Monday, November 16, 2015

Stacked Pinwheel Galaxy

Here is a stacked version of M33 taken under decent seeing conditions, but some wind. The camera was my trusty DSm fed by the ST-80. This is a stack of 5 1-minute exposures. The stars are slightly elongated due to the wind blowing on the scope. In this image, the dust lanes are definitely more prominent than on the unstacked images I posted earlier on this blog.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NGC 7023 (Caldwell 4) The Iris Nebula

The Iris Nebula is a bright emission nebula in the constellation Cepheus. It has a distinctive blue color. In the telescope field, it is a tiny, bright, blueish dot. The nebula is only 18 arcseconds by 18 arcseconds in angular diameter (as compared to 230 x 230 arcminutes for the ring nebula). These images were captured with the 14 inch, using a focal reducer, so the nebula looked like a bright star in the field. These images are heavily cropped and enlarged, showing some of the bright and dark structures in the nebula. The red and blue fringes are caused by aberrations in the optical system.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Pleiades

The Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, or the Netted Stars, have a large presence in myth a folklore. They are also a good test of eyesight in dark skies. With good vision, you should be able to see seven stars in the cluster.

In reality, there are hundreds of stars in the cluster. On a good night, I can see nine with my naked eye. Imaging shows hot blue stars surrounded by nebulousity.

This image as taken with the Orion ED 80 piggyback on the 14 inch ACF.  The imager was the Mallincam DSm.  Even with the 80nT f/5, the cluster is so large that only a few stars show. Note the nebulousity, especially around the star at the bottom of the image (Merope).

The Pinwheel Galaxy

 The Pinwheel Galaxy (M33) is, like M74, a very low surface brightness galaxy. It is fiendishly difficult to image in any but the darkest of skies. The Mallicam DSm can pull out more detail than any color imager under these conditions. This image was taken with the DSm, Orion Skyglow filter, and Orion ED 80 scope.

M74--A Ghostly Spiral

M74 is not only a difficult object to see through a telescope, it is challenging to image in light-polluted skies. This image was taken with the 14 inch ACF at F/6.3 with the Xtreme. Gain was 4 with a 90 second exposure. I had to do some histogram adjustment to pull the galaxy out of the background skyglow (there are too many car dealerships on the other side of town--Lafayette has a huge light pollution footprint for such a small town), so the image is rather noisy. I also cropped the image to cut out amp glow and some vignetting.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Phantom for Halloween!

Well--not really. This image of M74--a face-on spiral galaxy--was taken on November 1. The galaxy is called The Phantom because of its low surface brightness; it is one of the most difficult Messier objects to see.

This image is a single, 60-second integration taken with my 14 inch ACF, Mallicam MFR-5 II focal reducer, Baader UHC/Nebula filter and the Mallincam Xtreme. The spiral structure of the galaxy is clearly visible, despite the sky glow.

As a bonus, on the way in, I saw a very bright (+2 or so) Taurid meteor.

AR 2443--Minor Flaring

The sun is moving below the tree line from my observing site, so I'm entering a time when solar observations will become even less frequent. However, yesterday (Nov. 1), I did a quick setup of the PST-DS and captured some flaring from AR 2443 through the trees with my Mallicam DSm.  The images were all taken separated by only a few minutes, but the change in AR 2443 is very noticeable as the flaring subsides.

First Image
Second Image

Third Image--Flaring Over