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.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bode's Galaxy - Messier 81

This large galaxy is located in the northern sky, in the constellation of Ursa Major. It is quite bright, and can be seen with the naked eye on a dark night. It is the major member of a large group of smaller galaxies all orbiting each-other. This is about 1 1/2 hours worth of images shot with the big 9 1/4" scope and my DSLR.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

M101 - Distorted Spiral in Ursa Major

I shot this photo of Messier 101 last night using the big 9.25" scope. M101 is a large spiral, with a distorted arm. To the upper left, out of the frame, is a smaller galaxy that is more than likely the cause of this distortion. M101 can be seen with the naked eye on a good dark night. The photo came out pretty good even though a stiff breeze was blowing and bumping the camera all around. It was shot using my Canon 300D and a .63 focal reducer. 13 images of 8 minute duration median stacked.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

M51 Whirlpool Galaxy with the Big Scope

M51 is a nearby galaxy undergoing a close pass with a smaller neighbor. The smaller galaxy is being ripped apart by the tidal forces generated by the encounter.

I took this photo of Messier 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy using my biggest telescope, the Celestron 9.25" inch Schmidt-Cassegrain and my Canon 300D DSLR. It is a median stacked composite of five 10 minute images. It is a little grainy, and the stars are a bit wonky because the wind was blowing. Overall I am pleased with the color it captured. I had planned to capture more than just five images, to reduce the graininess, but a windstorm kicked up and thwarted my plans.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

M100 - Two Armed Spiral in Coma Cluster.

M100 is a spiral galaxy near Coma Berenices. It sits amongst a vast cloud of nearby galaxies, in a very rich section of the sky. It is considered a classic spiral, and has a very bright core. In a telescope, it almost looks like a star with a hazy patch around it. It known for producing at least two well known Supernovae over the last decade or so.

I took this with my Canon 300D DSLR using my big C9 and a .63 reducer. It is 7 eight minute images, more or less. The wind was giving me problems, so the stars are not perfect. I eventually gave up and went inside. Wind is awful to fight against - you can't win.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

M94 - The Eye in the Sky

I shot this picture of Messier 94 with my Canon DSLR and my big 9 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain scope. This galaxy is considered an active galaxy, and has a very violent nucleus. It is theorized to hold a super-massive black hole. It is very dusty, and the collapse of the dust into the nucleus is thought to be producing an outburst of star formation, called a "Starburst". The faint glowing cloud surrounding it is a very dim halo of stars, offset from the central arms and "starburst" ring. The whole effect makes it appear similar to an "eye" floating in space.

This image is a compilation of nearly 2 hours worth of images.

Monday, April 5, 2010

NGC 3627 - The Cheeseburger Galaxy

This galaxy is part of the "Leo Trio" of Spring galaxies situated in close proximity to one another. This is a close up with my Orion CCD, shot throught the C9.25 telescope. It is 6 ten minute images shot at F 6.3.

This galaxy is also known as the "Cheeseburger Galaxy" due to the slight resemblance. It is actually a spiral galaxy with a vast dusty halo seen edgewise.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Three Hours not Enough...

One would think 3 hours of 13 minute exposures would bring out a lot of detail, but I guess this galaxy is just too faint. This is NGC 3344, a relatively obscure spiral galaxy that is surrounded by a faint ring of stars. However, the faint ring is too faint, and did not show up in my image. Nor did a lot of other detail either. This was a disappointment. I will have to add another 3 hours some other night.

The stars came out nice and round though, no guiding errors here.

Shot with the SBIG ST7 and the Celestron C6S.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spiral Galaxy M66 - One third of the Leo Trio.

This galaxy makes up one third of what is known as the Leo Trio, a cluster of bright galaxies which appear to lie in close proximity to one another. These galaxies can be seen with a small telescope as a triangular group of smudges near the hindquarters of Leo the Lion. They are much more impressive when photographed. This galaxy, M66, is a distorted barred spiral with a massive dusty core.

