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.


M1 Crab nebula

It all started here. Crab nebula is the first catalogued deep space object. Charles Messier was searching for the comet (1758) but discovered his first deep space object. Crab nebula, also called Messier 1, is a supernova remnant – something like Veil nebula, but it’s much further from the Solar system – 6500 light years.

My first picture was made with pinched mirror, therefore I waited two years and captured it properly. Since I live in light polluted area, I chose narrow band filters, in order to get better contrast and composed this picture out of hydrogen alpha (red channel) and OIII (green and blue channel) narrow band pictures.


IC59 IC63 Gama Cassiopeia nebula

Is a reflection nebula located in constellation Cassiopeia, approximately 600 light years from Solar System. This nebula is very dim, therefore I used narrow band filters Ha, OIII and SII and composed two pictures. One is composed in real colors, second in fake (Hubble) color palette.


NGC6992 Veil nebula

The mostly photographed deep space object by me is Veil nebula. I simply love this supernova remnant. Previous mosaic picture revealed that the eastern part is slightly brighter, therefore I pointed my telescope with longer focal length there and made this bi-color picture.


M33 Triangulum Galaxy

Triangulum Galaxy is our neighboring spiral galaxy in distance only 3 Million light years from the Earth. It has diameter approximately 30 light years, which means that it’s 3 times smaller than our home – Milky Way Galaxy. Last year I tried to capture some photons coming from there, but the outcome was not so great, therefore I was waiting one year and here is the outcome:

m33-triangulum-galaxy-2016-10-31-30c-65l-300s-8rgb-200sb2x2-fl1000


NGC7380 Wizard nebula

Wizard nebula is an open cluster associated with nebulosity.  Visually, it has apparent size of the full Moon, but since it’s very far from the Earth (7200 light years), its real diameter is about 100 light years.

So, where is the wizard located? It took me a while to find him, but if you turn your head 90° counter-clockwise, you see two darker hands. It looks like he is trying to grab something. Then above the hands you see the wizard’s conical hat.

First picture is a composition of 3 narrow band pictures (Ha, OIII and SII) and composed in Hubble Space Telescope palette. Second one is more-or less visible spectrum.

ngc7380-wizard-2016-10-06-30c-600s-32x-haoiiisii-fl1000-dbe-proc ngc7380-wizard-2016-10-06-30c-600s-32x-haoiiisii-fl1000-dbe-rgbeq