August 1, 2017

Eclipse Preparation

These are test images of Sol and some flowers in the backyard.  The system is the Sky-Watcher ED80 and dedicated reducer-flattener connected to my Canon T3i.  I am trying to prepare for the eclipse on August 21.

June 23, 2017

M27 Bi-Color (May 2017)

This image combines the H-α and OIII data from that collected in May (9x720" for H-α and 8x720" for OIII).  A synthetic green channel was created in Registar and included to create an RGB frame.

June 22, 2017

M13 (May 2017)

Well, here is a close-up of the great globular cluster in Hercules.  This is 15x300" with the CFF290 Classical Cassegrain and SXVF-H9C, shrunk about 8%.  The great photogenic thing about M13 is that none of the stars are bright enough to blow out the pixels in a 5-minute exposure, yet that same exposure captures some pretty dim stars.  Great target!

June 18, 2017

M27, Dumbbell Nebula (May 2017)

M27 is found in Vulpecula and is one of the best telescopic sights of summer.  I have "discovered" it many times: most notably in 11x80 binoculars from the desert east of Reno and with an 80mm refractor in Bear Lake, Idaho.  Here is what it looks like with a color camera from my backyard in The Woodlands, TX, with narrowband data added.  I gathered 9x720" in H-alpha and 8x720" in OIII with the SXVF-H9 and combined this with 25x360" taken with the SXVF-H9C.  Of course, this is the big scope, the CFF 290mm Classical Cassegrain, at an effective focal length of about f/8.  The filters are Astronomik.  Guiding was done with an SX-OAG on a Takahashi NJP.

May 10, 2017

M27 in OIII (May 5, 2017)

Here is M27 in OIII.  This picture is a stark contrast from the H-alpha.  The OIII emission is mostly what we see when we look at the nebula, which is very bright.  My most memorable view of it was from very dark skies in Idaho through an 80mm refractor.  Under such skies, M27 looks like a cotton ball hanging in space.  This is 8x720" with the SXVF-H9 through an Astronomik 6nm OIII filter and the CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain.

Lunar Crater Copernicus (May 5, 2017)

Here is Copernicus.  It is a stack of 5,000 frames taken with the ZWO ASI224MC through the CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain at f/33.75.

May 7, 2017

Luna: Bullialdus Crater (May 5, 2017)

Here is another crater, Bullialdus.  One striking thing about this image is that the it's hard to tell what the inner peaks look like from the top, but the shadow reveals two triangles with perfect sides.  This is 5,000 of 20,000 frames, stacked in AutoStakkert! 3, taken with the ZWO ASI224MC through the CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain at f/33.75.

Luna: Reinhold (May 5, 2017)

This is best 3,000 of 20,000 frames, processed with AutoStakkert! 3 and Photoshop Elements.   The data was gathered with a ZWO ASI 224MC camera through the CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain at f/33.75.  This one was pretty fun to process.

May 6, 2017

Jupiter at 3:31-39 UT, May 6, 2017

It's been a while since I tried this, but planetary imaging is kind of fun even though I'm not that good at it yet.  I thought the seeing would be better tonight, but the air did not settle until after midnight, when Jupiter was behind the trees.  This image is 40% of its original size, as a result.  It is 10,000 of 20,000 frames with the ZWO224MC camera through the CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain at f/33.75 (TV 2.5x Powermate).

May 2, 2017

M27 in H-alpha (May 1, 2017)

I've shot this target before, but never at this focal length in H-alpha.  What intrigues me about this image is the motion.  You can almost see the swirling of the central star as it shoots out energy—something is certainly spinning out radiation.

This image is 9x720" through an Astronomik 6nm H-alpha filter and the CCF 290 Classical Cassegrain (at about f/8) with the SXVF-H9 camera.

April 29, 2017

M88 (April 24, 2017)

A month or so ago I was working my way visually through the Virgo Galaxy Cluster.  M88 was one of its easiest to see.  Of course, in my 8" f/5 reflector, M88 appears visually from my backyard as an oval smudge, brighter toward the smudge's center.  But I knew M88 was a grand spiral, so I wanted to return for a better look with the camera.  Here is the image: 14x720" with the SXVF-H9 through the CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain at around f/8.

M13 (April 24, 2017)

OK, it's not like I've never shot this before, but the air was very still Monday morning between 12 and 2.  M88, my first target, had drifted behind a tree, and M13 was ideally placed.  Just Lum here, no color, but this is 14x240" taken with the SXVF-H9 through the CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain at f/7.93. Of course, if I were in a darker location, I could muster more contrast and probably even more stars; this image was processed to maximize the number of stars seen (including without blowing out any of them) from my backyard.

