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.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another Shot from the 8 Inch...

I know I have done this one before, but it was an easy target in the cold, to help work the bugs out of the new scope. It is a color view of the Crab Nebula through my 8 inch newt, shot with the Orion DSCI. It is a stack of 10 eight minute images. The focus was off a bit, so I had to overcorrect and re-sample a bit.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

First Image with 8 inch Astrograph

Here are the first two images from the new 8 inch scope. They are of spiral galaxy M81, taken with the Orion DSCI 1 CCD. The color image is a stack of 18 five minute exposures. The mono image is a stack of a dozen 5 minute exposures shot binned 2x2. The focus and collimation could be better, but all in all, it is not too bad.
All images shot guided with the SV Nighthawk II and a DSI Pro.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Focus on Eye Candy

One more shot from the new scope. Here is a close up of the focuser. I can't speak better of it. It is totally custom machined by a fellow in Utah. It was about $160 total, but I would have paid much more for an item like this. It rotates, and has compression rings built into the drawtube. It can also support camera weights beyond 4lbs, from what I understand. The only thing it is missing is a hook-up for a focus motor. May not be a Moonlight, but the coolness factor is definitely up there. That and the fact it looks plain mean and nasty on this black scope. The photos do not do it justice.

You can get one too buy emailing them at He also sells on Ebay. If you order one, remember you are buying from a person, and not an assembly line business, so it may take a bit for it to be assembled and shipped. It is well worth the wait, though.

Bedliner Astrograph Project Completed

I just this week finished up a project I have been working on for a while. It was the re-furbishment and modification of an 8" project astrographic telescope. It is not really a true astrograph, like a Takahashi Epsilon, but it fits the bill close enough for me. An astrograph is a scope designed primarily for photography. As such, visual use is normally not an intended function, or is secondary in nature. I built this scope to replace the 10" Schmidt Newtonian that I recently sold. It was my wish to get a slightly smaller scope that rode a bit better in the crazy New Mexico wind, but still be big enough to seriously image small faint objects.

At it's core is an old Coulter 8" F4.5 mirror, which is not too bad optically, unlike a lot of larger Coulter mirrors. It has a custom machined Wyorock focuser, which is basically a work of unpolished aluminum art. And the tube is from an older GSO scope, cut down to size. I am not sure of the size of the secondary, as it came with the tube, but it works very well. I have a larger one I am planning to install for better FOV illumination, but have not done so yet. And to top it all off, the scope is finished in a coat of rubberized bedliner (from a pickup truck) to make it completely indestructible. Gives it sort of a mean, black scope from the Underworld look.

I hope to get it in use in the next few days.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

M74 with the ST7 CCD

Here is spiral galaxy M74 with the ST7 ccd taken through the 6 inch SCT. It is a stack of 16 six minute images shot guided at F6.3.