Monday 18 November 2013

Staying power: a story of first telescopes, by Jonathan Powles.

Flame Nebula NGC 2024 and Horsehead Nebula IC 434

First posted on Jonathan's blog, and reposted here with permission.

Peter's photo of M41 brought back memories of when I first started out with Astronomy.

It was 1986, I was 19, and we all had Halley fever ... I had my first job, and my first scope soon followed: a Vixen 5" f/5 Newtonian on a very simple GEM mount. I used to run into M41 while looking at Sirius—the unexpected ones are always better I even tried some astrophotography with my dad's old SLR (no 'D')—somewhere I have some pink smudges that were my proud attempts at M42 and Eta Carina.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Beautiful spiral galaxy duo from Jonathan Powles

Jonathan Powles has been having a great run of photos lately. Here are two lovely spiral galaxies he posted.

NGC 1232, an impressive spiral galaxy in Eridanus. A total of 200 mins exposure last night [6 November].

A giant spider you will love: Tarantula Nebula by Steve Crouch

NGC 2070 Tarantula Nebula
Sometimes colour astrophotos tend to hide some of the detail of a deep sky object. This photo by Steve Crouch uses a Hydrogen Alpha filter to lift out detail you can't see in the standard red–green–blue light bands.

Steve explains how amazing NGC 2070 really is:
Here’s the first light image for my latest CCD camera a STXL6303 to replace my old STL6303 which has been sold.  Nothing startling – just the Tarantula.  The next upgrade to the Theodore observatory will be Martin Pugh’s old mount which should be up and running in about 2-3 weeks.
This huge emission nebula complex in the Large Magellanic Cloud would more than cover the whole constellation of Orion if placed at the position of the Orion Nebula.  It is visible with the naked eye as a hazy spot.
Catalogue and alternative designations NGC 2070, Tarantula Nebula, 30 Doradus
Type Emission Nebula
Position: 05 38.7, -69 06
Constellation: Dorado
Camera and Telescope: STXL6303 and 36.8 cm Ritchey Chretien
Focal Ratio: F9
Exposure Details: 195 minutes unbinned exposure with Astrodon 3nm Hydrogen Alpha filter unbinned

Saturday 16 November 2013

Jupiter is returning to our evening skies, and when you think Jupiter, think Anthony Wesley

Few CAS members know Jupiter like Anthony Wesley does. He's the guy who shot to world fame when he spotted a massive impact zone left by an object that crashed into the giant planet in 2009.

With Jupiter rising earlier and earlier, we will start to see more photos coming through.

Here are two recent shots from Anthony. This shot he took from Rubyvale in Queensland, on a borrowed scope:
We've had thunderstorms the last couple of days in the afternoon and evening, but by 3am (QLD time) the sky has been clear. Here's an image of Jupiter taken using Phil Miles' 14" LX200 and my filters+camera. Here's hoping the seeing continues to improve!
The next shot uses infrared channel only, showing some big differences around the storm belts:
Jupiter from this morning in slightly better conditions. IR was the only channel worth capturing, but it came out ok.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

M41—shiny astro bling, courtesy of Peter Treyde!

You can never have too much bling in your astronomical life. Peter Treyde has obliged with this oh-so-shiny shot of the open star cluster Messier 41.

This lovely cluster is located near the very bright star Sirius—the brightest star in our skies actually (not counting our own one!). Sirius is also known as the Dog Star, because it is located in the constellation Canis Major—the Great Dog. M41 is four degrees south of Sirius. A degree is about the width of your pinky held out at arm's length.

Peter discusses the shot:
I still have much to learn about the astro-imaging game. But I decided to grab an image of M41 last week. If you do not look too closely, this image looks OK. But the reality is at about 1.00am when I stumbled out of bed and down to the observatory to start gathering this data, I was not fully awake, so I did not take much care in setting up the auto-guider. The consequence of this is that the stars have poor aspect ratios…i.e. they ain't round.Pixinsight has a nice deconvolution algorithm that can actually repair bad tracking—it’s called “motion blur PSF”. I think this image will provide a good test for it.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Jonathan Powles hits a purple patch with NGC 1365

NGC 1365

The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1365 is a popular target in our southern skies right now. Jonathan Powles shared this great photo he took over a couple of nights. He explains:
I'm feeling pretty chuffed. A couple of months ago I got a mono CCD camera, which didn't work properly straight out of the box and had to be sent back to Atik to replace the USB port. It came back, and I'm delighted. As well as getting variable star observations accurate to within 0.05 mag, and some nice spectra (my main purpose in getting the camera) I have also got some nice data on some deep sky objects.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Venus in UV and IR, with animation

Anthony Wesley is continuing to experiment with photographing Venus in daylight.

Venus is currently the furthest south it has been since 1930, which explains why it has been lingering so high in our Southern Hemisphere skies in recent weeks.

Anthony explains the shots:

Different views of NGC 253, the Sculptor Galaxy, by Vello Tabur

The Sculptor Galaxy is about 11.4 million light years away, and features a supermassive black hole in its centre of some 5 million solar masses! Vello describes the two shots:

Wednesday 6 November 2013

There are some 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. A good chunk of them are in this shot. Shall we count them?

Make sure you click on this photo to embiggen it!

Messier 7—or M7 or NGC 6475 or even the Ptolemy Cluster—is an open cluster of about 80 stars right near the 'stinger' of the Scorpio constellation. And as you can clearly see, that also lines up with some of the densest part of the central Milky Way!

Peter Treyde of Queanbeyan explains his overwhelming photo:

A bird in flight. An incredibly detailed photo of M42 by Jonathan Powles

Just visible to the naked eye in the constellation of Orion as the central of the three 'stars' of Orion's Sword, and quite visible in ordinary binoculars, the Orion Nebula M42 is a favourite of most astronomers.

Favourite or not, it can be a challenge to do justice to in a photograph. The colour doesn't show when viewed by eye through a telescope—the nebula shows as a grey form, with a distinct 'hole' in the middle of the nebula, with four small bright stars in the middle of that hole. (There are actually eight stars there, of which several are now known to be binaries. But with amateur telescopes we see them as four.)

When showing this to new viewers I explain that this shows how the dust of the nebula collapsed in to form the new stars. The nebula therefore is a 'star factory'.