December 2, 2014

IC 1795 (Nov. 2014)

Full resolution image here.
This area is up early in the evening now and sets for me behind the trees around 1 am.  This set of frames included one night of excellent seeing and one that was very poor.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9, Ha 21x1200" (6nm), Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter(s): Astronomik Ha
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, PHD, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

November 14, 2014

IC 410 and NGC 1893 (Fall 2014)


Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 (Ha- 14x1200" (6nm) and 7x900" (12nm), SII- 22x900", OIII- 31x900" (total 19 hours 40 minutes)), Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter(s): Astronomik NB Filters
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, PHD, Maxim DL, Registar, Photoshop CS3 (and one Carboni action)
Location: The Woodlands, TX

October 29, 2014

M33 (October 2014)

Full resolution image here.

This galaxy in Triangulum is a near neighbor, just around 2.8 million light years away.  It's so close it fills the view!  M33 is smaller than our own galaxy but contains numerous regions of gas and dust in which stars are forming.

M33 is just bright enough to be seen with mere eyes from a moonless sky away from all lights.  I've seen it from the SHSU Observatory.  The background sky in this image is bright (and contrast relatively low) because all of my data was gathered from my backyard (community of 100,000 just south of a city of 100,000 (including suburbs)).

This image combines monochrome full-spectrum sub-frames with color sub-frames I took in 2012.  I was glad to see the two data sets come together so well.  The combined mono and color frames were matched in Registar then combined in Photoshop.

Luminosity:

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 39x300", Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik CLS
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

Color:

Telescope: SV80ED (and William Optics 0.8x II fr/ff (eff. at f/5.6))
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9C (49x480"), Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Hutech IDAS-LPS2
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro and Hutech 50mm
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

October 27, 2014

NGC 891 (Oct. 2014)

Full resolution image here.

This galaxy flies about 32 million light years away in the constellation Andromeda.

I've always imagined that our galaxy would look something like this edge-on.  The Milky Way is similarly ringed with massive clouds of gas and dust.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT (at f/7) and Astro-Tech AT2FF
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 85x360", Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik CLS
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

October 15, 2014

IC 410 in Ha (October 15, 2014)

Full resolution image here.

Lying in the plane of the Milky Way, in the constellation Auriga, nebula IC 410 provided raw material for the star cluster (NGC 1893) in the center of this frame.  The light of the cluster's stars now makes the remaining gas glow.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 14x1200", Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik 6nm Ha
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

October 10, 2014

Initial Spectra, Vega and Mu Cephei (October 4, 2014)

[Click on picture for larger view.]
I acquired a Star Analyzer 100 grating to try spectroscopy.  Here are my first results.  These are just raw data from the camera; I have not calibrated for instrument response.  But you can see the hydrogen Balmer absorption lines are visible in Vega, an A-type star.  Furthermore, the blue end of the spectrum is lit up.  

Mu Cephei, a type M2 Ia star (probably, but classed as M1 or other kind of M2, also), is known for its red color, and the spectrum bears that out.  Titanium oxide lines dominate.  These stars are very different, and the difference is obvious in their low-resolution spectra.  Rather than identify lines in the spectrum of Mu Cephei, I have displayed a reference spectrum for a type M2 I star, which Mu Cephei is.  My little camera is obviously catching the major features.  That's pretty exciting to see.

The brightness of the bar at 0 means nothing.  Vega is dimmer only because of an accident of processing.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT (at f/7)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9
Filter: Star Analyzer 100 grating
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Maxim DL, RSpec, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

October 5, 2014

IC 417 and Stock 8 (October 2014)

Full resolution image here.

This nebulous area lies in the constellation Auriga.  It is part of a much larger cloud of hydrogen and other gases and dust in that area, in the plane of the Milky Way.  I enjoy the nebula's variety.  It sports fingers of gas and dust that are glowing, and others that are dark against a glowing background.  It has ionization fronts in long lines and glowing rings.  Out of the nebula has grown the cluster in the center of the image, Stock 8.  A study here suggests that the stars in the cluster are new, between 1 and 5 million years old.  Stars are still forming in the region.  My favorite image of this area, in vivid color, comes from the Mt. Lemmon Sky Center and is linked here.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 19x1200" (6nm Ha), Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik 6nm
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

IC 63 (October 2014)

Full resolution image here.

