My attempts at astro imaging


M106 (and friends)

Galaxy season is here! During the spring the Earth faces away from the centre of the galaxy into deep space and brings into  view the galaxies.  M106 is located in  Canes Venatici and is around 22-25 million light years away.  At the heart of the galaxy, as with most is a supermassive black hole and M106 is around the same size as M31, the Andromeda Galaxy and is home to at least 400 billion stars!

Other galaxies in the image are:

NGC4248 @ 22Million Light Years

NGC4217 @ 60 Million Light Years

There are loads of other galaxies but not much data on them!  I have included the annotated image as well, have a google and see what you can find out about the others in the image.

This image is 20X 10mi subs, usual setup on 8″ F4 Newt and QHY8 taken in January 2017




Leo Triplet

Another favourite object of mine, the Leo Triplet of Galaxies, decent amount of data this time, 11X 15min subs.  Processed in Pixinsight but really just a bit of a stretch and saturation boost with a wee bit of noise reduction on the background.



Bear Paw Galaxy & lots of friends

This is the Bear paw galaxy, it’s faint and quite a distance away (25 million Light Years) in the constellation of Lynx, I annotated the image with the other galaxies in the frame – I would love to know what the furthest distance is but most of these galaxies have no data on them!

Needs way more data and I think I need my light pollution filter back in as I had some strange gradients in the image but here it is anyway!


Flaming Star Nebula

I’m not 100% happy with this, the collimation of the scope is out as I need to apply a new silicon  pad to the mirror to stop collimation changing when the position of the scope changes, also there is not enough data in this set, its only 9X 20mi subs so I had to do a bit of noise reduction….

Anyway, IC405, the Flaming Star Nebula is in Auriga, the star in question is a runaway star, ejected from somewhere else wandering through space – the light from the star illuminates the dust in blue and the Ultra Violet light excites the Hydrogen gas in this area causing it to glow red.  It’s approximately 1500 light years distant from us and spans around 5 light years.



M42 (December 2016)

It’s just too good a target not to image each year – the great Orion Nebula, Messier Object No.42….. This year it really was just a test that everything was working, I have cleaned the mirror (scary!), drift aligned(was off by a small amount which was affecting my guiding), collimated the scope and finally cleaned my CCD (scarier that cleaning the mirror!).  Thankfully everything went as planned, the previous week the powerpack on my laptop blew, then the PSU for the USB hub managed to come loose) and I got 1.5hrs in 15min subs on Orion before moving to another target but shortly after it clouded over….

Pretty pleased with the image, guiding looks good, collimation as well, so all I need is more clear skies!



M51 – the Whirlpool galaxy

I managed to get around 4hrs on the Whirlpool (M51) the other week…..

M51 (NGC 5194) The Whirlpool Galaxy is a grand design spiral galaxy located in the constellation of Canes Venatici, “the Hunting Dogs”. It’s one of the most famous galaxies in the sky, appearing face-on when viewed from Earth. At magnitude +8.4, it’s relatively bright and visible in binoculars especially from a dark site. M51 has a much smaller dwarf companion NGC 5195 and together they are well-known as the finest and most studied example of an interacting galaxy pair. They are best seen from the Northern Hemisphere during the months of March, April or May. From latitudes greater than 42N the galaxies are circumpolar and therefore never set.

M51 was one of Charles Messier original discoveries on October 13, 1773 while his friend Pierre Méchain discovered NGC 5195 on March 20, 1781. Messier described M51 as a faint nebula without stars that was difficult to see. In his catalogue of 1781, Messier describes both M51 and NGC 5195 in the same note and hence there is some confusion over the exact designation of M51. Is he referring to M51 as just the larger galaxy or does he actually mean the pair? If it’s the pair then NGC 5194 is sometimes referred to as “M51A”, with NGC 5195 separately known as “M51B”.

Canes Venatici is a small northern constellation of faint stars that was created by Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century. Apart from its brightest star Cor Caroli (α CVn – mag. +2.9), the constellation contains no stars brighter than 4th magnitude. However, locating M51 isn’t difficult as it positioned towards the northeast border of Canes Venatici and only a few degrees from the handle of the seven stars that form the famous “Plough” or “Big Dipper” asterism of Ursa Major.



M76 – The little dumbbell

The second of this seasons images at 2m with my 8″ SCT.  This really needs longer exposure time and lots more subs but an image is an image! M76 is noted as being one of the faintest of all the Messier objects – I have seen it in my 12″ Dob and can confirm, it’s very faint.

M76 is a Planetary Nebula in the Perseus constellation discovered in 1780 by Pierre Mechain.  The distance is round 3,400 Light Years from Earth but I cant find a date for the actual superenova that left this remnant behind!



First of the new season – NGC891

This is the first image from the winter 2016 season – I swapped over to my SCT, so am now imaging at 2000mm focal length (For comparison, 3x zoom on a digital camera is around 55mm), which is a lot more challenging!

NGC891 is a edge on spiral galaxy around 30 million light years away, in the constellation of Andromeda (The Andromeda galaxy, the furthest object you can see with the naked eye, from a dark site, is only 2m LY away)



Added another 11 x 10min subs from last night, this time I used the Off Axis Guider rather than the separate 70mm frac as a guidescope. Not sure now what image is best!


Sorry about the lack of updates….

Hi Folks…..

I’m still here! Not posted for ages as it’s been summertime here and not too bad it was either!  It’s now getting dark again so I have been out and swapped scopes over ready for winter.  This year I’m determined to make a go with the 8″ SCT, sitting at it’s native 2m/F10 so expect some planetary and possibly galaxy shots.

I also got me a visual scope – a lovely 12″ Goto dob! Fantastic bit of kit, really looking forward to some nice views from this when winter really sets in.  Here is my boy having a wee peek through it tonight.


Monkey Head Nebula & Makarians Chain

Had a nice clear night on the 10th Feb, so got out and did some imaging.  First up is the Monkey Head Nebula, this is in the constellation of Orion and it does from certain angles look like the head of a monkey!  It’s around 6000 light years distant this is a star forming area, Hydrogen gas is glowing, excited by the ultra violet light from hot new stars.

The image is 12x 20 minute subs, or 4hrs total exposure time, I also took some flat frames in the morning and these worked well (I find they can sometimes be a bit hit and miss, I have never really figured out why).  The image was stacked and processed in Pixinsight and I rather like it! I used the masked stretch process which maintains the star colours.



After I did the above, it was still clear and I went galaxy hunting…. Makarians Chain of galaxies in Virgo is a favorite of mine, although it’s difficult to bring out any real detail or colour out of galaxies that are as far away as this lot (these are around 60 million light years from us!).  This was also shot with 20 minute subs, I left the observatory open all night and managed to get  17 images or  5hrs 40mins in total.  As above, all processing etc was done in Pixinsight.