The 2023 Astrophotography Contest

RASC Mississauga Centre

The contest is divided into Master Class, General, and Youth divisions.

 

Master Class Division:

Master Class Division is open to members who have won a category in a contest previously.

Master Class Category: Solar System

Winner:

Moon transits and their shadows on Gas Giants Jupiter and Saturn - Shakeel Anwar

Photo by:   Shakeel Anwar

Object:  Moon transits and their shadows on Gas Giants Jupiter and Saturn

Date Taken:   Jupiter (morning of October 4th, 2023), Saturn (early morning Aug 28th, 2023 – opposition night)

Location:   Mississauga, Canada

Equipment: Celestron C11, Televue Powermate 2X, ZWO ADC, ZWO 224mc camera, Player One Uranus-C camera

Processing:
The Jupiter transit of Io was captured with a ZWO 224mc camera and Firecapture software. It was processed in AutoStakkert!3, Registax, Photoshop and Winjupos (5 images derotated)

Second Place

Annular Solar Eclipse - Kirby Alquire

Photo by: Kirby Alguire

Object:  Annular Solar Eclipse

Date Taken:  Oct 14, 2023

Location:  Kerrville / Ingram, Texas, USA

Equipment:  Canon 70D DLSR with 600mm L-Series Telephoto lens

Processing: Stills at 1/250s, ISO 200 and F11. Shots on either side of Annularity are snapped from a video with same equipment.; Nine subs stacked as separate layers in Photoshop and then rotated about 45 degrees clockwise for greater symmetry.

Honourable Mention

Rim of Sol - Rick Veregin
Photo by: Rick Veregin

Object: Sol

Date Taken:  Apr 14, 2023

Location: Mississauga, Canada

Equipment: A total of 49 videos were taken, each consisting of 1800 16-bit frames of 3-ms exposure over a total of 15 s. The best 10% frames were used from the best of the 49 videos, stacked with 1.5X drizzle in Autostakkert. Final steps were sharpening, noise reduction, white inversion to black, and prominence coloration in Photoshop.

Processing:

Master Class Category: Deep Sky

Winner:

NGC7380 Combo - Rick Veregin
Photo by:  Rick Veregin

Object: NGC7380 Combo

Date Taken:  August 28th to November 19th, 2023, 72 hours over 22 nights

Location:  Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Equipment: C925/f6.3 reducer/ASI2600 MC Pro Camera/L-eXtreme HO and IDAS NB3 SO Narrow Band filters

Processing: Calibration/registration/stacking of all images was done in DSS to yield HO and SO stacks. The color channels were then separated. The final OIII data was a linear combination from B and G channels of both filters (144 hrs total). The final Ha and SII data from their respective R channels were 43 hours and 29 hours. StarTools was used to combine the SHO data, including background extraction, development stretch, deconvolution, HDR and SHO Color (60:40 SII:Ha,30:30:40 SII:Ha:OIII,100 OIII). For the stars, the L-eXtreme HO data was processed in StarTools. The final image was produced in PhotoShop. Stars were separated from nebulosity with StarXterminator, a multi-scale unsharp mask was done with APF-R on the nebulosity, stars were added back into the nebulosity using screen mode, and final tweaks were made for noise reduction and color.

Second Place

M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy - Rick Veregin
Photo by:  Rick Veregin

Object: M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy

Date Taken:  March 28th to June 14th, 2023, 55 hours over 18 nights

Location:  Mississauga, Canada

Equipment: C925/f6.3 reducer/ASI2600 MC Pro Camera/L-eXtreme & LeNhance Narrow Band HO filters

Processing: Calibration/registration/stacking using DSS. Galaxy and stars processed separately, stretch, deconvolution, color using StarTools. NR reduction, color optimization, galaxy and star combination done in PhotoShop.

