Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weather Problems...

It seems I can't catch a break. The sub-zero conditions need to let up a bit before my equipment will function properly. I hope to get some more images as Spring arrives.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Six hours of NGC-772

I spent last night making adjustments to my guidance system, with the imaging session running late into the night. I ran out of good targets to image for the time available, and decided to go back to a galaxy I have imaged twice in the past. This makes at least 3 years worth of two hour images to stack of this particular galaxy. At this level of detail, you can plainly begin to see the halo of small galaxies surrounding the lopsided NGC-772. Also visible is the distorted spiral arm which has been torn apart by tidal forces.

I hope to get some color to add later.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

First Image of the New Season

Here is NGC 6888, the Crescent Nebula, shot last night after I worked out the bugs from my new computer and software upgrade. It's not the greatest pic in the world, but far better than most of my other attempts at this elusive, wispy, nebula.

This nebula is a cloud of dust blown off by the star in the lower middle, called a Wolf-Rayet Star. These stars burn at a very high temperature, much higher than a regular star, and they blow off an unusual dusty shell.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Back in business, but no images yet...

I have used the Summer rains to get a handle on a computer problem that developed during the last imaging season. After a computer replacement, I am still feverishly programming it and installing the appropriate software. Last night I did a test run, but ran out of imaging time. The main CCD is back up and operational, but the guider needs some adjustment. Hopefully tommorrow night all will be ironed out.

Last night I attended the White Sands Star Party, with the family. I have often contemplated bringing a few of my scopes out there, but never seem to be able to commit to it due to other priorities. It is nice, however, to look through other people's scopes, if not to simply confirm that the scopes I am using are just as good, if not better and that my choices have been validated.

Star parties are nice, but I am usually a bit dissappointed in the diversity of scopes available. It is good to see the public interested in telescopes and astronomy, but the rise of the mostly Chinese scope dealers has pushed out many of the truly exotic optics that would have been seen in the past. Many of my telescopes would be seen as truly odd in comparison, as they consist of hand-made items and optics, or they deviate from the purpose for which they were built by way of modifications. I really love to see the unusual, but it seems these days that is becoming a bit rare, at least for visual observers.

Gone are the days where the budding astronomer lovingly crafts his scope out of available parts bought from the local hardware store and plumbing parts. The star party was nice, and the kids won prizes, and that is all that counts. Times do change after-all.

For those of us who image, the unusual seems to be much more common-place, only our scopes live their entire life covered with a jellfish of electrical cables, and buried underneath piles of computers and guidance systems. They are usually not very "public" friendly, nor are they portable.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Stay Tuned...

Just waiting for the rainy season to end up here in the mountains. More astronomy pictures are on their way.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

M16 - The Eagle Nebula

I took this image of the Eagle Nebula several nights ago. I am afraid I have not been very active as far as imaging goes... other tasks have taken priority. This was a quickie, done with 6 ten minute images shot with my big 9" telescope at F6.3. I used my trusty old Canon 300D DSLR set at ISO 800.

Friday, June 11, 2010

M82 - The Exploding Galaxy?

This is a pretty commonly imaged galaxy. It is also somewhat of a mystery. Nobody quite knows exactly what is happening with this galaxy. It emits massive amounts of radiation and energy, and for many years Astronomers thought it was "exploding" through some largely unknown process. Now that we can see it better with more advanced telescopes and imaging systems, the mystery only deepens. Visibly, it appears to be a very distorted spiral, seen edge-wise, but the center is almost obscured by vast clouds of Hydrogen gas that appear to be streaming out of it. On closer inspection (like, with the Hubble), it becomes debatable whether these clouds are in fact coming from the galaxy, and are simply situated in between us and M82. The fact remains that this galaxy is highly distorted by it's larger neighbor, Messier 81, and whatever is taking place is more than likely because of this distortion.

This galaxy has another close cousin, NGC 1275, which appears to be doing almost the very same thing, but is located in another region of the sky - however, it has no larger neighbor to distort it.

Image taken with my Canon DSLR using a Celestron 9.25" schmidt-cassegrain telescope at F6.3.
Eight 11 minute sub-exposures.