS6

November 12, 2012

Moonless Nights for Leonid Meteor Shower

The Moon will not obscure this year's Leonid Meteor Shower. The shower will peak on 17/18 November. The ZHR this year is predicted to be 10 and it is quite low this year. The source of the Leonid meteor shower is actually debris from the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every year, the earth passes through the debris cloud left by the comet as sand-sized specks enter the earth's atmosphere. The Leonid radiant is within the Sicke Asterism. 

October 18, 2012

Orionid Meteor Shower 2012

The 2012 Orionid meteor shower will peak this weekend! Fortunately, the waxing crescent moon will set way before the prime time hours for watching the Orionids. The chart at the top of this post shows the radiant point for the meteor shower, which is in the constellation Orion the Hunter.  The meteors will appear in all parts of the sky. But if you trace the paths of the meteors backwards, you’ll see they all seem to come from single point within Orion. Expect to see 30 meteors per hour. 

October 14, 2012

My First Attempt at the Pleiades

This image was taken on 11th October using my canon 550d and 55-250mm lens set at 250mm. I stacked 8 JPEGs with 1 minute exposure each @ ISO 1600 and f/5.6, 7 darks and 10 flats. Actually I wanted to obtain more nebulosity but couldn't, may be because this image was taken from the city and one minute long subs are not enough to obtain nebulosity.

Light Orbs and Light Painting...

October 8, 2012

Andromeda Galaxy (first attempt)

This image was taken by me on the night of 7th October 2012 from a dark site a few kilometres north of Bhuj. The sky was very dark and I decided to travel with my friends carrying my camera and equatorial mount. The image was taken with Canon 550D and EQ5 mount ran by just a RA motor. As the mount was not very well polar aligned I could get short subs. I stacked 9 images with 2 minutes exposure each at ISO 800 and f/5.6. I used a 55-250mm Canon EF-S lens and set to 250mm. This is my first attempt of taking image of Messier 31. Hope to get better result next time. 

October 6, 2012


Clicked this on 5th October 2012 when Jupiter was nearly a degree away from the Gibbous moon. I took two shots with different exposures using my Canon 550D and Sky-Watcher 4" f/5 refractor, and then merged them using photoshop CS5. The telescope was used with EQ5 mount and single axis motor to avoid trails. If you look carefully then you can easily see the four Galilean Satellites of Jupiter! 

October 1, 2012

The Great Nebula in Orion!

I took this image on 26th September 2012 using my Canon dslr camera and EQ5 mount. After purchasing single axis motor (RA motor) for my mount this was the first opportunity to try capturing this beautiful nebula. This time my mount was perfectly polar aligned so I had no problem taking shots with longer unguided exposures. First I tried with 30 second exposures and then I kept increasing exposure timings and finally I could take 16 shots with 2 minute exposures out of which I stacked 12 JPEG frames in Deep Sky Stacker with 10 dark frames. This is my reprocessed image and I did a lot of work during post processing in CS5. My previous image is here.

I am quite satisfied with the result as this was taken from the city. Next time I want to try RAW images with even longer exposures and hope will get more better result :)

September 4, 2012

Rainy Moon!

Shortly after light rain on 2nd September, the sky became clear at the east and the moon was looking very beautiful. I wanted to do some experiment on Registax 6 software so decided to take some pics of the moon and then process in Registax to see the result. Somehow I couldn't stack the video.. don't know why but at last I processed a single image of the moon taken with sky watcher 4" f/5 refractor and canon 550d camera. Finally I must say I am satisfied by the result! Here is my pic of the rainy moon :)

August 24, 2012

Pre-dawn Star Trails

Today before dawn the electricity of Bhuj city went off for two hours. When I went to the balcony I saw the sky was full with stars, with beautiful Orios, Auriga and the two bright planets Venus and jupiter! I did not want to miss the opportunity to capture this beauty in my camera. So I grabbed my camera and shot this startrails.

 I took 80 images and aligned all in Startrails Application. I created a time-lapse movie too which can be seen here...

July 18, 2012

Venus & Jupiter Early Morning Trails!

Finally I got clear view of Venus-Jupiter early morning phenomena! Though I missed the gathering of the Crescent Moon due to clouds but today early morning it was very clear and I created the trails of 42 images using my Canon DSLR camera and 18-55 kit lens.

June 16, 2012

Pre Monsoon Binocular Observing!

On June 16 at midnight the sky was very transparent with broken clouds. The Summer Triangle was well up and was eye catching! So I decided to do some observation with the binoculars as I will not have clear skies for almost three months of monsoon. As I picked up my 10x50 binoculars I remembered my days as a beginner 10 years ago when I used to observe through my old 20x50 binoculars. This time I wanted to cherish those moments and as addition, this time I was having a tripod so I can trace the summer Milky Way more accurately than hand-held observation.

