Sunday, December 20, 2009

NGC 936 - A source of some controversy...

OK, here is an interesting one, at least in an astrophysics sense. NGC 936, the big ugly blob with a bar through it, is a very unusual spiral galaxy with an active radio source in it's nucleus. It is surrounded by no less than four Quasars, and a whole host of smaller objects. The controversy lies in the fact that according to the standard model of astrophysics, these objects should not be influencing each other. Quasars should be well in the very distant reaches of deep space, out near the big bang someplace.

As the notorious Halton Arp points out this galaxy appears to have EJECTED a quasar, and it shows physical signs of still being connected. Supporters of the Plasma Universe theory, and others like it use this galaxy as a test case. It is all very odd, and points to the fact that one or all of these theories is not correct, and the universe still is not truly understood by man.

Note: I do not really subscribe to any one theory over the others, as I am not a Cosmologist, but I do love controversy. Nothing like a good fight to stir things up. That and the fact that this galaxy is basically an ugly blob no matter how you take it's picture, so it needs an interesting back-story.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

NGC 925 - Barred Spiral

This is NGC 925, a very coarse looking barred spiral. This galaxy's arms are pretty faint, but the bar is easy to see in a six inch scope. At least I could see it very well.

This is 14 thirteen minute images median stacked, shot with the ST7 and the C6 sct with the standard .63 focal reducer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Veil Nebula

I shot this about a year ago, but never did a very good processing job, until now. I re-did this one night when I was totally bored. It was shot with my 100mm achro refractor and my DSLR, but I don't remember the stats.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NGC 772 - an unusual spiral

Here is one not usually seen. This one really needs some color, as it is quite colorful in RGB. This galaxy is named NGC 772, and is an off-kilter spiral. It is interacting with a whole host of small ellipticals and dwarf galaxies surrounding it. There are a lot of background galaxies in this image too, if you look real hard.

10 thirteen minute images with the 6" sct and ST7 ccd. Shot with a .63 reducer and guided on my LXD75.

Obligatory Crab Image...

Here is my obligatory Crab Nebula image for the end of 2009. It was up, so I shot it. Again. No color this time. Same stats as the others, but 6 thirteen minute images with the C6 sct.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

NGC 891 - Looking Good!

Lately my CCD has been doing so well, and the sky has been cooperating in such a manner I haven't wanted to touch anything, lest I fudge it up. So I have just been shooting monochrome images. I hope you guys like BW images.

Here is NGC 891, off center a little, but not too bad. It is about a dozen 13 minute images binned 1x1, shot with my trusty little c6 using an ST7 and .63 reducer.

I will add it to the growing list of Luminance images needing color data.

Does anybody else do this? Things get on a roll and working great, and I don't really want to mess with it too much so I just go with the mono because I can get more imaging time in.

Also, after about a year of ownership, I have found the little C6 sct to be one heck of a sleeper scope for imaging. It pairs up almost perfectly with my ST7.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A New M74 for 2009

I re-shot M74 to see if I could improve upon last years image. Here is 8 thirteen minute images stacked. All shot with the ST7 using the C6 and .63 reducer, with simple UV/IR filtration.

I seem to have picked up some fainter details but got more overall noise.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Back on Track - Here's M77...

After a break of several weeks of snow, I have finally gotten a chance to image again. My C6 seems to work the best with my ST7, so I mounted it up and aimed it at Messier 77, a fairly bright Seyfert galaxy with a very violent nucleus. It has a very faint, S-shaped spiral halo around the main center portion. I have brightened the contrast in this image to bring it out. You can faintly see it amongst the skyglow, along with a lot of very tiny, fuzzy galaxies (If you look hard!).

