Tag : nik-szymanek

Ian King Advanced Imaging Day

On Saturday 13th November I headed on over to a small village outside of Rugby to attend an Advanced CCD Imaging Course run by Ian King. I did not know what to expect when it came to the venue, all I knew was that it was in a village hall. Well usually village halls conjure up visions of a dark, old and very cold hall where the local scout troop meets up. But I was very pleasantly surprised to find a 3 year old village hall with all the latest mod cons.

Advanced Imaging DayThe day began at 10.30am with a short introduction about what was happening in the course and then we went straight into learning about monochrome imaging with John Evans.

After a short tea break, John Evans then talked more about how he processed his monochrome images and the equipment that he uses. John was actually buying Hasselblad lenses from eBay and attaching them to QSI CCD cameras in order to take wide field images with Hydrogen Alpha filters.

Ian King then gave a talk on the latest active and alternative optics and how amateur astronomers can use them. Lunch followed the talk – which was included in the price of £35 per head for the day.
Ian then gave another talk on motorized focusers. It covered all the various models that can be purchased and what telescopes the motorized focusers fit. He also gave use a live motorized focuser demonstration by using Focus Max in Maxim DL which was connected to refractor with a motorized focuser which was pointing at an artificial star.

Advanced Astro Imaging DayNik Szymanek then took over and gave us two 1 hour lectures. His first talk included a discussion of RGB and LRGB imaging and processing and how he uses FITS Liberator. Nik took us all the way through his image processing regime, which was very insightful and really opened up for us the kind of ‘black box’ of imaging techniques the top astro photographers in their field use.

Nik’s second talk included more about processing narrowband imaging. This included processing Ha, OIII and SII images, as well as the Hubble palette and Bi-Colour image processing. He also covered the usage of the program Neat Image and other noise control programs and methods in image processing.

John Evans closed the day at 5.30pm with a short talk practices best avoided, how to progress your imaging and he also took questions from the group.

The day ran from 10.30am until 5.30pm, included lunch and all tea and coffees etc. and all for just £35 per head. We thought it was amazingly good value as we both learnt so much during the day about image processing.

Ian King runs these CCD imaging courses every now and again, and it is worth checking his website for more information. He also runs a beginners imaging day, and that is something I have now also booked.

Herstmonceux Astronomy Festival 2009

This was my first visit to Herstmonceux on the south coast near Hastings. I had heard so much about it and remember seeing the adverts for it last year, but I was still unsure if I wanted to drive for two and a half hours to get to the site, but I’m glad I made the visit.

After coming off of the M25 you are then driving a long a lot of tree covered single carriageway roads which have a lot of twists and turns, but once I had arrived I made out the numerous observatory domes immediately with the campsite right in front of the science centre.

Herstmonceux Domes and Tradestands

Luckily the weather was quite good, a little windy, but the telescopes on the Pulsar Optical tradestand did give visitors a view of the sun and the daytime moon.

The astronomy festival includes several tradestands from Ian King Imaging, Pulsar Optical, Telescope House and BBC Sky at Night Magazine as well as others. In a separate large tent was a collection of local astronomy societies as well as the SPA, which this year I actually joined for £12 for an annual membership which gets you a quarterly magazine, periodic newsletters and 5% discounts from astronomy retailers. They also provided me with a copy of the latest magazine, a pen and a red light pen once I joined.

The Herstmonceux site has 6 observatory domes, all were being used for various purposes during the day. One of the domes was being used for a very interesting exhibition of the history of the site underneath one of the telescopes. Another dome was the location for the talks during the day, again sitting underneath one of the telescopes. A third was open to viewing, the others were closed on the Saturday but open at other times during the weekend.

Herstmonceux Refractor Telescope in Dome E

Other amenities at the site included a beer tent, with a very nice Harvey’s bitter. There was also a canteen and lots of activities around the science centre. Herstmonceux does seem a perfect place for a school trip with a shop at the entrance and lots of science related activities in the centre.

I arrived at about the time Chris Lintott was speaking on Galaxy Zoo, but I did buy 3 lecture tickets for the afternoon, priced at £2 each. All three talks were very good, including:

  • Stuart Clark – “What’s Wrong with the Sun”
  • Ian Ridpath – “Exploring the Moon”
  • Nik Szymanek – “Imaging the Deep Sky”

One thing I must say though, is Nik please amend your talk, as I have now seen that same talk three times! Twice in Cambridge I think, and I did see your talk at the Bedford Astroblast, but at that you did do a slightly different talk.

I know it is difficult to gauge your audience at these events, but I would personally appreciate a slightly more technical talk on how to take the images like yours, instead of just going through the images you have taken and your Tenerife trips.

At the end of the day there was a raffle prize draw and then extra activities during the evening session, but I instead decided to leave at about 6.30pm,  but before I left I decided to walk down to the castle in order to get a few pictures of the very impressive castle and moat.

View all the photographs from Herstmonceux