Cosmic “Statue of Liberty”

•January 10, 2021 • 1 Comment

This is a fascinating object in the Saggitarius arm of the Milky Way Galaxy about 9,000 light-years from Earth in the Southern sky. It is about 100 light-years across and in the vicinity of the Eta Carina nebula.

The image was captured with the 60cm f/6.5 Planewave CDK24 telescope in the El Sauce Observatory in Chile via a “one click” observation. I combined two separate observations with the narrowband filters to capture the colors of hydrogen alpha, sulphur 2 and oxygen 3 emissions. I used Pixinsight, Photoshop, Luminar AI, and Topaz DeNoise in the processing.

Andromeda Galaxy Revisited

•December 31, 2020 • Comments Off on Andromeda Galaxy Revisited

I acquired a new image of the great galaxy in Andromeda, remotely via the Insight Observatory. The image data was acquired with the 16″ f/3.7 Dream astrograph reflector, ATEO-1 in New Mexico. The images were captured with Luminance, Red, Green, and Blue filtration and processed in my studio using Pixinsight and Photoshop to complete the color image.

This is a deeper image compared to the first image posted August 24. The earlier image, via, consisted of 5 minute exposures for each of the four filters, totalling 20 minutes. This new image combined eight sub-exposures of three minutes for each filter for a total of 96 minutes. Still, it was a challenge to bring out the subtle blue from the clumps of young, luminous blue stars around the outside of the galaxy.

The image shows the galaxy is surrounded by clusters of hot, young, blue stars. Satellite galaxies M110 (upper right) and M32 (below) are visible in this image.

The Andromeda Galaxy, designated Messier 31, is located approximately 2.5 million light-years from earth and it is the nearest major galazy to the Milky Way. The galaxy’s name is derived from the fact that the galaxy is in the constellation Andromeda. The galaxy contains an estimated 1 trillion stars, roughly twice as many as in the Milky Way. For more about the Andromeda Galaxy visit the Wikipedia page here.

Insight Observatory provides remote telescope services for educational outreach, research, and astrophotography from remote observatories around the world at locations in the dark skies of New Mexico – the USA, the Rio Hurtado Valley – Chile, Nerpio – Spain, and Namibia – Southern Africa.

North American Nebula

•December 25, 2020 • Comments Off on North American Nebula

High overhead in the late summer is the North American Nebula and the companion cloud the Pelican Nebula. Designated NGC 7000, the North American Nebula is a large cloud of gas and dust spans more than ten times the area of the full moon as seen from Earth. The name is derived from the shape of the cloud that resembles the North American continent.

The nebula’s distance was recently measured with data from the Gaia astrometry satellite that measured the precise distances to 395 stars lying within the HII region. The data snow that the North American and Pelican nebulae lie 2,590 light-years away. The size of the whole HII region is calculated at 140 light-years across, and the North American Nebula is about 90 light-years from North to South.

The image was captured using narrow-band Hydrogen Alpha, Sulfur II, and Oxygen III emission filters. It was was captured remotely with the Takahashi FSQ-106EDX4 refractor at the IC Astronomy Observatory in Spain, through the facilities of the web site The original capture of the data was done by Peter Jenkins.

I processed this image in my studio using the Halpha and Oiii filtered data using Pixinsight and Photoshop. I mixed the filtered data to approximate the natural colors of the region.

These “natural” colors are not detectable with the eye,but only are apparent in long-exposure photographs.

An alternative approach for the same captured data would be the Sulfur II (mapped to red), HAlpha (mapped to green), and Oxygen III mapped to blue. This is the so-called “Hubble Pallette” that us used for many images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

For more about this fascinating region of the sky, visit

“Thor’s Helmet” Nebula

•December 16, 2020 • Comments Off on “Thor’s Helmet” Nebula

This complex cloud of gas and dust is roughly 12,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Canis Major. The central star is what is designated as a Wolf-Rayet star, a super hot start that is thought to be in a pre-supernova stage.

The nebula contains several hundred solar masses of ionized material in addition several thousand of non-ionized gas.

The image was captured with the 60cm Planewave CDK24 telescope at the El Sauce Observatory in Chile, through the web site The raw data was captured through Red, Green, and Blue filters and processed in my studio using Pixinsight and Photoshop.

The Cone Nebula

•December 12, 2020 • Comments Off on The Cone Nebula

Cone Nebula in Monoceros

The Cone nebula in Monoceros was discovered by William Herschel in 1785, it is located about 2,700 light-years from Earth. It forms part of the nebulosity surrounding the “Christmas Tree Cluster”, which, in turn, is part of a much larger start-forming complex. This image was captured using a remotely controlled telescope and imaging system in Australia, through the web site

The image was captured with three grayscale images using three “Narrowband” filters: Hydrogen Alpha, Sulfur 2, and Oxygen 3.