This image is eight 13 minute shots stacked Sigma Clipped, all taken with the ST7 using a .63 reducer. The scope was my C6 sct.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

NGC 7217 - An Unusual Spiral

This is NGC 7217, a rather strange spiral galaxy located near NGC 7331. It has a dusty yellow core surrounded by compact blue-ish arms. They don't really look like arms though, and are really more like a ring. These rings are filled with young, blue stars. This image is nearly 2 hours worth of imaging. It is 20 ten minute images shot through the C9.25 at F5. I did it with the old Starshoot DSCI CCD.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Crab Nebula - with C 9.25 scope

I shot this picture of M1, the Crab Nebula last night. It has been really windy, so I have not had much chance to get out and image. I am also still adjusting the focus on this scope and finding a ccd set-up that works for me. This seems to be about the best, though it is an old camera; the Starshoot I.

This is about a dozen 8 minute images shot at F5'ish guided on my LXD75 with a separate guidescope. Focus was slightly off, but a good deconvolution corrected it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stephan's Quintet

Here is another C9.25 image shot under VERY windy conditions. I am shocked it actually came out. The seeing conditions were also atrocious, with the stars furiously twinkling.

This is a stack of 6 ten minute images shot with the old Orion Starshoot at F6.3

This is a colliding galaxy cluster, with a slightly controversial nature. All of the galaxies have a similar red-shift except for one. This one seems to be interacting with the others, and seems to be part of the same group, but the red-shift says it is not. The astronomy world is divided as to whether this disproves the use of red shifts as a measure for distance. This cluster is also near to NGC 7331, and it shows signs of being connected to this group as well. This group also has a different red-shift, however.

Need to get some new targets...

Here is another small image of NGC 891. I did this with the C 9.25 but used the ST7. I shot this binned to save some imaging time, but the image did not hold up well when I drizzled it up in size. It is about 4 six minute images stacked, shot at F5 under VERY windy conditions.

I really like my ST7, but it is so heavy, especially with the filter wheel, that it causes drag on the scope when guiding. The cables are a real problem too. I think I will take it off for the time being.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

M27 redone

I re-processed the M27 shot I did with the C9. I think it looks a lot better.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spiral Galaxy NGC 6946

Here is a shot I did with the ST7 running through the new C9.25. I imaged this galaxy at F5 with a stack of 7 ten minute images.

NGC 6946 is noteworthy as being located near an open cluster. It is also known as the Firework's Galaxy. It is rather dim and can be found in the constellation Cepheus

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Pitfalls of AstroImaging...

Lots of things can go wrong. The most common are trailed stars, computer problems, and bad focus. This image of The Crescent Nebulas, has a lot of them. I started out the night with a computer problem, requiring about 4 re-boots. Then it was a problem with a guider trailing stars in the wrong direction. After I thought it was all squared away, I downloaded the night's images, and found the focus was slightly off.

Some nights you just can't win. Here is the result of this problem ridden imaging debacle. To this date, I have never taken a good image of the Crescent Nebula, NGC 6888.

This is a stack of 20 images at 8 minutes each through my C9.25.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Two Views of the Ring Nebula

I shot the Ring Nebula, M57, last night. I normally do not do this nebula, since it is relatively small, but I thought I would give it a go in the new scope.

I shot two versions. One is a stack of 30 thirty second images done with my Starshoot DSCI 1. The other is a composite of the 30 short exposures stacked on a stack of 15 ten-minute exposures. I managed to bring out the small nearby galaxy, and the outer shell is starting to appear around the ring. It looks like a faint ghost. The colors are a bit washed out because of the stretching process.
All imaged through the C9.25 at F3 'ish, not sure what it is exactly.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Getting the C9 Dialed In...

I went back to M27, since it is an easy target, to start getting the rig set better for the new C9.25 OTA. I ran a stream of 30 five minute images, and played around with the guider settings. The stars are sort of blobby (I think because the focus may be a little off - by a hair). I managed to get quite a bit of detail. I think I over-did the sharpening a bit though.

I can already see the C9.25 has all the benefits of my old SN-10 without the drawbacks.

