Stillwaters Observatory

Favorites

Bible School  Small Objects

As a Christian, here are 3 reasons why I like astronomy:

1. You can see God's hand in creation:

   "Ps 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork."

2. You can easily answer the question that has puzzled professional astronomers:

   Q. "How did the "Big Bang" start from nothing?

   A:  Gen 1:3: "And God said, Let there be light!"

3. You can see the tremendous variety in God's creation:

   1Cor 15:41: " There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory"

                                              

 

Telescopes:  Celestron Nexstar 11 GPS with f/1.8 Hyperstar Lens and Meade 12" LX-200 ACF.   

CCD Cameras Used: Atik 314L+, SBIG ST-8300C and Mallincam Xtreme

(All images with Atik and SBIG Cameras were taken with the Celestron telescope in Hyperstar mode; The Mallincam images were taken with the Meade 12")
Object Date of Obs. My Image

Factoids & Remarks

M1 Crab Nebula 11-3-11

Atik Camera

The Crab Nebula (catalogue designations M1, NGC 1952, Taurus A) is a supernova remnant and pulsar wind nebula in the constellation of Taurus about 6,500 ly from earth. The nebula was observed by John Bevis in 1731. It corresponds to a bright supernova recorded by Chinese and Arab astronomers in 1054 which was so bright it alarmed the populace as a possible precursor to the end of the world. The SN was so bright, it could be seen in daylight with the naked eye. At X-ray and gamma-ray energies above 30 keV, the Crab is generally the strongest persistent source in the sky, and expands at a rate of about 1,500 kilometers per second. It is part of the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. At the center of the nebula lies the Crab Pulsar, a neutron star (or spinning ball of neutrons), 28–30 km across, which emits pulses of radiation from gamma rays to radio waves.  The nebula was the first astronomical object identified with a historical supernova explosion. The cloudy remnants of SN 1054 are now known as the Crab Nebula. The nebula is also referred to as Messier 1 or M1, being the first Messier Object catalogued in 1758.

I think I see the shape of a crab etched in the nebulous filaments in the center of the nebula. I assume this is how it got its name.

M1 has an appropriate name for me. It is Mike's #1 (favorite) deep sky object and Mike's all time #1 image ...so far   :) .

M2 Globular Cluster 10-24-11

Atik Camera

Messier 2 or M2 (also designated NGC 7089) is a globular cluster in the constellation Aquarius. It was discovered by Jean-Dominique Maraldi in 1746 and is one of the largest known globular clusters. M2 is, under extremely good conditions, just visible to the naked eye. Binoculars or small telescopes will identify this cluster as non-stellar while larger telescopes will resolve individual stars, of which the brightest are of apparent magnitude 13.1.

M2 is about 37,500 light-years away from Earth. At 175 light-years in diameter, it is one of the larger globular clusters known. The cluster is rich, compact, and significantly elliptical. It is 13 billion years old and one of the older globulars associated with the Milky Way Galaxy. M2 contains about 150,000 stars, including 21 known variable stars. Its brightest stars are red and yellow giants.

M3 Globular Cluster 12-28-11

 

 

 

4-23-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

Messier 3 (also known as M3 or NGC 5272) is a globular cluster in the constellation Canes Venatici. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764, and resolved into stars by William Herschel around 1784. This cluster is one of the largest and brightest, and is made up of around 500,000 stars. It is located at a distance of about 33,900 light-years away from Earth. M3 has an apparent magnitude of 6.2, making it a difficult naked eye target even with dark conditions. With a moderate-sized telescope, the cluster is fully defined. It is estimated to be 8 billion years old. It is pretty difficult to spot this object in an amateur telescope without Go-To as it has no nearby pointer stars; though it is almost exactly halfway between and on a line connecting Cor Caroli with Arcturus.

M5 Globular Cluster 2-18-12

SBIG Camera

Globular Clusters are a collection of stars that are gravitationally bound together.  Generally spherical in shape, GC's may contain anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of stars.  They are very tightly packed when compared to star densities found in the main galaxy.  They are found not only in our own galaxy but have been found in others. The origin of GC's remains unknown.  The stars in the cluster are some of the oldest stars known, suggesting they existed at the start of the host galaxy but there is no evidence the two formed together.  It is thought that a black hole exists at the heart of many clusters. The orbits of GC's are also interesting.  Not only are they large, existing some 130,000 light years from the galactic center, but they do not lie in the galactic plane.

Messier 5 (M5) was discovered in 1703 by Gottfried Kirch.  It's located in the constellation of Serpens and is 24,000 light years distant.  It contains as many as 500,000 stars and as such is one of the largest GC's known.  This cluster is spectacular when viewed through a large scope.

M8 Lagoon Nebula 10-1-11

 

 

 

5-15-12

 

 

 

7-13-13

Atik Camera

*SBIG Camera

The Lagoon Nebula (catalogued as Messier 8 or M8, and as NGC 6523) is a giant interstellar cloud in the constellation Sagittarius. It is classified as an emission nebula and as an H II region. The Lagoon Nebula is one of only two star-forming nebulae faintly visible to the naked eye from mid-northern latitudes. Seen with binoculars, it appears as a distinct oval cloudlike patch with a definite core. A fragile star cluster appears superimposed on it. The Lagoon Nebula is estimated to be between 4,000-6,000 light years from the Earth. In the sky of Earth, it spans 90' by 40', translates to an actual dimension of 110 by 50 light years. Like many nebulas, it appears pink in time-exposure color photos but is gray to the eye peering through binoculars or a telescope, human vision having poor color sensitivity at low light levels. It also includes a funnel-like or tornado-like structure caused by a hot O-type star that emanates ultraviolet light, heating and ionizing gases on the surface of the nebula. The Lagoon Nebula also contains at its centre a structure known as the Hourglass Nebula (so named by John Herschel), which should not be confused with the better known Hourglass Nebula in the constellation of Musca.

The image taken on 5-12-12 was cropped slightly while the image taken on 7-13-13 was not cropped. Both were taken with the SBIG camera.

M11 Wild Duck Cluster

8-26-11

Atik Camera

 

The Wild Duck Cluster (also known as Messier 11, or NGC 6705) is an open cluster in the constellation Scutum. It was discovered by Gottfried Kirch in 1681. Charles Messier included it in his catalogue in 1764. The Wild Duck Cluster is one of the richest and most compact of the known open clusters, containing about 2900 stars. Its age has been estimated to about 220 million years. Its name derives from the brighter stars forming a triangle which could represent a flying flock of ducks (see right side of cluster). It lies at a distance of approx. 6,200 light years.

I thought my image looked as good as or better than many I have seen online.  The cluster is interesting in that the the cluster core is kind of square shaped with a bright star right in the center. In my limited experience, this is kind of unusual. I really like looking at this cluster - very cool Lord.

M13 Great Hercules Cluster 8-26-11

 

 

5-10-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

Messier 13 or M13 (also designated NGC 6205 and sometimes called the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules or the Hercules Globular Cluster) is a globular cluster of about 300,000 stars in the constellation of Hercules. M13 was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714, and catalogued by Charles Messier on June 1, 1764. M13 is about 145 light-years in diameter, and it is composed of several hundred thousand stars, the brightest of which is the variable star V11 with an apparent magnitude of 11.95. M13 is 25,100 light-years away from Earth.

I first stumbled on this beauty kind of by accident one night. It was a great blue, speckled haze in my scope visually at 70X. It startled me when I first saw it as I had never seen anything quite like it (I hadn't much experience with a telescope prior to this sighting - still don't actually). Because of what I saw on this first sighting, I came back later on another night and imaged it.

The SBIG image also captured NGC-6207, a small, 12.1 magnitude spiral galaxy that just happens to lie about one degree to the northeast of M13. It is shown here to the east of M13. NGC 6207 is some 30 million light years away from us.

M15 Globular cluster 11-17-11

Atik Camera

Globular cluster Messier 15 is among the more conspicuous of these great stellar swarms. At a distance of about 33,600 light years, its total visual brightness of 6.2 magnitudes corresponds to roughly 360,000 times that of our sun. Its brightest stars are about of apparent magnitude 12.6 or absolute magnitude -2.8 or a luminosity of 1,000 times that of our Sun. M15 is perhaps the densest of all (globular) star clusters in our Milky Way galaxy.  It is still unclear if the central core of M15 is packed so dense simply because of the mutual gravitational interaction of the stars it is made of, or if it houses a dense, supermassive object, which would be resembling the supermassive objects in galactic nuclei.  Although the true nature of these objects remains obscure for the moment, many scientists believe they are strong candidates for "Black Holes".
M16 Eagle Nebula 10-3-11

 

 

10-7-11

  

 

 

4-24-12

 

 

5-18-12

 

 

 

5-18-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

SBIG Cropped

The Eagle Nebula (catalogued as Messier 16 or M16, and as NGC 6611) is a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens. Its name derives from its shape which resembles an eagle. It is the subject of the famous "Pillars of Creation" photograph by the Hubble Space Telescope, which shows pillars of star-forming gas and dust within the nebula.This region of active current star formation is about 6,500 light-years distant. The tower of gas that can be seen coming off the nebula is approximately 100 trillion km (60 trillion miles) high. Due to the huge distance between us, the Pillars of Creation may already be gone, and instead a stellar star nursery could have taken its place. In early 2007, scientists using the Spitzer discovered evidence that potentially indicates that the Pillars were destroyed by a nearby supernova explosion about 6,000 years ago, but the light showing the new shape of the nebula will not reach Earth for another millennium.

