The Einstein Cross gravitational lens - Attempt with SC3 modified webcam- Astronomy and astrophotography CCD camera images

This gravitational lens is considered to be one of THE great DSO observing challanges. The components are around magnitude 18, and covers an area of only a couple of arc seconds. This target needs long exposures, good seeing, and near perfect tracking.

Not features commonly found on an LXD55 mount in a back garden in southern England - but I had a go anyway.

The following links show the lens in all its glory:

My 1000mm NEwtonian does not give a big image scale on the SC3 chip (7.4um pixels). To be honest, this started out as an attempt to image M57 with a 2x barlow on. However, a few recent posts on QCUIAG had been got the grey cells working, so I figured I'd have a go.

To start with, I imaged epsilon1 Lyrae, which is getting close to the image scale required. With my two times barlow I got the result below, resampled 4x

All images are captured in k3ccdtools, stacked and resampled in registax v3 and messed in photoshop.

This was came out a tiny bit better than expected. Some measurements showed an image scale of about 0.66 arc seconds per pixel. This means I was getting a touch more than 2000mm of focal lengh - perhas 2200-2300mm. Enough. Just. Of course, I had to guide a long exposure to that resolution. Not having a handy 3000mm guidescope, I attached the 3x barlow to my 400mm refractor as usual, and hoped for the best. I have a black and white ICX098 ccd in my guidecamera giving a resolution of just under 1 arc second per pixel and no nasty bayer filter.

Skymap lists the host galaxy as PGC 69457. Finding this with a 2x barlow on is not easy. Even with GOTO. So I started off at prime focus, so I would at least get some sort of result.

The following image is 9 stacked frames of 85 second exposure. There is no flat/dark employed... I didn't have the time. There are not enough frames to remove the host pixels by statistical methods. North is down.

The host galaxy is clearly visible. Enlarging the galaxy itself shows this:

Then I rigged up the 2x barlow, and took some 90s exposures and 45s exposures. There is not much light to go around at that focal length. I could not make anything out of the 45 second exposures, however, stacking 6 of the 90s exposures and stretching gave the following image, which has been resampled 4x in registax. North is down.

Not very convincing. I then spent some time playing in photoshop and got the last time below. I have also shown the double star image again to the same scale. Rolands website shows the cross alongside this double star.

I am extremely skeptical - it doesn't look right. I think any detail below is probably an artifact of all the processing. I'd have to make another attempt with different camera angles to prove any image.