Abell 426 – Perseus Cluster

The Perseus Cluster is a cluster of galaxies located within the constellation of Perseus. This cluster contains thousands of galaxies immersed in a vast cloud of multimillion degree gass, and is considered one of the most massive objects within the universe. The Perseus cluster is the second nearest rich cluster of galaxies, with the nearest – A3627 – being almost hidden by the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. The Perseus Cluster is also near the plane so that many of the faint lights in images are stars from our own galaxy, but all the fain fuzzies you see are distant galaxies. The large eliptical galaxy within the cluster, NGC 1275, is a strong source of radio waves, and is also a powerful source of x-rays. This cluster is approximately 240 million light years.

To put into perspective the light reaching us now didn’t leave the galaxies in question until the end of the Paleozoic Era, or the beginning of the Mesozoic Era (estimated to end around 240 million years ago, and start 240 million years ago, respectively). During this time it is estimated that about 90% of all living creatures on earth died out. So, the light we are seeing left their galaxies around the beginning of the dinosaur age. Also, the amount of time it takes our solar system to orbit the Milky Way galaxy takes around 200-250 million years, so the light from the galaxies left and our solar system did approximately 1 orbit around the Milky Way. This is one of the many things that makes astronomy so awesome, and currently, our only form of “time travel” is to look back at distant objects in the universe.

Location of Abell 426 - The Perseus Cluster

Location of Abell 426 – The Perseus Cluster

From my light polluted yard the view of this cluster leaves a lot to be desired with my 150mm (6in.) telescope. Maybe from darker skies I could make out some of the dimmer galaxies, but given that they all range in the +12 and higher magnitudes, they are quite dim. The sky was very clear, so I can’t blame it on clouds rolling in while viewing. I definitely plan on revisiting this cluster to collect even more data to hopefully bring out the galaxies a bit better, but for a quick run this was a very satisfying final image.

Abell 426 – The Perseus Cluster consisting of galaxies: NGC 1294, IC 313, NGC 1282, NGC 1278, NGC 1275, NGC 1273, NGC 1272, NGC 1267, NGC 1265, IC 312, NGC 1260, IC 310, and more.

This is 12×300” (12×5 minutes) images and 15 dark images stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processing done in Photoshop. I’ve added a new item to my imaging, the Baader MPCC Mark III which has helped tremendously in removing the elongated stars along the edges of my images. You can see what I’m talking about by looking at any of my previously posted images. This has given me nearly pinpoint stars across the entire field of view, which is great since I don’t have to crop the edges.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150
CG-5 Advanced Series Go-to
PHD Autoguiding
Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Modified Canon 350D
Baader MPCC Mark III

NGC 147/DDO3/Caldwell 17

NGC 147 is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy in the constellation Cassiopeia at about 2.58 million light-years away. NGC 147 is part of our local group of galaxies, and is another satellite galaxy to M31 (like the two close galaxies M32, and M110 which can usually be seen in shots of Andromeda). This galaxy is close-by to NGC 185, a dwarf spheroidal galaxy. It was discovered by John Herschel in 1829 during the month of September, and he noticed that NGC 147 was fainter and slightly larger than its neighbor, NGC 185.

Location of NGC 147 in Cassiopeia

Location of NGC 147 in Cassiopeia

Through the eyepiece in my light polluted yard I was unable to see this 10.4 magnitude galaxy either due to its size, or brightness, or due to the light pollution washing out the dimmer deep space objects.

NGC 147/DDO3/Caldwell 17 taken September 26/27, 2014

NGC 147 taken on the night of September 26, 2014 into the morning of the 27th. This image consists of 18 images at 300 seconds each, 32 dark frames, and 32 flat frames.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150
CG-5 Advanced Series Go-to
PHD Autoguiding
Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Modified Canon 350D

NGC 7023 – The Iris Nebula

In the constellation of Cepheus during the fall months you can find NGC 7023. The Iris Nebula is a large reflection nebula with an apparent magnitude of 6.8. This nebula is lit by the bright star SAO 19158 at a magnitude of 7. It lies in the Milky Way about 1300 light years away from our solar system, and has a radius of 3 light years making it 6 light years across.

Location of NGC 7023

Location of NGC 7023

Through the eyepiece of my 6” telescope from my light polluted skies this nebula was not visible. Upon further magnification of the central star it started to appear a bit fuzzy. In the field of view there was the one bright central star and multiple dim stars scattered lightly through the field.

NGC 7023 taken on 07-18-14

Taken on the night of July 18, 2014. This image consists of 22 images at 300 seconds each, 17 flat frames, and 18 dark frames. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processing done in Photoshop.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150
CG-5 Advanced Series Go-To
PHD Autoguiding
Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Modified Canon 350D

NGC 281 – The Pacman Nebula

Within the constellation Cassiopeia at a distance of 9,200 light years from earth is NGC 281. This nebula is in the Perseus arm of our Milky Way galaxy and includes the star cluster IC 1590 which is formed from around 279 individual stars in and about the cluster. Due to the darker nebulous regions of the cluster it has been dubbed the Pacman Nebula after the video game character. Discovered in 1883 by E. E. Barnard who described it as a “large faint nebula.”

Location of NGC 281 in Cassiopeia.

Location of NGC 281 in Cassiopeia.

In a clear dark sky you should be able to spot this nebula with an amateur telescope. From my backyard I couldn’t make out the nebula no matter how dark adapted my eyes were.

NGC 281 – The Pacman Nebula 08-01-2014

This image of composed of 23@300 second light frames, 13 flat frames, and 25 dark frames. Stacking done in deep sky stacker and post processing done in Photoshop.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150
CG-5 Advanced Series Go-To
PHD autoguiding
Orion Starshoot autoguider
Modified Canon 350D

IC 5070 – The Pelican Nebula

IC 5070 lies closely to the nebula NGC 7000 in the constellation, Cygnus. This large emission nebula looks like a pelican to some viewers which gives it its name, The Pelican Nebula. The Pelican lies close to the star Deneb, about 1800 light years from our solar system, and the dark space splitting IC 5070 and NGC 7000 is actually a dark nebula. The Pelican Nebula is an active star forming region that is highly studied due to it’s evolving gas clouds.

This nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8.0, but due to its large size it was not visible in my telescope from my back yard. I had to use the camera to try to center it the best I could for imaging.

IC 5070 – The Pelican Nebula 06-27-2014

This is 17 images at 5 minutes a piece, 22 dark frames, 22 flat frames, and 22 bias frames. Stacked in deep sky stacker and post processing in Photoshop. I personally don’t see a pelican in this nebula whether it’s my picture or one of the others out there online, but either way this is a huge and beautiful nebula.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150
CG-5 Advanced Series Go-To
PHD autoguiding
Orion Starshoot autoguider
Modified Canon 350D