This ghostly nebula glows around Gamma Cassiopeia, one of the brighter stars in that constellation.  You can see the star's glow in the upper right of the image, just outside the frame.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 8x1200" (6nm Ha), Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik 6nm Ha
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

September 29, 2014

Bi-Color Eastern Veil Nebula, NGC 6995 - September 2014

Full resolution image here.

Here is the same veil as below with 220 minutes of OIII added.  The green is synthetic (80% OIII and 20% Ha).  I have seen bi-color images in which the OIII shines as blue, but my blue channel here is too weak.  Whether from the lower blue response of my camera, that I do not have enough time on OIII, the reddening of the sky above my light-polluted backyard, or all of these, the Ha overwhelms the blue. The night I collected OIII was also pretty hazy.  The effect of the blue in this image is therefore only to lighten/whiten the red.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9  Ha: 12x1200" (6nm Ha) + 12x900" (12nm Ha+NII); OIII: 11x1200".  Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filters: Astronomik 6nm Ha, 12nm OIII
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Photoshop CS3, Registar
Location: The Woodlands, TX

August 26, 2014

Comet Jacques Video

Comet Jacques came flying through Cassiopeia in late August 2014.  After a wonderful night of imaging the Veil Nebula, I had some time in the early morning after the Veil had set behind the house.  I caught Comet Jacques as it passed the meridian.

The Comet was hard to find.  My usual planetarium program and the first two websites I checked gave incorrect locations.  I found the Comet's true ephemeris when I went to The Sky Live (http://theskylive.com/).

Anyway, this video (really a slide show) shows the comet's movement in 100 30-second frames.  The comet was moving so fast that frames much longer than 30 seconds showed the comet as a line.  The movement would have been easily visible in a telescope over a few minutes' time.  Here is the link:


I have not stretched these images much.  You might see more if you make the video full screen.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 100x30", Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik CLS
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Photoshop CS3, MS PowerPoint
Location: The Woodlands, TX

August 24, 2014

A Swatch of Veil - NGC 6995 (August 2014)

Full resolution image here.

Of course, this is part of the Veil Nebula, a supernova remnant in Cygnus.  This is just the Ha (and perhaps a bit of NII).  I've wondered whether the arcs help show the location of the original blast (relative to what remains).

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 12x1200" (6nm Ha) + 12x900" (12nm Ha+NII), Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik 6nm and 12nm Ha[+NII]
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

July 14, 2014

The Cygnus Wall in H-alpha (July 9, 2014)

This well-known cloud of interstellar dust and gases in the constellation Cygnus glows here with the light of ionized hydrogen.  The image was taken with the moon >85% full.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 23x900"), Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik 6nm Ha
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

June 13, 2014

M51 (April 29, 2014)


I know---I don't need another image of M51.  But I had a few hours and wanted to use the refractor.  I always like the look of stars taken through it.  Of course, with the H9C the scope is working far below full resolution.  And I seemed to get a lot of red in the galaxy.  Perhaps the sky was more transparent to Ha, or perhaps it was particularly opaque to blue.  Either way, here is the result.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9C 20x600"), Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik CLS
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

June 11, 2014

M13 (June 5, 2014)

Telescope: Orion 254mm f/4.7 Newtonian and Baader MPCC
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9C (33x240"), Alnitak Flatman flats
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX SFW+OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

May 11, 2014

M97 in Ha (April 8, 2014)

This planetary nebula in Ursa Major is one of the few popular narrowband targets up during the spring.  It's a bright one, too.  This is only H-alpha.  I hope to get the OIII, too, and combine them.  But the night I set up to collect the OIII data became unexpectedly cloudy at 11 pm.  Oh, well.  In the meantime, M97 is slipping behind my trees.  I may have to wait till next year.  Either way, the data interests me.

This data is 8x1200" with the 6nm Proti Astronomik Ha filter and 10x900" with the 12nm Astronomik Ha filter.  The dimmest stars in the image are below magnitude 19.

