Tag: <span>Newton 150/600</span>

Chasing darkness on Fuerteventura

This year was a special year. Pandemic outbreak ruined my first attempt of darkness chasing on Canary Islands in May. I didn’t give up and as soon the restrictions were released, I purchased plane tickets to Fuerteventura again. We rented a house via AirBnB on the south side of the island, in the middle of nowhere, where the light pollution supposed to be minimal (measured SQM 21.2).

The island lies on the 28th parallel, which makes the core of the Milky Way pretty up on the sky. And this was exactly my primary astrophotographical target. I packed recently astro-modified Canon 6D, nifty-fifty 50 mm f1.8 lens and headed south. The aim was to capture the Antares region together with the core of the Milky Way and in the end I somehow managed.  However, the lens disappointed me a lot, because it suffers for comatic and chromatic aberrations, combined with astigmatism. The stars in the corners are not round, even if the lens is slowed down to f 3.5. I was trying nearly every evening to recapture the Milky Way, but I was fighting with the weather (it was very windy) and with the equipment (polar alignment, shutter release, drained batteries), but I somehow managed to generate at least one decent picture of desired target. Lessons learned – I need a better 50 mm lens.

Technical details:

LensCanon EF 50 mm f1.8
F-stop2.8
Focal length50 mm
MountBaader NanoTracker
CameraCanon EOS 6D Astro modified
Exposure14x20s, ISO 1600
Date2020-07-22

I also packed 150mm Newtonian, together with my new mount Rainbow astro RS135. This mount is simply excellent and very portable. I still have Avalon M-Zero, but it is significantly heavier, therefore if I travel with Avalon, I have to order a second luggage and to travel with two suitcases is not that convenient. Rainbow astro occupies only half of my luggage, so there was a space for some T-shirts. I must say, that the Avalon is better mount for tracking and there is no need to do meridian flip, but the portability is for me more important. The primary target was Lobster nebula, but I managed to capture some DSOs around Antares and in the core of the Milky Way (Lagoon, Trifid, M4, M6, M7, M24, IC4304)

The conclusion: the weather was much better than on La Palma last year. Every night was cloudless, but it was windy. Fortunately not every day, so in the end it was quite successful trip.


M4 Globular cluster

Messier 4 (left side of the picture) is a globular cluster located in constellation Scorpius, close to the brightest star of this constellation Antares (right side). This cluster is the closest one to the Solar System, due to its “short” distance 7200 light-years and it contains several tens of thousands of stars. There is another globular cluster on the bottom side of the picture NGC 6144. The star Antares is classified as a red supergiant, with diameter several times bigger than the Sun, which makes it one of the largest know stars. it is only 550 light-years away, which means M4 and Antares are close only visually, but in reality, there is a very long distance between them.
If any brighter star is photographed by the Newtonian telescope, the diffraction cross appears due to the so-called “spider vanes” holder of the secondary mirror. If the spider vanes are not perpendicular to each other (like in my case), the diffraction pattern makes multiple ugly lines. This means I will have to correct it, as soon as I get back from Fuerteventura.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length570 mm
MountRainbow Astro RST 135
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-0°C
CorrectorTS MaxField
FiltersNo
Exposure44x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2020-07-23

IC 4304 Rho Ophiuchi Nebula

Rho Ophiuchi is a triple star system (on the left side of the picture) in constellation Ophiuchus. The light from the stars is partially absorbed by the gas, which makes the blue reflection nebula visible. Smaller reflection nebula called IC 4603 is located on the right. The picture shows just small frame of significantly bigger nebula, called Rho Ophiuchi complex, which combines star Antares, globular cluster M4 and many more reflection, emission and dark nebulae. In order to capture the whole complex, one has to use significantly shorter focal length, like 130 – 200 mm.

