Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Messier 96 Group - Leo 1 Group

The Messier 96 or M96 Group (also known as the Leo I Group) is a group of galaxies in the constellation Leo. The group contains three Messier objects M95, M96, and M105 which are shown on the wide field image and a number of other galaxies depending on your field of view (24 total is the high number).  The group is one of many groups that lies within the Virgo Supercluster (i.e. the Local Supercluster). (source: wikipedia)

M95 or NGC 3351 is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Leo and is approximately 38 million light-years away.  Interestingly, a supernova discovered in M95 on 16 March 2012. (source: wikipedia)

M96 or NGC 3368 is spiral galaxy about the same size and mass of the Milky Way and approximately 35 million light-years away in the constellation Leo.  Variations in ultraviolet emission from the core indicate there may be a supermassive black hole in the center.  Also, a supernova was observed in this galaxy on May 9, 1998. (source: wikipedia)

M105 or NGC 3379 is a elliptical galaxy in the constellation Leo.  It is approximately 37.9 million light years away with a diameter of 55,000 light years. Its the brightest elliptical galaxy in the Leo I group of galaxies and has an estimated mass of 100 billion solar masses. (source: astropixels)

This was captured last week during that cold but clear weather window.  I was not planning to image this but it was visible while I was waiting for other objects to become visible from my location. I was very happy since this was 3 Messier's for the price of 1.  If they were all like this I would be done shooting the Messier Objects by now.  New website: kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com.
    
Wide Field

M95

M96

M105, NGC 3384, NGC 3389

M95, M96, M105
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 3-19-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm
f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 42 x 90s (63 min)
ISO: 1600
Temp: -2.0 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.

Friday, March 24, 2017

M106

Messier 106 (a.k.a. M106 or NGC 4258) is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation Canes Venatici.
The galaxy is about 22 to 25 million light-years away from Earth.  The presence of x-rays and unusual emission lines indicate that part of the galaxy maybe falling into a supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy.  Also interesting is the presence of dense and warm molecular gas composed of water vapor which give M106 its characteristic purple color (source: wikipedia).

I had a few very clear nights last week, although it was very cold (well below freezing), and was able to capture several Messier Objects around the Big Dipper.  My yard (and astronomy shed) does not have a full view of the sky except facing south so I have windows of opportunity to catch objects.

The marks 61 Messier objects captured do date only 49 to go. Pics can be found on my website at: https://kurtzeppetello.smugmug.com/.

Crop

Wide Field
M106
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 3-19-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm
f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 33 x 90s (49.5 min)
ISO: 1600
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

M40 - Winnecke 4

What was Messier thinking? M40 or Winnecke 4 is one of the most bazaar objects that Messier included in his famous catalog of what not to confused with a comet.  Its an optical double star located in Ursa Major.  In actuality Messier was searching for a nebula that had been reported in the area, however, not seeing any nebulae, he included the double star instead. It was subsequently rediscovered by Friedrich August Theodor Winnecke in 1863, hence the other name (source: wikipedia).  At any rate, I was able to add this to my catalog of Messier objects captured with my Orion ED80.

Wide Field

Closeup
M40
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 3-19-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm
f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 10 x 90s (15 min)
ISO: 1600
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools, StarTools.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hoot Hoot - The Owl Nebula and M108 - Surfboard Galaxy

Messier 97 or M97 (a.k.a NGC 3587) is a planetary nebula in the constellation Ursa Major and is approximately 2600 light years away.  It is commonly known as the Owl Nebula since William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, observed the nebula in 1848, his hand-drawn illustration resembled an owl's head.  Its estimated age is 6,000-12,000 years. (source: astropixels and wikipedia)

Messier 108 or M108 (a.k.a. NGC 3556) is a spiral galaxy 100,000 light years across in the constellation Ursa Major and approximately 45 million light years from Earth. (source: astropixels)

