The Triffid and Lagoon Nebulas

•June 6, 2021 • Comments Off on The Triffid and Lagoon Nebulas

This wide field image of two of the famous Messier objects was captured with the Takahashi FSQ-106ED Telescope in the Heaven’s Mirror Observatory in Yass, New South Wales, in Australia.

These nebulosities float in a vast sea of stars in the Sagittarius region of the Milky Way.

The image was processed using Pixinsight and Photoshop from data from three separate observations with the 10 centimeter telescope. The final image was cropped to bring the objects a bit closer and balance the composition.

One of the interesting parts of the process was to remove the stars from the image so that the background nebulosity of dust and gas can be edited and refined without changing the pinpoint rendering of the stars.

These are two objects in the Messier Catalog.The Triffid Nebula above left is catalogued as Messier 20 and the larger Lagoon nebula is catalogued as Messier 8. In the nineteenth century, Charles Messier catalogued over 100 objects that he found while he was hunting for comets. He catalogued these objects as objects that were not comets.

What’s left when a star explodes

•May 1, 2021 • Comments Off on What’s left when a star explodes

The Vela supernova remnant is what was left over when a star exploded some 11,000 – 12,300 years ago in the constellation Vela in the southern sky. This supernova remnant is one of the closest known to us. In 1968, astronomers at the University of Sydney determined that the Vela pulsar was identified as associated with the remnant and thus was direct observational evidence that supernovae form neutron stars.

My take on the Vela SNR was to take advantage of the combined excellent datasets by Ian Horarth in both RGB (Red-Green-Blue) and HOO (Hydrogen Alpha-Oxygen 3 narrowband filters). The two datasets were downloaded from from their “Pro Dataset” library.

After combining the data and star aligning all of the images and building the integrated the sub-master images, I started by combining an LRGB combination, in this case the Alpha sub-master serving as the luminance component. Then, using the NBRGB (Narrow-Band, Red, Green Blue) Combination script I built the HRGB+H+O+O image.

The end result is the result of a variety of tweaks in Photoshop, including the new raw enhance feature that essential quadruples the resolution of an image. Although the effect is not as dramatic as you might expect, I think it is a useful process.

Astrophotography Presentation for Jefferson County Photo Club via Zoom

•April 8, 2021 • 1 Comment
NGC 5128, also designated Centaurus A.

I will be giving a presentation via Zoom for the Jefferson County Photography Club on Tuesday, April 13 at 7:00pm. See below for the link to join the meeting. It’s a free event sponsored by JCPC. You do not have to be a JCPC member.

I will discuss Astrophotography using remotely controlled telescopes. I will talk about Data acquisition, file formats, and the general workflow for combining filtered greyscale images to color. I will demonstrate the basic workflow on images and provide information about the different websites where remote telescope imaging is available.

The Eagle Nebula, including the “Pillars of Creation”

I will be demonstrating Pixinsight, a specialized software for processing scientific images, primarily, but not exclusively, astrophotos.

Here is the Zoom link for those who wish to join the meeting:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 927 688 5983

Passcode: 3NSVzX

Trifid Nebula

•February 14, 2021 • Comments Off on Trifid Nebula

The Trifid Nebula is an HII region in a star-forming region in Sagittarius. Designated M20 after discovery by Charles Messier on June 5, 1764. Messier identified over 100 objects that he classified as “not” comets. An avid comet hunter, he wanted to identify and catalog objects that resembled comets but were not, in fact comets but were distractions from comet hunting.

The original data for this image was captured by astrophotographer Peter Jenkins and was offered by the website as a “pro data set” for processing.

The data consists of 6×180 second exposures each using luminance, red, green, and blue from the Planewave CDK24 telescope at the El Sauce Observatory in Chile.  I processed the raw images in my studio using Pixinsight and Photoshop.

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.

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