 

The two upper images were taken with the ATIK camera, while the lower images were taken with the SBIG camera.

I think that my images show a small dark eagle shape superimposed on top of the overall magenta, eagle shaped nebula but it is really part of what is generally, and also famously, called the "Pillars of Creation" made popular with images taken with the Hubble Telescope.The extreme lowest image was cropped significantly to help bring out the pillars.

M17 Swan Nebula or Omega Nebula 10-3-11

 

 

 

 

4-24-12

 

 

 

5-20-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

SBIG Camera

The Omega Nebula, also known as the Swan Nebula, Checkmark Nebula, Lobster Nebula, and the Horseshoe Nebula[1][2] (catalogued as Messier 17 or M17 and as NGC 6618) is an H II region in the constellation Sagittarius. It was discovered by Philippe Loys de Chéseaux in 1745. Charles Messier catalogued it in 1764. It is located in the rich starfields of the Sagittarius area of the Milky Way.

The Omega Nebula is between 5,000 and 6,000 light-years from Earth and it spans some 15 light-years in diameter. The cloud of interstellar matter of which this nebula is a part is roughly 40 light-years in diameter. The total mass of the Omega Nebula is an estimated 800 solar masses.

An open cluster of 35 stars lies embedded in the nebulosity and causes the gases of the nebula to shine due to radiation from these hot, young stars.

The Swan portion of M17, is said to resemble a barber’s pole

The figure of this nebula is also nearly that of a Greek capital omega, Ω, somewhat distorted.
M20 Trifid Nebula 10-3-11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4-24-12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5-15-12

 

 

 

 

6-19-13

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

*SBIG Camera cropped & enlarged

*SBIG Camera

*SBIG Camera cropped & enlarged

SBIG (cropped)

The Trifid Nebula (catalogued as Messier 20 or M20 and as NGC 6514) is an H II region located in Sagittarius about 5200 ly away. The Trifid Nebula M20 is famous for its three-lobed appearance, so its name means 'divided into three lobes'. The dark nebula, which is the reason for the Trifid's appearance, is manifested as dark lanes effectively separating the nebula into 3 parts. The object is an unusual combination of an open cluster of stars, an emission nebula (the lower, red portion), a reflection nebula (the upper, blue portion) and a dark nebula (the apparent 'gaps' within the emission nebula that cause the trifid appearance; these are also designated Barnard 85). Viewed through a small telescope, the Trifid Nebula is a bright and colorful object, and is thus a perennial favorite of amateur astronomers.

The Middle image is a cropped and enlarged view of the Trifid Nebula while the Lower image is a wider field view (still cropped slightly) that shows the M21 open cluster on the upper left side. Marianne re-named this pretty cluster as she was passing behind my chair as I was processing this image. She said, "Oh look a cluster of stars is in the picture too; I'm going to call it the 'Sparkle Plenty Cluster' " So, "Sparkle Plenty Cluster" it is, even though some people may still call it M21.

One thing I like about the SBIG Camera is that it has lots of pixels and also a wide field view. This makes it possible to "blow up" small objects without much loss in resolution, while at the same time, it's able to capture wide field views as well. These images show this ability rather well.

M24 Sagittarius Star Cloud 5-17-12

SBIG Camera

The Sagittarius Star Cloud, M24 (mag4.6). This is not a cluster as we typically see. This is a star cloud... an extremely dense region of simply, stars with dark nebula interspersed throughout and spanning about 2°x1°... roughly the size of the Andromeda Galaxy! What an awesome wide-field shot as we look deep into the heart of our star filled milky way. This is a great place to simply "star-cruise" through the sky. Your eyepiece will be continually overflowing with stars. From time to time, you'll occasionally stumble over a gem. Notice the dark nebulae of gas which end to block out the stars behind it creating what looks like a deep hole in space. In the upper right corner is one especially dark with a single star brightly shining in front, but none behind as they are blocked by the dark gas of the nebula in front.
M27 Dumbbell Nebula 6-4-12

SBIG Camera

The Dumbbell Nebula (also known as Messier 27 or NGC 6853) is a planetary nebula (PN) in the constellation Vulpecula, at a distance of about 1,360 light years. This object was the first planetary nebula to be discovered; by Charles Messier in 1764. At its brightness of visual magnitude 7.5 and its diameter of about 8 arc minutes, it is easily visible in binoculars, and a popular observing target in amateur telescopes.  

The upper image is the un-cropped wide-field view using the SBIG camera. I like it because it conveys the vast loneliness (I can't say emptiness when I see all those stars) of space surrounding the nebula.

The lower image is a cropped view of the same image. I include it because it shows the central star (now a white dwarf) which is the remaining portion of the original star that exploded and shed some of its mass to form the nebula we see here.

M27 Dumbbell Nebula  10-7-11

Atik Camera

This is a more recent photo taken of M27, also with my equipment, by my good friend and observing buddy Luster Roush who did all the electrical and also the more skilled work helping assemble our observatory. Thanks Luster!
M31 Andromeda Galaxy 8-30-11

 

 

 

8-12-12

 

 

10-8-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera (w/nebula filter)

  SBIG Camera    (no filter)

 

The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Andromeda.  Andromeda is the nearest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way, but not the closest galaxy overall. It gets its name from the area of the sky in which it appears, the Andromeda constellation. Andromeda is the largest galaxy of the Local Group, which consists of the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way Galaxy, the Triangulum Galaxy, and about 30 other smaller galaxies. Although the largest, Andromeda may not be the most massive, as recent findings suggest that the Milky Way contains more dark matter and may be the most massive in the grouping. The 2006 observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope revealed that M31 contains one trillion (1012) stars at least twice more than the number of stars in our own galaxy, which is estimated to be  200–400 billion.  The Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way are expected to collide in perhaps 4.5 billion years.

At an apparent magnitude of 3.4, the Andromeda Galaxy is notable for being one of the brightest Messier objects, making it visible to the naked eye on moonless nights even when viewed from areas with moderate light pollution. Although it appears more than six times as wide as the full Moon when photographed through a larger telescope, only the brighter central region is visible to the naked eye or when viewed using a binoculars or a small telescope. This is why my ATIK image is cut off and shows only a portion of the galaxy.

In the SBIG image taken on 8-12, one can see a neighbor galaxy to the Andromeda Galaxy known as M110 - a dwarf spheroidal galaxy. In addition, if you look close and look to the upper left in an outer spiral arm, you can see NGC 206, a  a bright star cloud in the Andromeda Galaxy. It is notable for being the brightest star cloud in Andromeda as viewed from Earth. This is one of the very few, extra-galactic open clusters that can be seen from earth with amateur equipment. The lower image shows the same camera and view except no nebula filter was used.

M33 Triangulum Galaxy aka Pinwheel Galaxy 8-8-11

Atik Camera

The Triangulum Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 3 million light years (ly) from Earth in the constellation Triangulum. It is catalogued as Messier 33 or NGC 598, and is sometimes informally referred to as the Pinwheel Galaxy, a nickname it shares with Messier 101. The Triangulum Galaxy is the third-largest member of the Local Group of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way Galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy and about 30 other smaller galaxies. It is one of the most distant permanent objects that can be viewed with the naked eye.

This was the first galaxy I imaged. I was excited to see the spiral arms come out after I stacked the images.

M36 Pinwheel Cluster 2-12-12

SBIG Camera

M36 (Pinwheel cluster): An open cluster consists of ~60 stars of magnitude of approximately 6.3, located ~4100 light-years away. If I look closely and use a little imagination (squint your eyes), I believe I can discern the shape of a child's pinwheel. I like this cluster visually through the Meade scope as well.
M37 Salt & Pepper Cluster 12-12-11

SBIG Camera

M37 is the brightest and arguably the best of the three open clusters in Auriga. It gets its name from the dozens of brightly colored stars which comprise the cluster. M37 is about 4400 l-y from Earth and occupies roughly two-thirds as much space as the moon. M37 is a splendid visual object and is readily observed in binoculars. To me it looks like salt sprinkled on a black velvet cloth where the salt was sprinkled heaviest near the center where the shaker holes are closest together and lighter elsewhere.

Maybe I should have been a poet ... on second thought, let's forget that.

M40 Double Star 8-30-11

Atik Camera

Winnecke 4 (also known as Messier 40 or WNC 4) is a double star in the constellation Ursa Major. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764 while he was searching for a nebula that had been reported in the area by Johann Hevelius. Not seeing any nebulae, Messier catalogued this double star instead. It was subsequently rediscovered by Friedrich August Theodor Winnecke in 1863. Burnham calls M40 "one of the few real mistakes in the Messier catalog," faulting Messier for including it when all he saw was a double star, not a nebula of any sort.

In 1991 the separation between the components was measured at 51".7, an increase since Messier's time. Data gathered by astronomers Brian Skiff (2001) and Richard L. Nugent (2002) strongly suggest that this is merely an optical double star rather than a physically connected system. Distance: 510 ly.

Kind of cool. Not spectacular but I like it.

M42 Orion Nebula 10-3-11

 

 

 

1-15-12

 

 

1-30-12

 

 

 

3-10-12

 

 

 

1-10-13

 

 

 

3-27-13

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

SBIG Camera

SBIG Camera

SBIG Camera

Mallincam Xtreme

SBIG Camera

The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated south of Orion's Belt. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across. Older texts frequently referred to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula.

