Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Moon & Venus

This was a very pretty sight in the western sky shortly after sunset on February 19th, 2007. A few little clouds were zipping by, powered by the high winds that were persistent over the past few days. The moon is just a tiny sliver of reflected sunlight, probably only about 10% into the waxing phase past last weekend's new moon (and beginning of Chinese New Year). There was quite a bit of earthshine (the illumination of the dark region of the moon) visible.

Friday, February 16, 2007

NGC 2174 in Orion

This is a fairly bright nebula up around the head of Orion. This object is about 6,400 light years away. It's actually a combination of emission and reflection nebulae. However my image does not really bring out the reflection nebula, which typically show up as blue. The red emission nebula is much brighter and easier to capture. I hope to get some images with my H-alpha filter to bring out more detail. This image was the result of 28 exposures of 180-seconds each, at ISO 1600.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Seagull Nebula

Actually it's only half a seagull. I didn't realize how large this object was until I took my first test exposure. Even then I could barely see it, and tried to compare the stars against pictures from other websites to make sure I was in the right area. This image consists of 25 exposures at 180-seconds each. I took 30 exposures, but discarded 5 due to wind. Processing this object was very difficult as the nebula is faint, and I pushed the colors pretty hard to get anything to show up. The Seagull Nebula is located in the constellation Canis Major. The area of nebulosity is cataloged as IC 2177, while the bright "head" portion (at the left of my image) is NGC 2327.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Leo Triplet

Here's one from last Saturday night. That was one of those nights when it probably would have been better to stay inside. It was clear, although my Clear Sky Clock (see link at bottom of blog) was showing below average seeing conditions. This was probably due to the wind, which occasionally gusted up to 15 mph. I started this imaging sequence about midnight, when Leo was in a decent position in the sky. I went back inside for a snack and a quick nap, then came back out at 2AM to check the progress. Much to my disappointment, the sky had completely clouded over while I was napping, and my mount was guiding off to la-la land. I packed up at that point and went to bed. Several of my exposures had to be discarded due to the wind blowing everything around. I salvaged about 25 exposures of 3-minutes each, at ISO 1600. Not bad for my first galaxies - but man, are these things small! This image is a crop of about 1/4 of the full frame.