M76 Little Dumbbell Nebula

Messier 76 is one out of four planetary nebulae in Messier catalogue. It is one of the dimmest objects in this catalogue. The nebula is located in constellation Perseus and it is 2500 light-years away from Earth. M76 was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1780 and in the same year was catalogued by Charles Messier.

The picture is a stack of 58 pictures, each 180s, which means nearly 3 hours of the integration time. However, the conditions were far from optimal, because the Moon was in first quarter and illuminating the skies.

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length1000 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR coma corrector
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure58x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-02-14

M41 Open Cluster

In order to complete the Messier Catalogue and capture all of its deep space objects, I have to pack the telescope, mount, camera, cables and batteries and set it up somewhere in the nature with better view. Most of the objects I am able to capture from home, but some of them have very low declination (not far above the horizon) and I cannot see them from my terrace, because there is a hill direction south.

Messier 41, open cluster in constellation Canis Major is one of them.  So, I packed my car and went to collect some photons. At least I got the opportunity to test my new mount Avalon M-Zero, which replaced my previous portable mount iOptron CEM25P. The old portable mount was working well, but due to conventional equatorial design, one needs a counterweight, which was in this case 5 kg. This means 1/3 of the total weight. M-Zero is basically single fork mount, which utilizes the weight of the motors and housing as a counterweight. Moreover, M-Zero uses belts and pulleys, which means zero backlash. I can confirm – it works very well. I can save few kgs in my case during my next travel expedition.

The night was cold and since I don’t do the astrophotography in the nature frequently, I faced some issues. First, the portable telescope lost the collimation and I didn’t have the laser collimator with me. Second, I started to photograph before the telescope reached the thermal equilibrium, therefore there was a focus drift. This is definitely not my best picture, but I can at least check another Messier object from the list.

Technical details

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure39x60s, Gain 136, bin 1x1,
Date2019-02-12

M37 Open Cluster

Messier 37 is the largest and the brightest open cluster in constellation Auriga. Visually, it has two deep space neighboring open clusters M36 and M38. The cluster was discovered by Giovani Battista Hodierna in 1654 and catalogued by Charles Messier in 1764. The cluster contains a lot of red giant stars and it is approximately 4500 light-year away from Earth.

This is the second deep space object, which I captured in a single night. The clouds rolled in, therefore I was able to capture only 30 pictures, 60 second each.

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length1000 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR coma corrector
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure30x60s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-02-08

M36 Open Cluster

Messier 36 is an open cluster located in constellation Auriga, not far from the bright star Capella. The cluster is approximately 4000 light-years from Earth and it has diameter 14 light-years. There are another two open clusters in the vicinity. Specifically it is M38 (north-west) and M37 (south-east).

The picture is a stack of 50 images, each has 60 s exposure time, which means less than hour of the integration time. Another Messier object was captures. I hope, I will finish the whole Messier catalogue this year.

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length1000 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR coma corrector
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure50x60s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-02-08

M46 M47 Open Clusters

Messier 46 (left) and Messier 47 are open clusters located in constellation Puppis. Visually, these clusters are quite close to each other and both fit in the field of view of my smallest telescope. Visual distance is not the real distance, because M46 in approximately 5000 light-years away and M47 is much closer, only 1600 light-years away.

M46 contains roughly 500 members and small planetary nebula called NGC2438 can be found there.

The picture is a stack of 22 pictures, 2 minutes exposure each, which means 44 minutes in total. Unfortunately, my telescope was not properly collimated, therefore the stars are elongated in the upper left corner. Well, I must say that this was the first and the last night in January without clouds, therefore I did not get the chance to recapture this deep space object.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, OAG
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure22x120s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-01-30

M79 Globular cluster

Messier 79 is a globular cluster located in constellation Lepus. This cluster is particularly interesting, because it can be observed/photographed only in winter and there is no other globular cluster in that part of the sky. Most of the globular clusters are visible in summer, when the galactic center is shows its beauty. This means that most of the globular clusters are close to the galactic center, but M79 is actually at the edge of our galaxy. Diameter of our own Milky Way galaxy is approximately 100,000 light-years. M79 is roughly 60,000 light-years far from galactic center and 42,100 light years away from earth. The study conducted in 2003 revealed the concentration of the stars in constellation Canis Major, which is neighboring constellation to Lepus and it was assumed that there is a dwarf galaxy there. Latest studies disproved this theory and the star concentration is assumed to be caused just by the spiral arm of the Milky Way.

