Category NGC

Imaging Nova Delphini 2013 and NGC 6905

With all of the excitement of learning that a star went Nova, I rushed out to capture the celestial event with my telescope.  At first, I did not know how to find it in the sky so I opened up Stellarium and tried to figure out what stars were nearby so I could program them into my CG-5 mount and slew to them.  After discovering that my hand control does not allow me to enter HIP designations for stars, I looked for another solution.  I searched around the net and came across other people’s images that targeted the The Blue Flash Planetary Nebula (NGC 6905) so I did the same.  I was not sure that I would get the Nova in the shot but I tested it out (under a full moon on 8/21/2013)) and sure enough, I got it!  Since I imaged the Nova under a full moon, the image did not come out that great.  The star colors were washed out and I had to do a ton of post processing in Photoshop to make it look nice.  Since then, I imaged it again on 8/26/2013 with no Moon present and it came out much better.  Here are the results:

Nova Delphini 2013 and NGC 6905

Nova Delphini 2013 and NGC 6905

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Looking Back in Time 85 Million Years

NGC 3395 3396 3340 3424 3414

NGC 3395 3396 3340 3424 3414

The Universe, space, and time, is a difficult concept to comprehend due to its vast and infinite size.  That is why the Lightyear was created, which is the distance that light travels in 1 year or just under 6 trillion miles (5,878,625 million miles).  The “year” contains measurements of both time and distance, where time is calculated on the Julian scale, where 1 year is equal to 365.25 days.  Because light takes time to travel from one place to another, we can therefore look farther back through time through telescopes.  We see objects not as they are now but as they were at the time when they released the light that has traveled across the universe to Earth.  That is what fascinates me about Astronomy and why I started the hobby of Astrophotography.

Take the image above, for example.  We are looking at the NGC 3395 and 3396 galaxies as they were 85 million years ago because the distance that these objects are in space are 85 Million Lightyears from Earth.  So what was happening on Earth 85 million years ago?  Earth was in the Cretaceous Period, defined by following characteristics:

Earth 145 to 66 Million Years Ago

“Flowering plants proliferate, along with new types of insects. More modern teleost fish begin to appear. Ammonoidea, belemnites, rudistbivalves, echinoids and sponges all common. Many new types of dinosaurs (e.g...

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A Lesson in Field of View and Apparent Size of Deep Sky Objects

It was another crystal clear night on February 10th so I decided to do some deep sky imaging.  I really did not know what to shoot that night so I turned to the hand controller on my Celestron CG-5 GOTO mount and I started slewing to various objects in hopes I could find an unobstructed patch of sky.  After spending 30 minutes trying to find something to image, I slewed my telescope to  NGC 3395 and 3396, a pair of interacting galaxies in the constellation Leo minor.  After focusing the image, I programmed the number of exposures in in the Luminance, Red, Green, and Blue (LRGB) filters and I 2 hours and 26 minutes later, I began processing 34 sub exposures.  In my mind, I was thinking that the pair of galaxies I was shooting would fill quite a bit of the frame I was shooting.  To my surprise, after successfully processing the image, I noticed that the pair of galaxies was quite small.  After getting over the initial shock, I started to look closer at the image.  Not only did I capture NGC 3395 and 3396 but also NGC 3340, 3424, and 3413 showed up in the image as well.

NGC 3395 3396 3340 3424 3414

NGC 3395 3396 3340 3424 3413

After discovering how small the galaxies were given my apparent field of view (FOV), I decided to calculate my FOV for the telescope and the CCD camera.  After plugging in my telescope focal length and and my CCD sensor size, I calculated my full field of view of my images are 74.8 x 99.7 arcmin (an arcmin is a unit of measurement in astronomy)...

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Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) and Flame Nebula (NGC 2024)

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in HaRGB

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in HaRGB

It has been cloudy lately where I live but last night I got a break in the action and was treated to a crystal clear night.  I decided to take advantage of the Orion Constellation as it contains a very cool nebula right near the belt.  My target was the Horsehead Nebula (also known as Bernard 33 or IC 434).  In my field of view, my CCD camera also caught the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024).  I took both a color image, which is a composite image of shots taken in Red, Green, Blue, and Hydrogen Alpha (Ha) filters.  I was excited to see the output of my imaging session because this was the first color image I have successfully processed.

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in Ha

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in Ha

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Deer Lick Galaxy Group NGC 7331

Deer Lick Galaxy Group NGC7331

Deer Lick Galaxy Group NGC7331

I was out on August 28, 2012 shooting various objects in the night sky when I found out that I could view the Deer Lick Galaxy Group from my backyard.  At a mere 49 million lightyears away, this is the furthest deep sky object I have photographed so far.  This is not the greatest shot but you can see the largest Galaxy in the group.  The exposure was not long enough to capture light from the other Galaxies so I will have to revisit this one.

The Deer Lick Galaxy Group was coined by Tom Lorenzin (author of “1000+ The Amateur Astronomers’ Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing”) to honor Deer Lick Gap in the mountains of North Carolina, from which he had especially fine views of the galaxy group.

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