Sun Filter and Sunspots

Last week I received my solar film, which is just the filter with no filter cell to hold it to the telescope. This is where a little bit of creativity comes in with making something that will hold the filter to the scope. The film comes with instructions, but I was lacking the correct cardboard material to make it the way they describe. Since I’m on a tight budget I made use of the cardboard boxes that the telescope came in, and made a nice solar filter cell. Hows that for recycling?!
I’ve been out with the telescope a few times to give this filter a shot. It goes on tight and stays on pretty good. Am looking for a way for extra security in holding it on. Although it fits tight, I want it to fit even better.
From left to right: 1486, 1484, 1482
Here is my first stack of the sun, using 7 images stacked in Registax and edited in Gimp. I am still working on perfecting my focus while trying to image the sun. I got a lot of images, but only a very small handful (read: very small handful) that are in a decent enough focus.

M57 – The Ring Nebula

Found in the constellation of Lyra – The Harp, is the planetary nebula, M57. Although called a planetary nebula, it is not caused by a planet, but a star. This particular one was caused by a red giant star which released a shell of ionized gas expanding into the interstellar medium. The Ring Nebula has a magnitude of 8.8 and an angular size of 1.5z1 arcminute, too small to see with binoculars, but visible with a small telescope of 4 inches.
First discovered by French astronomer Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix in January of 1779; it was then independently discovered by Charles Messier a month later. Both Charles Messier and William Herschel believed M57 to be comprised of multiple faint stars, but were unresolvable in their small telescopes.
‘X’ Marks the spot for M57.
My Observation: With the 25mm at a magnification of 30x this small ring shaped object looks to be a bright gray color, but very small in size. Easily overlooked as just another star, but once you focus on it – especially with averted vision – you can make out that it is a ring shaped object. Remind me a lot of a Cheerio, or a Donut. Stepping up the magnification to the 12.5mm giving me a magnification of 60x, M57 doesn’t lose any brightness, but gains in size. It’s shape, and the fact that it’s not another star in the eyepiece, is much more visible. Looking like a smoke ring from a cigar smoker, it’s just about perfectly round.
M57 – The Ring Nebula. 5-12-12. Click to Enlarge.
This is 18 images at 30 seconds a piece, ISO1600 stacked with 15 darks and 20 bias frames. I could have probably gotten away with doing it at ISO800, and still maintaining the colors I got. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processing in Gimp.

M64 – The Black Eye Galaxy

M64, also known as the Black Eye Galaxy, is known for it’s dark band of dust passing in front of the galaxy’s bright central core. This galaxy lies within the constellation of Coma Berenices, within a cluster of galaxies known as The Virgo Cluster. This galaxy is thought to have two directions of rotation. The smaller inner region has a radius of roughly 3,000 light-years which is quite small compared to the outer region extending another 40,000 light-years. Due to the two separate directions of rotation, this is thought to cause an extraordinary amount of new stars being created which make it look like a dark eye staring back at you through a telescope or in pictures.
‘X’ marks the spot of The Black Eye Galaxy.
My Observation:In the 25mm eyepiece at 30x magnification this galaxy stands out quite easily among a small field of view of very few stars. Other than a slight hint of the dark band in front of the nucleus, I can’t make out much more detail other than the shape of the galaxy. The central core fades out quite smoothly to the outside edges where it then blends into the dark of the space behind it.
After running my camera until the battery died snapping as many images of the galaxy as I could, I grabbed my sketch pad and decided to make a sketch of this galaxy. Due to using a red led for seeing what I’m drawing I noticed when I got inside that my sketch made this galaxy quite bright. So I had to bring it into Gimp and dim it down some to make it really represent what I was seeing.
M64 at 30x magnification
M64 – The Black Eye Galaxy April 19, 2012.
I stacked 32 images at 30 seconds each, with an ISO of 800. Decided to try ISO800 in hopes of cutting down some of the light pollution I struggled to remove in previous pictures I have posted. I also took 18 dark frames and 30 offset frames. I really need to figure out Flat frames because they will help quite a bit when it comes to processing and removing vignetting and hopefully even a little bit of light pollution. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and edited in Gimp.

M81 & M82 – Bode’s Galaxy and Cigar Galaxy

Messier 81 also called the Bode’sGalaxy is a large spiral galaxy that is about 12 million light-yearsaway from Earth in the constellation of Ursa Major. Discovered byJohann Elert Bode in 1774 and reidentified by Pierre Mechain andCharles Messier in 1779.
Messier 82 also known as the CigarGalaxy is a starburst galaxy also within the constellation Ursa Majorat a distance of 12 million light-years away. This galaxy, if youwere to be within it, would be brighter than our own Milky Way. TheHubble Space Telescope has detected almost 200 massive clusterswithin the core, also producing young stars at a very fast ratecompared to our own galaxy.
M81, and M82 are gravitationallyinteractive, also including a smaller galaxy NGC 3077. Due to thisinteraction these three galaxies have been stripped of hydrogen whichhave formed gaseous filamentary structures within the group.
‘X’ marks the location of M81 & M82
My observation: Through my telescopeMessier 81 and 82 are clearly visible as two fuzzy objects; M81 beingmore round, and M82 being a a longer object giving it it’s name ofthe Cigar Galaxy. No dust lanes are visible with either galaxy. Thebright cores of both of these fade out to the edges and make it alittle difficult to separate the core from the rest of the galaxy.Both are easily visible within the same field of view with lowmagnification. I was not able to resolve NGC 3077 with my telescope,again it could be due to the light pollution, or just that my eyeswere not properly dark adapted.
M81 & M82 with NGC 3077 as a small fuzzy blob to the upper left side.
This image is 28 images at 30 seconds apiece, 20 dark images, and 20 bias images. Taken on April 18, 2012. Stacked in Deep SkyStacker and edited within Gimp. I had to adjust curves and levelsquite a bit to bring out some of the detail and to reduce the red glow of the light pollution, but some of that red glow is still visible. I also did another stackof 4 images which I combined the two in Gimp to dim the blown outcores of both galaxies to bring out a little more detail, especiallywithin M82.

M13 another Globular Cluster With Sketch

Messier 13 within the constellation of Hercules is a densely packed cluster of 300,000 stars, a diameter of 145 light-years, at a distance of 25,100 light-years away from Earth. The stars within this cluster, like all globular clusters, are old stars tightly bound by gravity giving them their spherical shapes. M13 can be found south of the 3.5 magnitude star Eta Herculis.
‘X’ Marks the spot of M13
I have posted about M13 in the past, but this is my first time viewing it through the 6” telescope. I could make out some stars around the outer edge of the globular, but was still not able to resolve any towards the denser central core of it. I really can’t wait to make some comparisons from darker skies this summer, I have a feeling I will be seeing more detail in objects that are washed out by the city lights of Plattsburgh. This time I got a picture, and I did a sketch of M13; should be a good comparison of what you can see visually, and what a camera can gather with multiple exposures stacked.
M13, click to enlarge
M13 Sketch through 12.5mm eyepiece, magnification 60x. Click to enlarge.
M13 is 11 images at 30 seconds stacked, 8 dark frames, and 15 bias frames. Taken early morning of April 14, 2012, stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processed in Gimp.
Sketch was on a white sketch pad with 2H pencil, 557-6B ex. soft charcoal pencil, and a smudge tool. Image inverted and stars touched up in Gimp.