Hello everyone… (spooky voice)…I’m baaack !.
It has been one of the roughest Winters I have seen in quite some time. We didn’t get as much snow this season ,but the cold was brutal. Mainly temps well below typical averages for Vermont,USA
I must say, clouds have been non stop since early November,with all of January totally cloud covered.
We did get a small window of clear skies the other night,and temps were tolerable .Only 23 degrees F !!.
With the lack of observing/imaging for a fair share of the Winter season. The floor of my observatory had almost 1.5 inches of ice coating. That meant,everything on the floor was embedded in ice. Not fun,considering a power strip,usb cables hanging from the mount,and a chair were firmly attached to the floor. I spent a hour chopping ice ,and now am ice free. Yaaaay me!! 😀
When not shivering from months of cold,I spent my time tinkering on my pc ,and telescope mount. My laptop screen crapped out,so I replaced it. Also,I changed the battery in the main unit of my mount. It now runs great.
My short window of clear skies yielded me a nice shot of M-51. I have imaged this galaxy before,but not with as much detail as my new camera has given me.
Image credit: Andrew
Archive for Galaxy
Hello everyone… (spooky voice)…I’m baaack !.
This past year have brought us some exciting celestial wonders,and great science knowledge have been achieved. I am talking about comets. Their have many opportunities for all of us to explore,and grow. Some comets have been just quiet wanderers.,never getting their chance in the media lime light. They come into the inner solar system, seemingly “guns blazing” ,and then quietly return to the outer reaches,never to be seen again in our life time. Others, get noticed right away,and a media frenzy begins. People speculating (mainly media) ,about how bright or how big of a show it will be. Comet ISON was a prime example of the over hype from the media. ISON put on a good show for it’s final journey. The sad part of the over hype ( IMHO ) is,most people get excited to see a amazing sky show,but when the event ends, people just go back to their daily (or nightly) routines,like a arm chair quarterback. Never giving thought that,just because one event has ended. doesn’t mean the arena has been shut down. Their are still wonderful objects in the night sky that are putting on their own show.
Yes, their are some comets in the Northern sky that are visible. Two comets are on display in the Northern sky,and located near the constellation Ursa Major a.k.a… the Big Dipper. Both comets are within reach of small telescopes. Although, one of them, Comet Linear is a dim mag + 11.61,and might be difficult to see in a small scope,depending on sky transparency. The other one, Comet Panstarrs is much brighter at mag + 8.4 . Comet C/2012 K1 (Panstarrs) can be seen as a faint,but distinguishable gray smudge. This smudge gets brighter as your eyes adjust to the darkness. I had known about these comets for some time,but time,and cloud cover had put them on the back burner. Leaving me with only small windows of opportunity to observe the other wonders of our solar system and beyond.
With the forecast of clear skies last night. I decided now was the time to check out one of the comets. I chose comet Panstarrs as my target,as I felt it would be a good time to check my mounts goto accuracy. By the way….. it performed flawlessly!!. I entered my observatory at around 9PM last night. The sky was a tad bit light to the west due to sun setting 45 minutes earlier,and the stars were just beginning to show themselves. It took a while to actually see the “gray smudge”,but when I did see it. I knew I had a comet in the eye piece. It took a short while later before I decided to connect the CCD to the scope. This turned out to be a fiasco…LMAO!. The stars were nice and round ,but as each image was acquired,and stacked. The comets nucleus on the stacked image became stretched,showing multiple heads. I haven’t down loaded the final images yet,but will when I have a few extra minutes to spare.
After a couple hours of trying,I went to my backup camera. The DSLR for some prime focus imaging. This worked out quite well I must say!!. I snapped a couple test images to check my focus,and nailed it the first time!. The temp in the observatory was getting getting cold,so I opted for only a couple shots before shutting down. I managed a 4 and a half minute unguided exposure without star trails.Since the screen on my dslr is small. I didn’t get a full look at my work until I loaded the images onto my laptop. I must say “WOW”!. The comet was green as I expected. What I didn’t expect was to get the galaxy NGC 3877 in the same shot!. NGC 3877 appears dim,but in my defense. It is after all, 50 million light years away!!!.
Comet C/2012 K1 (Panstarrs) is expected to brighten in the next few months,making it almost a naked eye comet. I really doubt that, as it is quite small,but one can hope!.
I managed to get the scope out for some observing a couple weeks back and was treated to some fantastic skies…Yaaaaaay!!!!!!!.The temps were were seasonable and in the mid to upper 20s F with calm winds.I was going to use my DSLR again but,since the temps were half way decent I used the Meade DSI instead.My thought was that I was going to image the comet with the DSI but,realised that it was directly over head which is good for imaging.Problem is,my scope will give me a alert that the OTA will come into contact with the tripod so,that idea quickly vanished.
