Thursday, October 27, 2016

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Codename Sh2-124

Not much can be said or read about Sh2-124 molecular hydrogen cloud in the north-east Cygnus frontiers. It is pretty large but not too bright. The whole area is filled with the hydrogen, so every place you look you can see red. Not much science work has been done there, it is even not certain which stars are responsible for exciting hydrogen to shine in red. Pretty mysterious nebulosity.
Pictured from my backyard with 130mm refractor and Atik383 camera. 420 minutes of H alpha and 180 minutes total RGB.

Sh2-124 hydrogen cloud in hydrogen alpha band
Sh2-124 enriched with RGB star signal
Clear skies!

Friday, October 14, 2016

QHY163M a few more pictures

Weather is far from being perfect, so I am not really able to shot any pretty pictures with new camera. Plus I had a little miscollimated refractor (fixed by now) and the distance to the flattener is too short (will be fixed soon). Nevertheless I managed to take a few longer exposures, so here you will find them.
NGC6888 single 600s shot with Baader Ha filter. GAIN=0
M31, M32, M110 galaxy triplet, 180x10s luminance, unguided on EQ6. GAIN=10
Sh2-235 area, 12x600s stack, Baader Ha, nasty conditions (high clouds + Moon), 75% crop
13.10.2016 Moon with 130mm refractor and Baader G filter, 10x0.006s stack
So far, so good. Camera seems to be pretty much like many-in-one - good for long exposure "classic" DS picturing, good for short few seconds many frames stack for unguided LRGB imaging, and of course good for planetary imaging as well.

Waiting for darker nights. Without Moon.
Clear skies!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Enchanting hydrogen

Today's gem nickname is Wizard, due to its shape that resembles medieval magician. The official nebula symbol is Sh2-142 at Sharpless catalog, and embedded open star cluster is NGC7380. Its pretty young cluster, stars age is estimated for 4-5 million years. The surrounding molecular cloud is excited to shine by DH Cephei binary eclipse system of two super hot stars of spectral types O5.5+O6. O type stars are very rare, it is estimated to be only 0.00003% of whole stars population. 
Also a few carbon stars have been recorded, you can try to look for them at enlarged picture. These will be as very red small spots.
Shot from my backyard with 130mm refractor. 500 minutes of Ha and 180 minutes of RGB.
Wizard with 180 minutes of RGB
Wizard with 500 minutes of H alpha

Combined HaRGB view

Clear skies!

Monday, October 10, 2016


Nope, no M97 this time. Its NGC457 star open cluster in Cassiopeia. Plus NGC436 little sister. Both are relatively young clusters - first one is about 20 millions year old, smaller one is four times older, nothing impressive though :)
First one is called Owl, E.T. or Kachina Doll cluster, second one is anonymous.
Pictured from my backyard with 130mm refractor and Atik383 camera on EQ6 mount. 2 hours total exposure time
NGC457 Owl (bottom) and NGC436 (top right) open clusters in Cassiopeia
Clear skies!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Caroline's Rose

This open cluster has been called after the Caroline Herschel. It is also known as The White Rose or Caroline's Haystack (according to Interstellarum atlas). NGC7789 star open cluster is in the Cassiopeia constellation and can be spotted with naked eye under perfectly dark sky. Pretty large (over 15 arc minutes) and rich is an elegant view with any optical instrument. 
11.09.2016 it has been viewed with my 130mm refractor and Atik383 camera through RGB filters. Almost 2 hours of total exposure time with 3 minutes subframes.
NGC7789 Caroline's Rose open cluster
Clear skies!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cave in the sky

Cepheus attacks again - this time with the Cave nebula (aka Sh2-155 or Caldwell 9). It is beautiful object in LRGB, but requires dark sky for this technique. My backyard sky is not so fortunate, so I decided to picture it with HaRGB filter set. There is 12 hours of exposures total with 130mm triplet refractor and Atik383 camera. 
Sh2-155 Cave nebula with vdb155 at lower right
At the lower right part there is vdB155 reflection nebula. And little bit to the left - faint, but evidently red carbon star.
Clear skies!

Monday, October 3, 2016

QHY163M first light, first impressions

A few days ago I have received one of the first QHY163M cameras. This is the one . That is a direct competitor to ASI1600 camera. Differences are as follows: QHY163 has two stage cooling that allows to reach temperature drop 40*C below ambient (I have checked and it is true). It also has built in 128MB memory buffer and heated chamber front window. 
Camera has come in the plastic case:

After installing drivers from QHY webpage all has been detected without any problem (Lenovo T420s laptop with Windows 10). Camera is working well controller with EZCAP and MaxIm DL 6.13. When cooling is switched on the sensor reaches temperature drop about 30*C within a minute, and within another minute it reaches maximum drop of 40*C. Cooling fan works pretty quiet (it makes less noise than for example the one in Atik383 camera), and the camera case becomes little warm after some time due to the heat collected from the sensor and from the front window. 

