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.

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

Jupiter and Moons

This past week has been exceptionally clear every night, with the exception of Monday night, and it looks like it will remain clear up until Saturday night then the clouds will come in throughout Sunday. I have spent quite a few hours each night under the stars getting images of deep space objects taking full advantage of the moonless nights. Due to it being so clear I haven’t had much time to go through any of the deep space objects yet, but I have had a few shots at Jupiter with some pretty decent results. I’ve also done a few time-lapse videos which I’ll post over the next couple of days.

My first night attempting to image Jupiter I didn’t quite get the results I was looking for, but I went out again last night (November 15), and was able to pull off some pretty sweet video to use for stacking. I did a total of 4 videos, and I did a hangout on Google+ where I had a few folks pop in for a view. One of the guys that popped in helped me make a few adjustments to my view of Jupiter as far as gain and brightness go which was a big help since my laptop monitor was showing it really bright, but the end results were excellent.

Jupiter with Io popping out from behind to the left, and Europa off to the right.

Above is Jupiter with the moon Io popping out from behind Jupiter to the left, and way off to the right you can seen the icy moon Europa. This is the side of Jupiter that doesn’t contain the great red spot, but you can still see some dark markings along the cloud bands. Hoping I get a chance for the red spot tonight which should happen around the early AM hours. The image is small, but the frame size of my webcam is 640×480, and my focal length of the telescope is only 750mm. Not the best telescope for planetary, but you can still get some great results with the Omni XLT 150 reflector.

This stack is from a 2 minute long .avi video taken with a freeware called SharpCap using the Logitech C250 webcam I posted about the other day in a 2x Barlow lens, and the video was brought into Registax to stack, and sharpen using Wavelets. As I said, I did a few different stacks of the same image, but I was not too happy with the drizzle affect which makes the object 2x larger. Seemed to lose some of the detail.

88% Waxing Gibbous Moon July 29, 2012

We all enjoy a good deep space object, imaging gaseous regions responsible for the birth of stars within our galaxy; we also love imaging galaxies that host millions billions of stars which could also host planets that in turn could host Earth like planets, and you can’t forget about the beautiful explosions of a star forming a planetary nebula. Unfortunately imaging all those objects becomes quite difficult with the bright moon. So what does an astronomer do when the moon becomes too bright and washes out the dim little fuzzies within, or outside of our galaxy? Well it’s simple really, we image our closest and brightest object, the Moon, or planets if they are visible from your viewing location.

88% Waxing Gibbous Moon. 07-29-12

I have found a great joy in capturing the moon and bringing out the detail of the craters along the terminator, and even along the brightly lit surface. This image is of the 88% Waxing Gibbous Moon on the night of July 29, 2012 as it was near the meridian from my front yard. I managed to get 50 images, 48 of the best images were used to stack and create the image above.

Equipment: Omni XLT 150 on a CG-4 tripod with RA and DEC motor, Canon 350D, and t-ring and adapter for prime focus imaging.

36% Crescent Moon July 24, 2012

Tonight’s waxing crescent moon is up to 36% compared to two days ago at only 15%. I had just enough break in the clouds, and time before it went below the trees on the horizon to get out and get some shots of it again tonight. This is a total of 45 images stacked in Registax, and post processed in Photoshop. Omni XLT 150 and Canon 350D prime focus.

36% Waxing Gibbous Moon. 07-24-12

My favorite features when looking at the moon are the craters along the terminator. For those that don’t know, the terminator is the shadow along the moon. I especially like the craters along the terminator that the ridge is illuminated while the rest of the crater is immersed in shadow.

15% Crescent Moon July 22, 2012

I had just enough time to get the telescope out, aim at the thin 15% Waxing Gibbous moon, attach the DSLR, and take a bunch of shots of it. I managed to get 50 images, and 48 of them stacked in Registax. Did a little bit of editing in Registax, and then brought it into Photoshop for some final touches; brightness, levels, curves, exposure, sharpen, and crop.

15% Waxing Gibbous Moon. 07-22-12

Going through all of my previous images of the moon I realized this is my first with the Omni XLT 150, Canon 350D, and it’s also my first crescent moon. Most of my images of the moon have all been near 50% or more. The sky was still a bit blue during imaging this as the sun had not completely set. I had to get out and image the moon once I realized it has been quite a while since I’ve done any moon images. We’ll see what the rest of the week brings for clear skies, and if all is good, I may be able to get some more images of it throughout the week.