Knowing that their are lots of other faint fuzzies to be seen I decided on observing/imaging Messier object #51 a.k.a the Whirlpool galaxy.As many of you know,observing this object from light polluted skies is next to impossible?!.In recent posts I have mentioned how different the skies are from my new location compared to the street observing I was used to.Well,M51 was a object that I had never seen with my scope but,still managed to image anyway.This observing night was well worth the time consuming task of setup and alignment (hope to build…or buy a observatory in the near future! ;p ) and the hoots of a distant Owl seemed like a approval for my decision.Hahahahahaha,actually it was a unsettling sound which made me think of a scene from some horror flick.I had a fantastic view of M51 which,appeared as a faint fuzzy gray patch.That was until I got the DSI centered and focused on it.WOW!!!.This galaxy suddenly went from fuzzy to showing alot of detail including the bridge of gas that is being ripped from it’s companion NGC 5195.
Because of numerous reasons i.e foul weather,work and family health reasons, I haven’t had a lot of time to really get to know the workings of the DSI or find the proper settings that work for my style of imaging…heh,ok I don’t have a style! 🙂 .So,if you see a problem with any of my images and know the solution to fix them,feel quite free to give me a friendly heads up.
Located in the constellation Canes Venatici,M51 (Whirlpool galaxy) is 60,000 light-years across and about 31 million light-years distant.It can be seen not far from the handle of the Big dipper which puts it quite high in the sky in northern latitudes and has a visual mag of +8.4 .
According to the SEDS,M51 is easy and a showpiece if the sky is dark, but is quite sensitive for light pollution which easily makes it fade in the background. Under very good conditions, even suggestions of its spiral arms can be glanced with telescopes starting from 4-inch. Low magnification is best for viewing this pair.
RA 13 : 29.9 (h:m) DEC +47 : 12 (deg:m)
Image credit :Andrew
Imformation credit: www.seds.org/
Yes,it finally happened…..I observed from a dark site!!!.
So far this has been the observing/imaging event of the season for me.After a summer full of rain and clouds,we were blessed with some of the clearest skies I have seen in almost a year.
Last week Mike from Mountwashingtonvalleyastronomyinvited me to a incredibly dark site located in the White mountain national forrest for a evening of observing.Words cannot describe the beauty of the heavens that I had the pleasure to experience.Having always observed from a light polluted site,I never truly had the opportunity to see the night sky through my scope.Until this weekend that is.I arrived fashionably late as usual but,still early enough to relax and enjoy a couple adult beverages and get the scope set up.Not being use to the absolute quiet,I was abit disturbed…in a good way!!.The only noise I could hear was the slight rustle of the tree’s from a northerly breeze and the chirps from the native crickets.The temps were warm and the humidity was dropping,which meant that the skies were going to get even cleaner.As the night sky approached,I couldn’t help but,to compare the sky from this site to the night sky that I am used to.The sky in the mountains at 8pm were better than the clearest night at 2am in the city where I observe from and only got better.By 10pm I was in a state of shock as many thousands of stars filled the sky.To put it in another way,I can find the Ring nebula with very little difficulty when I observe from the middle of town.At the dark site I couldn’t find it….heh because,their were so MANY stars filling the eye piece.I didn’t get as much observing in as I wanted due to the fact that I just kept bouncing the scope from one object to another.One of the most amazing sights that I saw was M51.Believe it or not this was the actual first time that I have ever seen it through my scope.Some of you might be thinking huh?….but Andrew….you have pictures to prove that you have seen it…they are even posted on your blog?!.Well,this is true Buuutt,I can’t see M51 from the city so,the images that I have taken are slew to the galaxy and aquire images by the seat of my pants.Yay,I saw it!!!.What a remarkable sight it was too.I would have taken some shots but,as fate would have it,it was setting behind some tree’s 😦 !. So,after the ooh’s and ah’s I slewed the scope to the Sunflower galaxy (which I have seen in with the scope) and again,it was incredibly bright.Ok ok…take a deep breath!.Again,this was yet another object setting behind some tree’s.Can you tell I was bouncing around the sky?. No?.Ok,my next selection were the galaxies M81 and M82.Cover your ears…WOW!!!!!!.These galaxies were so intense looking,I could easily see structure.Why didn’t I try to image them?.I don’t know!.My next stop was the Dumbbell nebula.Once again,I could easily see the whole structure.I tried to image it with the DSI but,for some reason my scope didn’t want to track too well.Well,I know why now.I will save that story for some other time.Did I mention that it was crystal clear?.I was able to see the Double cluster and Andromeda…..without optical aid!!!.Being northerly objects they are usually obscured by the city lights so,seeing them with the naked eye was like visiting old friends that I haven’t seen in a long time.I did manage to get some images but,again my tracking was off a bit so,I didn’t get very long exposures.Below is a shot that I took of Andromeda.I had the ISO set pretty high (because the tracking was off) and I wanted to get as much detail as possible but,ended up getting lots of noise.
Hope you like it?.