April 25, 2008

The Cone Nebula

This is the Cone Nebula. More information about it can be found here. This is a set of exposures obtained January 12-13 and not processed until now. The data was gathered the same night as the Horsehead and NGC2903. The camera is the DSI Pro, unguided on the LXD75, through the Vixen R135S at f/4.8. The image is faint. It might not appear clearly unless your monitor's brightness settings are maxed and the contrast is set just right (which also greatly improves the view of NGC 3628, below). Please click on the image for a larger view. The cone has long been a target of mine. I hope to revisit it as soon as possible.

The stars in this image are too large for my taste. The image is stretched so much: just enough to show the nebula, but so much that the stars look too large.

April 12, 2008

A Glimpse of NGC 3628

This is the other image caught on the night of April 5. NGC 3268 needed more time, but the glimpse is tantalizing. The outer reaches of the galaxy show up if I stretch the data more, but the noise is then distracting. NGC 3628 is a companion of M66 in the sky. The same equipment was used as on M66 and M53. This image is nearly 21 minutes of unguided, 8-second exposures.

April 11, 2008


The upper image of M66 was taken the same night as M53, with the same equipment, and was processed using the same programs. It is nearly 23 minutes of 8-second exposures. M66 is about 35 million light years away. We find it in the constellation Leo. It has two bright companions in the sky, M65 and NGC 3628.

The lower image is also M66, hard to see though it may be. The lower image is the first deep sky image I ever obtained, just over a year ago. I could not believe how lucky I was to see, actually, light from a galaxy on my screen. Light from this image traveled for 35 million years, or reached 35 million light-years across space, to fall on my receptors. What a marvelous event! Of course, the much more detailed image above shows that information about the shape of the dust lanes in M66 also traveled 35 million miles, and I am just as delighted to see those details and happy that my equipment can record and decode such information.

I post both images for comparison. I have learned a few things in the past year. Both images were taken with the same camera on an unguided mount.

April 6, 2008


Last night was the new moon, and the sky cleared off from midnight to around 3:30 a.m. Globular cluster M53, in the constellation Coma Berenices, was the last item I was able to image, around 3 a.m. What a beautiful sight, much better through the camera! (Please click on the image for a better view.)
This image is 160 6-second exposures (16 minutes total) stacked and stretched in Registax; its dead and hot pixels fixed in Paint; then cropped, sharpened, and flipped in HP Image Zone. Scope: Vixen R135S, at f/5.3. Camera: DSI Pro. Mount: LXD75. Location: The backyard.