Telescope: Orion 254mm f/4.7 Newtonian and Baader MPCC
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 (8x1200" with the 6nm Proti Astronomik Ha filter and 10x900" with the 12nm Astronomik Ha filter), Alnitak Flatman flats
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX SFW+OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

May 1, 2014

M64 ( April 2014)

A color image of this galaxy was my goal since January, but we had nothing but cloudy nights near new moons until April.  Then the first two clear nights were hazy, and I had equipment problems.  Finally, I obtained a good night's worth of data on the 22nd.  I obtained 23x900" of data, and then M64 went behind the trees.

The galaxy is famous for the dust lane near its center, and also because the inside part of the galaxy rotates one way and the outer part rotates in the opposite direction!

Telescope: Orion 254mm f/4.7 Newtonian and Baader MPCC
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9C (23x900"), Alnitak Flatman flats
Filter: Astronomik CLS
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX SFW+OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

April 25, 2014

M57 (April 2014)



How many images of the Ring Nebula does one need?  I figure at least one for each telescope available, and perhaps one for each camera with each telescope.

Actually, I was shooting something else which set behind the trees around 4 am.  Rather than shut down for the night, I slewed to M57 for a short session.

There is something delightful about shooting relatively bright objects.  It's so easy to get a good signal-to-noise ratio.  Besides, M57 is so colorful!  Why not shoot it often?

Telescope: Orion 254mm f/4.7 Newtonian and Baader MPCC
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9C (14x180"), Alnitak Flatman flats
Filter: Astronomik CLS
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX SFW+OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX

While waiting for clouds to go away in March of this year, I pulled some data from the Hubble Legacy archive.  Here's a much more detailed image of the Ring Nebula from the Hubble Space Telescope, thanks to those who maintain the archive and the creators of FITS Liberator, version 2.

April 15, 2014

Lunar Eclipse (April 15, 2014)


Wow!  What a beautiful night!  What a beautiful eclipse!  Our last several lunar eclipses here were clouded out, so we've been waiting a while for this show.  In the backyard, the air was still and cool.  During the eclipse, the sky was full of stars!  The picture was made more dramatic by the bright star Spica, seen in the images above, and by the planets Mars and Saturn, which framed the moon to the right and left.

Images taken with a Canon T3i through an AT65EDQ, aided by a Unistar Deluxe and a Takahashi EM-10.

January 23, 2014

The Parrot Nebula (Gum 1, RCW 2) (January 2014)

The Parrot Nebula is the "head" of what is also known as the Seagull Nebula.  It is item 1 in the catalog compiled by Colin Gum in the 1950s.  The coolest thing about the nebula is the dark cloud that lies in front of it and becomes the parrot's open mouth.

Part of this image was taken from the Houston Astronomical Society dark sky site under a waning but nearly-full moon.  The rest was taken from the backyard.

Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 (Ha+NII:24x1200"), Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik Ha+NII
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS3
Location: HAS dark sky site near Columbus, TX; The Woodlands, TX

January 13, 2014

M87's Jet (Jan. 11, 2014)

The huge galaxy M87 in Virgo, perhaps the largest galaxy in the Virgo supercluster of galaxies, sports a black hole at its center weighing three and a half billion solar masses.  The black hole spews a jet of material out 5,000 light years visibly, and fifty times further in other wavelengths.  I am very surprised to see this jet so easily with a camera and a telescope of 620mm focal length.  The galaxy, after all, is 55 million light years away.  The jet is additional evidence of the black hole.  We know of nothing else that could create this jet.  Measurements of the jet's speed indicate it is moving outward from the center of M87 at a significant fraction of the speed of light.  Amazing physics from the back yard!
Telescope: Astro-Tech AT111EDT and William Optics AFR-IV (eff. at f/5.6)
Camera and Exposure: SXVF-H9 (11x420" Lum), Alnitak Flat-man flats
Filter: Astronomik CLS
Guiding: SX Lodestar and SX OAG
Mount: Takahashi NJP
Software: Nebulosity, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS3
Location: The Woodlands, TX