This deep space object is extremely difficult to capture due to its very low declination if observed from Central Europe. Moreover, also the optics was not cooperating this night. I must admit it’s the worst picture of a globular cluster I have ever made. But if I want to complete Messier catalogue this year, I have to publish it as it is. I hope I will get an opportunity to recapture M79 next year.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length570 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-15°C
CorrectorTS MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure22x60s, Gain 134, bin 1x1,
Date2019-01-15

M78 Nebula


Messier 78 is a reflection nebula located in constellation Orion, visually not far from stars Alnitak Alnilam and Mintaka, which form the Orion’s belt. This nebula is one of the brightest reflection nebulas on the sky, due to reflection of the light coming from two bright stars called HD38563A and HD38563B.

My previous attempt to capture this nebula during my expedition to Schwarzwald was not that successful, due to the due problems, therefore I dedicated nearly 3 hours to this DSO. However, it looks like the picture would need longer integration time.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length950 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorTS-Optics 2" 3-element MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure50x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2018-12-13

M77 Galaxy


Messier 77 is a spiral galaxy located in constellation Cetus and it is approximately 47 million light-year away from Earth. Due to its diameter 170 light-year, this galaxy is one of the biggest objects of Messier Catalogue.

The galaxy in the bottom right corner is called NGC 1055, which together with M77 creates binary system.

The picture is a stack of 20 pictures, each 3 minutes long, i.e. only one hour of integration time. This is obviously not enough for such deep space object, but I wanted to capture another DSO this night. Moreover, I was not able to wait till 1 o’clock, when the street lamps are switched off, because at this time, this galaxy was nearly reaching the horizon.

Now it’s time to slew to M78 Nebula.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length1000 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorTS-Optics 2" 3-element MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure20x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2018-12-13

M103 Open Cluster


Messier 103 is an open cluster located in constellation Cassiopeia. With its distance 8500 light-year from Earth, this cluster is one of the most distant clusters from Messier’s catalogue.

The picture is a stack of 56 pictures, each 2 minutes long, i.e. nearly two hours of integration time. December is a month, which is rich with deep space objects, but it’s also rich with clouds. In whole December I got only single opportunity to take my telescope outside, therefore this is not the only deep space object, which I captured this night.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length1000 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorTS-Optics 2" 3-element MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure56x120s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2018-12-13

M35 Shoe-Buckle Cluster

Messier 35 an open cluster located in constellation Gemini. The cluster is approximately 2800 light-year far from Earth and it contains roughly 200 stars.

Second open cluster NGC 2158 is located in the background (upper right part of the picture). I didn’t know that there is another cluster in field of view. If I would know it, I would change the composition of the picture.

This cluster was the last one out of four captured during single night. In the early morning I slewed to M35 and went to sleep. The camera captured 56 exposures, 3 minutes each, before the dawn arrived. This means nearly 3 hours of total exposure time.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length1000 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorTS-Optics 2" 3-element MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure56x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2018-11-18

 


M38 Open Cluster

Messier 38 is an open cluster located in constellation Auriga. It has diameter 25 light-years and it’s approximately 3500 light-year away from Earth.

I managed to capture two open clusters this night already (M39 and M34) and there is still one to go (M35). Therefore I didn’t dedicate a lot of time on M38 – this means that the picture is an integration of one hour of exposure time.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length950 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorTS-Optics 2" 3-element MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure20x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2018-11-18


M34 Open Cluster

After capturing M39 I slewed the telescope to another deep space object. Specifically to an open cluster Messier 39. This cluster is located in constellation Perseus and it is approximately 1400 light-years away from Earth and it has diameter roughly 24 light-years.

The picture is a stack of 72 two minute subframes, which means 144 minutes of total integration time.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length950 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorTS-Optics 2" 3-element MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure72x120s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2018-11-18


M39 Open cluster

Messier 39 is an open cluster located in constellation Cygnus and it’s only 825 light-year away from Eartch. The cluster is visually located on the galactic plane of the Milky Way, therefore there are so many stars in the background.

I already captured M39 two years ago, but with different camera and different coma corrector. This time I used slightly bigger sensor and brand new corrector TS MaxField. This corrector should reduce the focal length by 5% and also due to the larger sensor I got bigger field of view compared to my previous picture. However, the corrector is not capable of eliminate the coma fully and in the corners are the stars elongated. I spent some time by adjusting the tilt, but this obviously didn’t solve the problem. This means that the only corrector which is capable of eliminating the comatic aberration fully is Explore Scientific HR CC.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length950 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorTS-Optics 2" 3-element MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure58x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2018-11-18

Here is the analysis of the curvature by CCD Inspector. I already adjusted the tilt by integrated push-pull screws on ASI071, but there is still some room for improvements.