The Orion Nebula is one of the most scrutinized and photographed objects in the night sky, and is among the most intensely studied celestial features.] The nebula has revealed much about the process of how stars and planetary systems are formed from collapsing clouds of gas and dust. Astronomers have directly observed protoplanetary disks, brown dwarfs, intense and turbulent motions of the gas, and the photo-ionizing effects of massive nearby stars in the nebula. There are also supersonic "bullets" of gas piercing the dense hydrogen clouds of the Orion Nebula. Each bullet is ten times the diameter of Pluto's orbit and tipped with iron atoms glowing bright blue. They were probably formed one thousand years ago from an unknown violent event.

 

The first image was taken with the Atik Camera camera (fewer pixels, narrower field) and the second image was taken with the SBIG camera (more pixels, wider field), the third image with the SBIG Camera with images from two separate nights stacked together, the fourth with images from three separate nights stacked together, and the 5th with 200 images stacked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still learning on the Xtreme. Took this series of 250 images at ~3 sec exp. each  (no darks, flats or bias frames) with and stacked with MaximDL. It was Full Moon so it could be a lot better. Only image on site so far with the Xtreme. Stars look bad, but I can work on that. Maybe too much reduction?

 

 

 

 

 

This last image was obtained by using a layer mask in PS to minimize the glare from the trapezium (4 bright stars causing the "blown out" or overexposed effect in the middle of the image in the preceding images). As you can see the image is much more "under control" with a minimizing of flare around the trapezium.

 

 

M44 Beehive Cluster 2-12-12

SBIG Camera

M44 is a prominent open cluster of stars. Nicknamed Praesepe and "The Beehive", it is one of the few open clusters visible to the unaided eye. M44 was thought to be a nebula (notice the slight nebulosity in the image) until Galileo used an early telescope to resolve the cluster's bright blue stars. These stars are visible in the image. M44, which is thought to have formed about 400 million years ago, is larger and older than most other open clusters. The Beehive Cluster lies about 580 light-years away, and spans about 10 light-years across. When viewed with a powerful telescope, hundreds of stars become visible.
M45 The Pleiades 2-12-12

SBIG Camera

The Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters and Messier 45, is a conspicuous object in the night sky. The cluster contains hundreds of stars, of which only a handful are commonly visible to the unaided eye. The stars in the Pleiades are thought to have formed together around 100 million years ago, making them 1/50th the age of our sun, and they lie some 425 light years away. From our perspective they appear in the constellation of Taurus. For northern hemisphere viewers, the cluster is above and to the right of Orion the Hunter as one faces south, and it reaches its highest point in the sky around 4am in September, midnight in November, and 8pm in January.

I really like this image. It gives me a real feeling of peace when I look at it. The SBIG-ST-8300 camera with it's wide field of view frames this open cluster perfectly.

M48 Open Cluster 2-19-12

SBIG Camera

Open cluster Messier 48 (M48, NGC 2548) is a conspicuous open cluster in the head of the extended constellation Hydra, almost on its border to Monoceros. M48 is a quite conspicuous object and should be a naked-eye object under good conditions. The smallest binocular, or telescopes, show a large group of about 50 stars brighter than mag 13, the total number being at least 80. The more concentrated core extends over about 30 arc minutes, while the outskirts reach out to about 54', corresponding to a linear diameter of 23 light years at its distance of 1,500 light years.

 

M51 Whirlpool Galaxy 10-1-11

Atik Camera

The Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as Messier 51a, M51a, or NGC 5194) is an interacting grand-design spiral galaxy that is estimated to be 23 ± 4 million light-years from the Milky Way Galaxy. in the constellation Canes Venatici. It is one of the most famous galaxies in the sky. The galaxy and its companion (NGC 5195) are easily observed by amateur astronomers, and the two galaxies may even be seen with binoculars.

M51's bright circular disk has a radius of about 38,000 light-years. Its mass is estimated to be 160 billion solar masses. A black hole, surrounded by a ring of dust, is thought to exist at the heart of the spiral.

M51 is visible through binoculars under dark sky conditions and can be resolved in detail with modern amateur telescopes. When seen through a 100 mm telescope the basic outlines of M51 and its companion are visible. Under dark skies, and with a moderate eyepiece through a 150 mm telescope, M51's intrinsic spiral structure can be detected. With larger (>300 mm) instruments under dark sky conditions, the various spiral bands are apparent with HII regions visible, and M51 can be seen to be attached to M51B. The very pronounced spiral structure of the Whirlpool Galaxy is believed to be the result of the close interaction between it and its companion galaxy NGC 5195.

M52 Open Cluster 11-5-12

SBIG Camera

Messier 52 (M52, NGC 7654) is a fine open cluster located in a rich Milky Way field. Due to interstellar absorption of light, the distance to M52 is uncertain, with estimates ranging between 3,000 and 7,000 light years. One study identified 193 probable members of the cluster, with the brightest member being magnitude 11. In the image one can see the edge of the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) at the top of the frame.
M53 Globular Cluster 12-24-11

 

 

 

2-18-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

Globular star cluster Messier 53 (M53, NGC 5024) is one of the more outlying globulars, being about 60,000 light years away from the Galactic center, and almost the same distance (about 58,000 light years) from out Solar system. M53 has a bright compact central nucleus of about 2' in diameter, although its stars are not very concentrated toward the center when compared to other globulars, and a gradually decreasing density profile to the outer edges In small amateur telescopes, M53 appears as a slightly oval nebulous object with a large, bright center, of rather even surface brightness and evenly fading out to the edges.

The image from the ATIK Camera must have picked up some light from my red headlamp which I must have accidentally left on while taking this image. I'll replace this image at a future date.

The image is really too small for the wide field SBIG Camera; but I included anyway for comparative purposes.

M57 Ring Nebula 8-4-11

Atik Camera

The famously named "Ring Nebula" (also catalogued as Messier 57, M57 or NGC 6720) is located in the northern constellation of Lyra. It is one of the most prominent examples of a planetary nebula, the gaseous remains of red giant star that has ended its life by expelling its material into the surrounding interstellar medium. M57 is 2,300 ly from Earth.

M66 and "Leo Trio" 5-12-13

SBIG Camera

The Leo Triplet (also known as the M66 Group) is a small group of galaxies about 35 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. This image is special to me in that it is a gathering of three magnificent galaxies in one field of view.

This galaxy group consists of the spiral galaxies M65, M66, and NGC 3628. M65 is the galaxy on the lower right, M66, the one on the lower left and NGC 3628 at the top of the image. All three are large spiral galaxies. They tend to look dissimilar because their galactic disks are tilted at different angles to our line of sight. NGC 3628 is seen edge-on, with obscuring dust lanes cutting across the plane of the galaxy, while the disks of M66 and M65 are both inclined enough to show off their spiral structure.

M67 Open Cluster 2-19-12

SBIG Camera

Messier 67 is an open star cluster and was first described and cataloged as an open cluster by Charles Messier in 1780. Interestingly, astronomers have discovered that Messier 67 is one of the oldest known star clusters in our Milky Way galaxy. Estimates of the age of the stars forming this open cluster range from 3.2 billion years to 4 billion years. The Messier 67 open cluster is estimated to be about 2,700 light years distant. M67 has more than 100 stars similar to the Sun, and countless red giants. The total star count has been estimated at well over 500. The ages and prevalence of Sun-like stars contained within the cluster had led astronomers to consider M67 as the possible parent cluster of our own Sun. However, computer simulations have suggested that this is highly unlikely to be the case
M74 Spiral Galaxy 8-30-11

Atik Camera

Messier 74 (also known as NGC 628) is a face-on spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces. It is at a distance of about 32 million light-years away from Earth. The galaxy contains two clearly defined spiral arms and is therefore used as an archetypal example of a Grand Design Spiral Galaxy. The galaxy's low surface brightness makes it the most difficult Messier object for amateur astronomers to observe. However, the relatively large angular size of the galaxy and the galaxy's face-on orientation make it an ideal object for professional astronomers who want to study spiral arm structure and spiral density waves. It is estimated that M74 is home to about 100 billion stars.

M76 Little Dumbbell Nebula 10-9-11

Atik Camera

The Little Dumbbell Nebula, also known as Messier 76, NGC 650/651, the Barbell Nebula, or the Cork Nebula, is a planetary nebula in the constellation Perseus. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1780 and included in Charles Messier's catalog of comet-like objects as number 76. As is not unusual for planetary nebulae, the distance is poorly known, with estimates between 1,700 and 15,000 light years Distance to M76 is currently estimated as 2,500 light years. It is a planetary nebula - the result of a star which ejected its outer shell of gas into surrounding space.

The Little Dumbbell Nebula derives its common name from its resemblance to the Dumbbell Nebula (M27) in Vulpecula. It was originally thought to consist of two separate emission nebulae and was thus given two catalog numbers in the NGC 650 and 651. Planetary Nebula Messier 76 is one of the faintest Messier Objects, and one of only four planetary nebulae in Messier's catalog. Some consider this object the faintest and hardest to see object in Messier's list. The moderately starry field contains, some 12'E of M76, the bright 6.7 magnitude orange (K5) star HIP 8063 seen in my image just north of the nebula. I feel kind of proud to have such a clear image of such a small, hard to image object - especially after looking online and seeing images that are far inferior to the one I captured. I really like this object. Thanks for the beauty in your heavens Lord.

M78 Nebula in Orion 11-25-11

Atik Camera

The nebula Messier 78 (also known as M 78 or NGC 2068) is a reflection nebula in the constellation Orion. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1780 and included by Charles Messier in his catalog of comet-like objects that same year. M78 is the brightest diffuse reflection nebula of a group of nebulae that include NGC 2064, NGC 2067 and NGC 2071. This group belongs to the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex and is about 1,600 light years distant from Earth. M78 is easily found in small telescopes as a hazy patch and involves two stars of 10th magnitude. These two stars, HD 38563A and HD 38563B, are responsible for making the cloud of dust in M78 visible by reflecting their light.