The Grayscale images were combined to approximate the so-called “Hubble Pallette” and printed in my studio. Processing was done with PixInsight.

Omega Nebula

•December 5, 2020 • Comments Off on Omega Nebula

The Omega Nebula is also known as the Swan Nebula and designated M17 in the Messier catalog of celestial objects. It is one of the brightest and most massive star forming regions in our galaxy.

The Omega Nebula is located in the Sagittarius constellation some 5,000 to 6,000 light-years from Earth. the main part of the nebula is about 15 light-years across and the larger cloud of gas and dust that makes it up is up to 40 light-years in diameter. This cloud is estimated ot have a mass of some 30,000 time the mass of the Sun.

There is a cluster of stars embedded in the nebulosity that causes the nebula to shine from the radiation from these hot, young stars.

The image was processed from a “pro data set” captured by Nick Szymanek with the Planewave CDK24 telescope at the El Sauce Observatory in Chile. I processed the luminance, red, green and Blue image data using Pixinsight and Photoshop.

ETA Carina Nebula

•November 23, 2020 • Comments Off on ETA Carina Nebula

Another spectacular object in the southern sky is the Eta Carina nebula in the constellation Carina. It is a vast complex region of light and dark nebulosity located approximately 8,500 lightyears from Earth. The Carina nebula is brighter and four times as large as the well-known Orion nebula but is less known due to it’s location in the southern sky. It is so far south that for times during the southern hemisphere winter it barely rises above the horizon.

The star Eta Carinae is highly luminous “hypergiant” star, with an estimated mass of 100-150 times that of the Sun and luminosity about four million times that of the Sun. This star is one of the major sources of illumination of the nebula, although not the only one. There are small clusters of stars and other features scattered throughout the region.

This image was captured using a remote telescope through the web site and filtered for Hydrogen Alpha, Sulphur II, and Oxygen III emissions. I accessed the raw files from the site’s archives and processed the color image. I combined the filtered grayscale images to create the false color image.

North American Nebula

•November 18, 2020 • Comments Off on North American Nebula

Passing nearly directly overhead in November is the North America Nebula, a vast cloud of ionized hydrogen gas and dust near Deneb, the star that represents the tail of Cygnus, the Swan. The reason for the name is that the shape of the cloud resembles the outline of the North American continent.

The nebula is determined to be about 2,200 light years from Earth and covers an area of sky more than the area of ten times at of the full moon.

This image was captured with the Takahashi 106mm refractor in the IC Astronomy Observatory in Spain. The object was exposed through three filters that narrowly passed Hydrogen Alpha, Sulphur 3, and Oxygen 2 emissions. I processed the raw files to approximate the so-called Hubble pallette. The telescope is operated by the web site

Horsehead Nebula

•November 11, 2020 • Comments Off on Horsehead Nebula

One of the fascinating objects in the sky is the Horsehead Nebula, a swirling cloud of gas and dust that obscures the stars behind it. The nebula is located in the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex where star formation is taking place.

First recorded by Scottish astronomer Williamina Fleming on a photgraphic plate taken at Harvard College, E.E. Barnard wrote and early description of the nebula and catalogued it as Barnard 33. An interesting history of the Horsehead Nebula was published in Astronomy magazine last month (October, 2020).

This image was captured remotely using the 24-inch (61cm) operated by the web site at the El Sauce Observatory in the Rio Hurtado Valley in Chile. The image was processed in Pixinsight and Photoshop. The original images consist of four grayscale files captured with luminance (clear), red, green, and blue filters. The grayscale images were combined in Pixinsight to create the color image. Photoshop was used for some noise reduction and to make some minor tweaks and slight crop from the original. The field of view is approximately 30 arc seconds square.





Brocchi’s Cluster

•November 1, 2020 • Comments Off on Brocchi’s Cluster

Back in July, I described my beginning efforts to capture the night sky and how I “discovered” this interesting formation of stars in a wide field image taken with my camera. It has gotten to the point where if this is in the field of any image, it jumps right out at me.

But in wide field images, it is a very small object and I wanted a better photo of it. So utilizing the Takahashi 106mm Imaging Platform at the New Mexico Skies Observatory in Mayhill, NM, I captured this close-up.

The bright formation, referred to as an “asterism”, is superimposed over a background starfield of thousands of distant stars.

The main bright stars of the cluster, also known as “The Coathanger” are mostly luminous blue stars with a couple of red “giants” to fill it out. Conflicting studies over the years have tried to determine this was a true cluster or just a chance alignment of stars. The most recent studies have concluded that it is the latter, based on parallax and proper motion measurements from the Hipparcos satellite.

For more information visit “Brocchi’s Cluster” on Wikipedia.

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