Monday, March 30, 2015

Great Bear's fleece

I meant to picture IFN (Integrated Flux Nebula) with Great Bear's galaxies, but eventually I pictured galaxies with traces of IFN :) Dark sky in Zatom has been helpful and I managed to gather 10 hours of signal, but it turned out to be not much, and additionally it is a task for dedicated CCD camera, not just a DSLR. But, to the point...
IFN is very elusive nebula that glows with the combined light of the stars of the Milky Way reflected and re-emitted by interstellar gas and dust. The IFN consists of blue starlight scattered by interstellar dust, as well as red light emitted by interstellar atoms and molecules. The IFN is so elusive it was not identified until the early 1990s. With modern equipment and fast telescopes, however, the IFN is within reach of amateur astronomers with moderate equipment like me - Canon 450D and 135mm f/4 telephoto lens. However dark sky is required and it is priceless.

IFN nebula in Great Bear constellation - M81 and M82 galaxies at the bottom. Canon camera and 135mm lens
There are quite many objects in the frame, like you may check in the annotated image below. Some of these galaxies belong to the M81 Group - like for example irregular galaxy Holmberg I, quite faing with low surface brigthness.

After downsizing the picture the IFN can be revealed with higher contrast:

So, literally, everywhere you point the telescope, there is always something :)

Clear skies!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Virgo at Coma

At the touchpoint of Virgo and Coma Berenices constellations Virgo Galaxy Cluster occures. Located about 60 million light years away, it is well known set of galaxies, very popular both among visual obserwers and astrophotographers. Virgo Cluster contains over 1500 galaxies (and possibly up to 2000) and spans to north into Coma Berenices constellation. Central part of the wide field picture below is Markarian's Chain pictured by me one year ago - Remote worlds in the Markarian's Chain
Virgo Galaxy Cluster wide field image
The picture above has been imaged with Canon 450D camera and 70-200 zoom lens at 135mm f/4. It is 50 subexposures, 5 minutes each one stacked. Made from my backyard, so no bells and whistles, sky as usual about 5mag NELM. 
Some hints what is where below :)

Clear skies!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Orion the Hunter

Probably many of you heard and saw Orion Nebula - there is not much to add in this area actually. I also wanted to have it pictured, but last year attempt was not very successfull. I tried this winter one more time with narrowband filters - hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur, and here we have better in my opinion result.

M42 Orion Nebula in narrowband palette
Cropped and enlarged center part of nebula - Trapezium star cluster
Wider field area of Orion constellation - pictured with 135mm lens and Canon camera
The narrowband pictures above have been exposed 12 x 10 minutes each channel.

Clear skies!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Draco dwarf galaxy

Draco Dwarf is a spheroidal galaxy discovered in 1954 on photographic plates of Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS). It is a part of Local Group of galaxies and can be found in the constellation of Draco. 
It if indeed very small galaxy - although it is placed only 280 000 light years away (so only 15% of the distance for example to M31 - Great Andromeda galaxy) it is very hard to be seen with amateur telescopes. On long exposure pictures it can be hardly recognized.
It is also very old galaxy - most of its stars are over 10 billion years old. 
So, here it is - Draco Dwarf galaxy - try to find it :)

Draco Dwarf galaxy (loose star cluster to the left of frame center)

Annotated frame. [VV2006] object is distant quasar about 19.5mag and over 8 billion light years away
Clear skies!