M78 is about four degrees east of Mintaka (Delta Orionis), the westernmost star in Orion's belt. Like all reflection nebulae, M78 is seen because it scatters light from another source, usually nearby stars. In small telescopes M78 appears like an oval smudge of grayish light that is slightly brighter on its southern end. The nebula can be glimpsed with binoculars on an exceptional dark sky, but if you observe in less than ideal conditions a 4.5-inch telescope is the minimum required. Observers using larger instruments may see M78 as comet-shaped, with a broad tail of material arcing away from two 10th magnitude stars in the head.

M81 Bode's Galaxy 8-26-11

Atik Camera

Messier 81 was first discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1774. Consequently, the galaxy is sometimes referred to as "Bode's Galaxy". In 1779, Pierre Méchain and Charles Messier re-identified Bode's object, which was subsequently listed in the Messier Catalogue. This galaxy is approx. 12 million ly from earth. This relatively close galaxy contains a supermassive black hole that has the mass of 70 million suns. M81 is gravitationally interacting with Messier 82 (see next object) and NGC 3077. The interactions have stripped some hydrogen gas away from all three galaxies, leading to the formation of filamentary gas structures in the group. Moreover, the interactions have also caused some interstellar gas to fall into the centers of Messier 82 and NGC 3077, which has led to strong starburst activity (or the formation of many stars) within the centers of these two galaxies.

M82 Cigar Galaxy 10-7-11

 

 

 

4-27-13

Atik Camera

Mallincam

Messier 82 (also known as NGC 3034, Cigar Galaxy or M82) is the prototype nearby starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The starburst galaxy is five times as bright as the whole Milky Way and one hundred times as bright as our galaxy's center. In 2005, the Hubble Space Telescope revealed 197 young massive clusters in the starburst core (see image). The starburst core is a very energetic and high-density environment. Throughout the galaxy's center, young stars are being born 10 times faster than they are inside our entire Milky Way Galaxy.

 

 

M86 & Markarian's Chain of Galaxies 5-9-13

SBIG Camera

This is an image of a chain of galaxies in the constellation Virgo which I have centered on the galaxy M86. The chain is known as Markarian's chain. Markarian's Chain is a group of galaxies that forms part of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. It was named after B. E. Markarian, who discovered it in the mid 1970s.

In my image you can see 8 galaxies easily and 9 if you look a little harder. M84 is the bright galaxy beneath M86. The two galaxies at the top are NGC 4438 and NGC 4435 also known as "the eyes". NGC 4402 is the galaxy to the right of M86 and NGC 4388 is to M86's lower left. The image was cropped slightly.

M97 Owl Nebula 12-24-11

 

12-26-11

 

4-12-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

The Owl Nebula (also known as Messier Object 97 or NGC 3587) is a planetary nebula in the constellation Ursa Major. M97 is regarded as one of the more complex of the planetaries. The 16th magnitude central star (shown in the images) has about 0.7 solar mass and the nebula itself about 0.15 solar mass. The nebula formed roughly 6,000 years ago. The nebula gets it name due to the appearance of owl-like "eyes" when viewed through a large (>200 mm) telescope under dark sky conditions with the aid of a so-called "nebula filter." The "eyes" are also easily visible through photographs taken of the nebula as seen here. M97 is an interesting object for backyard viewing. It lies relatively nearby at 2,300 light-years from our Sun, so it appears 3.2 arc-minutes in diameter - only ten times smaller than the Full Moon. The nebula's unusual name goes back to Lord Rosse, who found in 1848 a striking resemblance to the face of an owl, with two dark circular perforations and "a star in each cavity" giving the impression of two gleaming eyes. This description may sound a little over- imaginative, but if you take a look at this image you will see that it's accurate.

While you can see it even with large binoculars, the Owl Nebula remains indistinct even in 6-inch telescopes due to its low surface brightness. To visually seey. the two dark patches that make up the distinctive eyes of the owl, you need at least an 8-inch scope and moderately high power. If the night is very dark and clear you might even spot the central star that appears between the eyes and faint traces of color inside the nebula.

This is one of my favorites since it is such a challenge to get a clear image of the eyes and the central star (stellar core remnant which lost it's hydrogen shell causing the nebula). The ATIK image shown here was taken on two mornings at about 5:00AM and consists of the combined, stacked images from these two mornings. The bright star on the upper left is HIP 54765. The challenge in getting these images is half the fun! Thanks Lord for such a fulfilling pastime that I only recently discovered at age 71.

The lower image with the SBIG camera shows not only M97, but also barred spiral Galaxy M108 shown edge on on the right side of the image. Marianne, looking over my shoulder as I was processing this image, commented that she was naming the galaxy the "Pope's Hat Galaxy" since to her the galaxy looks like a pope's hat. After googling "pope's hats", I had to admit I see her point with the brim being the spiral portion, edge on, and the hat's crown the bulge at the galaxy nucleus (see hat pictured at left). I see online that this style of hat is called "saturno", correctly noting a celestial resemblance, but getting it wrong as to which one. Who knows, maybe Marianne's new name for this galaxy will catch on. See NGC-253 below for an even better image of a "pope's hat".

M100 and neighboring galaxies 5-7-14

SBIG Camera

Messier 100 (M100, NGC 4321) is a beautiful example of a grand-design spiral galaxy, and one of the brightest galaxies in the Virgo Cluster, or Coma-Virgo of Galaxies. Like a number of other members of this cluster, it is situated in the southern part of constellation Coma Berenices. M100 is one of the brightest member galaxies of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies.

M100 is a spiral galaxy, like our Milky Way, and tilted nearly face-on as seen from earth.The galaxy has two prominent arms of bright blue stars and several fainter arms. The blue stars in the arms are young hot and massive stars which formed recently fcaused by interactions with neighboring galaxies.
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy 11-5-11

 

 

 

2-20-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

The Pinwheel Galaxy (also known as Messier 101 or NGC 5457) is a face-on spiral galaxy distanced 21 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major, first discovered by Pierre Méchain on March 27, 1781, and communicated to Charles Messier who verified its position for inclusion in the Messier Catalogue as one of its final entries.

PierrMéchain described it as a "nebula without star, very obscure and pretty large". To observe the spiral structure in modern instruments requires a fairly large instrument, very dark skies, and a low power eye piece. M101 is a relatively large galaxy compared to the Milky Way. With a diameter of 170,000 light-years it is seventy percent larger than the Milky Way.

 

Late development: I was reading Sky & Telescope magazine today (2-29-12) and on page 16 of the March 2012 issue there was an article about a recent supernova  (a stupendous, nuclear explosion of a star) in M101 that was the brightest one seen from earth since 1972 . It peaked in brightness late last summer and has been gradually declining in brightness since. I immediately thought, "I imaged M101 last fall (11/5/2011) , I wonder if I captured it"? The answer is "YES!" I have just annotated the original image on the top-left to show this supernova which has been given the name "SN2011fe". This is so cool! This is especially so, since a supernova that can be seen from earth and then recorded by amateur astronomers is such a very, very rare event. It's hard to do, since the news that a supernova  has been confirmed to have occurred, usually comes out after it has faded too far to then record. (See my image of M1 to see what the expanding gas and debris from a supernova that occurred in 1054 AD looks like almost a thousand years later. This supernova was so bright it cast a shadow at night and was even visible during daytime and the gas and debris from the supernova is still expanding outward to this today.)

 

Today I went back to look at an even more recent image I took of M101 earlier this month to see if the shrinking of the supernova would be noticeable when compared to the earlier image taken on 11-5-11 and, sure enough, it is. The lower image at left is M101 taken later on 2-20-12 and it is obvious that the supernova is shrunken noticeably relative to it's neighboring stars from it's peak late last summer and early fall as shown in the top image. If you open both images and compare the supernova size in the two images, this shrinkage is easily seen.

M108 Surfboard Galaxy 10-22-11

Atik Camera

Messier 108 (also known as NGC 3556) is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major.  From the perspective of the Earth, this galaxy is seen almost edge-on. This galaxy has an estimated mass of 125 billion times the mass of the Sun and includes about 290 ± 80 globular clusters. It is about 45 million light years distant.

The super massive black hole at the core has an estimated mass equal to 24 million times the mass of the Sun.

NGC-40 Bow Tie Nebula 10-30-11

Atik Camera

NGC 40 (also known as the Bow-Tie Nebula and Caldwell 2) is a planetary nebula about 3500 ly from earth discovered by W.F.Herschel Nov 25 1788, and is composed of hot gas around a dying star. The star has ejected its outer layer which has left behind a smaller, hot star with a temperature on the surface of about 50,000 degrees (Celsius). Radiation from the star causes the shed outer layer to heat to about 10,000 degrees (Celsius) and is about one light-year across. About 30,000 years from now, scientists theorize that NGC 40 will fade away, leaving only a white dwarf star approximately the size of Earth

The nebula is so small in my scope/camera, my image was rather disappointing after seeing some of the NASA images.

NGC-246 Skull Nebula 8-26-11

Atik Camera

NGC 246 (also known as the Skull Nebula[3] or Caldwell 56) is a planetary nebula in Cetus.  The central star is HIP 3678, which is responsible for creating the nebula as it puffs it's outer layers out into space. It has a 14th magnitude companion 3.8" distant. The distance to this star system is 2100 light years. This distance implies an actual size of 6 light years for the surrounding nebulosity. That's one and a half times the distance from our sun to the nearest star. I could not see anything on screen when I photographed this. This is true of many of the images here. I just had to have faith in my alignment.