The picture was taken under dark skies of Fuerteventura and it’s a stack of 73 pictures, 3 minutes each, which makes total integration time 219 minutes.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length570 mm
MountRainbow Astro RST 135
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-0°C
CorrectorTS MaxField
FiltersNo
Exposure73x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2020-07-21

M7 Ptolemy cluster

Messier 7, sometimes called Ptolemy cluster, is an open cluster located in between constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius. The cluster is visually located on the galactic plane of the Milky Way, therefore there are many stars in the background. The cluster is badly visible from Central Europe. Much better opportunities to observe or photograph this cluster have astronomers or astrophotographers in southern countries. My last attempt to capture it in Grease was constantly disturbed by the weather, therefore we I was again in South, specifically at Fuerteventura, I didn’t hesitate and recapture this beautiful cluster.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length570 mm
MountRainbow Astro RST 135
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-0°C
CorrectorTS MaxField
FiltersNo
Exposure64x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2020-07-21

M8 Lagoon Nebula, M20 Trifid Nebula

These two magnificent nebulae are located visually close to each other in constellation Sagittarius. This means we are looking in direction of the galactic core of the Milky Way. Trifid nebula (up left) is a combination of a reflection nebula (blue part), a dark nebula (brown clouds), an emission nebula (red part) and a star cluster. On the other hand, Lagoon nebula (right side) is an emission nebula – giant cloud of ionized HII gas. Due to very low southern declination, it’s very difficult to photograph these deep space objects from my home place in Central Europe. Therefore every time I travel south, I take the opportunity and recapture these nebulae. My first attempt of M20 was done with focal length 917 mm, second one with 630 mm and now I used gentle focal reducer. Focal length 570 mm allowed me to fit both nebulae into the field of view of APS-C sensor size. The picture is an integration of 213 minutes, taken under dark skies of Fuerteventura.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length570 mm
MountRainbow Astro RST 135
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-0°C
CorrectorTS MaxField
FiltersNo
Exposure71x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2020-07-18

M44 Beehive Cluster

Messier 44, sometimes called Beehive cluster, is visually one of the biggest open cluster, which can be observed from northern hemisphere. Previous picture, taken 3 year ago, was done with focal length 1000 mm. Now I changed the strategy and used only 630 mm. I think this was a good idea and whole cluster is perfectly framed.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure76x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2020-03-46

M95 M96 M105 NGC 3384 and NGC 3389 Galaxies

Well, the weather was so bad very long time or the Moon was up and shining. I had almost no opportunity to capture something this year. Finally the sky cleared up and galactic season started (the spring). I was so excited that I wanted to capture as many deep space object at possible. Therefore I took the telescope with the shortest focal length I have (630 mm), pointed the telescope into the constellation Leo and captured 5 bright galaxies in one shot. M95 is the one at bottom left, M96 in middle and M105 the brightest at top right corner.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure76x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2020-03-18

M48 Open Cluster

Telescope is out after long time. My main targets for this night are some galaxies in constellation Leo, but I have to wait for these galaxies to cross the meridian (line splitting west and east). By browsing in planetarium software I found one object, which can fill the gap – it was the open cluster M48. Open cluster usually don’t need super dark skies, therefore I can capture them during the evening, when there is still strong light pollution. My previous picture was taken by much longer focal length, therefore the cluster covered nearly whole field of view. This time the background if filled by many stars, which are not members of this cluster.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure76x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2020-03-18

Double Cluster NGC869 and NGC884

Two clusters visually close to each other can be located between constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia.  The clusters are relatively young (12 million years) and they are 2700 light-years far from Earth.

The picture was captured during my travel to Karpathos where I had only single wind free night.

I know, the composition should be turned by 90°. I just simply forgot to twist the camera.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-5°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure28x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-09-03

NGC7023 Iris nebula

Iris nebula, known as NGC 7023, is a reflection/dark nebula located in constellation Cepheus. It’s 1300 light years far from the Solar system and it has 6 light years in diameter. In the middle of the nebula rules so called baby star, which is only few thousand years old. The star was created partially from the gas which is now illuminated.

The picture was taken under dark skies of Greek island Karpathos during my 2019 expedition. Unfortunately, the weather was very bad. There wasn’t a single cloud on the sky, but it was extremely windy, therefore I got only one single steady night and this night I wanted to capture also other deep space objects. Therefore the picture is a stack of only 37 pictures, each 2 minutes long.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-5°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure37x120s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-09-03

M68 Globular Cluster

Messier 68 is a globular cluster located in constellation Hydra. The cluster contains more than 100,000 stars and it is approximately 33,000 light-years away from Earth. The best time for observation is between March and July. Observers from Central Europe have disadvantage, because M68 doesn’t raise much above the horizon. Therefore this cluster was one of my primary targets on La Palma, where M68 is much better visible. However, the weather was bad and I only got 40 minutes between the clouds.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure19x120s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-04-30

