> Home

April 2014 Update

Upcoming event date: April 4-6th 2014
Midlands Astronomy Weekend
I'm really looking forward to attending the Midland's Astronomy Weekend - I'll have a stand there on April 5th so please do drop by for a chat.

Upcoming event date: 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! :)

Rho Ophiuchi and Antares Nebulae
2nd place in the 'Deep Space' category of the "Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013"!

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 latest Galactic Center image (click for a larger, more detailed version)

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)...

NEW! Bubble to Cave Nebula (Available in size: 30"x20")

Here is the Bubble to Cave Nebulae 4 pane mosaic taken with the Tak FSQ106N and Atik11000. This is a total of 68 hours of exposures in Lumiance, Hydrogen Alpha, Red, Green and Blue light.

The image was taken over 2 years in September and October in 2011 and 2012. This covers a large area of the sky between the constellations Cassiopeia and Cephus, with objects of Emission, Reflection, and Dark Nebulae. Also seen in the image is the Globular Cluster Messier number 52, along wth many other smaller clusters.
Some objects from the Sharpless catalogue are seen throughout the image in all panes. I added in some data for the bubble area, taken with a TEC140 from Les Granges in Oct 2010. This data was taken at a higher resolution and had added detail and smoothness to the region. This takes the total exposure time to approximately 78 hours. This image was taken with Artemis Capture, Stacked and Aligned in AstroArt5, Processed in PixInsight, Mosaic Aligned in Registar, and finally combined and finished in Photoshop.

NEW! NGC7129 (Available in size: 15"x15")

While I was waiting for Perseus to rise, I began taking a few shots of this object just to see what size it would appear at 530mm. This is too short a focal length to really show the image at its best.

However, I liked the widefield Ha region and the Open cluster which I thought complimented each other.
I ended up capturing 23.5 hours of data for this object. This was 7 hours of Ha, 7.5 hours of Luminance with 9 hours RGB. This is a beautiful Blue / Cyan Reflection nebula lit up by the nearby cluster NGC 7142. There is surrounding background galactic dust, and a stream of Ha gas passing through the frame. These objects are in the constellation of Cephus at a distance of approximately 3000 light years.

Galactic Center Project
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.

Orion Project
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!

Astronomy Ireland "Star-B-Q"

Date: September 15th 2012
Location: Roundwood, Co. Wicklow.
More information can be found @ http://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.

My 2nd "Astrophotography" Exhibition in Dublin, Ireland

Thanks to everyone who came along to my exhibition back in September, and also thanks to everyone at "The Centre for Creative Practices" for their help during the week.

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...

Date: September 6-12th 2012
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

Rho Ophiuchi Nebulae (30" x 20")