NGC-253 Sculptor Galaxy 8-26-11  

Atik Camera

The Sculptor Galaxy (also known as the Silver Coin or Silver Dollar Galaxy, NGC 253, or Caldwell 65) is an intermediate spiral galaxy in the constellation Sculptor. The Sculptor Galaxy is a starburst galaxy, which means that it is currently undergoing a period of intense star formation. The Sculptor Galaxy is a beautiful example of an edgewise spiral and the brightest galaxy in the Sculptor group.  NGC 253 is about 8 million light-years away.

NGC-281 Pac Man Nebula 11-2-11

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

NGC 281 is an H II region in the constellation of Cassiopeia and part of the Perseus Spiral Arm. It includes the open cluster IC 1590, the multiple star HD 5005, and several Bok globules. Colloquially, NGC 281 is also known as the Pacman Nebula for its resemblance to the video game character. The nebula was discovered in August 1883 by E. E. Barnard, who described it as "a large faint nebula, very diffuse."  The nebula is visible in amateur telescopes from dark sky locations. In his book Deep Sky Wonders, Walter Scott Houston describes the appearance of the nebula in small telescopes:"There was a faint glow in the immediate vicinity of the multiple star, with an occasional impression of a much larger nebulosity...Its surface brightness was much less than that of M33 in Triangulum or NGC 205, the distant companion of the Andromeda galaxy."

I was pleasantly surprised to see how bright this nebula was. It is always an act of faith when you tell your scope to "goto" an object, then image it, see nothing on the computer screen except stars, and then stack the images later and have this nice little surprise pop out. This is a fun hobby.

NGC-772 Fiddlehead Galaxy 11-17-11

Atik Camera

NGC 772 (also known as Arp 78) is an unbarred spiral galaxy approximately 130 million ly away in the constellation Aries. It is notable for possessing a single elongated outer spiral arm, which has likely arisen due to tidal interactions with nearby galaxies.  I realize that this image is not too spectacular, but I include it for two reasons.

1. This galaxy is by far the farthest thing away from us I have yet seen. This galaxy is 130 million ly away!   And,

2. The fiddlehead is very discernible. The single spiral arm is the "fiddle" stem and the spiral and core itself is the turned under fiddle end.

NGC 869 & NGC 884 Double Cluster in Perseus 12-12-11

SBIG Camera

NGC 884 and NGC 869 are at distances of 7600 and 6800 light-years away, respectively, so they are also close to one another in space. The clusters' ages, based on their individual stars, are relatively young. NGC 869 is 5.6 million years old and NGC 884 is 3.2 million years old, according to the 2000 Sky Catalogue. In comparison, the Pleiades have an estimated age ranging from 75 million years to 150 million years. There are more than 300 blue-white super-giant stars in each of the clusters. The clusters are also blueshifted, with NGC 869 approaching Earth at a speed of 22 km/s (14 mi/s) and NGC 884 approaching at a similar speed of 21 km/s (13 mi/s).

I like this even better in the Meade scope as a visual observation which never fails to give me a feeling of peace.

NGC-891 Edge on Galaxy 8-8-11

Atik Camera

NGC 891 (also known as Caldwell 23) is an edge-on unbarred spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It was discovered by William Herschel on October 6 1784. The galaxy is a member of the NGC 1023 group of galaxies in the Local Supercluster. It has an H II nucleus. The object is visible in small to moderate size telescopes as a faint elongated smear of light with a dust lane visible in larger apertures. In 2005, due to its attractiveness and scientific interest, NGC 891 was selected to be the first light image of the Large Binocular Telescope. This galaxy looks as we think our own galaxy would look like when viewed edge-on.

NGC-896 H-Alpha Emission Nebula 12-18-11

Atik Camera

Atik Camera

Located about 7,500 light-years from Earth in the brightest part of the Heart Nebula, is the NGC 896 Emission Nebula in constellation Cassiopeia. It isn't difficult to recognize the constellation due to its distinctive 'W' shape formed by five bright stars.In the image, the nebula NGC 896 appears awash in bright red hues, with streaks of black created by interstellar dust. NGC 896 is an emission nebula of glowing gas and darker dust lanes situated in the Perseus Arm in the northern sky. It forms only part of the larger Heart nebula. The two images differ only in their processing.
NGC-1499 California Nebula 9-12-12

SBIG Camera

What's California doing in space? Drifting through the Orion Arm of the spiral Milky Way Galaxy, this cosmic cloud by chance echoes the outline of California on the west coast of the United States.

The California Nebula (NGC 1499) is an emission nebula located in the constellation Perseus. As stated above, iIt is so named because it appears to resemble the outline of the US State of California on long exposure photographs. It is almost 2.5° long on the sky and, because of its very low surface brightness, it is extremely difficult to observe visually. I also had trouble fitting it within the camera's field of view it was so large. . It lies at a distance of about 1,000 light years from Earth.

Despite its bright integrated magnitude the California nebula is one of the more illusive objects in the sky. Without the aid of a filter it is one of the most difficult objects to observe in any aperture. Burnham's describes this nebula as "A difficult object visually." But in his day they didn't have the deep sky filters that are available to us.   That doesn't make it easy, however. The basic problem with observing this nebula is that it is very large.

NGC-1535 Cleopatra's Eye 10-9-11

Atik Camera

NGC1535 is a compact planetary nebula positioned in north east of Eridanus, has a visual diameter of about 40 arc seconds and is about 2150 ly away. Although this picture cannot show you detailed structure, the nebula has a color of bluish green and an slightly oval shape - and the nebula has a nickname of "Cleopatra's eye". My scope/camera does not have enough magnification to bring out the inner structure, but it has a pretty color anyway.
NGC-1977 Running Man Nebula 10-3-11

Atik Camera

NGC 1973/5/7 is a reflection nebula 1/2 degree northeast of the Orion Nebula. The three NGC objects are divided by darker regions. It is also called The Running Man Nebula. It is 1500 ly away.

Being a runner, I really like this nebula. As you can see, the dark nebula in the shape of a running man is superimposed on the base, violet nebulosity. Thanks Lord for this special, heavenly treat!

NGC-2174 Monkey Head Nebula 3-13-12

SBIG Camera

A lesser known sight in the nebula-rich constellation Orion, NGC 2174, also known as the Monkey Head Nebula, can be found with binoculars near the head of Orion, the celestial hunter. About 6,400 light-years distant, the glowing cosmic cloud surrounds loose clusters of young stars. Covering an area larger than the full Moon on the sky, this image shows red hydrogen emission and emphasizes oxygen in blue.

This nebula is very bright and easily visible, even in 9 x 25 binoculars. If you look closely and use a little imagination, you can see the rough image of a monkey head (Neanderthal man?) in oblique profile, facing left and looking slightly up. The monkey head resemblance is not not as evident as the horse head in IC-434, but striking nonetheless.

NGC-2237 Rosette Nebula 3-10-12

 

 

 

1-10-13

SBIG Camera

The Rosette Nebula (also known as Caldwell 49 & NGC 2237) is a large, circular Hydrogen II region located near one end of a giant molecular cloud in the Monoceros region of the Milky Way Galaxy. The cluster and nebula lie at a distance of some 5,200 light-years from Earth and measure roughly 130 light years in diameter. It is believed that stellar winds from a group of O and B stars are exerting pressure on interstellar clouds to cause compression, followed by star formation in the nebula. This star formation is currently still ongoing. The radiation from these very hot, young stars in the center of the nebula excite the atoms in the nebula, causing them to emit radiation themselves producing the emission nebula we see. The mass of the nebula is estimated to be around 10,000 solar masses.

 

In the upper image, 30, 30sec exposures were taken and stacked, while in the lower image 200, 30 sec. exposures were stacked.

NGC-2264 Cone Nebula & Christmas Tree Cluster 10-9-11

 

 

 

2-19-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

The Christmas Tree Cluster and the Cone Nebula were both discovered by William Herschel. He found the cluster on January 18, 1784 and the nebula on December 26, 1785. The nebula belongs to a much larger complex, which is currently an active star forming region. You can see the image of a Christmas tree in the star cluster if you study it and use your imagination a bit. :-). I love the nebula color and the beautiful, bright stars in this cluster. This nebula is about 2600 ly away. The dark cone which gives this nebula its name is not seen in my ATIK Camera image as the nebula was so large I missed the dark cone in my image framing....

...but I got it with the SBIG camera which has a wider field, although this was a poor night for imaging and I didn't have my nebula filter attached. You can see the cone in the lower, center of the image. You can also see the "Christmas Tree" Cluster with star at the top of the tree near the center of the image with the "tree" tilted to the right. I'd like to replace this image with a better one some dark night when I have the nebula filter in the imaging train. The Christmas tree can also be seen near the center of the ATIK image - also tipped to the right.

NGC-2359 Thor's Helmet. 10-30-11

 

 

 

11-16-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

 

NGC 2359 (also known as Thor's Helmet) is an emission nebula in the constellation Canis Major. The nebula is approximately 15,000 light-years away and 30 light years in size. Known as a Wolf-Rayet star, the central star is an extremely hot giant thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution. It is similar in nature to the Bubble Nebula (NGC-7635 below). However, interactions with a nearby large molecular cloud are thought to have contributed to the more complex shape and curved bow-shock structure of Thor's Helmet.
 

