Author: <span class="vcard">JakubK</span>

IC1848 Soul nebula

Soul nebula is a beautiful HII region, where new stars are being born. It’s located in constellation Cassiopeia and it’s 7500 light-years from Earth. The nebula has neighbor Heart Nebula (IC1805). One can say that in this constellation the heart and soul are close to each other.

As usual, I used narrow band filters to capture this spectacular nebula. It didn’t fit into ma field of view; this means I would need shorter focal length.

Technical details

Telescope:Newton 150/600 mm
Aperture:150 mm
Focal length:438 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingTS 60 mm, ZWO 174 MM
Camera:Moravian instruments G2 8300M @-30C
Corrector:ASA 0.73 reducer
Filters:Baader narrow band
Exposure:8x77xHa, 77xOIII, 77xSII 180 s, bin 1x1,
Date:2017-11-23

IC5070 Pelican nebula

Pelican nebula is large cloud of hydrogen gas, where many stars are being born, located in constellation Cygnus (Swan). The nebula is approximately 2000 light-years away from Earth. If you use bit of an imagination, you will be able to see the pelican in the dark cloud surrounding the brighter center of the nebula – good luck with searching.

The picture was taken completely by narrow band filters. The first one is in “fake” Hubble palette and second one as a bi-color image (Ha in red channel, OIII in green and blue channel).

Technical details

Telescope:Newton 150/600 mm
Aperture:150 mm
Focal length:438 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingTS 60 mm, ZWO 174 MM
Camera:Moravian instruments G2 8300M @-30C
Corrector:ASA 0.73 reducer
Filters:Baader narrow band
Exposure:8x32xHa, 32xOIII, 32xSII 180 s, bin 1x1,
Date:2017-12-15

Neptune

Since Pluto is no longer a planet, the privilege to be the last planet of the Solar System belongs to Neptune. Neptune is after Jupiter and Saturn the third most-massive planet. It has approximately 17 times more mass than Earth. One year on Neptune takes 164.8 years, because the distance between Sun and Neptune is 30 times longer than between Earth and Sun. The planet got its name from Roman mythology, specifically after the god of the sea – the mighty Neptune.

Neptune cannot be spotted by a naked eye, therefore one needs telescope. Even if you have one and you manage to find it, you will not see any details on Neptune’s surface. You will see just boring small spot.

The picture was taken by my biggest telescope Celestron C14. The focal length 4000 mm was increased by 1.6 Barlow lens to 6400 mm. The seeing was, as usual, very bad, therefore there are no details visible and the picture looks not perfectly focused and unsharp. I just wanted to try to capture it and here is the outcome:

Technical details

Telescope:Celestron EdgeHD C14
Aperture:354 mm
Focal length:6256 mm
MountGemini G53f
Autoguiding-
Camera:ZWO ASI228MC
Corrector:Barlow 1.6
Filters:-
Exposure:1000xL (35% used), 610 ms, Gain 353
Date:2017-10-12

IC1396 Elephant trunk nebula

Elephant trunk nebula is visually one of the biggest deep space objects in the sky. It covers more than 6 times the diameter of the Moon. I had to use the telescope with the shortest focal length and use focal reducer ASA 0.73. Recently, I managed to improve the picture quality of this reducer by adjustment of the tilt. The nebula can be located in constellation Cepheus, but it cannot be spotted visually because it’s very dim.

I spent 4 nights capturing these photos. In total, there is nearly 19 hours of exposure time. Probably this is my longest integration time I have ever made. The first picture is in fake Hubble colors, second one in more or less visible spectrum colors.

 

Technical details

Telescope:Newton 150/600 mm
Aperture:150 mm
Focal length:438 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingOrion Mini Autoguider
Camera:Moravian instruments G2 8300M @-30C
Corrector:ASA 0.73 reducer
Filters:Baader narrow band
Exposure:8x125xHa, 125xOIII, 125xSII 180 s, bin 1x1,
Date:2017-10-17

M55 Globular cluster

Messier55 is a globular cluster located in constellation Sagittarius. This cluster is very difficult to photograph from central Europe, because there is located not far from horizon. For example Charles Messier hat troubles to locate this cluster and it took him 14 years to spot it. I made a trip to Gavdos – the southernmost place is Europe. There the cluster was significantly upper in the sky.

M55 is 17600 light-year far from the Solar system, it has approximately 100 light-year diameter and contain 100 000 stars.

