“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 Telescope.live. 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 Telescope.live.

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 telescope.live 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 telescope.live 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 Telescope.live.

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 Telescope.live 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 iTelescope.net 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.

The “Seven Sisters”

•October 27, 2020 • Comments Off on The “Seven Sisters”

Rising in the east this time of year (October-November) is a hazy area that upon closer examination, if you have excellent eyesight and a good clear atmosphere, is small star cluster dominated by hot, luminous, blue stars formed within the last 75 to 150 million years. That is to say, these stars are, in astronomical time, relatively “young”.

This is the Pleiades cluster otherwise known as the “Seven Sisters”. It apparently got the name because an observer in ancient times could see seven distinct stars, even without any optical aid. It is a challenge to see all seven. The Pleiades are a lovely sight in binoculars or a low power telescope.

Overall, there are over 1,000 members of the cluster, which is The observed nebulosity is due to dust, which is likely an area of dust through which the cluster is moving, rather than the dust being left over form the formation of the stars.

This image was captured through the iTelescope.net web site using the Takahashi 106mm Imaging Platform at the New Mexico Skies Observatory in Mayhill, NM.

Tarantula Nebula in the LMC

•October 26, 2020 • Comments Off on Tarantula Nebula in the LMC

160,000 light years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud is the Tarantula Nebula, which is a vast cloud of gas and dust that is a massive start factory.

It shines a about magnitude 8 and it is the most active star forming region known in the local group of galaxies. The diameter has been estimated between 65,000 and 1,900,000 light years. The nebula and the embedded cluster has an estimated mass of 450,000 times the the sun, suggesting it may eventually develop into a globular cluster of stars.

I captured the image with the 50cm reflector in the El Sauce Observatory situated in the Rio Hurtado valley, Chile , operated by the telescope.live web site. The colors are generated by using narrow band hydrogen alpha, sulphur III, and Oxygen II filtration and processed to the so-called “Hubble pallete”. Each filter was used for four five-minute exposures each for a total of 60 minutes. The image was processed with Pixinsight and Photoshop.

 

The “Silver Coin” Galaxy in Sculptor

•October 4, 2020 • Comments Off on The “Silver Coin” Galaxy in Sculptor

Designated NGC-253, this galaxy is is located at the center of the Sculptor Group in the Sculptor constellation, one of the nearest groups of galaxies to the Milky Way. It is one of the brightest galaxies in the sky even though it has been calculated to be more than 11 million light-years from us. The Sculptor Galaxy can be seen with binoculars and it is considered one of the easiest galaxies to view after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), although it is 25 degrees south of the equator so it is seen best from the southern hemisphere.

It is known to have a higher than average amount of star formation going on, which is probably supported by a great amount of dust circulating that can be seen in the image.

This image was captured remotely using a telescope at the El Sauce Observatory in Chile through the telescope.live web site.

With my travels being severely restricted due to the coronavirus situation, I have found one satisfying way to pursue photography, even if I have to control the camera remotely.

 
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