My attempts at astro imaging

Posts tagged “astrophotography

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!


M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy

Due to the roof of the observatory at my last place, I could not image this, so the previous attempt was years ago when I had a pier in the back garden.

So, M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, dont think there is any need to explain the name, fairly obvious from the image!  It’s actually 2 galaxies interacting with each other (again, fairly obvious from the image). M51 lies in Canes Venatici not far from the Big Dipper arteism, and is 23 million light years away.

This was taken with the F4 Newt at 800mm focal length, I’m finished for the season with my little 70m frac and am going to try and get some galaxies in before the light nights arrive in the next 6 weeks or so, then the astro season will be over until September or so(although I have an image of M67 an open cluster I still need to post!).


The Rosette Nebula in Ha

This was taken on the 28th of December, I have wanted to grab another image of the Rosette for years but due to its large size I needed to wait till I got another short focal length refractor.  I did take 5 hrs of images in 20 min subs but something went wrong with the guiding after only 4 (That will teach me to check on progress!) so thats all this image is made of.  So I need to go back and get more Ha and also grab some RGB – This is in Ha as the moon was around, it also allows me to get a  good bit of contrast in the clouds of the Rosette.

The nebula then, the Rosette Nebula lies some 5200 light years from us, it’s not really clouds of course, the cloudy areas are hydrogen gas glowing in a deep red, the gas is excited by the light from the cluster of stars in the centre of the nebula.Star formation is also occurring in the region due to the stellar winds from the same stars.

Hopefully this is just a work in progress and the new year will bring some nice clear nights…..


Andromeda V2 as promised!

I had another go at processing this tonight, when the kids were in bed and I had some free time!  This time round, I did a bit more processing to bring out the galaxy, more saturation and more noise reduction, I think it’s better?  Comments are always welcome 🙂


The Horsehead and Flame Nebulas

The horsehead nebula is my all time favourite object – it really does look like a sea horse’s head!  It’s a very tough target to image and even tougher to see (I have heard of people seeing it visually through 20″ scopes but I think even that is rare and only from very dark and transparent sites).  The Horsehead Nebula is a dark nebula, it is just some dust, sitting in the way of the light from a nearby bright star, the Flame nebula is similer, ultraviolet light from the brightest star in the image, is knocking electrons out of the Hydrogen gas and causing it to glow the characteristic red colour.

The Horsehead & Flame nebula is located in Orions belt, the really bright star in the image is the leftmost/bottom of the three stars in Orions Belt – Alnitak.

The imaging kit was my usual setup of F4 8″ Newt, QHY8 and a Lodestar for guiding, I tool about 1hr of RGB in 5 min subs and 2 hrs of Ha data in 10 min subs.  I think I really should have gone for more RGB but with the weather here is Scotland you have got to grab the skies while you can and move on to the next target….



The Flaming Star Nebula

I took this from a friends house in Galloway, it’s amazing to visit these dark sky sites and great to image from them, there is no need for any light pollution filters as there are no towns of any real size nearby.

So, the target – the Flaming Star nebula or IC405, is an emission nebula in Auriga, the blue comes from the bright star AE Aurigaeis illuminating dust in the surrounding area. The red, as always, comes from Hydrogen gas, having an electron ‘blown away’ by the energy emitted from the star.

The image, was 3 hrs of 15minute exposures, taken with a QHY8 camera and the telescope was the usual 8″ F4 Newtonian Reflector.


M13 – 1st light with EQ6 mount

I think this will be the last image of the season, I really wanted to get something just to prove the EQ6 was working……  I only got 5 x 5min subs before the clouds rolled in but still I’m happy with it (Other than the not perfect stars due to tube currents).  I used Pixinsights HDRWavelets tool to really bring out the stars in the core of the globular.

M13, is the largest globular cluster in the northern hemisphere and really is a wonderful object both visually and for imaging. It’s in the constellation of Hercules and is about 150 light years in diameter and is composed of several hundred thousand stars – image the view from a planet in M13!!!!


Makarians Chain from CSOG2013 event

A few of us from the ScottishAstronomers group hired a house in the Scottish Borders for the weekend, unusually for us we had a clear night!  I have been wanting to get a bit of a closer view of Makarians Chain for a couple of years, the last attempt was with a William Optics ZS66 and the galaxies (although numerous) were just too small for my liking. This time I got the F4 Newt on the job and with it’s focal length of 800mm got a bit ‘further in’ so to speak!

Makarians Chain of galaxies, is a ‘chain’ of galaxies that forms part of the Virgo Cluster, at least 7 of the galaxies are moving coherently but there are a lot more than tha in this image! M84 and M86 are the 2 large galaxies in the centre.

I also caught 2 Minor Planets that can be seen to move across the frame but in the image below they are removed due to the stacking method involved – I will get a little animation of them up here shortly – once I have caught up with my sleep!MakariansChain-GlebeHouse

M42 HaRGB v2

I re-shot the Ha data as the previous version was pushed way to far (A constant danger with Pixinsight!) and added it to the RGB I shot a few days ago. I am a lot happier with it now, I deliberatly underprocessed it to get a softer and more natural look to it.