Wide Field 

M97 - Owl Nebula


M108 - Surfboard Galaxy
M97 and M108
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 3-3-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm
f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 56 x 60s (56 min)
ISO: 1600
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Orion Nebula and the Running Man Nebula

This is my latest rendition of the Orion Nebula (M42), DeMairan's Nebula (M43), and the Running Man Nebula (NGC 1973, NGC 1975, NGC 1977).  I was not planning on imaging Orion this year since I captured it last year, however, there three substantial changes in my equipment since last year. 
1) I had my Canon Rebel T3i (600D) camera modified (Hap Griffin), 2) Astronomik UHC Clip filter, and 3) an Orion 0.8 Focal Reducer.  Although my image last year was good, I was not able to get the Running Man in my image.

M42 and M43 are both diffuse nebulae located in the Orion constellation while the Running Man Nebula is a reflection nebula also in the Orion constellation.  All of these objects are between 1300 and 1500 light-years away.

I collected data over five nights four of them were at the Happy Frog (home observatory) and one evening at Boothe Memorial Park while we were doing work on the Boothe Memorial Astronomical Society Observatory.  On the first couple of nights I did not frame the shot as well as I could have so I collected data over three more nights in order to get the optimal framing for both Orion and Running Man.  The processing was very difficult as I had to align the different exposures and then merge them.  

For aligning the images I used a method described by Trevor Jones from AstroBackyard on his Youtube channel, Astrophotography Tutorial - Create a HaRGB Composite Image.  For merging the the different exposures I used the method from my previous Orion image which was modified from Jerry Lodriguss.

The general procedure is:
1) to open two images to be merged, a short and long exposure.
2) select the short exposure and select all (Ctrl + A).
3) copy (Ctrl + C).
4) open the long exposure and paste (Ctrl + V).
5) select the mask button on the bottom of layers pallette.
6) (Alt + click) on the mask next to the layer 1 button.
7) click on the white mask exposure and paste (Ctrl + V).
8) open the Gaussian Filter under the filters pulled down menu.
9) use 30 pixels for the size.
10) open layer one to see the result.







M42, M43, NGC 1973, NGC 1975, NGC 1977
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT and Boothe Memorial Park, Stratford, CT
Date: 2-18-17, 2-19-17, 2-20-17, 2-26-17, 2-27-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm
f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik UHC Clip filter
Autoguiding: QHY-5LM attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: Total 180s (210 min)
2-18-17) 10 x 30s, 16 x 180s
2-19-17) 19 x 5s, 20 x 180s
2-20-17) 10 x 180s
2-26-17) 9 x 180s
2-27-17) 15 x 180s
ISO: 800
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools

Thursday, March 2, 2017

M109 - Vacuum Cleaner Galaxy

Messier 109 (a.k.a. M109 or NGC 3992) is a barred spiral galaxy located in the constellation of Ursa Major and is approximately 83.5 Million light-years from Earth, making it the furthest object in Messier's catalog (source: Free Star Charts). The bright star Phecda (bottom cup star of the Big Dipper) makes fing M109 much easier.  For being so far away, it is still a relatively bright object. This was a last minute decision to image M109 and I couldn't pass on the opportunity.  Of course I would have liked to obtain more exposures but my window of opportunity is small due to overhanging trees.

Closeup

Crop 1

Wide Field
M109
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 2-27-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm
f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 36 x 90s (54 min)
ISO: 1600
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

M93

Messier 93 (a.k.a. M93 or NGC 2447) is an open cluster 3,600 light-years from Earth in the constellation Puppis (source: wikipedia).  I was not originally planning on capturing this particular Messier object anytime soon as is is not visible from my shed (the Happy Frog Observatory), however, it was a clear night and we were doing some work on the Boothe Memorial Astronomical Society 16-in reflector telescope so I took advantage of the open sky.

Closeup





Crop

Wide Field



M93
Location: Boothe Memorial Park Observatory, Stratford, CT
Date: 2-26-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm
f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 18 x 60s (18 min)
ISO: 1600
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools