Posts tagged 'Messier Objects'

Observing Report 26th-27th June 2011 Part 1 (A double and a cluster)

Posted by on June 29th 2011 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

A warm clear night after one of the hottest day of the year so far. Clarity was good although the seeing was only fair at best. Still not much full darkness but managed to get two targets before it got too light...

Albireo, the fifth brightest star in the constellation Cygnus.
Albireo appears to the naked eye to be a single star but through a telescope even low magnifications resolve it into a double star.
The brighter yellow star makes a striking colour contrast with its fainter blue companion.
Subs: 10 light @ 150s, darks and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the 6" R-C, guided with PHD.

M39 (aka NGC 7092), an open cluster in the constellation Cygnus.
Subs: 12 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the 6" R-C, guided with PHD.

Observing Report 7th-8th June 2011 (Yet another cluster)

Posted by on June 9th 2011 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

A session in adverse weather conditions. Most of the data was trashed by clouds and/or skyglow. Again, not enough hours of proper darkness for more than one target. Click the pic to see a larger version...

M71 (aka NGC 6838), a loosely-concentrated globular cluster in the constellation Sagitta.
Subs: 12 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the 6" R-C, guided with PHD.

Observing Report 18th-19th May 2011 (Another Cluster)

Posted by on May 25th 2011 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

Another session, another glob. Needed to use the 2x PowerMate to get a decent-sized image on the chip, so resolution has suffered a bit.

Not enough hours of proper darkness for much more than one target...

M56 (aka NGC 6779), a globular cluster in the constellation Lyra.
Subs: 13 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the 6" R-C with 2x PowerMate, guided with PHD.

Observing Report 3rd-4th May 2011 (A Cluster and a Ring)

Posted by on May 5th 2011 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

I'll spare you the usual details, suffice to say that it was a warmish night, nice and clear and with a light breeze so I was out with the baby R-C scope looking at more Messier Objects. It was a late start and a short session, as from 4 a.m. onwards it was too light to take pics.

As before, I'll let the results do the talking:

M10 (aka NGC 6254), a globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Subs: 7 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the 6" R-C, guided with PHD.

 M57 (aka NGC 6720, The Ring Nebula), a planetary nebula in the constellation Lyra.
Subs: 16 light @ 300s, dark and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the 6" R-C with 2x PowerMate, guided with PHD.

 

M57 really needs a lot more data, I'll try to get more next time out.

Observing Report 8th-9th April 2011 Part 2 (Saturn and globs)

Posted by on April 15th 2011 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

Well, we waited a while for darkness to fall and for Saturn to become visible. I trained the scope on it only to find it hiding behind the topmost leaves of a bush. We waited a while longer and then found that it had gone behind a tree. More waiting ensued before it cleared all of the obstructions, and then the guests all got a view of it through the eyepiece. After they were all suitably impressed by the planet and by the few Saturnian moons that were visible, I swapped the eyepiece for the camera and we all watched it on the laptop for a while. As an added bonus those not glued to the screen got to see the ISS pass overhead.

Visit over and goodbyes said, I went back to pack away. Trouble was, the sky was incredibly clear and the seeing was much better than usual. It was too good an opportunity to miss...

Before long I'd got the 1000D set up on the 6" R-C and the DMK was back on the guide-scope. A fair few globular clusters were visible unaided so I took a few runs of images and did some visual observing over the next few hours. Intermittent high wispy clouds spoiled a lot of the data but I ended up with a few reasonable frames for stacking. At the end of the session I was fair knackered as I'd spent nearly 12 hours either behind the scope or in front of the lappy, but it was worth it.

M3 (aka NGC 5272), a globular cluster in the constellation Canes Venatici.
Subs: 11 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the 6" R-C with 2x PowerMate, guided with PHD.

M5 (aka NGC 5904), a globular cluster in the constellation Serpens.
Subs: 14 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO800.
1000D on the 6" R-C with 2x PowerMate, guided with PHD.

