November 29, 2010

NGC 3198 (11-26-2010)

This galaxy in southern Ursa Major is about 35,000,000 light years away. Normally, I present galaxies in white against a black background. In this case, the waning moon was still 66% full and only about 20 degrees away from this galaxy. That's not the best condition for shooting a galaxy. But the camera was running. I could turn it off and go to sleep, or let it run and go to sleep. I decided to let it run on this object. The resulting image is noisy and does not show well at all in white on black. It's much better this way, black on white, and more of the galaxy is visible.

This is 38x4' with the Atik 16 through the AT8RC and the IDAS-LPS-P2 from the backyard in The Woodlands, TX.

November 27, 2010

NGC 2392, the Eskimo Nebula (11-26-2010)

This little fellow sits up in the sky, smiling and winking at us! It's cold in space, so he wears a parka!

This planetary nebula is famous for looking like an Eskimo. It's actually a bright nebula roughly 2870 light years away in the constellation Gemini. The Hubble has taken an image of this cloud, but beware: the Hubble's excellent resolution erases all resemblance to an Eskimo. Instead, the Hubble's is the Mummy Nebula.

This image was 25x4' taken with the Atik 16 through the AT8RC and an IDAS-LPS-P2.

IC 410 Tadpoles & Part of NGC 1893

These tadpole-like structures are part of a cloud of hydrogen and other gases and dust in the constellation Auriga. A cluster of stars, dubbed NGC 1893, has formed from the cloud. Those stars can be found throughout the image but are centered in the upper right, where the brightest of them are found. The brightest stars of NGC 1893 radiate energy which is pushing the cloud of gas and dust away. But some of the cloud is thicker and may hide stars in formation whose gravity counteracts the radiation from the bright stars. Where this occurs, the gas and dust remains, and a shock front forms where the radiation meets the stubborn part of the nebula. Behind the edges of the shock front and trailing away, is the gas and dust pushed around and away, like a tail, from the stubborn gas and dust remaining in the head, giving the tadpole-like appearance.

This image is 32x4' with the Atik 16 through the AT8RC and an IDAS LPS-P2 filter. The 67% moon rose during the final sub-exposures. The stars here are slightly out of round. I believe it is the way the camera is attached to the focuser. Honestly, I wish focusers had T-threads. It'd be so much easier.

November 21, 2010

NGC 7662, the Blue Snowball Nebula (11-16-2010)

I see varying reports of this planetary nebula's distance from us: 1800, 3900, and 5000 light years. I don't know how far it is, but it is fairly bright. This image was taken with the AT8RC at f/8 with the SXVF-H9C. It is 40x60".

November 20, 2010

NGC 457 (11-17-2010)

NGC 457 is an open cluster of stars about 8,000 light years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. This image is 33x180" with the AT8RC at f/8, SXVF-H9C.

November 9, 2010

NGC 2419 (11-5&6-2010)

NGC 2419 is a very distant globular cluster. It lies 300,000 light years away. If our galaxy were a frisbee, NGC 2419 would be at least two frisbee lengths beyond its edge! It was once thought to be free-floating in space, unconnected to any galaxy, but we now believe it is in orbit around our own Milky Way. NGC 2419 is the 5th most distant globular cluster from the sun. Source. The brightest stars in NGC 2419 are 17th magnitude.

This image is 28x5' with the AT8RC and the SXVF-H9C, from my backyard in The Woodlands. Actually, my last image of this was so fuzzy and faint that I have wanted to take another try. The prior image is posted here.

Here is a smaller version. Shrinking it a bit hides some of the noise and helps the star shapes in the cluster look more round:

NGC 1275 (11-5&6-10)

This not-so-deep image of this fascinating object (the brightest galaxy, in the lower part and just left of center) leaves much for the imagination. Here is a brighter rendition, through a much larger scope with much longer exposure; in fact, the best rendition I know of by an amateur. The galaxy is thought to harbor an active black hole and is combining with a smaller galaxy, giving NGC 1275 its unusual shape and other characteristics.

The galaxy cluster is called Abell 426, also called the Perseus Cluster. This is just the heart of it. What you are seeing is approximately 237 (give or take about 30) million light years away.

This image is just 2.25 hours of 5' exposures with the AT8RC and the SXVF-H9C.

November 3, 2010

M37 (10-29-2010)

This open cluster of stars is 4,150+-550 light years away in the constellation Auriga. It thus lies in the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy roughly looking out away from the galaxy's center. This image is 17x300" with the AT8RC (w/0.8x ff/fr, for a focal length of about 1300mm) and the SXVF-H9C. Here is a smaller version:

November 2, 2010

NGC 891 (10-29-2010)

This galaxy is 30 million light years away in the constellation Andromeda. This is image is 36x300" with the SXVF-H9C through the AT8RC (w/0.8x ff/fr, at about 1300mm). Captured in Neb2 and processed in Neb2, Maxim, & PS3.

November 1, 2010

NGC281 (10-29-2010): A Few Short Subs

This is just 4x300" with the AT8RC, 0.8x ff/fr, and the SXVF-H9C. The Pacman Nebula was high in the sky, and I wanted to test collimation, focus, exposure time, and tracking on something familiar. Generous noise reduction has been applied to the combined stack, and the image size has been reduced, also to decrease noise. The focal length is around 1300mm. There are still problems, as in the bottom left corner, but I am getting close. I think I know what I'm doing with collimation now, at least.