New Focus

I have some big news for you – and a big opportunity!  From the beginning, the business side of Wa-chur-ed Observatory has been split into 2 distinct parts; selling my astrophotos, and selling tools for astronomy (especially the PerfectStar family of focus controllers and motors).  As the business grew it became increasingly clear that the “tools” side was more profitable and less of a headache.  And now that I have a significant commitment in business-to-business sales, I find that continuing the “art” side is a distraction that detracts from the more important part of the business.  And so, although it […]

Cometary Globule (or Tanuki)

CG 4 is one of a small number of objects classified as “Cometary Globules” because they have a round(ish) head and a tail – like a comet.  We don’t have a good understanding of how these objects formed, but it cannot be a coincidence that most (or possibly all) of them are in the vicinity of the Vela supernova remnant, and their tails point back toward it.  CG 4 is in the constellation Puppis, and is about 1,300 light-years from Earth.  It is sometimes called “The Hand of God”. My daughter says it looks like a tanuki – Japanese for […]

M78 and a piece of Barnard

Messier 78 is another target that I’ve wanted to shoot for years, but is only visible in the Winter.  I’m currently collecting data on this target (very slowly) from the remote observatory in Australia, and I hadn’t planned to shoot it during this trip to California because it’s a rather small object for the wide-field telescope I brought here.  But I decided to try it anyway, hoping there would be some interesting stuff in the background.  Well, there sure is!  The red band on the left and upper left corner is a small portion of Barnard’s Loop, a huge semi-circle […]

The Canyon & The Dipper

I mentioned in an earlier post that there were some interesting scenes captured with a DSLR while waiting for much longer exposures on the telescope.  Here is an example; a shot of a deep canyon with the Big Dipper overhead.  At first glance, this looks like a fairly ordinary daytime photograph – that somehow has stars showing!  In fact, this was shot late at night, after the Moon had set.  Except for a small area on the right edge of the rim, there is nothing but starlight (and a bit of light from distant cities) illuminating the scene.  That bright […]

Witch Head, Take 3

Having given up on trying to process out the mis-matches between the upper and lower panels of the Witch Head Nebula (as captured in Australia), I tried 2 different ways to capture it here in southern California.  The first of these attempts was using the William Optics Star71 telescope, which produced a reasonably good image, except that this ‘scope has a defect that causes severe aberrations when there is a bright star just outside the field of view (this is the 1st version of the Star71 – I believe they corrected this problem in the current version).  Rigel, a very […]

Vela Supernova Remnant

When a star ends its life in a supernova, huge amounts of material are ejected in all directions.  This material continues to travel outward for thousands of years, gradually producing a structure that expands and becomes more diffuse.  The Vela Nebula is one example of such a supernova remnant (SNR).  This image is just a small portion of the Vela Nebula.  If the star on the left side of this image were moved close to the center, the image would closely resemble another SNR portion, the Western Veil Nebula, also know as the Witch’s Broom: But Vela is in a […]

More Paint Daubs in the LMC

The weather in Australia has been awful lately, so there are no new images from there that I can share with you, but this is one that was captured some time ago and I didn’t get around to processing it until now. NGC1955 is an open star cluster and emission nebula in the constellation Dorado.  I have posted several images from this region, which is part of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and I have commented on how they look a bit like daubs of paint on a black background.  But this one has a bit more detail and structure […]

Orion in the Palms

In an earlier post I shared a photo of these same palm trees with a nearly full moon behind them.  Now that the Moon is gone (until much later tonight), I can compose a shot with a much darker object behind the trees, the Orion constellation (most of it).  The large bright spot in the lower center is the Orion Nebula, and you can just barely see signs of Barnard’s Loop, a large, but very faint semi-circle of red around the left side of Orion. The trees are lit by artificial light.  I don’t know for sure what type of […]

Patio Heart

As promised, here is a full color version of the Heart Nebula.  In addition to capturing the O-III and S-II bands, I went back to capture more H-a, so the total is about 6 hours of H-a and 3 hours each of the other 2 bands.  The color processing is (in my system of notation) H(SOO_starless), which means that I created a bi-color image with S-II as red and O-III as green and blue, then removed the stars from it, and applied the H-a image as luminance over the bi-color image.  This leaves out a lot of details, but indicates […]

Witch Headache

The Witch Head Nebula above is a target I’ve wanted to capture for a long time now.  It is a very large, and very diffuse reflection nebula, and therefore very dim, and must be captured with broadband (RGB) filters – from a dark sky site.  In the Winter.  Back home in the Pacific Northwest I never venture out to dark sky sites in the Winter because it’s too risky.  That is, even if you don’t get caught in a storm or stuck in a snow drift, there’s a good possibility that the weather will change and the whole trip will […]