M27 Dumbbell nebula

Here comes another comparison between two cameras, telescopes and mounts. ZWO 1600 MC competes with Moravian G2 8300. Ritchey-Chrétien 154 mm competes with Newton 254mm f4 and Gemini G53f is challenged by iOptron CEM25P. I know it is incomparable aperture, price and portability, moreover the integration time is in favour of Newton, but I am very positively surprised by the outcome of the portable setup (ZWO, RC, iOptron). The nebula is logically better captured by the Newton, but RC telescope has definitely more regular star shapes (except the corners, there is quality quite poor).

Brief description of the Dumbbell nebula is here. Upper picture was made by heavy equipment (MII G2, Newton 254mm and Gemini G53f) and the lower picture was captured by portable setup (ZWO, RC 154 and iOptron).


M26 Open cluster

Recently I purchased new travel telescope, the mount and the camera and I decided to make small comparison with my primary equipment. New equipment consist of iOptron CEM25P mount, which is very portable equatorial mount and small (6”) Ritchey–Chrétien telescope. Even the camera is new. ZWO 1600 MC has only 400 grams compared to the old Mii G2, which has 2.5 kg. The reason is that ZWO is color version without filter wheel, therefore narrow band imaging is not possible, but I will use this camera mainly under the darks skies. Detailed review of the portable setup will follow.

Back to the picture, I pointed the telescopes into the constellation Scutum and captured open cluster M26. This cluster is approximately 180 million years old and the light travelled 5400 years from there into my telescopes. The cluster is located in the plane of our home galaxy Milky Way; therefore there are so many stars in the background.

The upper picture was made by my primary setup – Gemini G35f, astrograph Newtonian 254/1000 with GPU coma corrector and MII G2 8300 camera. The lower picture is the outcome of the new setup: iOptron CEM25P, 154/1370 mm RC telescope with focal reducer Astro Physics CCDT67 and ZWO 1600 MC camera.


NGC6604 Open cluster

NGC6604 is an open cluster associated with nebulosity. It is located not far from my favorite Eagle nebula in constellation Serpens and it’s 5500 light-years far from the Earth. Since this deep space object is not that high on the skies, I rather used narrow band filters, because this part of the skies is strongly influenced by the light pollution, which is coming from the nearest town. First picture is processed in “fake” Hubble color palette, the second one should more or less look like in “true” color.


NGC 5963 NGC 5965 Galaxies

The spring galaxies in constellation Leo are behind the horizon, but I can prolong the season of the galaxies by pointing my telescope into the constellation Draco. I managed to capture four galaxies in one shot. These two bright ones are called NGC5963 and NGC5965. The white one with spiral arm is 5963 and one with yellow hue is 5965. These galaxies were discovered by William Herschel in year 1788. They might look like neighbors, but it only seems so. One galaxy is 140 million light-years, second one only 40 million light-years away.


NGC 5907 Knife Edge Galaxy

This spiral galaxy is located in constellation Draco and it is 50 million light-year far from Earth. Very impressive picture was made by David Martinez-Delgado et.al here. He managed to capture star stream around the galaxy as a result of tidal forces acting on dwarf galaxy. The simulation here explains what happened. I have to admit, there are no signs of such streams on my picture. This is caused by the fact that I live in light polluted area and I have much smaller telescope.


C/2015 V2 Johnson – My first comet

I was lucky and in the skies visible from my terrace appeared comet with poetic name C/2015 V2 (Johnson). Right now (2015-05) is slowly moving through the constellation Bootes not far from bright star Arcturus and it is “only” 120 million kilometer from Earth.

Because the comet moves differently compared to the background stars, one has two options how to photograph it. Either the telescope is pointed on stars and the comet is slowly drifting from the field of view or the telescope is pointed on the nucleus of the comet and due to the longer exposures the stars are trailing. I picked the second variant, in order to have the comet sharp. 3 minute exposures the stars are trailed into the oval shapes, but the comet is focused:


Jupiter

Jupiter is the biggest planet in Solar System, therefore it’s called giant – gas giant. It has 2.5 times mass of all the other planets in the Solar System combined. It has more than 60 moons and one of them (Io) I managed to capture. The picture also shows Great Red Spot, which is a storm larger than the Earth.

Few days later I tried to compose an animation, this time without Great Red Spot and the moon is Ganymede:


M63 Sunflower Galaxy

Another captured galaxy this spring. Sunflower Galaxy located in constellation Canes Venatici (hunting dogs) just like M106 or M51 galaxies. M63 has nicely visible spiral arms, it’s 27 million light-years far from us and it’s so called active galaxy, which means that the center of the galaxy is significantly brighter due to presence of supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy.

For this picture I used new astro-camera ZWO 1600 MC, which is one-shot color camera. This means no filter wheel is needed and camera is much lighter than my old Moravian Instruments G2 8300M. The disadvantage of this camera is that it’s not possible to use narrow band filters. However, for RGB the performance is quite comparable.


NGC4565 Needle Galaxy

Needle Galaxy is located constellation Coma Berenices The light from there traveled 40 million years, because the galaxy is approximately 40 million light years from Earth. Actually, what we are looking at is 40 million years old picture. The needle shape is caused by its orientation towards our Milky Way Galaxy (the plane of the galactic disk is perpendicular in our view).