Here are the two frames at -10*C sensor temperature: 60s dark and bias. PixInsight autostretch:

I have measured camera linearity and it looks very good (gain=0, offset=40):
Basically up to 60000 ADU plot is perfectly linear:
Then using method described for example here I have measured real camera gain and the value is g=0.26e/ADU.
Having this it was pretty straightforward to calculate full well depth that is 17100 electrons assuming the response is linear till the max ADU. But the plot drops at the end, so for further calculations I assumed the pixel depth is 18000 electrons, and it gave following calculated results:

First column is gain set in the camera driver settings. Second column is measured signal for 1s exposure. Then third columns is real gain in dB, and in the next column real gain in electrons / ADU. Then we have camera read noise, saturation and dynamic range both in EV and dB. Last row is Atik383 values for comparison.
Read noise is pretty impressive in my opinion. 

First lights have been made during star party in Zatom, Poland. I used SCT8" with Alan Gee Mark II telecompressor and CG5GT mount without guiding. I have shot 5 seconds exposures, and camera settings were: gain=20, offset=100, sensor temperature -25*C.
NGC891, 80x5 seconds stack
M1, 200x5 seconds stack
M15, 100x5 seconds stack
M76, 100x5 seconds stack
I am pretty happy with this first results of QHY163 mono. Now time for long exposures.

Clear skies!

Saturday, September 17, 2016


There is plenty of interesting areas between Cassiopeia and Cepheus. Frame pictured below can be found next to famous Bubble nebula. This area contains mainly Sh2-157 hydrogen area that is excited to shine by WR157 Wolf-Rayet star (northern part of nebula) and blue supergiant of type O7 (southern part). This nebulosity is called Californietto Nebula in Interstellarum atlas, but is also known as Lobster's Claw Nebula or just The Claw Nebula.
It has been shot in my backyard using 130mm refractor and Atik383 camera. Total exposure was 300 minutes in H alpha, 150 minutes luminosity and 60 minutes each of RGB channel. Pretty tight frame, but rich :)
Sh2-157 region in Cassiopeia

The same, but hydrogen alpha only
Annotated frame

Clear skies!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Hole in the Cluster

There is some open star clusters in Cygnus.
There is whole lot of open clusters in Cygnus! NGC6811 is one of them, pretty large, pretty old (1 billion years), pretty rich (about 1000 stars). And little bit empty inside, so its nickname is "Hole in the cluster".
Pictured from my backyard with Moon present. 3h total exposure with RGB filters and usual stuff - 130mm triplet and Atik 383 camera. 

NGC6811 open cluster in Cygnus

Clear skies!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

E.E. Barnard meets Beverly Lynds

Another piece of Milky Way stars and dusts. There are several non-stellar objects in the picture below. Main dark knight is Barnard 361 - large blob in the left part. Other objects are identified in the second annotated photo. Small bonus is planetary nebula Sh 1-89 - Moth Nebula. This is very star rich region in Cygnus constellation between Deneb and M39 open cluster. Also very rewarding in binocular observations.
In case you do not yet know - Beverly Lynds is an author of LDN and LBN catalogs. They was created much later than Barnard's ones, and also are more detailed.
Picture shot on August, 30 under my suburban sky with 130mm refractor and Atik383 monochromatic camera. Almost 6h total exposure time.
Barnard 361 dark blob and others

Clear skies!

Friday, September 9, 2016


One letter makes difference :) LBN stands for Lynds' Catalogue of Bright Nebulae, and LDN is Lynds' Catalogue of Dark Nebulae. Both have been compiled in 1960s by Beverly Lynds. Many of its entries are cross referenced to other catalogs.
Now, the picture below contains several objects from both of these catalogs. It is a part of Milky Way in Cygnus constellation around LDN988 nebula. This immense molecular cloud is about 2000 light years away and is a place of active star formation processees. 

Pictured from my backyard, NELM 5.5, 130mm refractor, Atik383, LRGB channels 300 + 60 + 60 + 60 minutes. Shot over two nights 27-28.08.2016.
Milky Way in Cygnus around LDN988 nebula

Labeled picture
Magakian 843 nebula around V1331 Cygni star
Clear skies!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

V1331 Cygni

Today some geek stuff. Some time ago I framed a sky fragment that contains several small bright and dark galactic fuzzies. Later I found out in the picture a small arc surrounding one of the stars. It turned out to be V1331 Cygni star. It is very young star that we observe at one of its poles, so we are able to see undisturbed view to this dynamic system. 
The arc nebula has been created few thousands years ago during FU Orionis outburst. Currently it is being carefully observed, as it is a place when formation of very low-mass objects may occur.

