After a long spell of clouds of rain, on sunday evening I took advantage of a few clear hours to get some more data on M51. This image is a combination of raw images from April 20th and May 10th. The total exposure time is now at 64 minutes.
After I acquired the 127mm refractor I was on the search for an affordable mount suitable for astrophotography, serendipitously I learned that my astronomy club is in the possession of an old but working Meade LXD 650 mount. It turns out, the LXD carries the refractor quite nicely, here are the first images shot with that combination:
NGC is a long time favourite of mine, the galaxy is beautiful in the eyepiece as well as in pictures:
At first I had to wait for about two hours until the floodlights on the adjacent soccer field were turned off, then I had trouble locating the galaxies as the 6×30 finder is not really adequate in a light polluted sky, then came problems with the connection from BackyardNikon to the camera, and when everything was set up correctly, the guiding was not working properly, resulting in trailed images… so quite a lot of effort went into this picture, but of course a lot has been learned.
At last the sky was reasonably clear to try out my new toy. In fact the Astro-Physics 127mm f/8 refractor is not exactly new, as it was manufactured in 1989, so I was even more curious as how it would perform.
The Super Polaris mount is definitely overwhelmed with the weight of the big, long refractor, but on a windstill evening it works tolerably well. As this was basically a test, and I didn’t want to make matters even more complicated, I didn’t use any autoguiding, and therefore limited the individual exposure times to 30s. I had to throw away about half of the epxosures due to tracking errors, but 14 exposures looked good enough to use. Transparency was pretty bad, a slight haze due to the freezing cold air and smoke from wood-powered heating combined with the light pollution of the rhine valley made the sky very bright. In the color version, the sky looks quite murky, I like the black and white rendition better:
Fall is the best time to observe and photograph M31 the great Andromeda galaxy. In a few billion years our own Milky way and M31 will collide, but until then it is one of the brightest deep sky objects enjoyed by amateur astronomers. Read More
The California Nebula (NGC_1499) is a HII emission region in the constellation Perseus, it was discoverd by E.E. Barnard in 1884 on long exposure plates.
Because of the red color and it’s faintness it is usually only visible in photographs.
I used my unmodified Nikon D7000 camera in combination with the Nikon AF-Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 for this photograph. 11 individual exposures of 120 seconds at f/2.8 were combined using Regim by Andreas Rörig. Additional adjustments were made in Adobe Lightroom.
Last week a group of students from London discoverd a Supernova in the nearby galaxy M82 (in this case, nearby means 12 million lightyears…)
Professional search programs missed the supernova as the automatic detection programs ruled it out because it was too bright. M82 is part of the bright M81 & M82 galaxy pair.
Today I had the chance to take a picture of it:
Winter is not normally a good time for galaxies because the Milky Way is porminent in the sky, but while waiting for comet Lovejoy to rise, I used the time to spend a little exposure time on some bright galaxies.
The Leo Triplet
After a very long summer-break in Astrophotography, I found myself with time on hand on a clear evening. After I did a series of 4 300s images for the Plejades (see below) I set the scope up to capture a few light frames on M42, the Great Orion nebula. But while I was sitting in the living room trying to get warm again, watching the Soccer Champions League, the D200’s battery ran empty, and I ended up with only one long exposure. I used the single 300s exposure with a much shorter exposure to get some detail in the very bright center of the nebula to get this picture.