After fixing the binos to the tripod I pointed to the Gamma Cygni Region, one of my favorite sights since the time I entered the observational astronomy. Really, observing with tripod was making big difference here than observing hand-held. I could easily glimpse the tiny open cluster NGC 6910 as a fuzzy object. With averted vision I could resolve it into stars but couldn’t count. The more beautiful Messier 29 was in the same field of view. Then, while scanning the Cygnus Milky Way I saw many fine Open Clusters and Group of Stars but a few I could identify are NGC 6871, NGC 6883 and NGC 6885 (Caldwell 37). Although there are two clusters, NGC 6885 and NGC 6882 but observing them with more detail requires a telescope but I liked the whole area surrounding the star 20 Vulpecula, which also known as Collinder 416. Then I pointed towards the Scutum Milky Way and of course to observe the rich and compact Open Star Cluster Messier 11, The Wild Duck Cluster. In the 10x50s it appeared like a misty patch. Most of the stars of this cluster are beyond the reach of small binoculars. From here I went back to Alberio, the most colorful double. It was high in the sky so was little bit difficult to observe for a longer duration but I could easily see the resolved pair with different colours. From here, while trying to locate the Dumbbell Nebula I met with the Coathanger asterism (Collinder 399). The entire shape was nicely fitting in the 6 degree filed of the binocular and was really worth observing for long stretch of time. This cluster is also known as the Broccchi’s Cluster and is believed to be an asterism rather than a true cluster.

After this I located the Dumbbell Nebula (Messier 27) which appeared like a small, round fuzz ball like what faint comets appear in telescopes. I also tried for the Globular Cluster Messier 71 in Sagitta but couldn’t because it requires dark skies to see through binoculars. Then the last object of the session was Messier 57, The Ring Nebula in Lyra. Through 10x50s I could see a star-like dot between the stars Beta and Gama Lyrae. I could identify it because I knew its exact location. I have seen this even when observing hand-held.
That’s all! Even I could have observed many more interesting objects but as I was observing from my home’s balcony I cannot see the entire sky. Most of the constellations were behind the building so I missed them! Will get chance to photograph the deep-sky objects of this region after monsoon. 

June 7, 2012

Transit of Venus

The transit of Venus for public organized by the Kutch Amateur Astronomers Club went successful! We could show the rare phenomena to more than 700 people through filtered binoculars and telescopes. We also showed live video on a TV by the handy cam. The clouds perturbed in the morning until 7:30am but then we had no problem of taking photographs and watching the transit until its end. Here I am sharing some of the pics from the event.

transit of venus live video streaming

May 29, 2012

Venus on its way to Transit!

The sequence of setting Venus was taken on May 15th, 2012 between 8:00pm to 9:00pm. The Image of the Crescent Moon was added later and the stars were erased by Photoshop except the last picture to make the final image appear like Venus is on its way to transit!

The Transit will occur on 6th June 2012. For more info on transit, visit the following link:,_2012

May 7, 2012


The biggest and the brightest moon of the year arrived during Saturday, May 5th 2012. It created great opportunity for many photographers among the world to capture the beauty of the full moon by keeping some lovely foreground objects. I also attempted to capture the Supermoon on the 5th and the 6th May as the minimum distance from earth was at 9:00am IST. 

Supermoon with HDR processing

Date: 5th May 2012
Camera: Canon EOS 550D
Telescope: 10" f/4.7 Dob @ prime focus
Exposure: 1/1000 sec @ ISO 100
Processed in Picasa image editor and Photoshop

Rising Perigee Moon sequence during 6th May

Taken on 6th May 2012.
5 images combined through star trails software
Camera: Canon EOS 550D
Lens: 55-250mm IS set @ 84mm

The Supermoon and Aina Mahal of Bhuj
Date: 6th May 2012
A composition of two images stacked with startrails software.

April 4, 2012


Planet Venus was just within 27' from Alcyone on the evening of 3rd April. I wanted to test my new Single Axis Motor for my EQ5 mount so I decided to photograph it. After roughly polar aligning the mount I switched on the hand pad controller and clicked on the camera. I set the exposure time to 20 seconds, ISO to 3200 and F/5.6. I used the 55-250mm IS telephoto zoom lens and Canon 550D body. I set the focal length to 250mm and started to take photographs of planet Venus. I took 18 JPEG images and then stacked them using the Deep Sky Stacker software. The stars showed no trails!

March 25, 2012


Kutch Amateur Astronomers' Club organized this year's Messier Marathon on 24-25 March 2012. The site was Makanpar-Dhosa, the same we conducted our last year's Messier Marathon. This time the sky was very dark but we missed the first and the last sessions completely. Overall our score was 95 objects out of 110. Above are some pics we took during marathon. 

March 21, 2012


I just attempted to shot my life's first star trails. I captured 70 images and then sorted them by star trails software. I shot from my balcony and the final image is satisfactory! This was shot from my home's balcony. I gave 17.5 minutes exposure (70 images with 15 sec exposure on each) to create this final image. All images are sorted with Startrails software.