Images

Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae

Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae
The Lagoon Nebula, M8 and the Trifid Nebula

I wish this was first light on the new tube, but my first night out did nothing but knock some of the rust off of my observatory skills.  Still, the new Stellar Vue SVQ 100 APO lived up to its reputation.

The Trifid Nebula at upper left is a fascinating combination or emission nebula (the red), reflection nebula (the blue) and dark nebulae (the dark dust lanes that divide the emission nebula).

The Lagoon Nebula dominates the center of the image and the globular star cluster NGC 6544 peeks in at the bottom, just right of center.

Focus on this image is a bit soft, but, but if you click the image to view it full screen, and then click it again to see it full size, you will see that the stars in the corners are every bit as sharp and round as the ones at the center of the image.  I am very impressed with the optics on this telescope!

This image is a combination of 18 sub-frames of 4 minutes each at ISO 800.  The telescope has a focal length of 580 mm at f/5.8.

Inverse Afterthought

Fat Crescent Moon
The waxing crescent Moon, 35% illuminated.

I’d call this an afterthought, but it was the first thing I shot last night.  It is also the nicest shot I did all week…although the Moon is a decidedly easier target than the wispy deep sky objects I love so much.

Anyway, I was about to shoot M78 knowing I was going to fight the light pollution from this puppy the whole time, so I thought I might as well shoot it quickly before I started to fight it.

This is a stack of 9 images, shot at 1/500 of a second at ISO 200 on a 127 mm APO tube with focal length of 660 MM and f/5.2.

M101

M101
Face-on spiral galaxy M101 is a tough target to image well. I am almost happy with this, as it is the best I’ve ever done. Maybe next time I will nail it to my satisfaction.

[By the way, the dashed line going from top left to bottom right is called a satellite flare, most often an Iridium flare.  It happens because the satellite tumbles as it orbits, so it reflects more or less light towards any observer, depending on its position.]

Feb 14, 2016.  OK, it is almost a year later, and I have been trying to get this target all week, same tube the 127 mm APO, focal length 660 mm, but this time with a new camera, a fully modified Canon 6D.  Before this target last night, I shot M78, but I only had 2.5 hours of data, and I was fighting a 35% illuminated Moon, so it was pretty badly washed out.  As a result, I had low hopes for this one, but it came out pretty nice.  40 Sub-exposures of 6 minutes each gave me a full 4 hours of data, and the Moon was down before I started shooting.  Shot at 800 ISO.

M101, the pinwheel galaxy, captured at 952 mm.  Click the pic to see a larger image.
M101, the pinwheel galaxy, captured at 952 mm. Click the pic to see a larger image.

April 12, 2015.  Since this is an image I have wanted to do well for a long time, it was a natural choice for first light on a new 5 inch refractor with 952 mm focal length.  [Actually around 660 mm focal length with the focal reducer]

Reworked this and am much happier with the results.  It is 18 exposures of 10 minutes each at ISO 1600 and the tube’s f/7.5.

Click the picture to see a larger image.
Click the picture to see a larger image.

Had another go at this target at Alamo Lake State Park.  I had a ton of problems, but, considering that this was taken with a 200mm lens and the one below was with a 610 mm telescope, it actually came out pretty darned good.  Definitely did a better job on the companion galaxy near the right edge of the frame.  10 exposures of 300 seconds at f/2.8.

M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy
Spiral Galaxy M101 with a few of its neighbors around the edges. Click on the picture for a larger view.

This was shot with a 6″ reflector (aprox. f/4) which I have been struggling with.  It is made from 30 exposures of 300 seconds at ISO 1600.  Shot on April 21, 2014.  Located just off the handle of the Big Dipper, M101 is also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy.

M78

Messier 78
Messier 78 is a challenging target in the constellation Orion. Click the picture for a larger view.

I knew when I first shot this that I wanted to do it again with more focal length, so here it is.  Used the 127mm apochromatic tube with a focal reducer for a focal length of 666.4 mm.  This images uses the best 117 of 152 exposures that I shot, 15 of them were 8 minutes at ISO 1600 and the other 102 were 4 minutes at ISO 3200, for a total of 8 hours 48 minutes of data.  Shot on 11/6/2015 and 11/13/2015.

I have processed this data more than a dozen times.  No other rendition even vaguely resembles this one, and it is the only one I like.

Cassiopeia

The constellation Casiopeia with many obvious deep space objects.

