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