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

M97 and M108 – Planetary Nebula & Galaxy

M97 is one of the fainter Messier objects in his catalog located in the constellation Ursa Major. M97, also known as the Owl Nebula due to it’s circular shape and the two black holes that look like owl eyes, is a complex planetary nebula. The central star which caused the nebula is estimated at 16 magnitude, and is believed to be about 0.7 solar masses. The Owl Nebula is significantly brighter visually than it is photographically because most of the light that is emitted is in a single green spectral line. Visually this nebula is estimated between 9.7 and 9.9 magnitude – very hard to see in light polluted skies – and is estimated to be 12th magnitude photographically.

M108 is an edge-on spiral galaxy near the star Beta Ursa Majoris. This galaxy appears to have no bulge or significantly pronounced core; it is a detail-rich disk. Although faint at around 9.4 magnitude it is an easy object to spot, and I can say that it was easier to locate than M97. M108 has little evidence of well defined spiral arms, and is considered part of the the Ursa Major Cloud of galaxies.

M97 was discovered by Pierre Méchain on February 16, 1781, but was not included in Charles Messier’s printed catalog of 1781, but he had descriptions of it in his manuscript personal pre-print version.

M108 also discovered by Pierre Méchain on February 19, 1781, only three days after discovering M97. Charles Messier listed this object as “98” in his preliminary manuscript version of his catalog, but failed to include the objects location.

'X' marks the spot of M97 and M108

‘X’ marks the spot of M97 and M108

Honestly through my eyepiece in my light pollution I was able to make out M108 and with enough staring and using averted vision I was just barely able to make out M97, but knowing the look of the stars near M97 I knew I was in the right place. I could have easily over looked both of these objects if I was just quickly scanning the skies.

M97 and M108 03-09-13

This image is 36 images at 2 minutes a piece, ISO 800, and 25 dark frames. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post-processing done in Photoshop.

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

Visiting Some Old Objects

This post is a bit like one of your favorite childhood movies or tv shows being redone, but only better. It’s better because these remakes came out much better than their original versions. Below I have setup a side by side comparison of old and new, and then the new version below it for a comparison, with a click-through link of the original post in the titles.

All of these remakes were all made from the same stacks as the originals; the only thing different is my steps in post processing of the image in Photoshop. The links back to the original pictures have the information on the stacks if you’re curious about how many lights, and dark frames I did.

I did a bit more than just adjusting levels and curves. I took the steps a bit further by adjusting highlights and mid-tones, applying an artificial flat, and adjusted vibrance and hue.

M16 – The Eagle Nebula

M16 – The Eagle Nebula. Before on the Left, After on the Right

M16 – The Eagle Nebula

M20 and M21 – The Trifid Nebula, and Open Cluster

M20 and M21 – Trifid Nebula and Open Cluster. Before on the Left, After on the Right.

M20 and M21 – The Trifid Nebula and Open Cluster

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula. Before on the Left, After on the Right

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula

M33 – Triangulum Galaxy

M33 – The Triangulum Galaxy. Before on the Left, After on the Right.

M33 – The Triangulum Galaxy

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy. Before on the Left, After on the Right.

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy

Look at all the faint galaxies I was able to pop out in view in M51. A few months of editing has come a long way.

M33 – The Triangulum Galaxy

This face on spiral galaxy can be found just to the east of Andromeda in the constellation, Triangulum. M33 is a spiral galaxy around 3 million light-years from Earth. Sometimes referred to as the Pinwheel Galaxy, and often getting confused with M101 which shares the same nickname. Triangulum Galaxy is within the Local Group of galaxies along with our Milky Way, Andromeda, and 30 other smaller galaxies. It is thought that M33 is a satellite galaxy with M31, Andromeda. Within this galaxy there have been many discoveries of globular clusters or diffused nebulae; that along with the shape it is believed to be a lot like the Milky Way.

‘X’ Marks the spot of M33

My Observation: M33 is a very faint hard to see object through a 25mm eyepiece, but bumping up the magnification drowns out the faint galaxy. In the light polluted skies of Plattsburgh I’m unable to pull out any detail of the galaxy, maybe some of the brightest star clusters within it, but unable to make out the loosely wound spiral arms. The central core is the brightest part of the galaxy through the eyepiece. Can make out about 20 bright stars upon first glance, but longer viewing shows many more very dim stars in the field of view.

M33 – Triangulum Galaxy Sketch

M33 – Triangulum Galaxy

M33 – Triangulum Galaxy. This is a re-edit of the same images used above.

For this set of images I took 36 light frames, but Deep Sky Stacker only used the best frames leaving me with 29 60 second images stacked at ISO 800. Final editing done in Photoshop, no artificial flat frame used because they kept leaving a ring around the galaxy throughout the whole image. Subtle, but still a distraction from the main image. Instead I used a duplicate layer and the option of “Overlay” to reduce the light pollution in this image.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Canon 350D
T-ring
T-ring adapter
Intervalometer
DIY Reticle eyepiece for drift alignment

M31 – Andromeda Part 2

The other night (night of Sept. 13 into the morning of the 14th) I managed to get out and do another set of images of M31, The Andromeda Galaxy. Part 1 can be found here. This stack is separate from Part 1, and I supposed we could chalk this one up as another test run.

M31 – Andromeda

I had attempted making a DIY reticle eyepiece which worked alright especially since it allowed me to finally go above 1 minute exposures. I was able to capture these images at 2 minute exposures at ISO 800. I took in total 25 images, but ended up only getting 10 images that were good enough to stack, so altogether I got a total of 20 minutes of data collected, instead of the 50, or even 40 minutes I was hoping for.

One of my biggest issues with this session is the light pollution, so now I’m desperately looking into how I can make flat frames. The artificial flat frame tutorial I did for M52 seems a bit impossible with the size of this galaxy as it takes up the whole frame, and when I try to create the artificial flat it ends up subtracting the majority of the galaxy from the image.

Once I can figure out how to remove the majority, even if it’s only 50%, of the light pollution I may possibly be able to start my many hours of data collection on Andromeda in hopes of creating a super image by the end of fall. That’s the goal anyway. Hoping that with flat frames I can remove the vignetting, reduce light pollution, and be able to pull out some of the colors within Andromeda along with better detail in the dust lanes.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150
Canon 350D
T-ring
T-ring adapter
Intervalometer