Malvazinky Observatory in Prague


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Photographs: Deep Sky | Solar Photosphere | Solar Chromosphere (Hα)

My Projects

March 2013:
DStation Deconvolution Software version 0.5 alpha 5 Released


Description: DStation is a BSD licensed cross-platform software implementing various image deconvolution methods described in J. S. Lim, “Two-dimensional signal and image processing,” Prentice Hall, (1990) and other sources. DStation is a GUI testbed for various not so well known image deconvolution algorithms. It can be used for various applications, including astronomical image processing. One of the algorithms implemented was developed by me and is based on a MIT handbook by J. S. Lim. This method is called "Usatov, Atmospheric" in the DStation, and the description how it works is here.

Source code

DStation 0.5 alpha 5 build for FreeBSD
DStation 0.5 alpha 5 build for Windows
DStation 0.5 alpha 5 build for Macintosh

October 2011:
ible nova discovered in M32 galaxy by S. Korotkiy and V. Gerke.

Description: Assisted to confirm the PNV J00424277+4052017 event.

June 2010:
Post-processing Ultra-Deep M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy: International Collaboration


Description: How deep amateurs can go? The Hubble Ultra Deep Field has inspired amateurs from the very first moment it became available. In 2010, Yuri Toropin, PhD, has started an international collaboration project whereby many amateurs worldwide have submitted their M51 imaging data into a single large dataset. This is my own version of processing this wonderful collection of photons.

July 2008:
Super-resolution Solar Photosphere Granulation Imaging

Description: A successful attempt to image Solar granulation with an amateur 280mm Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope located in Central Europe. A number of post-processing techniques have been applied, including Wien filter rescale, Lucy-Richardson deconvolution, QE Super-resolution rescale to achieve the result. This comparison shows that an amateur instrument still can achieve significant results if compared to very expensive professional telescopes. Publications: Sky & Telescope, November 2008 issue and Astronomy Now, November 2010 issue.

May 2008:

Days of open doors at Ondrejov observatory near Prague: Photoreport

May 2008:
Third publication in OEJV, issue 88: 108 New Variable Stars in the NSVS Database

Description: In this paper we present 105 SR+L, 1 Orion T Tau and 2 RS CVn type variable stars found in the Northern Sky Variability Survey (NSVS) database. This work is designated to complement and finalize our previous publication of the Extended Catalog of Red AGB Variable Stars found in the NSVS database as is primarily designated to find SR+L stars. While the previous work employed the AOV ratio cutoff at >1.6 to pick stars showing slow variability pattern, we have manually processed all the remaining objects originally filtered out by the smaller AOV ratio and picked the ones with light curves showing obvious variability pattern. All the stars presented have no identification in General Catalogue of Variable Stars, SIMBAD and VSX databases thus most likely the stars presented are new discoveries.

appendix: Elements 18 kB
appendix: Cross-IDs 5 kB

April 2008:
Second publication in OEJV, issue 87: "The Extended Catalogue of Red AGB Variable Stars found in the NSVS database "

Description: In this paper we present the catalog of new Mira-type and SR+L variable stars in the Northern Sky Variability Survey (NSVS) database, found after complementing the original NSVS object tables with a number of additional parameters. By extending the amount of criterias search queries can take advantage of and filtering known objects out, it became convenient to apply better constrained filters to search new variable star candidates. As an example of presented approach, the quest for red variables has resulted in 78 Mira-type and 717 SR+L stars found that have no identification in General Catalogue of Variable Stars, SIMBAD and VSX databases. Most likely the stars presented are new discoveries. The classification of these stars is based on the near-infrared colors from Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) photometry, amplitude and period with the accuracy of the classification given ~90%, estimated basing on the current GCVS classification scheme.

appendix:  Catalogue - Elements 142 kB
appendix:  Catalogue - USNO-A2.0 and SIMBAD Cross-IDs 35 kB
appendix:  Light Curves 1676 kB
appendix:  Readme file for supplemental analysis data 0 kB

February 2008:
My first publication in a referred journal OEJV, issue 81: "New Variable Stars in the NSVS database"

Description: 27 new variable stars discovered in the Northern Sky Variabiltiy Survey database, mostly red AGB branch semiregular and irregular variable stars.

December 2007:
D. Knisley's "Observing the Sun in H-Alpha" translated to Russian.

May 2007:
First run of VSR with Milky Way Galactic Plane Transit

This project was mentioned in NASA's RadioJove June 2007 bulletin,
thanks to NASA RadioJove team!