Chasing darkness in Schwarzwald

My second expedition after the dark skies (this year) led us to Germany, specifically to Black Forest (Schwarzwald) in the state of Baden-Württemberg. We rented a small cabin for a weekend and I took the same equipment which I took to Milos, i.e. telescope newton 150/600 mm, mount iOptron CEM25P and ZWO 071 Pro camera.

As soon got dark, the Milky Way showed up. I measured SQM and it reached 21.1, which is not spectacular, but far better compared what I have at home.

The equipment was working perfectly, but the dew started to form on the secondary mirror, because the cabin is close to river Breg, which means a lot of humidity. I never had dew problems with Newtonian telescope up to now. Lessons learned – I need a dew shield. I managed to capture only M74 Galaxy and M78 Nebula.

Anyway, I also managed to capture wide angle photos with my Pen-F and Fish eye lens.

Here are the star trails – exposure 30x30s:

And here is the Milky Way – exposure 1x30s ISO 3200 f1.8:


M74 Phantom Galaxy

Messier 74, sometimes called Phantom Galaxy, is a galaxy located in constellation Pisces. This galaxy has two prominent spiral arms and it is typical example of a spiral galaxy. The distance 35 million light-years from Earth has been estimated, therefore what we are looking at here is 35 million year old picture.

The photo was taken in Schwarzwald under decent dark skies and it’s an integration of 45 photos, each 3 minutes exposure, i.e. more than 2 hours of exposure time in total.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length660 mm
MountiOptron CEM25P
AutoguidingQHYCCD miniGuideScope 130 mm f/4.3, ZWO 174 MM
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR coma corrector
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure45x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2018-10-12

 


M2 Globular Cluster

Messier 2 is a globular cluster located in constellation Aquarius and it’s approximately 37’000 light-year away from Earth. It’s one of the biggest known globular cluster, because it contains approximately 150 000 stars and it has 175 light-years in diameter. After Crab Nebula M1, this cluster is the second object of Messier’s catalogue of deep space objects.

This picture was the second captured object (after M71) during one night and it’s an integration of 3 hours of exposure.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length950 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-15C
CorrectorTS-Optics 2" 3-element MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure60x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2018-10-04


M71 Globular cluster

Messier 71 is a globular cluster located in constellation Sagitta. The cluster is located approximately 12 – 13 thousand light-years from earth. The classification of M71 as a globular cluster was questionable for a long time, because it lacks central star concentration and therefore it was considered as an open cluster. The diameter of this cluster is only 27 light-years, which is very low value for globular cluster.

Well I am back in light pollute sub-urban area. I can use bigger and heavier telescope, but I am missing dark skies of Milos. The picture is an integration of 38 pictures, with exposure time 3 minutes. Total exposure time was approximately 2 hours.

I managed to test new TS-Optics 2″ 3-element MaxField Newtonian Coma Corrector, which should be 2” version of Wynne corrector. It should have significant advantage compared all 2” coma correctors on the market: it reduces focal length by 5%, should correct full frame CCD (we will see about that) and it should have very low vignetting. I will have to extend my World Wide Coma Correction exercise.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length950 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-15C
CorrectorTS-Optics 2" 3-element MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure38x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2018-10-04


Chasing darkness in Greece – Milos

My second expedition after dark skies led us to beautiful island Milos. It’s mid-size island in Aegean see and it belongs to group of islands called Cyclades. The port and whole night life (bars, restaurants, discotheques) are located on the northern part of the island. We stayed on the other part of the island, where are empty, not organized beaches and mainly very low light pollution. To travel there is not straight forward, because Milos has very small airport. Therefore we had to fly to Santorini Island and from there take a ferry to Milos.


NGC6871 Open Cluster

NGC6871 is an open cluster located in Cygnus, has less than 50 stars and it is 5135 light-years from Earth. Constellation Cygnus is visually located on the galactic disk of the Milky Way; therefore there are many stars in the background. Particularly interesting are the dark nebulae, surrounding the cluster.

Picture was taken under dark skies of Milos Island and in total, it’s an integration of on 63 minutes.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length660 mm
MountiOptron CEM25P
AutoguidingQHYCCD miniGuideScope 130 mm f/4.3, ZWO 174 MM
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR coma corrector
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure21x180s, Gain 134, bin 1x1,
Date2018-09-15


M70 Globular cluster

Messier70 is a globular cluster located in constellation Sagittarius. The cluster is at a distance approximately 29’300 light-years from the Solar System. Neighbor cluster M69 was captured during the same night.

M70 is the 15th globular cluster captured by me on Milos Island – mission accomplished.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length660 mm
MountiOptron CEM25P
AutoguidingQHYCCD miniGuideScope 130 mm f/4.3, ZWO 174 MM
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR coma corrector
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure37x60s, Gain 134, bin 1x1,
Date2018-09-15