Honourable Mention

NGC 6820, NGC 6823 - Rick Veregin
Photo by:   Rick Veregin

Object:  NGC 6820, NGC 6823

Date Taken:   July 10th to August 18th, 2023, 46 hours over 11 nights

Location:  Mississauga, Canada

Equipment: C925/f6.3 reducer/ASI2600 MC Pro Camera/L-eXtreme & LeNhance Narrow Band HO filters

Processing: Calibration/registration/stacking using DeepSkyStacker. Galaxy and stars processed separately, stretch, deconvolution, color using StarTools. Nebula multi-scale unsharp mask (APF-R), NR reduction, color optimization, nebula and star combination done in PhotoShop.

Master Class Category: Astroscape

Winner:

Perseid meteors capturing the explosive residue of a massive fireball. The image also shows green and red airglow, the Andromeda galaxy rising above the treeline and our Milky Way with associated dust lanes. - Shakeel Anwar
Photo by:   Shakeel Anwar

Object: Perseid meteors capturing the explosive residue of a massive fireball. The image also shows green and red airglow, the Andromeda galaxy rising above the treeline and our Milky Way with associated dust lanes.

Date Taken: August 12, 2023

Location:   Lions Head, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario

Equipment:  Canon t5i, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 lens @11mm, Skyguider Pro

Processing: The foreground is a stack of 3, 2 second pictures @ ISO 400 imaged at blue hour. The sky is a stack of 134, 19 second images @ ISO 1600. Both images were stacked in Sequator and combined in Photoshop. The meteor images were also composited in Photoshop.; The dust was visible in 34 pictures, and grew fainter as it expanded and as it was sheered apart by upper atmosphere winds. A cumulative timelapse was needed to properly capture this sequence. StarStax was used to produce a cumulative composite image, but without using stars. I then added back the stars and overlayed the cropped image over the final overall image to show the full landscape, meteors, fireball and expanding dust trail.

Second Place

Annular Solar Eclipse - Kirby Alquire

Photo by:  Kirby Alguire

Object: Annular Solar Eclipse

Date Taken:  Oct 14, 2023

Location:  Kerrville / Ingram, Texas, USA

Equipment: Canon 6D DLSR with 32mm Wide Angle lens

Processing: 1/90s at ISO 400 and F16 at 5-minute intervals; Suns stacked in StarStax and then layered on top of the background photo in Photoshop; Artistic license: Suns are as they came out of the camera but the series was lowered down to fit completely into the frame

Honourable Mention

Orion rising over Lake Erie with Mars and Comet ZTF - Shakeel Anwar
Photo by:   Shakeel Anwar

Object:  Orion rising over Lake Erie with Mars and Comet ZTF

Date Taken:   February 11, 2023

Location:  Sweets Corners, Ontario, Canada

Equipment: Astromodded Canon 6D, Sigma 28mm lens @ f2, Skyguider Pro

Processing: The image is a composite of a sky shot and foreground shots. For the sky, 140, ISO 1600,30 seconds exposures were processed in Deep Sky Stacker, Siril, Starnet++ and Photoshop. The processing brings out the Hydrogen alpha clouds and reflection nebulae around Orion, the Taurus molecular clouds along with green Comet ZTF with Mars above it. The foreground is a focus stack of 3, ISO 400 images, between 2-10 seconds, to ensure both the distant clouds lit by light pollution on the US side along with the foreground snow are all in focus.

General Division:

The General Division is open to members who are starting out in astrophotography.

General Category: Solar System

Winner:

Sol - Michele Rainville

Photo by:  Michele Rainville

Object: Sol

Date Taken:  June 20, 2023

Location:  Mississauga, Canada

Equipment: Lunt LS60MT 60mm single stack, Camera- ASI174mm

Processing: Processed using AutoStakart, IMPPG, Photoshop (Lucky Imaging) Best of 5%. Inverted Image.