April 9, 2017

NGC 6229 (March 30, 2017)

This globular cluster in the constellation Hercules shines from outside our galaxy, though it is still gravitationally bound to the Milky Way.  NGC 6229 is almost 100,000 light years away!  That is about twice as far as NGC 5466.  This image is 9x480" with the SXVF-H9 through CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain at f/7.93.

M101 (March 30, 2017)

The great northern grand spiral galaxy, M101, glows just north of the Big Dipper's handle in Ursa Major.  This is 11x720" with the SXVF-H9 through CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain at f/7.93.  M101 is just about 21 million light years away.

March 26, 2017

NGC 5466 (Mar. 25, 2017)

This globular cluster is about 52,000 light years away and appears in the constellation Bootes.  As globs go, this one is sparse.

A galaxy on the lower left (northwest) of the image is PGC 1840894, magnitude 17.70.  The larger galaxy at lower right is PGC 1835025, magnitude 17.37.

The most interesting thing (I thought) about this globular is that a galaxy glows through it.  At the lower right of the cluster, one glowing object is a smudge instead of a star.  It is about 25% of the way from the center of the cluster to PGC 1835025.  It is very faint.  I have no idea if it has a name. A Hubble shot of NGC 5466 (lower left in that version) shows that this smudge is actually a spiral galaxy in the far distant background.  Interestingly, the Hubble image also shows several other galaxies shining through that are not visible in my data.  You can see them if you zoom in and pan around.

This is 8x480" with the SXVF-H9 through the CFF Classical Cassegrain at f/7.93.

NGC 4088 (March 25, 2017)

This galaxy is between 40 and 60 million light years distant and appears in the constellation Ursa Major.  It has an unusual shape (one arm seems to be pointing the wrong way) and so is listed in the Arp catalog as well (#018).  It is probably a member of the same group as M109.  This is 9x900" with the SXVF-H9 through the CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain at f/7.93.  The galaxy to the lower right (southwest, actually) is PGC 38369.  North is left in this image.

February 17, 2017

North America Nebula, June 2016

Here is the North America Nebula in Cygnus, from DSW data collected in June of 2016.  This is just H-α data, 18x1200" worth through a Takahashi 106-FSQ with a QSI683wsg.

February 7, 2017

NGC 2371 & 2372, a Planetary Nebula in Gemini (Jan. 2017)

Here is a planetary nebula that sits just south of Castor and Pollux, the two bright stars in the heads of Gemini.  The nebula looks a bit like taffy candy.  The Taffy Nebula?

The data for this image was gathered through Astronomik 6nm-wide narrowband filters focused on the emission lines of Hydrogen alpha (H-α) and OIII.  The H-α filter may also pick up some NII emission at 658.4 nm.  Two hours of data (8x900") were collected through each filter.  The two data sets were combined with a synthetic green channel to create an RGB.  The color of the image matches closely the cyan of the OIII emission, which predominates the data, but the image preserves also the H-α [+NII] emission, and particularly the jets coming from the central star.  I have included the separate monochrome data from the two sets below.  The nebula's central star is about magnitude 14.8.

This image was taken through the CFF 290 Classical Cassegrain at f/7.93, with the SXVF-H9 camera.

Here is a link to a Hubble image of the nebula.

Here is the OIII:

Here is the Hα:

And here is an inverted and stretched OIII version showing the looping of the jets back around to form the taffy wrapper pulls, or, at least, that's what it looks like to me.  An interesting paper discussing the nebula's structure is here:

January 28, 2017

M51 (May 2016)

This is another set of Luminance subs from DSW, 24x900" plus 1x1200".  Of course, I've imaged this before, but this is the deepest data I've processed.  This image is about 80% of full size because I wanted it to sort-of fit on the screen.  Notice the numerous little galaxies in the background, and some galaxy clusters.

January 16, 2017

Leo Trio (April 2015)

I am just getting around to processing this 8 hours of luminance data from DSW in New Mexico.  As you can see, the skies there are great and equipment superb.  The telescope is a Tak FSQ 106.  The 8300-chip camera leaves slight blooms on stars that mimic diffraction spikes, an aesthetically pleasing failure of the camera's anti-blooming gate.

This is a great part of the sky, and this image allows one to fall into it several hundred million light years.  The big galaxies are about 35 million light years away (give or take 10 million). The smallest galaxies are hundreds of millions of light years distant.  See if you can spot clumps of those little dust motes in the distant background.

January 3, 2017

Horsehead Nebula (Jan. 2017)

OK, another Horsehead, but I had a lot of fun taking it.  This is 7x600" with the SXVF-H9 through the CCF290 Classical Cassegrain at f/7.93.