To me it's amazing. It really does look like a Viking helmet laid on it's side.

NGC-2392 Eskimo Nebula 10-9-11

Atik Camera

The Eskimo Nebula (NGC 2392), also known as the Clownface Nebula or Caldwell 39, is a bipolar double-shell planetary nebula (PN). It was discovered by astronomer William Herschel in 1787. The formation resembles a person's head surrounded by a parka hood. It's so small in my image however, this kind of detail is impossible to see.

It is surrounded by gas that composed the outer layers of a Sun-like star. The outer disk contains unusual light-year long orange filaments. NGC 2392 lies more than 2,870 light-years away and is visible with a small telescope in the constellation of Gemini.

NGC-4038 Ring Tail Galaxy 1-5-12

Atik Camera

The Antennae Galaxies (also known as NGC 4038/NGC 4039) are a pair of interacting galaxies in the constellation Corvus about 45 million ly from earth. The Antennae are undergoing a galactic collision. These two galaxies are known as the 'Antennae' because the two long tails of stars, gas and dust thrown out of the galaxies as a result of the collision resemble the antennae of an insect. The nuclei of the two galaxies are joining to become one giant galaxy. Most galaxies probably undergo at least one significant collision in their lifetimes. This is likely the future of our Milky Way when it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy.

About 1.2 billion years ago, the Antennae were two separate galaxies. 900 million years ago, the Antennae began to approach one another. 600 million years ago, the Antennae passed through each other. 300 million years ago, the Antennae's stars began to be released from both galaxies. Today the two streamers of ejected stars extend far beyond the original galaxies, making the antennae shape. Within 400 million years, the Antennae's nuclei will collide and become a single core with stars, gas, and dust around it. Observations and simulations of colliding galaxies suggest that the Antennae Galaxies will eventually form an elliptical galaxy.

NGC-4631 Herring or Whale Galaxy 2-18-11

SBIG Camera

NGC 4631 (also known as the Whale Galaxy or Caldwell 32) is an edge-on spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici approximately 30 million ly from earth. This galaxy's slightly distorted wedge shape gives it the appearance of a herring or a whale, whence its nickname.

NGC 4631 contains a central starburst, which is a region of intense star formation. The most massive stars that form in star formation regions only burn hydrogen gas through fusion for a short period of time, after which they explode as supernovae. So many supernovae have exploded in the center of NGC 4631 that they are blowing gas out of the plane of the galaxy.

NGC 4631 has a nearby companion dwarf elliptical galaxy, NGC 4627 which may be seen to the left.

NGC-4656 Crowbar Galaxy 2-18-11

SBIG Camera

NGC 4656 is located in the constellation Canes Venatici and is shaped like a  "crowbar" or "hockey stick". NGC 4656 is also the "disturbed" neighbor to NGC 4631 (described above, which also shows the crowbar or hockey stick galaxy). The gravitational tug-of-war warps the disk of this galaxy creating the crowbar shape. The nearness of the galaxy (perhaps 25 million light years away) allows small knotted star forming regions to be resolved. There is also a very small galaxy nestled next to the whale. This interesting trio of galaxies is known as the Whale and Pup, and the Crowbar. The Whale (NGC 4631) is a spiral galaxy seen edge on on the left side. The Crowbar (NGC 4656) is the irregular shaped galaxy in the center that resembles the hockey stick or a crowbar and the Pup resides immediately beside the whale (or herring, whatever).
NGC-6543 Cat's Eye Nebula. 12-26-11

Atik Camera

The Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC 6543, Caldwell 6) is a planetary nebula in the constellation of Draco. In the center of the Cat's Eye there is a bright and hot star; around 1000 years ago this star lost its outer envelope, producing the nebula. Modern studies reveal several mysteries. Hubble Telescope observations revealed a number of faint rings around the Eye, which are spherical shells ejected by the central star in the distant past. The exact mechanism of those ejections, however, is unclear.

This was a hard nebula to image. At first I could only see the bright central star; however as I studied the nebula I could finally see a faint ring around the bright central portion which is the outer envelope of the hot central star escaping into the surrounding vacuum.

NGC-6888 Crescent Nebula 11-1-11

 

 

 

8-23-12

 Atik Camera

 SBIG Camera

The Crescent Nebula (also known as NGC 6888, Caldwell 27, Sharpless 105) is an emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus, about 5000 light years away. It is formed by the fast stellar wind from the Wolf-Rayet star WR 136 (HD 192163) colliding with and energizing the slower moving wind ejected by the star when it became a red giant around 400,000 years ago. The result of the collision is a shell and two shock waves, one moving outward and one moving inward. The inward moving shock wave heats the stellar wind to X-ray-emitting temperatures. I can see the crescent or "C" shape in my image.

The bottom image was significantly cropped from it's original wide field to better show the nebula.

NGC-6946 & NGC 6939 10-8-12

SBIG Camera (cropped)

The image shows Spiral Galaxy NGC 6946 and Open Cluster NGC 6939 in Cygnus and Cepheus. The galaxy is about 10 million light years distant and the open cluster is located in our Milky Way galaxy approximately 5,800 light years away. The galaxy NGC 6946 shown here is less than one arc-degree away from the open cluster NGC 6939. But, as stated above, in reality the pair are not nearly so close to each other. The constellation boundary between Cygnus and Cepheus runs right between the two; NGC 6946 is in Cygnus, while NGC 6939 is in Cepheus.

It's always a treat to be able to capture two catalog objects in the same FOV.

NGC-6960 Veil Nebula (Witch's Broom)

 

10-24-11

 

 

 

4-24-12

 

 

 

10-12-13

 Atik Camera

 SBIG Camera

The Veil Nebula is a cloud of heated and ionized gas and dust in the constellation Cygnus. It constitutes the visible portions of the Cygnus Loop, a large but relatively faint supernova remnant. The source supernova exploded some 5,000 to 8,000 years ago, and the remnants have since expanded to cover an area roughly 3 degrees in diameter (about 6 times the diameter, or 36 times the area, of the full moon). The distance to the nebula is not precisely known, but recent evidence from the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) supports a distance of about 1,470 light-years.

In modern usage, the names Veil Nebula, Cirrus Nebula, and Filamentary Nebula generally refer to all the visible structure of the remnant, or even to the entire loop itself. The structure is so large that several NGC numbers were assigned to various arcs of the nebula.[4] There are three main visual components:

The Western Veil consisting of NGC 6960 (the "Witch's Broom" shown here) near the foreground star 52 Cygni; The Eastern Veil, whose brightest area is NGC 6992 (shown immediately below), trailing off farther south into NGC 6995 (shown the next further below) and IC 1340; and Pickering's Triangle (or Pickering's Triangular Wisp), brightest at the north central edge of the loop, but visible in photographs continuing toward the central area of the loop. NGC 6974 and NGC 6979 are luminous knots in a fainter patch of nebulosity on the northern rim between NGC 6992 and Pickering's Triangle.

NGC-6992 Veil Nebula 5-30-12

 

 

 

9-2-13

 SBIG Camera

The Veil Nebula in the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan is one of the most beautiful and interesting objects in the sky. NGC 6992, a portion of the Veil Nebula is actually expanding debris from the supernova explosion of a star that took place over 5000 years ago. The Veil Nebula is approximately 1,440 light-years away. The image here shows the fine colored wisps of gas which are filaments of shocked interstellar gas along the shockwave of the expanding supernova remnants. As the expanding supernova material smashes into the gas, the gas glows and forms the visible wisps of this image.  These images show the same nebula on different nights, but with the same camera

NGC-6995 Veil Nebula 10-21-11

Atik Camera

The Veil Nebula is what remains of a star that exploded thousands of years ago. It is located some 2,500 light years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan. Expanding sheets and filaments of hydrogen gas stretch across roughly 100 light years of interstellar space. In our sky, the Veil is huge — nearly four full-moon widths across. That's why I have so many images here of this nebula - one image just won't cover it all. This last potion I captured seemed very faint.
NGC-7000 North America Nebula 5-18-12

SBIG Camera

The North America Nebula (NGC 7000 or Caldwell 20) is an emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus, close to Deneb (the tail of the swan and its brightest star). The remarkable shape of the nebula resembles that of the continent of North America, complete with a prominent Gulf of Mexico. It is approximately 1600 ly from earth.
The North America Nebula is large, covering an area of more than four times the size of the full moon; but its surface brightness is low, so normally it cannot be seen with the unaided eye. Binoculars and telescopes with large fields of view (approximately 3°) will show it as a foggy patch of light under sufficiently dark skies. However, using a UHC filter (which I used in this image), filters out some unwanted wavelengths of light. Its prominent shape and especially its reddish color (from the hydrogen Hα emission line) show up only in photographs of the area as you see here.
The "Cygnus's Wall" is a term for the "Mexico and Central America part" of the North America Nebula shown at the bottom of the image. The Cygnus Wall exhibits the most concentrated star formations in the nebula.
The nebula as imaged here with my SBIG camera, is really too big for the camera's field of view. I was unable to get the west coast in the field of view as it was too far out and too far to the left....Hey, was that a pun?
NGC-7009 Saturn Nebula 10-1-11

Atik Camera

The Saturn Nebula (also known as NGC 7009 or Caldwell 55) is a planetary nebula in the constellation Aquarius. It was discovered by William Herschel on September 7, 1782, using a telescope of his own design in the garden at his home in Datchet, England, and was one of his earliest discoveries. The nebula was originally a low-mass star that transformed into a bright white dwarf star of apparent magnitude 11.5. The Saturn Nebula gets its name from its superficial resemblance to the planet Saturn with its rings nearly edge-on to the observer. The distance to the Saturn Nebula is not known precisely because no reference stars have been detected in its neighborhood that could be used to accurately gauge it. Therefore any distance given is somewhat suspect. The average estimate is approx. 4,500 ly. The central star, a very hot bluish dwarf with a temperature of 55,000 K, from which the nebula is believed to originate, has an absolute magnitude of +1.5, which equates to a luminosity of about 20 Suns and a visual magnitude of 11.5.  You really have to look hard, but you just see the “saturn's ring” if you study the image.

