November 24, 2015

LBN 777, the Baby Eagle Nebula (Fall 2015)

Larger version here.

This very dim nebula is part of the same Taurus clouds of dust and gas that are also lit up by the nearby Pleiades.  The gas and dust is probably about the same distance as the Pleiades themselves, around 440 light years.  Just what lights up the Baby Eagle Nebula is unclear, however.

I've always wanted an image of this part of the cloud, but obtaining the data is not possible from the city.  I once took a >10-minute sub and had to equalize the result to even see the eagle head shape; of course, that would not make a pretty image.  But the scope at DSW can bag these obscure photons without interference from city sky glow.  Even then, the DSW scope has to spend long hours on the sky.  Just the Lum here is 10.75 hours.  The time spent on this object is 43;32;34;34 (LRGB) x 900 seconds, for a grand total of 35.75 hours at f/5!  Below is a B&W version of the Baby Eagle (also called the Vulture Head Nebula) using just the Lum subs.

November 14, 2015

M31 (Fall 2015)

Higher resolution image here.

Here is M31, the nearest large galaxy, so large and so close that it overspills the view of the Kodak KAF-8300 chip through the FSQ.  M31 is near in size to our own galaxy but more mature, so it has more stars, a larger central black hole, and a more developed core.

But there is still much going on in M31.  Two satellite galaxies, M32 and M110 (above and below M31 in this image) orbit M31 and perhaps have passed through it.  A ring of relatively new star creation circles M31 and frames in blue its older, yellower core.  If you look very closely in the blue of the ring, you may see patches of red or magenta, which are clouds of hydrogen emission nebulae and the places of current star formation.  M31 is also ringed by clouds of dark dust; these represent star formation potential.

Two really fun things about this image:  1) M110 shows dust clouds near its center, one on each side of its core.  2) In the lower right, a very distant spiral galaxy shows through the arm of M31.  It is not obvious in the large picture, so here is a close-up.  I have no idea how far the galaxy is; pretty far, but I could not find a catalog designation in any of my maps,  Nor could I find it marked on any of my maps.  You can find it in this picture by its non-stellar shape and its dull color (which is similar to M31's core).

This image is RGB 24;28;16 x 900"; the data comes from DSW's FSQ.

November 3, 2015

HD8625 Area (LDN 1251 & 1247) (Fall 2015)

Link to as big as blogger will post here.

The bright star on the left is HD8625, and the dark clouds surrounding have various designations (LDN 1251, LDN 1247, LM 397, 395, & 393). They are clouds of dust floating around our galaxy, waiting to be disturbed to be made into stars. This area is in northern Cepheus, about 15° from the north pole.  For those of us well into northern hemisphere, this star never sets.  However, these clouds of dust are far too faint to see with the eyes alone, and larger telescopes would show the darker areas as an absence of stars, to the visual observer. Deep images such as this reveal the size of the cloud.

There are two small galaxies in the image, one just above center, a bit left, PGC 166755--magnitude 15.97, about 112 million light years away.  The other on the left, about half way up, just off the fish's nose, is PGC 069472, perhaps 72 million light years away.

This image is made from 16.25 hours of data from Deep Sky West's FSQ.