M93 Open Cluster

Messier 93 is an open cluster located in constellation Puppis and it is about 3400 light-year away from Earth. My previous attempt to capture this object was not so successful, because M93 doesn’t rise far from horizon in Central Europe. On La Palma is the situation different, but only if the weather allows it. I was partially lucky and a hole between the clouds appeared and I got 44 minutes opportunity to capture this cluster properly.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure22x120s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-04-28

M83 Southern Pinwheel Galaxy

Messier 83 is a spiral galaxy located in constellation Hydra. It is one of the brightest and closest (15 million light-years) galaxies observable from Earth. On the other hand there are much brighter and closer galaxies, for example Andromeda is only 2.5 million light-years away and M33 Triangulum Galaxy is roughly 3 million light-years away.

Due to the fact that the M83 has very low southern declination (rises not far from horizon), thus it is very difficult to capture from light polluted Central Europe, I decided to take a trip to south. Specifically to La Palma (Canary Islands) and tried to photograph it from there. I had only one clear night out of ten, but together with M68 was this galaxy my primary target and I somehow managed. My plan was to capture more deep space objects, but the weather didn’t allow me.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure87x300s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-04-25

M61 Galaxy

Spring offers the best conditions for photographing/observing of the galaxies. This is caused by the fact that the constellations Virgo, Leo and Coma Berenices are visible and there are galaxies anywhere you look. This year, I already captured M58 M88 M89 M90 M91 Galaxies, but there are still some galaxies missing, in order to finish Messier catalogue. One of them was M61 (upper left corner). This spiral galaxy is located in constellation Virgo, it has about the same size as our home galaxy Milky Way and it is approximately 52 light-year away from Earth.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-15°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure74x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-04-06

M88 M91 Galaxies

Messier 88 (right) and Messier 91 are the spiral galaxies located between constellations Coma Berenices and Virgo. Both belong to the Virgo Cluster of galaxies and both are approximately 60 light-years away from Earth. The small galaxy at the very left is called NGC 4571.

Technical data:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-15°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure47x300s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-03-30

NGC 2237 Rosette Nebula

Rosette Nebula is a giant cloud of hydrogen gas. The gas is ionized by the star cluster located in the middle and therefore emits the light. Circular shape and the color correspond to the name – the rose. The cluster in the middle can be observed even by using small telescope, but the nebulosity is very dim, therefore in order to see it, one would need perfectly dark sky and very large telescope with low magnification. It’s definitely easier to photograph the nebulosity. My previous photo was done through the narrow band filters, which suppress the light pollution and increases the contrast of the picture. Now I tried it with normal one shot color camera and I must conclude that it went quite well.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 150/600 mm
Aperture150 mm
Focal length630 mm
MountAvalon M-Zero
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, Guidescope 30 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10°C
CorrectorExplore Scientific HR
FiltersAstronomik L-1 - UV IR Block Filter
Exposure16x300s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-03-30

M58 M89 M90 Galaxies


The spring has arrived and there are many galaxies, which yet has to be captured by me, in order to finish the Messier catalogue. This night I managed to capture tree of them in one shot. Messier 58 (upper left side) is a barred spiral galaxy, which is approximately 68 million light-years from Earth. This makes it the furthest object from Messier catalogue. Messier 89 (bottom middle) is only 50 million light-years from us and Messier 90 (right) is approximately 59 million light-years away.

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
Exposure90x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,
Date2019-03-29

M93 Open Cluster

Messier 93 is an open cluster located in constellation Puppis and it is about 3400 light-year away from Earth. The cluster is one of those deep space objects, which I cannot see from my home, therefore I had to pack the gear and enjoy starry night outside. Compared to my previous attempt, I took the laser collimator with me and waited sufficiently long the temper the telescope. Well I was surprised that the stars are slightly oval and there is blue halo on one side and red one on the other side of nearly each star. I was speculating if there is something wrong with the optics, but then I realized that this object has very low declination (it’s not far from horizon), therefore it’s exposed to atmosphere refraction/dispersion. This means that the light must pass through the thick layer of an air. In this case the atmosphere works as a lens and bends red and blue light differently. The effect is described here or here.

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
Exposure30x60s, Gain 136, bin 1x1,
Date2019-03-27

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

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