M92 (aka NGC 6341), a globular cluster in the constellation Hercules.
Subs: 11 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the 6" R-C with 2x PowerMate, guided with PHD.

Observing Report 13th-14th March 2011 (Moon and Messiers)

Posted by on March 21st 2011 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

More or less the same as before - more practice with the 1000D. I really could do with getting a Barlow or a Powermate so as to get a better imaging scale for these smaller targets. Oh, and I did a bit of lunar imaging, you might want to click on the pic to see it at the original size 🙂

M102 (aka The Spindle Galaxy, NGC 5866), a lenticular galaxy in the constellation Draco.
Subs: 20 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the 6" R-C, guided with PHD.

As previous, cropped, and enhanced.

M64 (aka The Black Eye Galaxy, NGC 4826), a spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices.
Subs: 20 light @ 300s, dark and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

As previous, cropped, and enhanced.

 The Moon.
24-pane mosaic created with iMerge.
Each pane 50/1000 frames stacked with K3CCDTools3.
DMK mono CCD camera on the
6" R-C, unguided.

Observing Report 7th-8th March 2011 (Even More Messiers)

Posted by on March 21st 2011 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

Usual story... sub-zero, still and clear... out with the baby R-C scope looking at more Messier Objects. Different camera, though - I'd sold a few redundant items and used the proceeds to get a refurbished Canon 1000D body at a knock-down price. Time to give it a trial run.

Imaging-wise the process wasn't much different, with the exception of the need to take bias-frames to counter the read-out signal of the camera's CMOS sensor - this is something that I never had to do with the Nikon D50, as the CCD sensor in it has a very low read-out signal. Still, it's a small price to pay for not having to contend with long-exposure amp-glow - the Nikon had a bit of it, the Canon has none at all. Oh, and I was using different capture software - APT - which turned out to be excellent.

Anyway, I'll let the results do the talking:

M51a (aka NGC 5194), an interacting spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici.
M51b (aka NGC 5195) is the smaller companion galaxy.
Subs: 20 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

 As previous, cropped, enhanced and over-cooked.

M12 (aka NGC 6218), a globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Subs: 9 light @ 300s, dark and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

 The Leo Triplet - M65 (NGC 3623, upper-right), M66 (NGC 3627, lower-right) and NGC 3628 (lower-left) - a group of galaxies in the constellation Leo (as if you hadn't worked that out already).
Subs: 15 light @ 300s, dark and bias frames, ISO400.
1000D on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

 

Methinks I'll get to like this Canon a bit sooner than I thought.

Observing Report 7th-8th February 2011 (More Messiers)

Posted by on February 28th 2011 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

Just this one and then I'm up to date...

It was a really cold night but at least it was clear - there haven't been many decent nights here lately so it was a case of "use it or lose it". The main purpose was to get in an intensive imaging session with the baby R-C scope, taking light, dark and flat frames for objects at various image scales.

Target-wise, I had a bash at a couple Messier Objects - M100 and M101. Neither of these filled the D50's sensor, and they're both quite dim objects, so more and longer exposures and a lot of post-processing ops were going to be needed to get decent-sized crops from the data. As ever, it didn't work out as intended - all of the flats were rubbish due to a problem with the lightbox, and a fair few lights had to be scrapped due to issues with guiding.

Anyway, after much jiggery-pokery, here are the results:

M100 (aka NGC 4321), a face-on spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices.
NGC 4327, 4328, 4323, 4322 & IC 783 are also just about visible as faint fuzzy bits.
Subs: 10 light @ 300s, darks, ISO200.
D50 on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

 M101 (aka The Pinwheel Galaxy, NGC 5457), a face-on spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major.
Subs: 20 light @ 300s, darks, ISO200.
D50 on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

Next time I'll get it right and hopefully the results will be much better.

Observing Report 16th-17th October 2010 (First light for the new scope)

Posted by on November 1st 2010 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics, Shiny new kit

Sorry this is a bit late but I'm playing catch-up here.

