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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
My god, it is full of stars! I think everybody knows this sentence and if not, you should watch probably the best movie from Stanley Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Anyway, my reaction when I processed this image was the same just like David Bowman, when he was traveling through the star gate created by the monolith orbiting the Jupiter. The reason why there are so many stars in the background is simple. M39 is an open cluster located in not far from constellation Cygnus (Swan). This constellation is lying on the plane of our home galaxy Milky Way, therefore we are now looking through the galactic disk.
M29 is an open cluster located in constellation Cygnus (Swan) and it’s approximately 6000 light-years from the Earth. It can be observed even by the binoculars or small telescope.
M52 open cluster was discovered catalogued by Charles Messier in 1774, from there stands the “M” letter. It’s located in constellation Cassiopeia and it’s visible even by small binocular.
Here is another picture of my favorite Veil nebula. First attempt here with long focal length (1000 mm), second attempt here with shorter focal length (730 mm) and finally third here with the shortest focal length I have (430 mm). Still I haven’t captured everything of the nebula last year and this year I focused my smallest telescope to the western part of the Veil nebula and created mosaic.
The picture, as well as the previous ones is bi-color images. I captured hydrogen alpha (Ha) and oxygen III (OIII) narrow band images and inserted Ha image into the red channel and OIII into green and blue channel.
NGC6820 Nebula doesn’t have a name, so let’s call it Hidden octopus nebula (because only one tentacle is visible). Hidden octopus nebula is a giant cloud (50 light years in diameter) of ionized hydrogen alpha gas, where new stars are born. The tentacle forms similar structure just like in more famous M16 Eagle nebula. It’s located in constellation Vulpecula (Little fox) not far from M27 Dumbbell nebula and it’s 6000 light year from Earth.
The picture was processed in bi-color technique. This means: two narrow band pictures, one H alpha and OIII. H alpha inserted into the red channel, OIII into the green and blue one.
Wild Duck Cluster is one of the biggest known open star cluster. It’s located in constellation Aquila (Eagle), it contains approximately 2900 stars (you can count them on the picture) and it’s very far – 5500 light years from the Solar system. The name “Wild Duck” comes from the observation of Admiral Smyth – he saw wedge-shape group of stars. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see any V-shape formation, maybe Admiral Smyth was observing during very cold night and tried to warm up by grog or something.
Iris nebula is one of the most difficult deep space object to capture. Not the nebula itself, but the dark clouds around it. In order to capture these clouds you have to be under very good skies – with minimal light pollution. The reason is simple – the clouds are dark, but the background as well, therefore if you want to visualize the contrast between something which is dark and something which is even darker, good skies are essential. Since I live in sub-urban area, I had to wait till 1 o’clock at night. At this time nearly all street lamps are switched off and the light pollution drops to acceptable level.
Anyway back to the nebula – it’s reflective nebula (similar to Pleiades) located in constellation Cepheus. It’s 1300 light years far from the Solar system and it has 6 light years in diameter.
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