Description: By monitoring noise levels at 22.09 MHz, we have been able to capture synchrotron emission of our own galaxy during it's transits through the skies of Balovka. A complete Radio Skypipe chart data of the event is available as SPD (16.7Mb averaged version)

November 2006:
Amateur Search for Exoplanets

Description: Project ASE has been started to get a better understanding of the processing techniques used for exoplanet search using radio velocity method. Currently ASE is a complete software suite which incorporates Genetic Algorithms for automated model search, model polishing using Levenberg-Marquardt and Multiobjective Goal Attainment procedures, Lomb-Scargle periodogram, bootstrap analysis and orbital stability checks. ASE has been mentioned in my publication at Ka-Dar Info Newsletter, #5 2007. If you wish to obtain the latest version of ASE software, please write me an e-mail.

September 2006:
Nomenclature of M42, restored after historical observations of Herschel, Struve and Rosse published at SEDS

Description: M42, the Great Orion Nebula, is probably one of the most interesting objects in the sky. The amount of details visible in a telescope of even very small diameter is exciting. This small project is an attempt to help ourselves to stay more oriented when referring to the visible features of M42. Comments and corrections are very welcome.

September 2006:
First spectroscopic observations of bright stars with Planck curve fits

Description: This is the first "serious" trial to spectroscopic analysis with a Paton Hawskely SA100 diffraction grating filter on an undriven 127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain and SPC900NC camera.

MET9 Satellite Image of Europe (Visible)
Other satellite image sources

Click for full scale version (1.2Mb)

Unisys 300mb Wind Speed over Europe

300mb wind speed is considered to be a good indicator of astronomical seeing. Pink zones represent areas with low wind speeds whereby periods of excellent seeing are likely. Damian Peach provides good description on seeing forecast. SkippySky Europe Page: alternative astronomy weather resource by Andrew Cool from Australia.


Solar SOHO MDI Continuum Latest Image


Solar X-Ray Flux and Satellite Environment

NOAA XRayNOAA Satellite Environment

Pickering scale is from the Telescope Optics by Vladimir Sacek.

My observatory equipment:

Aries 10" f/15 Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope
Skyshed POD

Telescope Startup Procedures

Data, Audio, Video, Photographs and Sketches


Jupiter and Io: February 24, 2014


Deep Sky (Newest first)

Planetary Nebulae
Abell 61

Abell 50

Abell 81

M97: Owl Nebula

M57: Ring Nebula

NGC 7635: Bubble Nebula

IC 5146: Cocoon Nebula

NGC 5985

NGC 5907: Splinter Galaxy

M81: Bode's Nebula

Stars & Star Clusters
Melotte 15
Zeta Bootis


Solar Photosphere

Sunspot Group 1236      

Active Region NOAA 10969 UHC
Seen in the the green, moderately narrow, band of the UHC filter, this active region shows bright photospheric faculae developed near the limb, surrounding the sunspot.

Active Region NOAA 10961 UHC
3rd July full disc
Just a beatiful sight on a complete quiet disk of the Sun with a sunspot appeared having a bridge over the umbra.

Active Region NOAA 10961 UHC
3rd July 2x Barlow version
Fine brighter fibrils are lurking inside the umbra of this sunspot and the bridge is formed right in the middle. Photospheric disk shows granulation irregularities, however granulation itself is not seen directly.

Sun in Calcium K-Line
Unnumbered Active Region, showing bipolar sunspot group and bright patchy faculae network in photosphere. This shot was done before NOAA assigned a number to the group.

NOAA 10969 in Calcium K-Line
A moderately sized sunspot surrounded by faint photospheric faculae, as well as weak active regions appearing by near the limb, however not producing any more pores or sunspots.

Photospheric Faculae in Calcum K-Line
A tiny faculae appeared from the Cycle 24 active region in April 2008. A few pores are probably visible on the upper left and bottom right of the faculae region.

Photospheric Granulation
A clear, spotless Sun still shows granulation - small convective cells 800-1000 km in size. Usually not seen with smaller telescopes, the full power of 279mm aperture resolved not only the cells but the dark channels surrounding them.

Calcium K-line Emission
By using a narrower, 2-Angstrom filter, it is possible to see the Calcium K-line emission even on a blank, spotless Sun during the minimum.


Solar Chromosphere

Closeup of a prominence in H-alpha with coronograph color emulation. This probably becomes my default color scheme for prominence only shots.

Active Regions and Prominences H-Alpha
Two active regions on the disk, one near the limb, with a large prominence .

Flame Prominence and Active Region
A flame prominence is seen on the limb along with the active region just rotating in from the limb.

NOAA 10999
A small picturesque sunspot of the old cycle #23 near the Solar equator.

10th June 2008 Solar Report
A report of events happened 10th June, with prominences and active region seen, then the active region developing and suddenly raising in brightness a few hours later the same day.

25th June 2008 Solar Report
Prominence and remainings of the active region in high resolution

Solar Sierra and Prominence
Limb spicules - sierra and a prominence with concentrated detached blob lifting off the surface.

