Andromeda – M31 September 04, 2015

This image is of the Andromeda galaxy taken on September 04, 2015. This image contains 6 images at 5 minutes a piece, along with 20 flat frames, 20 bias frames, and 20 dark frames. Processing, and post processing were all done in PixInsight.

Andromeda 09-04-15

This is only the second image I have ever processed completely in PixInsight so this is still a learning experience for me. I followed a tutorial on Light Vortex page on the steps to get a fully processed image using masks, and HDR tools.

I know I have been slacking on updating and posting here to my blog and I hope to get out more in the near future to continue imaging and editing the cosmos for you all to enjoy.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150
CG-5 Advanced Series Go-To
Lin_Guider in Linux for autoguiding
Orion Starshoot Autoguider
Modified Canon 350D
Baader MPCC Mark III Coma Corrector

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

M51 – Whirlpool Galaxy

I have posted about M51 in the past, but not like I have it now. I have previously posted about some new astronomy gear. I got a CG-5 Advanced Series mount, it is computerized and I’m able to — after properly aligning — type in an object and the mount points directly to it. It also does a pretty good job of framing it in just about the same position over multiple nights. This mount really makes it easy to find the faint targets that you can’t see from dark skies, and definitely not in the light polluted skies I’m shooting from.

Not only did I get the CG-5 mount, but I also got an autoguider setup, the Orion Starshoot Autoguider and the Orion 50mm guidescope. This allows me to lock onto a star and track it to make up for some correction in alignment to keep the object in view allowing for longer exposures. I was previously limited to about 2 minute exposures per image. With the autoguider and the CG-5 mount I’m am shooting at 5 minutes. I haven’t pushed it further yet due to the light pollution from my yard, but once it gets warmer I’ll be experimenting a bit with exposure times.

This is my first round of imaging with the new setup. I got M51 because who doesn’t like two galaxies colliding? On February 28, 2014 I got out for the first clear night in what feels like forever. This was in the least light polluted direction and in a great spot for me to image it.

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy 02-28-14

This image is 21 light frames at 5 minutes with ISO800. Also included was 25 dark frames, and 25 flat frames. Image stacked in deep sky stacker and post processing done in Photoshop.

I have to say the combination of the mount and the autoguider is going to be a major improvement on what I can image. I have another image in store that I am currently working on processing which will hopefully be up with the week.

M64 – Blackeye Galaxy

Discovered by Edward Pigott on March 23, 1779 only a short time before Johann Elert Bode stumbled across it on April 4, 1779. Independently discovered by Charles Messier on March 1, 1780 which was then added to his catalog as object M64. To them this galaxy just looked light a light fuzzy blob in their eyepieces, and the central darkening – forming the dark eye – wasn’t discovered until William Herschel observed the galaxy in 1785 and 1789.
The distance of M64, in Coma Berenices, isn’t well known and a press release from Space Telescope Science Institute gives it a distance of 19 million light years, which seems to be the agreed upon distance. Many others have varying numbers from 14 million light years to 25 million light years. Using a star such as a Cepheid Variable astronomers can use the period and the luminosity to calculate a distance to the star, and the galaxy they are in.
M64 joins a small grouping of galaxies known as the Canes Venatici I or the M94 group.

Box marks the location of M64

Box marks the location of M64

In good seeing conditions this galaxy can be spotted with a pair of binoculars and small to medium telescopes. Will display an irregular shape with an uneven texture, but the core will be quite bright through the eyepiece making that the main part visible to your eye. In telescopes 4-6” you will begin to make out the dust region forming the dark eye.

M64 – The Black Eye Galaxy. 05-04-13

This image is 22 images at 2 minutes a piece and ISO 800 with 24 dark frames to reduce noise. Images stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processing done in Photoshop.

All my Messier Object information from: The Messier Catalog. Screen shot of object location taken in Stellarium. Image stacking in Deep Sky Stacker.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Modded Canon 350D
T-ring and adapter
Intervalometer
Polar Scope for alignment