Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pinwheel Galaxy

I shot this image of M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy several months back, but never got around to processing it. It is finally finished, but not as good an image as I had hoped. This is a quite large galaxy visible in the "Big Dipper" constellation. It has one spiral arm that has been disturbed and thrown "off kilter" by something in its past. I shot this on my smaller 5" Maksutov Cassegrain scope with an older SAC 8 II CCD camera.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dumbell Close up

Here is a close up image of Messier 27, the Dumbell Nebula, as seen in an earlier post. This image was taken with a monochrome CCD camera using a special color filters to give color to the black and white image. The object is shown here in the combined light from Oxygen III, and Red. Oxygen III, or OIII is the wavelength of light given off by interstellar ionized Oxygen. A special filter was used to separate it out from the normal visible light spectrum. The light normally given off by M27 lies in the red and OIII regions.

*Warning - Technical stuff*
Light from interstellar objects comes in three flavors. It is Red from Hydrogen Alpha (HA) gas, Blue from cooler Hydrogen Beta (HB) gas, and Teal/Green from ionized Oxygen (OIII). These three color sources make up the Red/Green/Blue light our eye registers when looking at these types of objects.
Normally the cooler Hydrogen Beta is found in mostly the same places you will find Oxygen (OIII), so you can use the data from OIII and double it to serve as green and blue for the color separation process, and get a result close to the original. This is the basis of the Two Filter - Three Color process in use in this image. The Green and Blue channels are composed of OIII light, and the Red channel is from Red light. I did it this way because I was not satisfied with my Green and Blue filters and did not yet own a Hydrogen Alpha filter.
It seemed to work out OK. Sometimes Rocket Science really isn't Rocket Science.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Whirlpool in the Sky

This object is Messier 51, otherwise known as the Whirpool Galaxy. It is a pair of interacting galaxies that very much resemble their name, a whirlpool. The smaller galaxy is actually behind the larger one, and there is some speculation as to whether they are truly interactive or not. A small number of scientists think they are just in the same line of sight, and not truly interactive.

Bode's Galaxy

Messier 81 also known as Bode's Galaxy, is shown here with its smaller companion galaxy, Messier 82. Messier 82 is very interesting in the fact that it is in the throes of a violent explosion. Large streamers and filaments can be seen streaming from it in Hydrogen Alpha light. This picture was done in normal visible light, so they are not as prominent, but still can be seen. It is one of the great mysteries of science as to why this galaxy is exploding. The current theory has it resulting from a close pass from the larger spiral, M81.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dumbell in the Sky

Here is a little image of Messier 27, known as the Dumbell Nebula for it's shape in early film photos. This is a shell of gas being thrown off by a dying star. If you look closely, you can see the star in the center of the shell. Eventually, this shell will dissipate and the star will become a burned out cinder.

A View of the Lagoon...

This is the Lagoon Nebula, aka Messier 8, a large star forming region located near the Trifid Nebula. This nebula is easily visible to the naked eye in a dark sky, near the constellation of Sagittarius. Our Sun was formed in a cloud such as this, that has long since dissipated.

Trifid on a Whim!

I took this image with my Canon DSLR through my big telescope, a 10" Schmidt-Newtonian. I was actually adjusting my autoguider and decided to shoot a few images of this object as a test. It turned out so well I kept it.

The Trifid Nebula, otherwise known as Messier 8, is a region located in the Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way. It is a region of young stars formed in the glowing cloud. An open cluster, M21 is located below and to the left.

Eye of the Raven - The Background...

I have set this Blog site up to highlight my endeavors in the field of Astrophotography, and maybe educate a few people in the process. True science these days is becoming hard to find, as special interests slant research more and more. The only science that appears to be unaffected is that of cosmology and astronomy. The general public simply does not know enough about it, or it does not affect them in anyway for them to care about it. I hope to help change these attitudes, and maybe spur a few others to explore the wonders of the natural world.