A very picturesque prominence over the limb taken at near resolution limit for 90mm aperture.


Other shots

Sunspot NOAA 10960 2x Barlow Version
127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain
Closeup of a decaying bipolar sunspot group and fibrils in the penumbra.

Sunspot NOAA 10961 decaying
29th June to 4th July (1 Mb GIF)

nimation, 66mm Refractor
A demonstration of the process called turbulent errosion believed to be involved in the sunspot decay process.

Sunspots NOAA 10961 and 10962, Panoramic Calcium K-Line View
127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain
Two active regions seen at the same time near the Solar minimum. Both regions involve bipolar sunspot groups and bright photospheric faculae.

Sunspot NOAA 10956 Calcium K-Line 2x
127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain
Closeup of a picturesque sunspot group, showing faint faculae and fine penumbra fibrils. Granulation is blurred out, however can be guessed from the round patch of "rice" on the photosphere disk.

2006-2008 Seasons

2008: Bought C11-SGT XLT in Prague - this is just an ideal all-around mobile workhorse with plenty of aperture. Purchased almost the same set of accessories I had back in Dniepropetrovsk. I am going to use it as a primary telescope for deep sky observations until planetary season kicks in. Right now, continuing to build the 909-based heliograph (I took 909 from Ukraine with me), enjoying the Sun and thinking about the mounting options for Aries. Also started paperwork astronomy projects - such as search of variable stars in the NSVS. Managed to discover 927 new variable stars and got published in the OEJV.

October: Decay of NOAA 11005 Ca II K
October: After long jet stream break in Prague, NOAA 11005 in Ca II K: f/20 and f/10 shots
July: Solar Granulation White Light via C11
July: NOAA 11000 in H-alpha
July: NOAA 11000 in H-alpha Blue Wing (2nd Blue Wing processing) and Ca II K
July: CaK 90mm First Light: 1, 2 and with the L filter, L filter 150% size deconvolved
July: H-alpha, FFT/Flat Process First Shot H-alpha
June: H-alpha, #1, #2,, Coronado CaK First Light, NOAA 10999, NOAA 10999 21st June, Prominence 1st July
|June: H-alpha unnumbered active region and prominences: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Report 1, 9th June Image 1, Image 2, 10th June Report
June: H-alpha: Sun #1, #2, #3
May: H-alpha: NOAA 10997 Remainder
May: H-alpha: Overview, Plage closeup
May: H-alpha: Shot #1, Shot #2 (new EFR), Prominence Close-up
May: Moon via SW909: Overview, Closeup-1, Closeup-2 and Moon via C11
May: H-alpha Prominence Animation
May: Lots of prominences with classification at the same day: overview and closeup
April: High-resolution chromospheric disk shots: filament and active region
April: Unnumbered photospheric faculae in CaK, prominence in H-Alpha, H-Alpha scaled up version, chromospheric network

2007: Telescopes additionally purchased: second hand Celestron C11-S XLT from USA on a black Synta EQ6 SynScan from Netherlands - both bought on Astromart, Synta SKP2001 Newtonian, Synta 909 achromat, Aries 10" MCT, Coronado PST, William Optics ZenithStar 66ED. All telescopes except Aries MCT, PST and ZenithStar were sold as I moved to Prague later this yhear and could not take all the items with me. C11 showed unforgettable deep sky views under the dark nights of Balovka. Bought lots of additional accessories, the most magnificent are: Denkmeier Standard Binoviewer for planetary observations and Astrovid Voyager XGA format monochrome CCD camera for Solar system imaging. ZenithStar, coupled with APM SolarPrism or Baader Astrosolar Film prooved to be an excellent small telescope for the "solar landscape" work in Calcium K line and continuum light, although later prooved that 909 is capable of what the little ZS can do and even more. Aries MCT and the binoviewer are idling in their cases probably until 2010 Mars and 2011 Jupiter seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. Got seriously involved into Solar imaging with the arrival of Coronado PST. Started a solar heliograph "project" to acquaint the 909 achromat and the PST Fabry-Perot etalon. Got Naglerosis.

