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.

M10 – A Globular Cluster

In the constellation of Ophiuchus there lies a few beautiful globular clusters. M10 is 14,300 light-years away with it’s bright core spanning 35 light-years across. Discovered and added to Messier’s catalogue on May 29, 1764 as number 10 in his list of objects that could be confused with comets, and was described as a nebula without stars. This cluster was thought to be a nebula until William Herschel was able to resolve some stars within the cluster which he described as a “beautiful cluster of extremely compressed stars”.

‘X’ Marks the spot of M10

My Observation: I’ll start off this section by saying that Globular clusters are one of my favorite objects. I look forward to summer because these seem to be all over the place in the night sky. This cluster is a bit on the dim side, and makes it hard to resolve many stars. Along the outside of the cluster, away from the bright core, I could make out a few stars, but they became almost like a nebula towards the center. I can see how Messier and a few others after him could have thought this was a nebula with their smaller telescopes, but it’s round shape, and stars easily allow you to see that this is indeed a globular cluster.

M10 – A Globular Cluster. 6-16-12

10 images at 1 minute a piece and 20 dark frames stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processing done in Photoshop. Omni XLT 150 prime focus Canon 350D.

M8 – The Lagoon Nebula

This beautiful interstellar cloud is towards the southern horizon during spring/summer months in the constellation Sagittarius. M8 is an emission nebula around 4,000-6,000 light-years away from Earth, and is roughly 110 by 50 light-years in diameter. It is classified as an H II region which is a low-density cloudy of ionized gas meaning that star formation has recently, in astronomical terms, taken place.

'X' Marks the spot of M8 - The Lagoon Nebula

‘X’ Marks the spot of M8 – The Lagoon Nebula

Remember that through a telescope a nebula isn’t going to be rich with color like you see in photos from other astronomers or from the Hubble Space Telescope. Our eyes are not sensitive enough to light to see the colors in low light conditions, so they appear gray in color when viewed through a telescope or binoculars.

My Observation: In the telescope with my light polluted skies, and with how low M8 sits on the southern horizon it’s hard to make out much nebulosity. I can pick out a small section that is a little gray where the nebula is located, but mainly I can see the central cluster of stars. These stars through the eyepiece almost form a bit of a smiley face using just the brightest stars within the cluster. In the image below the bright spot of the nebula towards the top is about all I can see through my telescope, which may be a result of my light polluted skies. I really need to get out to darker locations now that summer weather is finally happening here in the Adirondacks.

M8 - Lagoon Nebula

M8 – Lagoon Nebula

This image was taken on June 10, 2012 and is 36 images stacked at 30 seconds a piece giving me a total of 18 minutes of light collection along with 20 dark images. Using my Omni XLT 150 and Canon 350D prime focus. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and edited in Gimp. I also did a layer mask to remove some of the overexposed areas of the bight patches of nebula illuminated by the bright stars near the top.

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula

M27 is located in the constellation Vulpecula and lies at about a distance of 1300 light years from Earth. It was the first planetary nebula discovered by Charles Messier in 1764 while he was compiling his list of objects that, to him, looked like comets. The dumbbell nebula has a visual magnitude of 7.5 with a diameter of 8 arcminutes. Easily spotted in binoculars and small telescopes, and starts to show more detail in larger scopes.

‘X’ Marks the spot of M27

William Herschel named these “Planetary Nebula” because the green tint surrounding them reminded him of his discovery of the planet Uranus. He guessed that this was a newly forming solar system, but as we know now it is the result of a moderate to small star when it reaches old age. After a star uses up all it’s hydrogen the cores shrink, heat up, and they start to burn helium. After the core collapses into a white dwarf star, the outer parts expand into space and form a shell.

My Observation: The few planetary nebula I have seen have definitely made them one of my favorite deep space objects. Once centered in with my telescope at a magnification of 30x this planetary nebula is very prominent and stands out quite bright against it’s dark star filled background. At this magnification I didn’t notice the central white dwarf star, but I could make out the apparent ‘dumbbell’ shape which it got it’s nickname from.

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula

M27 – Dumbbell Nebula. This is a re-edit of the same data used in the above image.

This image is a stack of 41 images at 30 seconds a piece and ISO800. Stacked in deep sky stacker, and edited and composited in Gimp. I did two different edits and layer masked them to bring out the red and the green colors. Taken with a Canon 350D prime focus through my Omni XLT 150.

Weekly Solar Image 5-28-12

Today we had some clear skies for a while and I decided to get out with the solar filter again and grab a few images. Below is an image of the sun taken with a white light solar filter, canon 350D, and an Omni XLT 150. The sun isn’t highly active at the moment, and there is a small chance of any solar flares, or aurora. Sunspot 1492 did blast off a CME towards Mars on May 27th, but no signs of anything coming our way.
From Left to Right; Sunspots 1492, 1490, 1488, 1486. 5-28-12. Click to enlarge.
Notice in certain areas how you can see lighter sections of the sun around the sunspots. They were very hard to see through the eyepiece, but definitely became more visible after taking images and uploading them onto the computer.
This is 60 images stacked and edited in Registax. I adjusted the sun to be angled roughly the way it would be from the ground in Gimp.
Unfortunately clouds came rolling in shortly after I took these images. I was watching the clouds slowly cover the sun through the telescope. It was quite an interesting sight to see. Hoping for clear skies in the not too distant future. Especially for the Venus Transit on June 5th. I’ll post more about that a few days before as a reminder.