B312, B313, and planetary nebulae PN G016.3-02.3 and M1-46 in Scutum

Dark nebulae B312, B313, and planetary nebulae PN G016.3-02.3 and M1-46 in Scutum. 36 x 240-second Ha subs with the William Optics GT 81 and ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro monochrome camera.

Posted June 7, 2023

Dark Nebulae in Cygnus, 3nm Ha

LDN 935, 933 (dark nebulae), the "Gulf of Mexico" region of NGC 7000, the North America Nebula in Cygnus.

Dark nebula Dobashi 2961, et al. below the North America Nebula, 3 nanometer hydrogen-alpha:

Atlas and Catalog of Dark Clouds Based on the 2 Micron All Sky Survey
Kazuhito Dobashi, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan, Volume 63, Issue sp1, 25 January 2011, Pages S1–S362, https://doi.org/10.1093/pasj/63.sp1.S1

Posted May 31, 2023

NGC 6888 without stars

NGC 6888, the Crescent Nebula in Cygnus (stars removed). Apertura 800mm f/4 newtonian, 28 x 300 exposures with the ZWO ASI071MC cooled to -10C, Optolong dual-band l-eXtreme filter with 7nm bandpasses at Ha and OIII, Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro mount, William Optics 32mm/120mm FL guide scope + ZWO ASI290MM guide camera. The Crescent is close to 5000 lightyears away, about 25 lightyears across at its widest point, roughly 237 trillion kilometers wide (150 trillion miles). The dense clouds of oxygen and hydrogen are lit up with the intense radiation of a central star; the whole structure is expanding and accelerating away energetically, very bright against the velvety bed of ionized hydrogen that spans most of the constellation Cygnus. With the stars removed from the image, NGC 6888 almost looks solid instead of a vast bubble of interstellar gas and dust.

Posted May 30, 2023

NGC 6820 (Sh2-86) in Vulpecula

Nebula NGC 6820 (Sh2-86) in the constellation Vulpecula, surrounding the open star cluster NGC 6823. 48 x 300-second subs in 3nm Hydrogen-alpha. The intense radiation from that central cluster of stars is hollowing out the nebula, pushing the gas and dust in all directions, creating pillars of trailing material where energetic star light meets dense pockets of gas, or faster cooling heavy elements with higher inertia. Everything in that rough circular area in the bottom right is accelerating away from those bright and very hot stars in the center. I believe the dark nebulae across the middle and top are part of Dobashi 2045? (I really want to know the story with that weird faintly-backlit tail of interstellar dust at the lower left. Definitely something cool going on there).

Interesting info on the formation of pillars and "elephant trunks" in nebulae:
Jonathan Mackey, Andrew J. Lim, Dynamical models for the formation of elephant trunks in H II regions, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 403, Issue 2, April 2010, Pages 714–730, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.16181.x

Went back last night and captured 48 subs of OIII:

Posted May 29, 2023

Supernova in M101

On May 19th, 2023--three days ago, Japanese astronomer Koichi Itagaki discovered a supernova in M101 galaxy, 21 million lightyears away. I shot M101 last week, and tonight I took one exposure in Hydrogen-alpha (narrowband) and overlaid the images. That bright dot circled on the right is SN 2023ixf, the new supernova.

Posted May 22, 2023

NGC 6888, Crescent Nebula in Cygnus

Another night out with the Optolong l-eXtreme dual narrowband filter, and again, I'm really surprised at the color and detail captured with the two 7nm band passes, one around 504nm for OIII and the second at 656nm for hydrogen-alpha. Star colors look pretty good, and overall this is closer to true color (red and blue generally where they're supposed to be) than hubble palette SHO images. I captured 55 subs at 300 seconds (5 minutes) each, but threw out all but 28 for processing--it was really windy last night and that just throws chaos into tracking and guiding. I have been doing narrowband imaging with monochrome cameras and separate filters for each bandpass for almost a decade, and that's still my preferred method for capturing deep sky objects like the Crescent, but it's also really promising what you can capture with a cooled color camera in one imaging session.

Cropped to NGC 6888:

Posted May 18, 2023

M101 in Ursa Major

From my Sunday night astro imaging run: the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101, NGC 5457) is 21 million lightyears away in the constellation Ursa Major. It's quite a bit bigger than our own galaxy: a 170,000 lightyear diameter and a trillion stars. We're looking 21 million years back in time on this beautiful galaxy, tilted perfectly, face-on (or top-down?) from our perspective in the Milky Way, so that we can clearly see its spiral form, twisting dust lanes, HII regions, and other detailed structures. Space is big. And it takes that long for the light of a trillion suns to reach us from this distant galaxy. Imaging notes: about 6 hours of data, 70 x 300-second exposures with the ZWO ASI071 color camera cooled to -10C, UV/IR Cut filter, 800mm f/4 newtonian scope. With a 28.8 arc-minute apparent size, M101 is about the limit for deep sky targets with the 800mm focal length scope.

And here's the full image of M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy, slightly cropped to remove dithering artifacts at the top and side. What's crazy is there are at least a dozen other galaxies in this frame, most of them many more millions of lightyears distant than M101. All of the actual stars in this frame are within our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Everything else is another galaxy millions of lightyears away.

Posted May 15, 2023

NGC 7000 in Cygnus

I bought the Optolong L-eXtreme dual narrowband filter last year, but I haven't seriously used it until last night. Paired with the ZWO ASI071 and the 800mm f/4 Newtonian, I am pleasantly surprised with the data and processed image. The North America Nebula (NGC 7000) in the constellation Cygnus hit 30° above the horizon around midnight, and I spent over 3.5 hours capturing data, 45 x 300-second exposures stacked in DSS. This has to be the most efficient way to get to a bi-color narrowband image, using a single filter and color astronomy camera. These colors are also close to true in terms of where they are on the visible spectrum, with hydrogen-alpha in red and oxygen III in blue.

Posted May 14, 2023