NGC-7023 Iris Nebula 10-30-11

 

 

8-23-12.

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera (cropped)

The Iris Nebula, also NGC 7023 and Caldwell 4, is a bright reflection nebula and Caldwell object in the constellation Cepheus. NGC 7023 is actually the cluster within the nebula, LBN 487, and the nebula is lit by a magnitude +7 star, SAO 19158. It shines at magnitude +6.8. It is located near the Mira-type variable star T Cephei, and near the bright magnitude +3.23 variable star Beta Cephei (Alphirk). It lies 1,300 light-years away and is six light-years across.

This image with the ATIK was very dim. I could see nothing when I started imaging and the results were not too exciting either. I'll have to revisit this one.

I tried again on 8-23-12 and must conclude that the Iris Nebula does not throw a lot of light. I had to severely crop the SBIG image to see much at all as the Iris Nebula is not large. Of course it is a reflection nebula with a bluish-purple color so it's contrast with the black background is not great. All in all, though, I think it shows a beautiful, delicate color, much different than the pinks and reds of the emission type nebulae.

 

NGC-7129 Small Cluster Nebula 12-18-11

Atik Camera

NGC 7129 is an open cluster with a diffuse reflection nebula in the constellation Cepheus. It is surrounded by clouds of bluish dust most visible in this image below the nebula. The hot young stars are generating stellar winds that are creating the linear structures in the nebula. In the far upper right corner you can see the edge of another moderately dense open cluster NGC 7142.
NGC-7293 Helix Nebula

AKA "Eye of God"

8-25-12

SBIG Camera

About 700 light years away sits the expanding death cry of a star: the Helix Nebula, a four-light-year wide gas cloud blasted out when a star that was once like the Sun gave up its life. The scale of the Helix Nebula is absolutely enormous, clocking it at over four light-years across. To put that in perspective, each of those strands of hydrogen gas that make up the nebula's ring is the size of our solar system.

The Helix Nebula is an example of a planetary nebula, or 'planetary' formed at the end of a star's evolution. Gases from the star in the surrounding space appear, from our vantage point, as if we are looking down a helix structure. The remnant central stellar core, known as a planetary nebula nucleus, is destined to become a white dwarf star. The observed glow of the central star is so energetic that it causes the previously expelled gases to brightly glow and fluoresce.

NGC-7380 The Wizard Nebula 10-30-11

 

 

12-28-11

Atik Camera

What powers are being wielded in the Wizard Nebula? Gravitation strong enough to form stars, and stellar winds and radiations powerful enough to create and dissolve towers of gas. Located only 8,000 light years away, the Wizard nebula, pictured above, surrounds developing open star cluster NGC 7380. Visually, the interplay of stars, gas, and dust has created a shape that appears to some like a fictional medieval sorcerer. The active star forming region spans 100 about light years, making it appear larger than the angular extent of the Moon. The Wizard Nebula can be located with a small telescope toward the constellation Cepheus. Although the nebula may last only a few million years, some of the stars being formed may outlive our Sun. I think I see the Wizard's hat in my images. Do you? The second image combined the images from both nights. I like it best.
NGC-7380 Flying Horse Nebula 8-15-13

SBIG Camera

This is the same nebula as the one above - just a different name because some see a wizard and some see a flying horse. I thought I'd go with the horse on this one since that's what first jumped out at me. I also used a different camera than I did on the Wizard Nebula.

I cropped this image because I couldn't see anything with this camera as the scale was too small. This one was a bit faint and took quite a bit of processing. Does it remind you of the old Mobil "Flying Horse"?

NGC-7635 Bubble Nebula 11-2-11

 

 

 

7-12-12

 

 

 

8-22-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera.

SBIG Camera

NGC 7635, also called the Bubble Nebula is a H II region emission nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia about 11,000 ly away. NGC 7635 is one of the most dramatic objects in the sky. As with the Horsehead Nebula, the name Bubble says it all.
What created this huge space bubble? A massive star that is not only bright and blue, but also emitting a fast stellar wind of ionized gas . As fast moving gas expands off the central star, it pushes surrounding sparse gas into a shell . The energetic starlight then ionizes the shell, causing it to glow. The nebula is about six light-years across and visible with a small telescope towards the constellation of Cassiopeia . I love this one!

The bottom images were taken on different nights with the SBIG camera and have a wider field of view so that the globular cluster M52 and the bright star 4 Cassiopeia can be seen in the same field of view as the nebula. M52 and 4 Cas can be seen on the lower left and extreme lower left of the image respectively.

NGC-7662 Blue Snowball 10-3-11

Atik Camera

The distance to this nebula is not known with any real accuracy. The estimates range from about 2000 to 6000 ly. It has a faint central star that is variable, with a magnitude range of 12 to 16. The central star is a bluish dwarf with a continuous spectrum and a computed temperature of about 75,000K. The nuclei of the planetary nebulae are among the hottest stars known. NGC 7662 is a popular planetary nebula for casual observers. A small telescope will reveal a star-like object with slight nebulosity. A 6" telescope with a magnification around 100x will reveal a slightly bluish disk, while telescopes with a primary mirror at least 16" in diameter may reveal slight color and brightness variations in the interior. The view through my scope is of a large blue star in a field of bright stars superimposed upon the black of space. The slight nebulosity mentioned above is too faint for my equipment.
NGC-7822 8-29-12

SBIG Camera

NGC-7822 is a very large area of emission nebulosity located in the constellation of Cepheus. It is actually the northernmost emission nebula in the sky. It is about 3000 ly from earth.
 Albireo - Double Star in Cygnus 10-22-11

Atik Camera

This double star, about 400 ly from earth, is unique. The colors of the 2 stars are wildly different. One is deep blue and the other is amber. This contrast in color combination in quite unusual. Too bad they are so small in my image. The stars lie at the base of the northern cross in Cygnus the Swan.
IC-348 10-30-11

Atik Camera

IC 348 is a star forming region in the constellation Perseus located about 1,000 ly from the Sun. It consists of some nebulosity and an associated 2 million year old cluster of roughly 400 stars. The age of this cluster has allowed three low mass brown dwarfs to be discovered. These objects lose heat as they age, so they are more readily discovered while they are still young.

This image was a tough one. There is very little luminosity associated with this star forming nebula. The star Omicron Persei dominates the image presented here. Omicron Persei (ο Per) is a star in the constellation Perseus. It has the traditional name Atik Camera (Arabic for "the shoulder"). Atik Camera is a binary star consisting of a spectral type B1 giant and a type B3 dwarf orbiting each other every 4.5 days. Atik Camera is also the name of my camera (wondered where the name came from). In my image, I was unable to divide the binary.

IC-405 Flaming Star Nebula 3-13-12

 

 

 

12-14-12

SBIG Camera

IC 405 (also known as the Flaming Star Nebula, SH 2-229, or Caldwell 31) is a diffuse nebula in Auriga that mainly surrounds the star AE Aurigae and gives the impression that the star is burning, hence its name. It surrounds the irregular variable star AE Aurigae and is located near the emission nebula IC 410 and the open clusters M38 and M36.The nebula measures approximately 37.0' x 19.0', and lies about 1,500 light-years away .It is believed that the proper motion of the central star can be traced back to the Orion's Belt area. The nebula is about 5 light-years across or about 50 times our solar system diameter.

The upper image was with 30 exposures at 30 sec. each, and the lower image was with 150 exposures of 28 sec each. This shows the advantage of stacking more exposures and the additional light it yields.

IC-410 Tadpole Nebula 3-10-12

SBIG Camera

The Tadpole Nebula is an emission nebula in the constellation Auriga. It is located about 12,000 light years away.  It is fairly large, more than 100 light years across. There is an open star cluster inside, NGC 1893, that provide the stellar winds and radiation to both shape and then light up this huge mass of glowing gas. It is rather young, only forming about 4 million years ago. Note that there are two bright clumps or bubbles of gas with streamers to the left of the main gas cloud that look like tadpoles which gives the nebula its popular nickname.

This was a hard image to get. It was very faint.

IC-434 Horsehead Nebula

and IC-435 Burning Bush Nebula (SBIG only)

11-25-11

 

 

 

 

3-10-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

The Horsehead Nebula (also known as Barnard 33 in emission nebula IC-434) is a dark nebula in the constellation Orion.The nebula is located just to the south of the star Alnitak, which is farthest east on Orion's Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The Horsehead Nebula is approximately 1500 light years from Earth. It is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of the shape of its swirling cloud of dark dust and gases, which is similar to that of a horse's head when viewed from Earth.

The red glow originates from hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick dust, although the lower part of the Horsehead's neck casts a shadow to the left. Bright spots in the Horsehead Nebula's base are young stars just in the process of forming.

In the SBIG image, the field of view is wide enough to also see the Burning Bush Nebula (IC-435) on the left side. I really like this image.

