The year 2011 in a couple of pictures and a few more words

Snowy observatory
The year began in snowy, wintery weather in the south. After frequent and plentiful snow-storms it often took over an hour to dig out the observatory deck and roll the outhouse off the scope.

"Second" light
Despite the snowy conditions and random technical problems, I managed to take a successful exposure of the Rosette nebula.

The test setup
The mechanical shutter and difficult dew conditions sparked the idea for building a microcontroller based dew heater and flat-frame illuminator controller box. After a few nights of tweaking I had my first protoboard build up and running, the flat-panel light level was adjustable after all.

Rosette nebula
At the end of February my "big" project reached its conclusion and my first reasonably good HST palette image ever taken saw the light of day. Rosette nebula in narrowband false color with total integration time of 21 hours was the new par to exceed in coming weeks and months. The project was shot with 2x2 binning since I couldn't get pin-point round stars across the field for some reason with the astro-club's William Optics FLT-110 and the WO FR/FF-III reducer/flattener.

Center of the Heart nebula
My balcony observatory provided with great views as well. As Cassiopeia slowly dips north it becomes visible from my balcony and I was able to use my Celeston C8 and Hydrogen alpha narrow bad filter to capture the central emission nebula and the Melotte 15 open cluster there-in.

And what would a summer be without Wene-WiOL?

Nukkuva kirkkovene

I had taken the task of captain, charting our rowing route with plenty of options for camping, lunch breaks, swimming breaks and other breaks as well as alternate routes for various wind directions. After crossing to lake Kuolimo we had five huge rowing boats in the water at the same time, a veritable armada with an advanced sonic weapon called "a slightly tipsy mixed choir".

Reposia Espoossa
In the fall the nights grew dark again and the Sun gave a few nice lightshows with northen lights. I was trying to take a nice time-lapse for a star-trail pic, but it was ruined with an exceptionally bright display while I was happily asleep. Later in the fall I happened to wander outside while photographing in order to do some visual observations of Jupiter. The sky look ominously bright and fearful of unexpected cloud-covers I wasn't the least worried about ruined exposures after watching a mesmerizing display of green and red filling the sky beyond zenith. Definitely the best Aurora Borealis in southern Finland within nearly a decade.

WO odottamassa
Being fed-up with all the snow last winter I built a minimalistic rolling-roof observatory box at Komakallio. It's just barely big enough to fit the WO FLT-110 as well as my C8.

Board with no name?
My project for controlling the dew heater and flat-box took a step forward when my PCBs arrived. "All" I have left now is putting it into a case, write the firmware and PC-end control-SW plus add a few sensors for sky-temp, air-temp, relative humidity and ambient illumination.

Elephant's trunk
The annoying star-shapes issue was solved. The WO FR/FF-III reducer/flattener doesn't work correctly with larger sensor sizes on the FLT-110 telescope. I bought myself a WO AFR-4 reducer and now the stars are round within 5% in the corners. The Elephant's Trunk nebula shows beautiful details despite the short total exposure.

Messier 33 - The Triangulum Galaxy
My main project was the Messier 33 Triangulum galaxy. This has the second longest total exposure, 14 hours, of my astrophoto projects. It's an LHaRGB image, where the letters stand for Luminance, Hydrogen alpha, Red, Green, Blue. The Luminance channel adds brightness to the whole image, RGB channels add brightness and color and the Ha channel is used here to accentuate the bright red hydrogen regions. It took several attempts to get the colors right, although I'm not yet completely satisfied with this.

Pleiades exposed
My secondary fall-project was the Pleiades, I took an hour and a half from the morning sky in September and later a bit more light for this slightly off-tinted rendition. A bit more training is needed for color grading the shots.
The December was effectively lost to clouds, better luck next year.