My main mount is still not up to speed for long exposure tracking, but I decided to break out the Vixen Polarie and shoot the 35mm lens just so I could shoot something.  I shot at wide open f/1.4, so there is some coma and blurring in the corners, but that stopped me from getting spikes on the stars and allowed 30 second exposures at ISO 400.  I shot a total of 625 exposures, but a lot of that had extreme light pollution from the east horizon at the beginning of the shoot and the west horizon at the end.  I got the best results by just stacking the best 240 from the middle of the night when Cassiopeia was almost directly overhead.  You can easily see the Heart and Soul Nebulae, the PacMan Nebula, and the Double Cluster, as well as other deep space objects.  Don’t just look at this one full screen, zoom it to full size or larger.  Located in the outer edge of the Milky Way, the number of tiny stars in this frame is amazing!

Super Moon Eclipse

Super Moon Eclipse
This was awesome to watch.

The Lunar eclipse on Sep 27, 2015 happened when the Moon was at perigee, the point in its orbit which is closest to Earth.  Not only does the moon appear just a bit bigger then, but, when it coincides with a Lunar eclipse the Moon can get deeper into Earths shadow, making for a particularly dark eclipse.

I shot this with a 952 mm focal length (f/7.5) APO refractor.  This is a combination of 40 shots, a mix of 2 seconds at ISO 400, 1 second at ISO 800 and 0.5 seconds at ISO 1600.

NCG 4274

Galaxy NGC 4274.
Galaxy NGC 4274.

Another low res image, a 1289 x 906 crop from a full frame.  This one uses all 12 exposures of 300 seconds at ISO 1600 that I shot on the f/7.5, 127 mm Apo.  There were other galaxies in the frame, but the full size image detracted from this pretty galaxy, which was the main target.

Box of Galaxies

From top left, going clockwise, NGC 4173. NGC 4169, NGC 4174 and NGC 4175.
From top left, going clockwise, NGC 4173. NGC 4169, NGC 4174 and NGC 4175.

This is pretty low resolution, a 1220 x 907 crop from the middle of an 18 megapixel frame.  It is also lacking in detail because I could only use the best 7 of 12 images at 300 seconds each At ISO 1600 on the f/7.5, 127 mm diameter apochromatic refractor.  Shot without an LP filter.

M97 and M108

M97, the Owl Nebula, and M108, an edge view of a galaxy.  The Owl Nebula is a "planetary" nebula, so called, because it looks a bit like a planet through a small telescope, since it does not twinkle like a star does.  It is what will eventually happen to our own Sun.
M97, the Owl Nebula, and M108, an edge view of a galaxy. The Owl Nebula is a “planetary” nebula, so called, because it looks a bit like a planet through a small telescope, since it does not twinkle like a star does. It is what will eventually happen to our own Sun.

Well, I spent a lot of time processing this image, but I spent most of it discovering that I could not torture it as hard as I normally do.  The more I picked at it, the worse it got, and at last I would throw it away and start over.  (Often, I will save, start over and eventually combine the previous try with the one I am working on.)

This is combined from the best 20 of 27 exposures of 360 seconds each at ISO 1600 on the 127 mm apochromatic refractor.  Shot without an LP filter.

Virgo Galaxy Cluster

Towards the left side of the frame, the galaxy with a lot of obvious faint areas around it is NGC 4438, which, along with nearby NGC 4435 is also called "The Eyes".  I see how they get that, but more the right M86 and M84 seem to be the eyes of an ET smiley face, with NGC4387 (nose), NGC 4388 (mouth) and NGC 4402 is the eyebrow over M86.  Overall, I count around 20 galaxies in this shot, all part of Markarian's Chain in the Virgo cluster of galaxies.  Click the pic to see a larger version.
Towards the left side of the frame, the galaxy with a lot of obvious faint areas around it is NGC 4438, which, along with nearby NGC 4435 is also called “The Eyes”. I see how they get that, but more the right M86 and M84 seem to be the eyes of an ET smiley face, with NGC4387 (nose), NGC 4388 (mouth) and NGC 4402 is the eyebrow over M86. Overall, I count around 20 galaxies in this shot, all part of Markarian’s Chain in the Virgo cluster of galaxies. Click the pic to see a larger version.

Revisited a portion of this target with the 127 mm f/7.5 tube.  As expected, with nearly 5 times the focal length, I got a lot more detail.  That I used 8 exposures of 1200 seconds each did not hurt either.  Shot April 17, 2015.

Virgo Galaxy Cluster
This is just a small portion of the Virgo Galaxy cluster. Click the picture for a larger view.

This picture involved a lot of experimentation.  I ended up using around 50 exposures of 300 seconds, at f/2.8, f/3.2, and f/4 And ISO of 1600, 3200 and 6400.  Shot with the 200mm lens on March 27, 2014. There are a couple dozen galaxies in this picture, including elliptical galaxies M84 and M86 (the two brightest galaxies in the shot) and spiral galaxy M99 up at the top left.

Best viewed at full size.  After the picture loads click to zoom in and click again to zoom back out.  (Works in IE, not sure in other browsers.)