This is a composite of 10 thirteen minute images shot with my ST7 using a .63 reducer. The scope was my handy-dandy 6" inch SCT.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Arp 94 - Intergalactic Hunger Pangs or Something Else Entirely...

These two galaxies, NGC 3226 and 3227, are cataloged together as Arp 94. They are interacting, and one appears to be devouring the other. Halton Arp included this pair in his Catalogue of Peculiar Galaxies, due to this interaction. This catalog is a running record of all major galaxies known to be unusual, odd, or breaking the rules in some way. As always, there is controversy attached to it, as is typical of most things stemming from Mr. Arp.

The larger spiral galaxy is known to harbor an active nucleus, thought to be a Black Hole by most scientists. Most agree the larger spiral is slowly consuming it's smaller dwarf neighbor, the elliptical (round) galaxy. Mr. Arp has pointed out that this combination of Spiral Galaxy with an active nucleus paired with a smaller Dwarf Elliptical occurs very frequently in his catalog. He feels something else is taking place other than one galaxy consuming the other, in most of these cases.

While Mr. Arp is considered somewhat of a crank amongst his peers, he is a very astute observer. Maybe there is more to the story than we can really see, then again maybe not.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

NGC 3184 - Dusty Spiral in Leo Minor

OK, not the best image ever... I had to contend with glare from a nearby star out of frame, and a frozen up ccd chip. Could have got more detail, but had to process those other problems out.

Stats are on the picture.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

NGC 2903 - Dusty Barred Spiral

NGC 2903 is one of the brighter galaxies found in the late Winter/ early Spring and heralds the arrival of galaxy hunting season. It is a dusty spiral with a prominent bar. You can see it prominently in a scope 4" in diameter and up. 

This is a composite of 13 thirteen minute images shot with my ST7 using a .63 reducer on my 6" schmidt-cassegrain.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

NGC 2683 Close up

Here is NGC 2683 as seen through my C9. It is a fairly bright and dusty edge on spiral, which is also a known Seyfert Galaxy. Seyfert Galaxies have an active nucleus, and emit large amounts of radio waves. It is suspected that they harbor massive Black Holes in their core. The image has some drift and the stars have trailed a little mostly due to gusty wind.

The little dash shaped star on the bottom limb is actually two stars very close together. The seeing wasn't good enough to split them.

This is a composite of 11 five minute images shot at F5 or so through my C 9.25. I did it with my old StarShoot I CCD.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Signs of Spring...

The rise of the Leo constellation tells us that Spring is on the way. With this in mind, I braved subzero temperatures and got this shot of spiral galaxy M66, part of the "Leo Trio" of large, bright galaxies grouped close together. M66 is a dusty galaxy made of mostly of older stars. It normally has a yellowish tint, but my image does not really show it well.

This image is made of seven stacked 5 minute pics shot through the C9.25 using the StarShoot I CCD. All shot at approximately F5 'ish.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nearly 4 hours of NGC 2841

I took this last night. I sort of overcooked the bright star on the lower left. It is the spiral galaxy known as NGC 2841, mostly known for being very pretty and producing a few supernovas over the last few decades.

It is 18 thirteen minute images shot through my 6" sct at F6.3 using my ST7.

No color channels yet.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Horsehead

I do not do Nebulas often. I mainly stick with somewhat obscure galaxies. Anyway, I decided to take a break from the ordinary. Here is IC 434, or the Horsehead Nebula as it is most commonly known. A large, dark cloud of gas and dust near Orion's Belt. It takes a very dark night and a scope around 8 to 10 inches in diameter to see it with your eyes, and even then a special Hydrogen Beta filter is normally needed.

This image was taken with my 6 inch sct and my ST7 ccd camera. It is 7 thirteen minute images shot with a .63 reducer in place.

Monday, January 4, 2010

NGC 7814 - Edge on Spiral

Here is an uncommonly seen edge on spiral, NGC 7814. It is a flattened disk of stars seen exactly along the edge. Our galaxy would look like this if viewed at this angle. Some of those faint fuzzies surrounding the galaxy are globular clusters.

It is 9 thirteen minute images shot at F6.3 with my 6" inch sct.