Pictured from my background, 5h total exposure with 130mm refractor and Atik383 camera.
Whole frame
Close up to LDN981 dark nebula with V1331
Enlarged view of V1331 and surrounding nebula
Clear skies!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Stars overflow

Palomar catalogue is a set of fifteen globular clusters discovered during POSS program. Few of them are pretty obscured with Milky Way dusts, and one of them is Palomar 10 cluster shown in the picture. Observant one can easily spot it in the upper left part of the frame. This one is placed in the Sagitta constellation and. There is also whole lot of Milky Way stars in the picture plus some uncatalogued dark nebulosity in the bottom part. Most of them are more or less red, because of interstellar selective extinction, but also due to the fact, that most of the Milky Way stars are cold and small ones.
Palomar 10 globular cluster (upper left) in Sagitta

In the upper right part there is pretty bright and red carbon star C* 2712 with color index 3.59 (!). And also there is another small and very red dot that is presented in enlarged crop below. It is variable star MN Sge, that is 100000 times brighter in infrared, than in visible part of the spectrum.
MN Sge variable star
Shot in my backyard with 130mm refractor and Atik383 camera. 300 minutes total LRGB exposure.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Boring elliptical

There is not much fun in seeing elliptical galaxies. Mostly they are symmetrical fuzzy blobs with no detail at all. Sometimes in the same field of view some spiral appears and it makes the frame more pleasant. 
But not this time. I made the picture below in May this year. It appeared so dull, that I refused to process it till recent. So here it is - a few elliptical galaxies nearby M60 and M59 in constellation of Virgo. Made with 130mm refractor and Atik383 camera, 4.5 hours of total exposure.
M60 and M59 in Virgo

Clear skies! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Needle galaxies

There are a whole lot of galaxies in Virgo, and among them there are nice although small spiral one - NGC5364. This one and its neighbours I have chosen some time ago for a frame. Photons were collected at the end of April, 2016 from my suburban backyard - it is total 450 minutes of exposition (with 5 minutes single sub). There are several needle shaped galaxy also in the frame - these are viewed from the edge. 
NGC5364 spiral galaxy and others (above tau Virginis star)
And the luminance channel only annotated (watch the 1.1 billion light years distant galaxy cluster to the right):
NGC5364 galaxy area annotated
Clear skies!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hunt for TrES-3b exoplanet transit

Nights in June are very short in central Europe - not even three hours. Fortunately the TrES3-3b exoplanet minimum lasts only about hour and on the June, 5th I managed to record the minimum. The egzoplanet traversed between the star and us and it caused the very small star brigtness reduction - about 0.02 magnitude, that is near the limit of detection of my setup. But, eventually, exoplanet transit has been recorded:
MaxIm photometry session of TrES-3b exoplanet transit


TrES3 star position
Gears used: TS130/910 refractor with 0.79x reducer, Atik383 mono camera with Baader L filter, EQ6 mount, OAG guided. Single exposure - 120 seconds.
So - exoplanet detected from the backyard - yay !

Clear skies!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Mixed location Whirlpool

160 minutes of luminance made in Zatom. 120 minutes of RGB made in Nieborowice. Some time for processing, and here it is - M51 - Whirlpool galaxy. One of the icons of night sky, impressive spiral galaxy seen en face together with its smaller company - NGC5195. And decorated with some stars plus a few fainter fuzzies.
Refractor TS130/910 0.79x, Atik383, EQ6.
M51 galaxy and surroundings

Close up view
Clear skies!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Coma Cluster

It's been over three years since I pictured Coma Cluster in the astrojolo Deep Field One entry. This cluster is about 320 million light years away and is dominated by two supergiant elliptical galaxies. This to the left is NGC4889 - real monster. Its central part is about 240 000 light years in diameter, that is a size of whole Milky Way. However outer faint halo extends to 1.3 million light years, and NGC4889 mass is estimated to be a thousand times more than our Galaxy.
This time is in the wider context. TS130/910 0.79x, Atik383, EQ6, suburban sky:
Coma Cluster, 580 minutes LRGB
Coma Cluster, 400 minutes L inverted
Clear skies!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Imperfect Sun

AR12546 is the symbol of sunspot group (Active Region) that has been passing over sun disk since one week. It is pretty huge and can be spotted without any optical instrument but WITH some kind of solar filter (never look directly to Sun). Last weekend eventually I have been able to take a look at this monster and also take some pictures. 
Sunspot is quite dynamic, it's possible to notice changes within 1 hour. Below two pictures of this region made with SCT8", ND5 + Baader SC filter and ASI290MM camera (Earth picture is for size comparison):

AR12546 on May, 21st
AR12546 on May, 22nd
You can easily notice Sun cellular granules, a photospheric feature of size about 1000km that cover whole Sun surface except the areas occupied by sunspots.

Clear skies!