“Messier 96 is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 32 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. It was discovered by French astronomer Pierre Méchain on March 20, 1781”

M96 is the one in middle, M95 to the right and M105 to the left top are all around the same distance from us.

NGC 3384 is 26 million light years, and finally NGC 3389 classified as a magnitude 12.4 and the farthest at 80 million light years. 

I captured this group last night and this image was made from the later and darker sub exposures representing  just one hour integration time. It seems I included a frame with something running diagonal through the lower left. Surprised it was not processed out in stacking, and it only showed up in the image at the last curves adjustment as I was finishing up. Oh well, it adds something of realism I suppose!

M96

     Thought it was going to be warmer but not by much!

Some trouble getting things started and one of the imaging programs decided to not cooperate with the guide camera. The guiding software itself connected without problems but guiding was very poor. Not sure if there were some light clouds or what. Still many mysteries in this business for me! Only a little over an hour of data on this one. Because the guiding was so wonky I felt it was not worth continuing. I tossed four subs, one with a satellite going right through it!

From the web: First recorded in 1785 by William Herschel, the Needle Galaxy is an edge-on spiral galaxy about 30 to 50 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices with a visual magnitude of approximately 10. A small companion galaxy (NGC 4562) can be seen to the right. For those curious, the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars (NGC) is an extensive catalogue of astronomical deep sky objects that was compiled by John Louis Emil Dreyer in 1888.

 

Another year and back for another run at NGC 2403. I did not crop this image as I did before, but comparing full size the image scale is similar. Compared to a year ago I am dithering now and using longer exposures on the subs. Definite improvement!

Just over two hours imaging at 5 degrees below zero. All the gear still working and I get to monitor from inside the house! A rare clear day and then night had me intrigued to see if I could get all the gear running. It has been a while and was glad to see it worked! 

Discovered by William Herschel in 1788, it is thought to be about 8 million light years away. Located in the sky not too far south from the north pole in the constellation Camelopardalis. 

 

NGC 2403

It has been a long time since my last post! With a cloudy winter and a couple of missed clear nights I have not been out at the telescope much. Even in the Fall, several nights did not produce anything worth processing. Soooo….

Finally had several clear nights to get set up and back in action. First night had a few clouds and managed to get polar alignment and software updates taken care of. The next night was lot very clear in the first part of the night so I gave up right away. Last night however the sky was clear, the dew dropped early with the fast temperature drop, and by the time I got out to uncover the scope conditions were very good. Even though the Rosette was going to cross the meridian, I lit it run without flipping for nearly two hours. The following image was the result of 15 six minute subs with the sensor readout at 2 degrees Celsius for most of the subs. Air temperature was around 15 Fahrenheit. Even though this target was somewhat low in the southern sky it showed well in the subs and I was pleased with the result.

5000 light years away, the Rosette Nebula contains a cluster of 2500 young stars formed from the cloud. The most active region has plasma thought to be 100 to 1000 times hotter than a typical nebula we see as red light from hydrogen emissions. This nebula is some 130 light years across. 

Rosette Nebula

 I had an image of the Triangulum before back in September of 2017 with my first astrophotography setup. Since then I have some upgrades and had a break in the weather to get imaging this target very high up in the sky. About two hours integration on this and a tiny bit better at image processing. Although the improvements in hardware and experience are minimal, the result is I think significant. The prior image was cropped in closer but I include it here for comparison.

 

 vs 2018 

 From last Monday night I had a good clear sky where I was able to get out for a few hours. I was capturing 400 second exposures for a total of 1 hour 40 minutes of integrated time. Using dithering between shots and just flat frames and bias frames for stack calibration, I spent some time in Photoshop to get this final image. Nothing  too spectacular, but I like these kind of targets with my setup while I am trying to use longer exposures. Seems all the clear skies have a big fat moon in the sky lately…. Guess I will have to just look at the moon!

 

NGC1893

I have not posted in a while being too busy during good seeing conditions for late nights in August, and poor weather in September. The several times I did get out I was not able to capture enough data for good images but if I get time one day I should go back and see what I can do with a few of them. 

I was able to find a good steady night on the 15th with a crescent moon that set early enough to provide very good dark sky conditions. Tracking was going very well and the Pacman Nebula was high in the sky for some great imaging. This represents a somewhat longer run for me with even longer exposures. About 23 frames at 400 seconds each or around 2 1/2 hours total.

The Pacman, also known as NGC281 is a bright emission nebula in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia and is part of the Milky Way. This image is cropped a bit but represents the relatively distortion free field of view with my current setup. I am using the Orion 6″ astrograph reflector at 600mm focal length and my Canon T1i which is still unmodified. This means I don’t get as much of the fainter red nebulosity. Since I am doing very simple processing with Photoshop, my stars are more prominent than would show in a sophisticated process separating the nebula from the star field. This would be a good base image to learn some more processing techniques when I can find the time!

Pacman Nebula

    OK this was an unplanned capture last night, but I am so glad I spent that extra half hour on the 600LB gorilla in the night sky! Of course at this time of year it is not in the best position, but with the New Moon and being as it was around 2:30 in the night Andromeda was ready for a look. This is imaged at full scale with the 600mm focal length scope and the crop sensor DSLR. I got on target and the framing looked great so I went for it. At this scale four moons fit easily across the field.

From Wikipedia:
      The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth, and the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way. It contains approximately one trillion stars, more than twice the number of the Milky Way’s estimated 200-400 billion stars. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are expected to collide in ~4.5 billion years, merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy or a large disc galaxy.

Andromeda

      

     From the 9th.  I took a while looking for a target and settled on this one low to the North East. We had some breeze and the air was a bit unstable. Along with the warm summer air the stacked image was dissapointing with hardly any visible nebula and significant noise. So after a lot of noise reduction this is what I could pull out. At my imaging scale it did not all fit in the frame, but enough to give the namesake appearance!

From Wikipedia:

The Heart Nebula is located in the constellation Cassiopeia. It was discovered by William Herschel in 1787 This is an emission nebula showing glowing ionized hydrogen gas and darker dust lanes.

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.

Heart Nebula

     Low in the southern sky, this is my first run at imaging the popular Trifid Nebula. Almost two hours of 400 second subs brought this image to life. The seeing so low in the sky is generally not so good, but last night the sky was rather clear. This has been cropped by about half of my full imaging scale. 

From http://www.messier-objects.com/messier-20-trifid-nebula/   :

The name Trifid refers to its three-lobed appearance. Messier 20 consists of several different objects: an emission nebula, a reflection nebula, a dark nebula and an open star cluster.

The dark nebula, catalogued as Barnard 85, consists of dust clouds that absorb and block light from the bright objects behind them. It is responsible for the apparent gaps in the larger emission nebula that give M20 its trifurcated look.

The other two types of nebulae – emission and reflection – make M20 glow in different colours in images.

Emission nebulae are energised by the ultraviolet light of nearby stars and usually appear red in photographs. These nebulae are clouds of extremely hot hydrogen gas and usually regions where new stars are being formed. The light of the stars illuminates the surrounding clouds, ionizing photons in large portions of the clouds.

Messier 20 is a popular target for amateur astronomers as it is quite bright, even when seen through a small telescope. It has an apparent magnitude of 6.3 and lies at an approximate distance of 5,200 light years, or 1,600 parsecs, from Earth. M20 has a linear diameter of over 40 light years and is only 300,000 years old.

Trifid Nebula