Techanical details

Telescope:RC 154/1370
Aperture:154 mm
Focal length:917 mm
MountiOptron CEM25P
AutoguidingQHYCCD miniGuideScope 130 mm f/4.3, ZWO 174 MM
Camera:ZWO 1600 MC @ -15C
Corrector:Astro Physics CCDT67
Filters:UV, IR cut
Exposure:37x 120s Gain 240
Date:2017-09-29

M20 Trifid nebula

Trifid nebula is a combination of emission, reflection and dark nebula – pretty unique. It got its name from 3 dark lines across emission (red) part. The lines are dust clouds blocking the light emitted by ionized hydrogen.  It’s possible to observe this nebula, but one needs dark skies and a telescope with aperture at least 120 mm. The nebula can be found in constellation Sagittarius and it’s 5200 light-years far from Earth.

The picture was taken in Gavdos during my first dark sky chasing. The total integration time is only one hour, which is remarkable for such portable setup.

Technical details

Telescope:RC 154/1370
Aperture:154 mm
Focal length:917 mm
MountiOptron CEM25P
AutoguidingQHYCCD miniGuideScope 130 mm f/4.3, ZWO 174 MM
Camera:ZWO 1600 MC @ -15C
Corrector:Astro Physics CCDT67
Filters:UV, IR cut
Exposure:20x 180s Gain 240
Date:2017-09-23

NGC 7293 Helix nebula

Helix nebula is the closest and the brightest planetary nebula in the sky. It was discovered by Karl Ludwig Harding quite long time ago at 1824 in constellation Aquarius. This nebula is similar to Dumbbell or Ring Nebula, only it’s much bigger and bit closer – approximately 450 light-years.

I took this picture on Gavdos. This nebula was my primary target there, because in Switzerland is located not far above the horizon, therefore I would have to capture it through heavy light pollution. In the southernmost point of European continent was way upper in the sky. I was collecting the light coming from this nebula several nights and it was worth it:

Technical details

Telescope:RC 154/1370
Aperture:154 mm
Focal length:917 mm
MountiOptron CEM25P
AutoguidingQHYCCD miniGuideScope 130 mm f/4.3, ZWO 174 MM
Camera:ZWO 1600 MC @ -15C
Corrector:Astro Physics CCDT67
Filters:UV, IR cut
Exposure:116x 180s Gain 139
Date:2017-09-22

Chasing the darkness in Greece on small island Gavdos

I was always dreaming about dark skies, because I live in sub-urban area with relatively strong light pollution. Two friends returned from Gavdos where they spent their summer vacation and told me that they have never seen so many stars in the sky – at that moment I was tempted. One year later I decided to combine our summer vacation (mid Semptember) with chasing of the dark skies. Swimming, snorkeling, hiking during the day and photographing, observing during the night.

We have been to Greece already, so we knew what to expect – beautiful beaches, people with great hospitality and tourists everywhere. But Gavdos is something different. It is a small island south from Crete. The island is the southernmost point of the entire European continent, which is optimal for astrophotography, because the deep space objects, which are near to the horizon in Switzerland, are 12° upper in the sky. Only few people live on Gavdos, which means there is no light pollution compared to other Greek islands. There are neither big hotels, discotheques nor organized beaches. On the other hand there are places where you can sleep and there are many taverns where you can get something delicious. Moreover in all taverns is a Wi-Fi. Electricity is mostly produced by the solar panels and stored in the batteries and some taverns use generators, so there is electricity available whole night. This means you don’t have to carry heavy batteries to power the mount or camera cooling with you.


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).

Technical details

Telescope:Newton 254/1000 mm
RC 154/1370
Aperture:254 mm
154 mm
Focal length:1000 mm
917 mm
MountGemini G53f
iOptron CEM25P
AutoguidingTS 60 mm, FL240 mm, ZWO 174 MM
Camera:Moravian instruments G2 8300M @-30C
ZWO 1600 MC @ -15C
Corrector:GPU
Astro Physics CCDT67
Filters:Baader Ha, OIII, SII
Exposure:46xL 180s bin 1x1, 20xRGB 120s bin2x2
30x 180s Gain 300
Date:2017-08-31

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.

Technical details

Telescope:Newton 254/1000 mm
RC 154/1370
Aperture:254 mm
154 mm
Focal length:1000 mm
917 mm
MountGemini G53f
iOptron CEM25P
AutoguidingTS 60 mm, FL240 mm, ZWO 174 MM
Camera:Moravian instruments G2 8300M @-30C
ZWO 1600 MC @ -15C
Corrector:GPU
Astro Physics CCDT67
Filters:Baader Ha, OIII, SII
Exposure:10xL 180s bin 1x1, 8xRGB 120s bin2x2
28x 120s Gain 300
Date:2017-08-30

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.