IC-443 Jellyfish Nebula 3-13-12

SBIG Camera

IC 443, sometimes known as the Jellyfish Nebula, does not look at all like a 'regular' emission nebula - in fact its astonishing structure is the aftermath of a star which exploded some 8000 years ago. Thus it is a supernova remnant and shares the same characteristics as other noteworthy examples such as the Crab Nebula, Simeis 147, both separated by only 10 degrees from this object, and the Veil Nebula. Even so, the structure of IC 443 is remarkable - unlike these other examples the gas filaments do not exhibit regular outwards expansion, rather we see a compression effect. This is due to the shock waves colliding with a molecular front, creating both the compression front and the 'blowback' of billowing strands on the distant side.

IC-1318 & Butterfly Nebula 8-22-12

SBIG Camera

IC-1318 is a giant HII (ionized hydrogen gas) region and one of the brightest among all the emission clouds in the Cygnus the Swan complex. The visible HII region spans over 100 light years or about 100,000 times the diameter of the solar system - so it's big. The bright star projected in the center of the nebulosity is known as Sadr or Gamma Cygni. Its true location is only 750 light years away and not related to the nebulosity which is much more distant at 5000 light years. There is considerable obscuration of the region due to intervening dust within the great rift of the Milky Way which attenuates the light of many of the bright stars spread through the region. This image of IC-1318 in Cygnus includes the Butterfly Nebula (at the top of the image). The dark nebula is the body of the butterfly. Admittedly, it takes a bit of imagination to see the butterfly.

IC-1805 Heart Nebula 10-7-11

 

 

8-12-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

The Heart Nebula, IC 1805, Sh2-190, lies some 7500 light years away from Earth and is located in the Perseus Arm of the Galaxy in the constellation Cassiopeia. This is an emission nebula showing glowing gas and darker dust lanes. The nebula is formed by plasma of ionized hydrogen and free electrons. The very brightest part of this nebula is separately classified as NGC 896, because it was the first part of this nebula to be discovered. The nebula's intense red output and its configuration are driven by the radiation emanating from a small group of stars near the nebula's center. This open cluster of stars known as Melotte 15 contains a few bright stars nearly 50 times the mass of our Sun, and many more dim stars that are only a fraction of our Sun's mass. The cluster used to contain a micro-quasar that was expelled millions of years ago.

This is a very large nebula. As one can see, even the wide field SBIG camera failed to capture all of it.

 

IC-1848 Soul Nebula 11-24-11

 

 

 

9-12-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

IC 1848 (Soul Nebula) is the designation of a young star cluster and the emission nebula surrounding it, which are located in eastern Cassiopeia. It is one of the "Double Nebulae", the other one being IC 1805 (see above), so-called because of their proximity to to NGC 884 and NGC 869, the Double Cluster in Perseus. Some amateurs call IC 1848 the "Soul Nebula", the corresponding "Heart" being IC 1805. The star cluster is surrounded by hydrogen, which is excited by UV light from the young and hot stars and therefore glows mainly in the red light of the Hα emission line.

This central cluster of stars formed about a million years ago from the material of the nebula. Winds and ultraviolet light from these young stars are excavating a cavity in the cloud. Parts of the cloud that are more dense than their surroundings are being eroded more slowly and form giant towers, or pillars of dust and gas, which all point toward the central star cluster.

IC-5070 Pelican Nebula 8-18-12

SBIG Camera

The Pelican Nebula lies about 2,000 light-years away in the high flying constellation, Cygnus the Swan. Also known as IC 5070, this cosmic pelican is appropriately found just off the "east coast" of the North America Nebula (NGC 7000, see above), another surprisingly familiar looking emission nebula in Cygnus. The Pelican and North America nebulae are part of the same large and complex star forming region, almost as nearby as the better-known Orion Nebula. From our vantage point, dark dust clouds (upper left) help define the Pelican's eye and long bill, while a bright front of ionized gas suggests the curved shape of the head and neck. Based on digitized black and white images from Palomar Observatory, this striking color view includes two bright foreground stars and spans about 30 light-years. The Pelican nebula is a very large but extremely faint nebula. It is one of the few nebulae that really does look like its namesake, but because it is so large and faint it is very difficult to observe visually even with a telescope. To me it looks like this nebula could also be called the pterodactyl nebula, since to me it looks like a pterodactyl and also since I think it existed long before the pelican. Either way, it's a great celestial sight.

IC-5146 Cocoon Nebula 10-9-11

 

 

7-29-12

Atik Camera

SBIG Camera

Out in the deep reaches of space, a cocoon has formed.  IC 5146 (also Caldwell 19, Sh 2-125, and the Cocoon Nebula) is a reflection/emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus. IC 5146 refers specifically to the star cluster and Sh2-125 to the nebula. It is located near the naked-eye star Pi Cygni (see image), the open cluster NGC 7209 in Lacerta, and the bright open cluster M39. The nebula, which includes reflection and emission nebulosity and is bisected by a dark lane, is faint and only visible in telescopes. The cluster is not very rich, containing only about 20 stars, the brightest of which is about magnitude 9.6.at the center of the cluster and nebula. The cluster is about 4,000 ly away, and the central star that lights it (see image) formed about 100,000 years ago; the nebula is about 15 light years across. When viewing IC 5146 in a wide field view (not in my image, see internet wide field image), dark nebula Barnard 168 (B168) is an inseparable part of the experience, forming a dark lane that surrounds the cluster and projects westward forming the appearance of a trail behind the Cocoon.

       
Caldwell 9, Cave Nebula 8-25-12

 

 

 

8-15-13

SBIG Camera

The Cave Nebula, Sh2-155 or Caldwell 9, is a dim and very diffuse bright nebula within a larger nebula complex containing emission, reflection, and dark nebulosity. It is located in the constellation Cepheus.

Photographically, I find it to be a difficult object, but with adequate exposure, I think it might make a striking image. The nebula gets its name from the dark lane at the eastern side abutting the brightest curve of emission nebulosity which gives the appearance of a deep cave when seen through a telescope. I want to try this challenge again on a pristine night.

...Well, I did try it again, almost exactly a year later on a night with good seeing and I think it paid off with a better image. What do you think?

SH2-115 and Abell 71 9-17-12

SBIG Camera

Sh2-115 is a very faint emission nebula cataloged by S. Sharpless in 1959. It is located in Cygnus,near Deneb, the brightest star of that constellation. The brightest parts of this nebula can be glimpsed visually, but it takes a dark sky and a decent rich-field telescope. Of course a CCD camera makes things easier, but not much as I found out when I processed this image. This nebula can be seen in the red nebulosity surrounding the central star, Deneb, one of the brightest stars in the heavens.

Abell 71 is the designation of the small round patch of emission nebulosity near the right edge of the photograph. It was originally classified as one of four planetary nebulae in Cygnus by G. Abell in 1955. A planetary nebula forms when a star can no longer support itself by fusion reactions in its center. The gravity from the material in the outer part of the star takes its inevitable toll on the structure of the star, and forces the inner parts to condense and heat up. The high temperature central regions drive the outer half of the star away in a brisk stellar wind, lasting a few thousand years. When the process is complete, the remaining core remnant is uncovered and heats the now distant gases and causes them to glow usually taking on this roughly spherical shape.

      Solar System
Jupiter & 4 Moons 10-22-11

Atik Camera

Although my camera is too sensitive for imaging planets and our moon, I have nevertheless included a few images anyway. Most are overexposed, but you can still see 4 of Jupiter's moons clearly here.

Saturn 5-1-13

Mallincam

My first image of any planet with the Mallincam Xtreme camera. I have a lot to learn about this camera and especially the ins and outs of planet imaging. I have so many questions in my mind about how to do this. What exposure should I use? How many should I take? How long should I take them? What camera settings should I use? How do you process the images or, should you?

At the magnification I was using (~f/20 with Meade 12 with 2x Barlow) the image was drifting and hopping a bit on the monitor and the night was only so-so. So much to learn...so little time... but fun! This particular image was taken with .005 sec exposure and 50 images were stacked.

Earth's Moon 10-3-11

 

 

 

4-27-13

 

 

 

9-21-13

 

 

10-28-13

Atik Camera

Mallincam

Mallincam

It is very hard to get images of planets or our moon with these highly sensitive CCD cameras. Everything comes out overexposed. Because of this, I put the only filter I had on the camera and it is a "nebula filter", not a lunar filter which I don't now have; thus my moon has an un-natural color.

 

The middle image was taken at full moon with the Meade 12" with Mallincam Camera with an Astronomic UHC filter. Focal reduction was an MFR-3 reducer with one 10mm ext. ring in series with an Antares reducer at f/6.3.

 

 

The image at left was also with the Mallincam at 2 days past full moon, but, in this case, the telescope was my Vixen 80sf with MFR reducer  and no extension ring, no UHC filter, but with an IR cut filter.

 

 

Same setup as above, but moon waning. Cantaloupe anyone?

     

Asterisms

Brochhi's Cluster,

aka "Coat Hanger Cluster"

9-6-12 The status of this group as a star cluster has changed in recent years. The group was considered to be a cluster for most of the 20th century. Looking at a variety of criteria, however, a study in 1970 concluded that only 6 of the brightest stars formed an actual cluster. Several independent studies since 1998 have now determined that this object is not a true cluster at all, but rather just a chance alignment of stars. The asterism is made up of 10 stars ranging from 5th to 7th magnitude which form the conspicuous "coathanger", a straight line of 6 stars with a "hook" of 4 stars on the south side.

Under a dark sky, this cluster can be seen with the naked eye as an unresolved patch of light; binoculars or a telescope at very low power are usually needed in order to view the "coathanger" asterism.