Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hydrogen Horse Head

Orion is one of well known gems of the winter sky (in northern hemisphere). Great Orion Nebula is probably the most popular object there, but also the Horsehead Nebula is also very identifiable because of its shape when observed from Earth. The Horsehead nebula (IC434) is about 1500 light years away and it is dark cloud of dust that obscures hydrogen gas behind it. This is only a small part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex that spans several hundreds light years across. The Horsehead is actually also a stellar nursery where stars are formed. These regions can contain over 100 different organic and inorganic gases and compounds.

The Flame Nebula (NGC2024) is also a part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. It contains both molecular hydrogen and dust and is illuminated by nearby bright star Alnitak (to the right of nebula). 
The picture above has been exposed over several nights with fog, full Moon, and other distracting occurrences, so I was able to collect only 3 hours in total in hydrogen alpha channel. It is not too much but I am afraid this winter I will not be able to collect more, that's why I present it as it is.

Clear skies!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bode's Galaxy for coma test

There is a great supernova exploding in the M82 galaxy, but very close to M82 there is M81 Bode's Galaxy. Last night when I shot supernova SN2014J I also exposed a few sample frames of M81 which is about 12 million light years away. The transparency was very poor (naked eye limit was about 4 mag) but seeing was pretty ok and it was a good chance to test Baader MPCC Mark III coma corrector. That's how the picture below has been created.
It is a stack of 7 exposures for 3 minutes. The picture scale is 1.5"/px and all looks pretty ok, so I can recommend this corrector for astrophotography. 

Clear skies!

SN2014J Supernova in M82 Cigar galaxy

Supernova is a stellar explosion that is extremely luminous and cause burst of radiation that often is more energetic that entire galaxy. It then fades slowly over several weeks or months. During this period supernova can radiate as much energy as the Sun over its entire life span. 
A few days ago (January, 21st) bright supernova SN2014J has been discovered in M82 galaxy (Ursa Major constellation) by Steve Fossey of University College London. First optical spectrum obtained showed that supernova is of type Ia. The supernova is expected to brighten within following days to be bright enough to be visible with binoculars.
Last night I was able to picture it:
First picture is composite of two 5 minutes exposures. Next one is one 60 seconds shot, so I was able to determine the supernova brightness:
Not exact visual brightness, but with Baaders luminance filter, but seems to be close to visual. At 10.8 magnitude you need instrument of 50-60mm aperture at least to try to view it under dark sky. But supernova may become brighter still, so may be a little bit easier to see.

Clear skies!