Here Comes the Sunflower

The Sunflower Galaxy (M63) is a large, but very distant galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici.  At a distance of about 27 million light-years, it is amazing that we can see this much detail.  In fact, I rarely photograph galaxies because most of them are so small that it requires excellent conditions (very dark skies and low turbulence) to get a decent image.  I shot this at last week’s star party, using the William Optics FLT-132.  This is actually cropped quite a bit and includes less than half of the full frame.  You can see another galaxy in the upper […]


A Quick Sharpless

I’m about to leave for a star party, but had to stay up late last night to finish capturing this target, and then felt compelled to do at least a quick processing to share it with you. Continuing last year’s exploration of the Sharpless Catalog, this is Sh2-112 in the constellation Cygnus.  The main (brighter) part of this nebula is a bit small for my telescope & camera, but there is a good deal of dimmer nebulosity around it, especially on the right side in this view.  And this dimmer nebulosity seems to contain all 3 of the emission lines […]


I Wasn’t Expecting This

Many of the objects in the southern hemisphere sky are unfamiliar to me, including this, the “Running Chicken Nebula” (IC2944).  But I also wasn’t expecting to have another image for you so soon.  There are a bunch of targets in the queue that are RGB rather than narrowband targets, and these take longer to capture because you have to wait until there is no Moon out – on top of everything else that can get in the way of astrophotography.  Somehow, I thought this was one of those targets, but it is mostly emission nebula, and thus a narrowband target. […]


One More From Last Weekend

This is M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, which I last shot 4 years ago.  It’s fairly small, so it’s difficult to get a sharp image, and I don’t often try.  The above version is cropped to less than half the full frame, and the galaxy is still a small portion of the area.  Below is the (almost) whole image: It looks a bit sharper this way, and you get to see at least one more galaxy in the lower left corner. This image was put together from about 2 hours of luminence data and 2 hours of RGB data.  As with […]


Do Whales Play Hockey?

From the first dark site star party of 2018 this past weekend, this is the Whale and Hockey Stick galaxies (NGC4631 and 4656, respectively).  It’s also my first LRGB image with the new FLT132 telescope, and I’m happy to report that the L frames were just as sharp as the RGB (which was not the case with the previous ‘scope, due to residual chromatic aberration).  It might not have been a good test of chromatic aberration because less-than-ideal seeing made all frames less than perfectly sharp. I shot more than 7 hours of this target, but discarded about 2 hours […]


Best Globular Cluster?

Amateur astronomers often debate which globular cluster is the best, or prettiest.  I’m not sure I would enter into that debate even if I had an opinion, so I’ll stick to the facts:  Omega Centauri, also known as NGC5139, is the largest globular cluster in our galaxy.  Or at least the largest one visible from Earth.  Since these clusters are generally located outside the disk of the galaxy, they are not hidden behind the dense dust lanes of the disk, so it probably is the largest one. Located some 15,800 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus, the apparent size […]


The Statue of Liberty Nebula

My latest image from Australia is NGC3576, the Statue of Liberty Nebula.  In case you don’t see it, the statue is the brighter region on the right, surrounded by swirls of color.  As with all narrowband images, this is false color, and I intentionally tweaked it to be (sort of) red, whte, and blue.  The shape of the statue is actually more apparent with a different color scheme, so I might decide to change this after spending more time with it.  The other nebula on the left is NGC3603. There is also some nice dark nebulae near the top that […]


NEAF Report – And More Images from Down Under

NEAF (Northeast Astronomy Forum) was great fun, as I imagine it is every year.  As you can see from this photo, I was mainly showing my backlit film prints, and they attracted a lot of attention.  At the rate orders are coming in now I’m going to be pretty busy for a while. I also showed my “Mister T” adapter and the PerfectStar B focus control system.  This picture was taken fairly early in the show, and I was using MaxIm DL to show how focus control works.  But my booth was right next to Main Sequence Software, who have […]


From Australia to New York

It has been far too long since I last posted here – I apologize for that and hope you haven’t been missing it terribly!  In truth, not a lot has happened in the last 6 weeks, as is typical for this time of year.  But I do have a few bits of news: First, I am now getting images from a remote observatory in Australia!  The first image above is, unfortunately, a familiar target that I have photographed from here in the northern hemisphere, M16, the Eagle Nebula.  In the not-too-distant future I hope to be showing you some images of […]


Living in the Dark (but not so cold)

I’m back from a short vacation in southern California, most of which was unrelated to astronomy, but we spent a couple of days in Borrego Springs, which is a designated Dark Sky Community.  It’s also in the middle of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which recently became a Dark Sky Park.  Using what is called a Sky Quality Meter (I call it a “dark meter” – sort of the opposite of a light meter) I got readings of 21.1 to 21.3 around town.  That’s close to the darkness at most of the dark sky sites I go to in the […]