Note: I shot this with a slight southern breeze. It did not seem to make a difference.

Friday, September 25, 2009

More Images From the new Scope...

Here are a few images I shot with the new C 9.25, they are not the greatest in the world, but it is slowly coming together. The stars are sort of funky due to stacking errors and a stiff breeze.

All images shot with my older Orion Starshoot imager. I believe both sets are stacks of 10 images shot at 6 minutes each with the C9 running at F5.

The top galaxy is NGC 891 and the bottom is NGC 7331; both are easy targets this time of year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Image From Another New Scope

I acquired a Celestron C 9.25 OTA in a trade a few weeks ago. Last night was the first time I got to run a camera through it, mostly due to weather. It has been one giant rainstorm for at least a month now. Last night was no exception. It was windy and had just rained an hour before. The sky was very turbulent, and lightning was flashing all about. I got the scope out anyway, because I wanted to try it out.

It did a fine job. Much better than I expected in the wind. It was taking 10 mph gusts, and it did not affect it much at all. I had it set to run at F3 with a little screw in focal reducer. I will have to put the regular F6.3 reducer in place and see how it works out. My focus was slightly off too. Overall not bad though.

The test image was of M27 with my old Starshoot CCD. Ten images at 5 minutes each.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Barred Spiral M109

Here is a shot of the faint Barred Spiral Galaxy M109. This galaxy is one of the few barred spirals you can see visually using an 8 inch scope. It is said, our Milky Way galaxy looks a lot like this one.

It is very faint, and could really use more integration time.

Scope: Celestron C6-SE sct
F-Ratio: F6.3
Mount: LXD 75
Filters: UV/IR only
Stack: 8 thirteen minute images

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

M94, subexposure test

I did this as a test shot using shorter sub-exposures. This is 9 ten-minute images. I am not sure I gained anything with more images to stack. I think my set-up works best with 13 minute minimum sub-exposures. The faint outer shell was visible, but was exceedingly noisy, so I had to tone it way down during processing. The longer subs would have brought it out.

I did this with my ST7 and C6 at F6.3

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Floating in the Sky

I found a balloon today, just before sunset. It made a nice target for my 300D and 100mm F6 refractor telescope. They launch these several hundred miles to the east of my house. It was way up there, floating on the edge of space.

Friday, May 15, 2009

M104 Sombrero Galaxy

Well, the Sombrero looks more like a ring in this image. I tried to emphasize the ring of dust around this otherwise elliptical galaxy. It is theorized that this is an elliptical Galaxy that collided with a spiral many billions of years ago. The dusty ring is the final remains of the spiral galaxy.

I did not get a lot of detail, but the ring is clearly visible.

Spiral Galaxy M100

This galaxy is a fairly dim one, but has a very bright, almost star-like core when seen visually. I have never taken a good image of it. This Luminance image with my ST7 is about the best so far, though it is not that great.

No Filters
Scope: Celestron C6 sct @F6.3
8 fifteen minute images stacked

Friday, May 1, 2009

Added color to M51

I added C/M/Y color to the M51 I did earlier. Each color channel binned 3x3 and ten minutes duration.

Monday, April 27, 2009

M51 Whirpool Galaxy

I shot this Luminance image a few nights ago. It is the Whirlpool Galaxy. It is 8 thirteen minute images median stacked. All shot at F6.3 with my C6 sct using my ST7 ccd.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

M63 - now in Color

Here is the final color image of M63, the Sunflower Galaxy.

C: 3 images @ 13 minutes Binned 2x2
M: 3 images @ 13 minutes Binned 2x2
Y: 3 images @ 13 minutes Binned 2x2
L: 8 images @ 13 minutes

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

M63 Sunflower Galaxy

Here's another image I need to shoot color for. It is M63, the Sunflower Galaxy. There is a strange line in this image that appears to run through the nucleus from edge to edge. I am not sure if it is a processing artifact or a real feature of the galaxy. I will have to research it.

Scope: Celestron C6S SCT
Mount LXD 75
Reducer: .63
Luminance: 8 thirteen minute images

Monday, March 30, 2009

Project: M106

I am waiting for the weather to clear so I can shoot some color for this galaxy. This is M106, near Ursa Major. It is a large and very violent spiral galaxy said to harbor a Black Hole in the core.

Shame I cut off the small galaxy next to it. I will have to redo the image, I guess.

Scope: Celestron C6S w/ .63 reducer
Mount LXD75
Filters: UV/IR block
L: 15 thirteen minute images

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NGC 2681 - maybe?

I thought I was imaging the relatively obscure, NGC 2681 when I shot this. After comparing it to other shots of NGC 2681, I am not so sure what it is.

It is a spiral galaxy, but it is definitely not NGC 2681.

This sort of thing happens occasionally, since imaging these tiny galaxies is a lot like taking a picture of a grain of sand on a beach a mile away.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Eskimo Nebula in LCMY color

I shot this image of the Eskimo Nebula with a full moon out. It was sort of a "target of chance", since I was actually hunting for Comet Lulin, but could not find it in the glow of the moon. This nebula is so named because it resembles a little eskimo face at high magnification. My image is sort of small, being shot with a focal reducer, but I did bring out a bit of color. Something on my imaging set-up was dragging, though, causing a small swing in my guider. The stars are not completely perfect.

Scope: Celestron C6-S
Mount: LXD-75
CCD: SBIG ST7 w/Atik filter wheel
Filters: Edmund CMY Dichroic
Focal Ratio: F6.3
L: 6 @ 60 seconds
C/M/Y: 6 @ 60 seconds binned 2x2

Monday, March 2, 2009

M108 - Now in Color!

Here is my earlier image of M108 colored with CMY coloring.

C = 5 images @ 13mins 2x2 binned
M = 5 images @ 13mins 2x2 binned
Y = 1 image @ 13mins 2x2 binned (What can I say? clouds moved in.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Messier 108

I shot this Luminance Image of M108 two nights ago. I need to shoot some color for it. M108 is a spiral galaxy seen along its edge.

Telescope: Celestron C6S
F 6.3
SBIG ST7 CCD / UV-IR filter
12 thirteen minute images.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

M81 Redux

I re-did the first color image I have taken with the ST7, this image of M81 Bode's Galaxy. It could use some mor integration time for more color, but at least you can see the color. I had a lot of trouble with the CCD chip frosting over. I need to bake my desiccant plug, but haven't yet.

This is the very same image as posted below, just with different processing.

M82 - Re-shot with CMY filters

Here is M82 re-done with my ST7 and CMY filters. I had an old HA filter laying around, so I tried to blend it in as well.

Scope: Celestron C6S
CCD: ST-7 w/ Edmund CMY filters
L: eight 13 minute images
C/M/Y: four (each) 10 minute images
HA: six 13 minute images

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

M81 Done in LCMY Color

Not the best image ever, but this is the first real color shot I have done with My ST7. M81, shot with my new Atik filter wheel and my Edmund CMY filters. It came out a bit bluer than I expected. All images shot at F6.3 through my SC6 with 13 minute sub exposures. Stack: L=8, CMY=3

I could have probably brought out more color with a better CMY stack, but I was in a hurry and it was freezing out.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

NGC 2336 - The Most Northern Galaxy

This galaxy, NGC 2336, is the closest to Polaris of all known galaxies. Because of this, it is relatively little known or photographed. It's proximity to the celestial pole makes it a tough target. Those who attempt it are rewarded with a spectacular and very faint barred spiral.

Scope: Celestron 6" SCT
Reducer: .63
Subs: 11
Duration: 13 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 38 minutes
Mount: LXD 75
No Filter

Thursday, January 29, 2009

NGC 2976 in color

NGC 2976 is definitely odd, but it is also quite colorful. Here it is again imaged with my 1st generation Orion Starshoot color CCD. It is 11 thirteen minute images shot at F6.3 with my C6 sct.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

M82 - Starshoot / ST7 Composite

Just for fun, I added my color data from my Orion Starshoot camera to the Luminance data from my ST7 ccd. This is the result.

More of M82

Here is M82 re-done with my ST7 ccd. A little more of the HA Tendrils can be seen.

Scope: Celestron 6" sct
Camera: SBIG ST7
Reducer: .63
Subexposure: 13 minutes
Images: 9
No Filter

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Spiral That Isn't a Spiral

Here is another anomalistic galaxy from Ursa Major. It is the peculiar NGC 2976, the spiral galaxy with no spiral shape. It has hints of a core, clouds of gas and dust, and a halo of outlying star clouds, but no spiral arm structure is to be seen anywhere. This galaxy has been torn apart by the gravitational forces exerted by it's larger neighbors. The small blur slightly to the left and down from this galaxy is the smaller galaxy, PGC 213630.

Scope: Celestron 6" sct
Camera: SBIG ST7
Reducer: .63
Subexposure: 13 minutes
Images: 15
No Filter

First UFO Image Obtained!

Hardly! This galaxy is NGC 2683, otherwise known as the UFO galaxy. It is a nearly edge on spiral named for it's shape resembling a "flying saucer".

Scope: Celestron 6" sct
Camera: SBIG ST7
Reducer: .63
Subexposure: 13 minutes
Images: 10
No Filter

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Weirdness from Ursa Major

Ursa Major is full of strangeness. For example, M82 - the exploding galaxy, or NGC 2976 - the spiral that is not a spiral. This image is of another strange galaxy. It is NGC 3077, thought to be an elliptical, but classed by some as an Irregular. At first glance it looks like a typical elliptical galaxy, but look again. There are dust lanes and tendrils in it very similar to the ones seen in M82. Conventional wisdom tells us that Elliptical Galaxies have no dust or gases, and are simply large oval clusters of stars. The accepted knowledge says this galaxy should not have these dust lanes, or whatever they are. However, we do not make the rules. Here is an elliptical which apperantly breaks our preconcieved notions of these objects.

My image does not do it justice. I had some problems with the bright star flaring on the main lens of my scope, and making a big ugly smear or two right above the galaxy. I took this image with my ST7 and 6 inch sct. It is 9 thirteen minute images median stacked and deconvolved.

Monday, January 19, 2009

More of Ursa Major... NGC 2403

I thought I would go ahead and image some other objects in Ursa Major, since my scope is set-up for this region right now, and I will have to re-balance everything to move someplace else. This galaxy is known as NGC 2403. It is very large and can be seen in a 4" scope very easily. It is near M81/82. This object is big enough and bright enough that Charles Messier should have caught it in his first catalogue survey, but did not. I underestimated it's size a little, and it is not centered well on the chip. I had to crop it to keep it even. It is a composite of 13 ten minute images with the ST7 ccd, all shot through the C6 sct at F6.3.

Not really a very interesting galaxy, it sort of looks like a big blur. It has a similar appearance to M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, but is pretty asymmetrical.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

M81 with the ST7

Continuing my current fixation on Ursa Major, I re-shot M81 again, this time using mt C6 sct and ST7 CCD. This image is 14 ten minute images median stacked and deconvolved, all shot at F6.3.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Deeper View of Messier 82

This image is 1 hour and 48 minutes of eight minute exposures with the Orion CCD and my 8 inch newt. A lot deeper than I normally go, but worth it. The strange Hydrogen tendrils are clearly visible in pink, along with the strange edge on spiral-like galactic form that makes up the main part of M82. A very interesting object, which no one quite seems to know what is going on with it. It seems to be the result of a collision or massive explosion, and the core seems to be ejecting massive amounts of synchrotron radiation in the pinkish hydrogen tendrils.