General Category: Deep Sky

Winner:

Elephant's Trunk Nebula - Michele Rainville
Photo by:  Michele Rainville

Object:  IC 1396 (Elephant Trunk Nebula)

Date Taken:  Sept 15,16 2023

Location: Niagara and Mississauga, Canada

Equipment:  Askar 65PHQ, Camera- ASI533MC Pro, Mount- iOptron GEM29, Filter- Optolong L-Pro (Light Pollution); Acquisition device- ASIAir Plus

Processing:   Stacking and detailed processing in Pixinsight, Employing Dynamic Background extraction, Generalized Hyperbolic Stretch, BlurXterminator, NoiseXterminator with curve transformation, HOO Palette attempt. Photoshop for levels and colour balance.

Second Place

Heart & Soul Nebula - Michele Rainville
Photo by:  Michele Rainville

Object: Heart & Soul Nebula

Date Taken:   Nov. 15-18, 2023 (11’h 15’)

Location:   Mississauga, Canada

Equipment: Redcat51 (V2), Camera- ASI2600MC Pro, Mount- iOptron GEM28, Filter- Antlia ALP-T Dual Band (5nm), Acquisition device- ASIAir Plus

Processing: Stacking and detailed processing in Pixinsight, Employing Dynamic Background extraction, Generalized Hyperbolic Stretch, BlurXterminator, NoiseXterminator with curve transformation. Photoshop for levels and colour balance and export to JPG.

Honourable Mention

Orion Nebula - Michele Rainville
Photo by:  Michele Rainville

Object: Orion Nebula

Date Taken:  December 14, 2023

Location:  Bolton, Ontario

Equipment: Scope- Redcat51 (V2), Camera- ASI2600MC Pro, Mount- iOptron GEM29, Filter- Optolong L-Pro (Light Pollution) Acquisition device- ASIAir Plus

Processing: Stacking and detailed processing in Pixinsight, Employing Dynamic Background extraction, Generalized Hyperbolic Stretch, BlurXterminator, NoiseXterminator with curve transformation. Photoshop for levels and colour balance and export to JPG

General Category: Astroscape

Winner:

Moon and Venus Conjunction over Chiricahua Mountains and observatories - Kirby Alquire

Photo by:  Kirby Alguire

Object: Moon and Venus Conjunction over Chiricahua Mountains and observatories

Date Taken:   March 23, 2023

Location:   Portal, AZ, USA

Equipment:  Canon 70D DLSR with 24mm lens on a fixed tripod

Processing: Landscape photo was a 1s exposure at F5.6 and ISO 1000. The sky photo was much shorter given the bright dusk sky.; The two subs were loaded as separate layers in Photoshop. The sky of the landscape photo was then masked out. RAW filters were then applied to both layers to bring out the foreground in the landscape photo and the blue sky in the sky photo.

Second Place

Cow ponders Cosmic Milk - Robin Metcalfe

 

Photo by:   Robin Metcalfe

Object:  Cow ponders Cosmic Milk

Date Taken:   June 8 2023

Location:  Magdelena, New Mexico (U.S.A)

Equipment:  Canon ESO 70D 10mm f/4 ISO 4000 30 sec

Processing: Composite image of nighttime photo and morning twilight photo of landscape with sky removed. Images stacked using StarStax. the pre-dawn landscape shot was a quick snap (1/4000 sec) in automatic mode

Youth Division:

The Youth Division is open to members who are 25yrs old or younger.

Winner:

Heart Nebula - Matteo Satti

Photo by:  Matteo Satti

Object: Heart Nebula

Date Taken:  September 15/16, 2023

Location:  Vineland, Ontario, Canada

Equipment: Skywatcher Evostar 72ED; Nikon D5600; Celestron CGEM II; ZWO Duo Band Filter; Pegasus Ultimate Powerbox; Pegasus Focus Cube; Dew-Not Dew Heater; 60mm Guide Scope; QHY 5L-II-M Guide Camera

Processing: This image is a total of 2 hours and 35 minutes of total exposure at 300 seconds each. During image gathering, I used N.I.N.A. to coordinate my equipment and PHD2 for guiding.; I used DeepSkyStacker for image stacking, and Siril for post-processing.