Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The Eastern Veil Nebula is a portion of the overall Cygnus Veil Complex. It was formed many thousands of years ago when a star exploded, or went "supernova" as it is known. The Eastern Veil is not photographed as often other portions, like the "Witch's Broom" region, and is considerably harder to see visually. A dark sky, large scope, and some type of OIII filter is normally needed to see it with your eyes. The Witch's Broom region lies out of the frame at the bottom of the image.
This wide-field image of the nearby Andromeda Galaxy (M31) was taken with my Canon DSLR and a 200mm telephoto lens. It clearly shows the dust lanes, and two satellite galaxies in orbit around the bigger Andromeda Galaxy. The obvious small galaxy (M110) is visible to the upper left of Andromeda. The smaller one is the bright yellowish glob directly to the right of the nucleus, with a bright bluish star close by, on the edge of the galactic disk. Our Galaxy has two similar galaxies in orbit, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. They are not visible in the Northern Hemisphere, you will have to take a trip down south to see them.
Here is the Spiral Galaxy M74, showing off it's classic spiral structure. I shot this using an older CCD, the SAC 8 II, that I like to use due to it's extremely sensitive chip. This is a composite of 90 eight to twenty second images stacked. Anything longer than that and the CCD was so saturated nothing could be seen of the galaxy. That is how stupid sensitive this camera is. I could have stretched the image a bit more to bring out some more detail, but it looked good so I just left it.
I took this image with my DSLR and a 200mm telephoto lens piggybacked on my big scope. It is a composite of 3 three minute images. It shows the Pelican Nebula region with portions of the North America Nebula visible at the top of the photo. These regions lie in part of the Milky Way, and are large clouds of gas seen as we gaze back upon our own galaxy towards the center.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
This close-up image of the nucleus of comet 17P Holmes shows a bright coma region and the outer dust shell surrounding this unusual comet. It was taken with my large Schmidt-Newtonian scope. The dust shell has grown slightly in size since my first image shown below.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Here is an image of comet 17P Holmes. This comet suddenly erupted from magnitude 17 to magnitude 2.5 over the last few days. It is now so bright it can be seen with the naked eye in a moonlit night. It has a very strange appearance because it is seen nearly head on to us, and the tail is not visible.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
This image shows a couple of unidentified dark nebulae in the constellation of Cygnus. The large clouds of gas obscure the stars behind them and appear as a dark spot or hole in the star field. They are simply a large dark cloud that the light cannot shine through or illuminate.
The Double Cluster is a naked eye cluster located in the outskirts of the constellation Perseus. It is composed of two open star clusters appearing to be very near one another. It is considered to be one of the more spectacular objects to be seen visually, especially with a rich field telescope.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
This large planetary nebula is known as the Helix Nebula. It is very large (as big as the full moon), but is notoriously difficult to see without a very wide-field scope. It is so large, because it is the closest object of this type to the earth. It remains dim to our eyes, because the light is spread out over a larger area than the typical planetary nebula, in turn lowering the surface brightness. If it were farther away, the light would be more concentrated, and we would see it a bit easier.
This nebula is composed of gas and dust thrown off by a dying star. It is called the Helix because high detail images show two shells of gas resembling a vague helix shape. It is assumed the two shells were created by perturbations in the orbit of the star caused by an unseen companion.
I shot this image using my Canon 300D DSLR and my 10" Schmidt-Newtonian telescope.
The Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters as it is more commonly known form a very interesting star cluster in the fall night sky. It is a naked eye cluster composed of 7-9 bright blue stars, surrounded by a faint cloud of reflective dust. The whole affect is quite impressive in a wide field telescope or binoculars. It takes a scope of about 10" and a very dark night to even attempt to see the dust cloud surrounding these stars. It is captured fairly well in the above photo.