November: New Emerging Flux Region at 23rd of November - shot #1
November: NOAA 10974 - shot #1 and shot #2 (poor seeing)
November: H-Alpha prominence - overview and closeup , color version
October: 28th 909 H-Alpha 3rd light: Quiet region, Prominence, Quiet region #2, Prominence Closeup, Quite Region Colored: #1 and #2
October: First light of Synta Skywatcher 909 telescope coupled with PST etalon (<1.0A bandpass) and BF5. Setup photo 1 and 2. Second light.
October: Unnumbered Active Region, Filament and Prominence in Hydrogen Alpha, Normal and Inverted
October: NOAA 10972 in Hydrogen Alpha: Overview and Closeup, new Active Region same day and 10th October, Latest Processing Technique: Shots 1 and 2
October: NOAA 10971 in Hydrogen Alpha: 1st processing, 2nd processing, 3rd October: active region and prominence
September: NOAA 10970 in Hydrogen Alpha: Overview, 2-frame mosaic and prominence same day , 30th September full disc and close up
September: Video, Sun Drift through Coronado PST, Full Screen Panorama - 10 Mb DivX MPEG4
September: Photo, Sun in Hydrogen Alpha: Coronado PST @ f/20 First Light, 11th September @ f/20 and 11th September Mosaic, 12th September Limb @ f/20, 13th September @ f/20, 15th September @ f/20, 17th September @ f/20, 18th September, 27th September
August: Photo set, 3rd unnumbered active region with sunspot (probably will be NOAA 10969), 21st August CaK and UHC, 25th August 2x Barlow UHC, 4x Barlow UHC, 2x Barlow CaK.
August: Photo, Sunspot NOAA 10966 in Calcium K-Line 6th August , 7th August UHC, 7th August CaK, 10th August UHC, 12th August CaK
July: Photo, Moon (incomplete 4-frame mosaic)
July: Photo, Sun 26th July Calicum K-Line, no sunspots, 28th July UHC, Calcium K-Line, Color Composite - 2nd unnumbered active region
July: Photo, Sun 24th July, CaK activity, Full Disc
July: Photo, Sunspots NOAA 10963 and 10964 in Calcium K-Line, Full Disc, Alternative Processing Version
July: Photo, Sunspot NOAA 10961 via TeleVue BandMate NebuStar: 4th July 2x Barlow version
June: Photo comparison, Baader Calcium K-Line filter versus color filters on NOAA 10961
June: Photo set, Sunspots NOAA 10961 and 10962 and 10961 100% size version
June: Photo set, Sunspots NOAA 10961, NOAA 10961 2x Barlow version and NOAA 10962
June: Photo, Jupiter and Great Red Spot, very low elevation
June: Photo/Animation, Sunspot NOAA 10960 in Calcium K-Line, almost decayed, 5th-9th June decay Animation (1 Mb GIF)
June: Photo set, Sunspots NOAA 10958, 959 and 960 in Calcium K-Line: full disc, spot overview and closeups, closeups 2x Barlow
May: Periodogram, Historical Solar Activity Lomb-Scargle Periodogram, 1749-2007 and source data (with time converted to JD)
May: Photo, Theophilus and Cyrillus
May: Photo set, Sunspot NOAA 10956 in Calcium K-Line: spot overview, closeup 2x Barlow , overview next day, full disc
May: Audio, Milky Way Radiotransit (325 Kb MPEG3), more information is available on the Galactic Plane Transit page
April: Video, Quiet Sun Animation (1.7 Mb Xvid MPEG4)
April: Sketch, M51 in 280mm Telescope
March: Sketch, Comparison of Saturn in 66mm, 127mm and 280mm Telescopes

2006: Began my journey into amateur astronomy with a 127mm Synta MAK127 on Synta EQ3-2 mount. Mostly doing some experimental imaging with the Philips SPC900NC color CCD camera including spectroscopic observations. Some introduction into deep sky happened with 5" aperture, but not that much excited about it. Got excellent Jupiter season with the MAK127, mostly on my balcony in Dniepropetrovsk - it showed plenty of detail and superb contrast. Got a glimpse of Uranus and Neptune and, of course, the Moon. That's the beginning I could only dream of!

October: Photo, High-resolution Lunar Mosaic
October: Photo, Lunar Mosaic, Cavalerius, Hevelius, Grimaldi and Gassendi
October: Photo, Uranus
September: Photo, Uranus
August: Sketch, Locating Uranus
July: Sketch, Comparison of M13 in 127mm and 280mm Telescopes
May: Sketch, Epsilon Lyrae in 127mm Telescope


Inspiration Guidance

Robert Gendler
Russel Croman
R Jay GaBany
Don "Astrodon" Goldman
Bob Franke
Thomas V. Davies
Marijan Schedler
Bernd Wallner
Roland Christen
Rolf Geissinger
Spiegelteam Astrofotografie
Capella Observatory

Adam Block: Caelum Observatory & Mt Lemmon Sky Center
Wolfgang Promper
StarGazer Observatory
Richard Crisp
J-P Metsavainio
Mario Weigand
Sebastian Kersten
Andreas Murner
Wolfgang Lille
Antilhue - Chile Gallery
Harald Paleske
Starizona Guide to CCD Imaging

Dr. Tony Phillips' SpaceWeather
Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Lab
Solar Monitor - updated every 30 min
David Knisley's Observing the Sun in H-alpha
SolAEMon - Solar Activity and Earth Monitor



For all contacts: maxim.usatov -at-