Saturday night was forecast reasonably clear so I grabbed the chance to point the baby R-C scope skywards to see what it could do. Although this scope is built primarily for imaging, I wanted to try some visual observing first to see how it compared to the 8" Newt.

I'd been told that aside from the reduced light-grasp due to the reduced aperture, the contrast would be reduced due to the relative size of the secondary obstruction. Well, I believed that until I looked at Jupiter's clearly-defined belts through the 8mm eyepiece. It looked good, and there were no issues with holding the planet and its moons in focus at the same time. I had a look at some Messier objects through various eyepieces and was similarly impressed.

After that I removed the eyepiece and put the webcam in at prime focus and went back to Jupiter and its moons. The scope has a larger native magnification than the Newt, so it was hard to gauge the differences, but it was certainly no worse, I reckon it'll make a fair grab 'n go planetary webcamming scope.

Finally I set it up with the D50 at prime focus and took some guided long exposures of a few objects - M1 (The Crab Nebula), Comet 103P/Hartley again,  M33 (The Triangulum Galaxy) again, M67 (an open cluster in the constellation Cancer) and M74 (a face-on spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces). Hartley was really motoring - in the pic the comet's elongation gives an indication of how far it was moving during each 300s exposure.

The data for the last two was dumped due to it being affected by high-level thin clouds, but I processed the rest and got some reasonable results bearing in mind the small amount of data that was used. I'm sufficiently encouraged by these to plan ahead for a decently-long session with M33 when the skies eventually clear here, I reckon I could get much better results with more data at better settings. It that works, I'll go for M74 which is supposed to be the most difficult Messier object for amateur astronomers to observe.

Anyway, the pics are as follows:

103P/Hartley, currently in the constellation Auriga.
Subs: 10 light @ 300s, darks, flats, ISO200.
D50 and AT2FF on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

 M33 (aka NGC 598), a spiral galaxy in the constellation Triangulum.
Subs: 12 light @ 300s, darks, flats, ISO200.
D50 and AT2FF on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

 M1 (aka NGC 1952), The Crab Nebula in the constellation Taurus.
Subs: 12 light @ 300s, darks, flats, ISO200.
D50 and AT2FF on the
6" R-C, guided with PHD.

By the time I'd finished taking flat-frames, packed away and locked up, it was getting light. I was knackered but happy. For such a small scope, the baby R-C has proved to be good and I'm glad that I bought it.

Observing Report 29th-30th September 2010 (Much wetness)

Posted by on October 1st 2010 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

Wednesday evening was unexpectedly clear after several days and nights of grotty weather, and I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to get a look in so yet again I got set up after our weekly evening shopping trip. The seeing was reasonable and there wasn't a hint of a breeze but the humidity was high - it was a battle against the dew all night long. It's a good job that I'd been planning for such conditions - I'd recently acquired a set of anti-dew tapes and a controller-box and I'd made a decent power-pack. Again, the aim was to get some more views of Messier objects, image a few, and to return to Comet 103P/Hartley which is getting brighter and faster.

After a few hours I'd looked at 103P/Hartley and at a few Messiers, but many of them were difficult targets as they were drowned-out by the light of the rising Moon. Bearing in mind the condensation that kept forming on the scope's secondary mirror, I managed to get fairly good digital data for the comet and for M33 (The Triangulum Galaxy). The resultant (clickable) images are as follows:

103P/Hartley, currently in the constellation Cassiopeia.
The bright star to the left of the comet is Lambda Cassiopeiae.
Subs: 30 light @ 200s, darks, no flats, ISO200.
D50 and MPCC on the C8N, guided with PHD.

 M33 (aka NGC 598), a spiral galaxy in the constellation Triangulum.
Subs: 17 light @ 200s, darks, no flats, ISO200.
D50 and MPCC on the C8N, guided with PHD.

After that I did quite fancy a good look at the Moon but I was too knackered to carry on and it was beginning to get light so I ended the session and closed the roof. Packing away was a nightmare as everything was covered with condensation - not good when there's so much electrical stuff in use!

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