October 24, 2010

NGC2174 (10-2-2010)

NGC 2174 is the nebular complex. (More details later.)

IC 348 (10-2-2010)

IC 348 is the star cluster at the center of this image. It is being formed from a large cloud of gas, mostly hydrogen, about 1040 light years away. The space to the right of the cluster seems more barren of stars because the cloud of gas and dust, from which the stars are forming, blocks the light of the forming stars and the light of the stars behind the cloud. This image is 20x480" through an Astronomik Ha filter. It therefore shows only the hydrogen emission line. Full spectrum images of this area also show light reflecting from the hydrogen clouds and nearby dust and gas.

October 19, 2010

Cederblad 214 (9&10-2010)

After the Pelican Nebula set behind the trees, this nebula in Cepheus was nicely positioned for a three hour set of sub-frames. During the long stretch of clear nights in September and early October, I could end the Pelican set around 1 am, then slew over to Ced 214 and begin another three hour set. This nebula is mapped similarly to the Pelican, in the Hubble Palette. Exposure times here were Ha=27x8'; OIII=30x8'; SII=38x8'. Processing was done in Neb2, Maxim DL 5, Registar, and PS CS3. The Ha is below:

October 14, 2010

Pelican Redux

This is the same data as earlier this month, but the color for this image was done in PS CS3. This method gives me more control over the color balance and intensity and makes it easier to make other changes later. I processed this to be closer to the actual strength of the data that I obtained. I believe this resulted in the colors being less grainy and the contrast more vivid. Thanks for looking.

October 12, 2010

The Great Nebula in Orion (9&10-2010)

This nebula is one of the most famous in the sky. It is visible without optical aid in the belt of Orion's sword. It is basically a huge cloud of gas and dust, mostly hydrogen, that is coalescing to form stars. The stars just lower left of center are newly formed and are sending out the radiation that makes the clouds of gas glow. The four bright stars are called the Trapezium. Actually, there is a knot of stars there. This image was shot at a focal length of 500mm, not enough resolution to allow the other stars to be seen clearly. This nebula is a stunning sight in a telescope. These colors are false, but in a large scope the entire nebula takes on a greenish glow that contrasts with the stars and with the dark sky behind it.

This image is about 2 hours per narrowband channel: Ha (mapped to green), OIII (blue), and SII (red). I also took a string of 30-second Ha exposures designed to show the four stars at the core of the nebula without totally blowing it out. Processing was done in Neb2, Maxim DL, Registar, and PS CS3. This is another image gathered with the 120mm achromat and the Atik 16. It's turned out to be a nice combination.

October 7, 2010

More Soap Bubble (10-6-10)

Here is what I know how to do with the Soap Bubble Nebula. I gathered more data this week. This is 92x8' (50x8' of H-alpha and 42x8' of OIII). It was processed in Neb2, Maxim, Registar, and PS CS3. The two sets were combined using Steve Cannistra's Bi-Color Narrowband technique. I'd be happy for any suggestions as to how to improve the image.

The Soap Bubble Nebula, called by scientists PN G75.5+1.7, actually looks alot like Abell 39, another planetary nebula, discovered in the 1960s. My image of Abell 39 is here. I would like to revisit Abell 39 someday.

October 2, 2010

Soap Bubble Nebula (9-30-2010)

Dave Jurasevich, an amateur astronomer, discovered this planetary nebula in 2008 while trying to image something else (see here). Keith Quattrocchi and and Melvin Helm found it independently a few days later (see here). It is very faint, actually, but here it is. This image is 20x8' in H-alpha and 11x8' in OIII, taken with the Atik 16, processed in Neb 2, Maxim DL 5, and PS CS3, mostly just stretched until it almost breaks. This image is black and white, inverted, and equalized in PS.

Can you see the bubble in these other iterations? The first is black and white, and the second is similar to natural color, with Ha as red.

Pelican in Narrowband (9-2010) - Prelim

This is my first full narrowband image with the Orion 120mm achromat at f/4. This is what I think is the most interesting part of the Pelican Nebula in the constellation Cygnus. The colors are not what the eye would see. Most of the glowing, ionized gas here emits light that would appear red to our eyes. But here, so that we can more easily see what is going on, glowing hydrogen is colored green, glowing oxygen blue, and glowing sulphur red. Yellow is where red and green glow together. The energetic stars embedded in the nebula energize the gas and set it aglow. North is to the right in this image.

The most interesting part of the nebula is the dark finger that reaches up from the ionization front. At the top of this finger is a relatively small, dense cloud of gas and dust slowing being worn away by radiation from the stars lighting the nebula. Hidden in the cloud, a star is being born. We cannot see the star inside the cloud, but the newly-forming star is shooting jets out to the north and south. The jets are visible in this image. The radiation that makes the gas glow is pushing the jets down to one side. This interesting object is called by scientists Herbig-Haro 555.

This image is the product of just over 10 hours of 7 minute exposures added together. H-alpha (hydrogen) was 45x7', OIII (oxygen) 22x7', and SII (sulphur) 20x7'. The image was taken with the Atik 16 from my backyard over three nights in late September, 2010.