Steve King's Astrophotography Images
My name is Steve King. I was a husband (my wife recently passed away after 50 wonderful years of marriage), I'm a father (2 boys and a girl), a grandfather (several times over), and a great grandfather. I live in Santa Cruz, CA about a mile from the ocean and about half a mile from the local shopping mall (with all it's parking lot lights) and about half a mile from the main street of the nearby town with all it's street lights. Needless to say, light pollution is a problem from this location.
When I was a young boy my father started making a 6" mirror for a Newtonian telescope. He got the pyrex mirror blank shaped, but, the blank never got aluminized, so, the telescope never was finished. However, the efforts he put into the mirror and the testing he did on it ignited an interested in telescopes that has never faded. While raising our children I did manage to purchase a few inexpensive "kids telescopes" and the children (and I) enjoyed them. However, it wasn't until I retired that I was able to really start to look into this hobby.
I started in astrophotography in earnest when I was in my early 70s (a few years after retiring). Sixinias (in the Astrophotogtraphy forum) provided invaluable guidance and encouragement on how to get started in this hobby, and, for this I will always be indebted. With a Canon T3 camera, an Orion ST-80 achromat telescope and a Nexstar Alt/Az mount (no guiding and only 30 sec exposures) I began. I also purchased BYEOS to control the camera. Processing was initially performed with GIMP. After about a year I graduated to an Equatorial mount (ZEQ25) but still unguided. At that time an Orion ED80 was loaned to me by an AP Forum member named Frazzles (what a kind gesture) which produced greatly improved images without the "blue halos" so common with achromats. After about a year I finally took the plunge and purchased an Orion Magnificient Mini Autoguider package and started guiding. Next I had the Canon camera modified (by Gary Honis) to capture the hydrogen alpha emissions so prevalent in many nebulae. This opened up a whole world of new targets. Next dithering was added to help reduce the noise in the stacked images. Finally I purchased an Explore Scientific ED102 CF telescope to help with the smaller targets. I've recently added a William Optics WO Star71 (ii) for WFOV imaging. Even with the bad light pollution, it has been a fun and interesting journey.
As mentioned above, my processing started with GIMP. I moved on to Photoshop, and, now PixInsight.
The two images below show my typical AP equipment setup at the end of the mobile home driveway.
Below the images is a list of my current astrophotography hardware/software.
Thanks for visiting - Steve King
My current AP setup at the end of the mobile home driveway (where all images are taken). The blue tape on the driveway marks the location of the tripod feet for initial Polar Alignment (gets Polaris in the camera FOV). Click image to see magnified view.
This view looking out from my driveway shows how close the mobile homes are located across the street. I can't start imaging until the targets rise well above these homes and the guiding "settles down". The small white globe is one of our mobile home park "street lights". I put a cardboard box over this one when imaging. Click image to see magnified view.
MY EQUIPMENT & SOFTWARE
Telescope: Explore Scientific ES ED102CF, William Optics WO Star 71 II
Camera: Canon Rebel T3 (modified by Garry Honis)
Filters: Galaxies/Clusters - IDAS LPS-D1
Nebulae - Opt Triad Tri-Band Filter, STC Duo-Narrowband Filter
Mount: iOptron ZEQ25GT (iOptron CEM40 EC on order!!)
Guide Hardware: Orion Magnificent Mini Autoguider Package
Focus: Bahtinov mask