Worldwide coma correction exercise

Introduction

What is coma and why needs to be corrected. Coma is a special type of an optical aberration. It’s mainly visible in the astrophotography – the stars are deformed into comet-like shapes:

Fast Newtonian telescopes suffer from comatic aberration, mainly in the corners of the photos. These telescopes are nowadays very popular between amateur astrophotographers just like me, because they offer the best price/aperture ratio. There is easy way how to suppress the comatic aberration – coma correctors. There are many coma correctors on the market, but there are just a few published reviews or comparisons between them. Therefore I decided to perform the comparison myself. Quite big collection of coma correctors has assembled in my drawer ready to be tested:


M106 Galaxy

Galactic harvest continues. Here again I focused my scope to previously photographed DSO. The galaxy is located in constellation Canes Venatici (hunting dogs) not far from famous constellation Ursa Major (great bear) and it’s approximately 24 million light-years far from us.


M81 Bode Galaxy M82 Cigar Galaxy

Another galaxy harvest. This time were captured two galaxies in one shot. The spiral one on the right is called Bode Galaxy and on the left Cigar Galaxy. They are located in constellation Ursa Major (Great Bear) and they are proximately 12 million light-years away from us. Even though their centers are quite far from each other (300 thousands light-years), they interact with each other and the smaller one (Cigar) was deformed by tidal forces caused by gravity. Previous picture didn’t reveal such details.


M109 Vacuum Cleaner Galaxy

This spring I am harvesting the galaxies from the sky. After the M104 Sombrero I pointed the telescope into the constellation Ursa Major and focused on M109 Vacuum Cleaner Galaxy, which is located approximately 83 light years from us. Unfortunately, one bright star – Phad was in the visual vicinity and created diffraction spike spreading through the picture. So next time I will change the composition.


M104 Sombrero galaxy

The spring is a season of the galaxies. Winter nebulae are gone and constellations Lion, Ursa Major or Virgo are offering stunning deep space objects. The moon was hidden and the wetter finally good, so I took to opportunity and pointed my telescope into the constellation Virgo and collected some light coming from Sombrero galaxy, which has been on the way 32 million years. This galaxy looks like a Mexican hut, because it’s surrounded by dust belt. This is my second attempt to capture M104. First one, two years ago, was not that successful. Anyway, it’s better than last time, but I still cannot get to the quality of Hubble Space Telescope. However my equipment has better price/performance ratio 🙂


M48 Open Cluster

M48 is an open cluster discovered by Charles Messier in 1771. The cluster is located in constellation Hydra and it’s 1500 light-years far from the Earth. This cluster can be observed even by small binocular, but small telescope reveals more than 50 stars. During waiting for Sombrero galaxy I pointed my telescope just below bright star Procyon and collected some light coming from this cluster.


Markarian’s Chain

Only few locations on the skies contain so many galaxies as Markarian’s Chain. It belongs to the Virgo galaxy cluster. The brightest galaxies in the center (M84 and M86) were discovered by Charles Messier already in 1781. The smaller one on the left is called NGC 4388, on the right NGC 4402 and at the bottom NGC 4438. These galaxies are located in constellation Virgo between two bright stars Danebola (constellation Leo) and Videmiatrix (Virgo) and they are 50 – 60 million light-years far from the Solar System.

This picture makes me think how big the universe is. Each galaxy contains billions of stars and there is so many of them…

Even though I used my smallest telescope (focal length 600 mm) the whole Markarian’s chain didn’t fit into the field of view. This means I will do mosaic, but probably next year.


NGC2264 Cone nebula

Cone nebula is a giant cloud of ionized hydrogen gas, which includes the Christmas Tree Cluster. It’s located between two bright winter stars Betelgeuse (constellation Orion) and Procyon (Canis Minor) and it’s 2700 light-years far from the Solar System. There is a famous picture from Hubble Space telescope of the tip of the cone – star forming complex.

Bi-color picture didn’t look as I expected, therefore I decided to publish only mono version of hydrogen alpha channel.


M96 Galaxy

M96 is a spiral galaxy located in constellation Leo. It is approximately 31 million Light-years far from Earth and it has same size and mass as our home – Milky Way. Neighboring galaxies M95 and M105 will be captured next time.


M44 Beehive Cluster

Beehive cluster is an open cluster located in constellation Cancer. Because of its relatively “short” distance to the Solar system (600 Light years), it didn’t fit fully into the field of view of my telescope. The cluster has approximately 1000 stars and even two planets were discovered there.


M42 Great nebula in Orion

I don’t want to repeat myself, therefore the description on the most famous nebula visible from northern hemisphere can be found here.

The previous picture has some strange halo around the bright Hatsya star and I was thinking why. Recently similar picture came out of my telescope and I realized that this strange halo is caused by the frost on the secondary mirror. I manufacture home-made dew shield and I don’t have these problems anymore.

This picture is, as usual, composed out of narrow band pictures. When I look at it I am still not happy, therefore I hope next year will be better weather and I will make a better picture.