Mike's Astro Photos

Tag: Nebula

Dec.23 2013

Horse Head Nebula

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When I first started learning about astronomy, there were three deep space objects that really captivated my attention: The Andromeda Galaxy, The Orion Nebula and the Horse Head Nebula. As time passes and I come back to these targets I appreciate things about them I never knew or noticed before. After getting involved with horses this year I started thinking about the Horse Head Nebula again and wanting to image it. Its not visible in the summer, but this past November, as soon as the conditions and time were right, I started working on it. I just finished up last week. Over 38 hours of exposure time through 7 different channels on more than 20 different nights contributed to this final picture below. Its a combination of light data collected through narrow band (Ha, Oii & Siii), RGB (Red, Green & Blue) and Luminance (clear) filters.

Horse Head Nebula – December 2013 – Click To Enlarge

Image Details for The Horse Head Nebula
Narrow Band Ha, Oii, Siii: 7.6 hours each
RGB: 3 hours each
Luminance: 6 hours
Total exposure: 7.6 + 7.6 + 7.6 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 6 = 37.8 hours!
Camera: Apogee U16M
Guider: SBIG 402 with MMOAG Off Axis Guider
Telescope: RCOS 14.5
Mount: Paramount ME
Location: Auberry, CA
Date: Over 20 nights from November through December
Software: The SkyX, MaximDL, FocusMax, CCDAutoPilot, CCDStack, Photoshop

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Sep.08 2011

Eagle Nebula

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Here’s a photo of the Eagle Nebula I took back in July. The nebula also referred to as the pillars of creation is a about 6500 light years away from Earth and the column of star forming gas and dust in the center is approximately 60 trillion miles high. At least we know there are somethings in the universe bigger than our national debt.

Eagle Nebula - July 2011

Here’s a higher zoom picture of the center area.

Eagle Nebula - July 2011

Primarily visible during the summer months, the Eagle Nebula is one of the most majestic and awe inspiring objects in the night sky.

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Jun.11 2011

NGC 6960

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Here’s an astrophoto of NGC 6960 from a couple of weeks ago. Also known as the Veil Nebula, NGC6960 is a cloud of heated and ionized gas and dust found in the constellation Cygnus.

The Veil Nebula NGC6960 - May 31st 2011

The Veil Nebula NGC6960 - May 31st 2011

This is the second in a series of test photos that I took during the last new moon phase at the beginning of June. I was testing and improving various aspects of the system. Most of the photos shot during this period were black and white mainly because I was working on other issues at the time, like: tracking/polar alignment, guiding, focusing/image correction, flat/dark calibration and learning new software and techniques. It was a very productive week.

The photo does suffer from a few problems including: imperfect guiding and distorted optics, especially at the corners of the image. This seems to be one of my last major hurdles and requires getting the field flattener set just right. Part of the process of improving the pictures is identifying specific imperfections, understanding why they exist and then acting to formulate solutions to the challenges. Despite these problems, I’m still happy with the image especially since its only the second photo I’ve taken with this new camera system.

Photo Details
5×10 Clear Filter / Total Exposure Time 50 minutes
Camera SBIG ST8300
Guiding with 402 & Piggy back guide scope
Paramount ME Mount
William Optics FLT98
CCDSoft / The Sky X / CCDStack

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Dec.07 2010

The Horse Head Nebula

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The Horsehead Nebula is found on the left side of Orion’s Belt, near the star Alnitak. It is difficult to see with the naked eye through a telescope, but on a long exposure it can be a remarkable sight.

Horsehead Nebula - November 11th, 2010

Horsehead Nebula - November 11th, 2010

Photo Details:
William Optics FLT 98 / CGEM Mount
Canon 20Da Camera
SBIG STV Autoguider
20×5 minute ISO 400 exposures
Deep Sky Stacker
Photoshop cleanup

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Nov.04 2010

M42 – The Great Orion Nebula

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Its that time of year again and Orion the hunter is currently rising in the east just before midnight. Orion is home to several spectacular nebula the most famous being M42 – The Great Orion Nebula. M42 is a defuse nebula situated just below Orion’s belt. Coming in at 24 light years across and only 1,344 light years away from Earth, the great nebula is big enough and bright enough to see with the naked eye, but without optics, its not much more than a smudge located in the center star of Orion’s sword. This diffuse nebula is one of the brightest nebula in the sky and a fantastic sight in binoculars or a small telescope. Here’s a recent picture of the nebula, much better than my first.

The Great Orion Nebula - November 2nd, 2010

The Great Orion Nebula - November 2nd, 2010

Photo Details:
William Optics FLT 98 / CGEM Mount
Canon 20Da Camera
SBIG STV Autoguider
12×3 minute ISO 400 exposures
Deep Sky Stacker
Photoshop cleanup

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Sep.09 2010

M27 – Dumbell Nebula

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Here’s a picture of the Messier 27, the Dumbell Nebula, a planetary nebula 1367 light years away from Earth.

Full magnification cropped frame below.

M27 Dumbell Nebula - September 06, 2010

M27 Dumbell Nebula - September 06, 2010

and here is the full picture.

M27 Dumbell Nebula - September 6, 2010

M27 Dumbell Nebula - September 6, 2010

Photo Details
William Options FLT 98
Canon 20Da Camera
60×1 minute ISO 400
SBIG STV Auto Guider

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Jul.07 2010

Lagoon Nebula – M8

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Here’s a photo of Messier 8 — The Lagoon Nebula, a giant interstellar cloud in the constellation Sagittarius.

Lagoon Nebula - July 6th, 2010
Lagoon Nebula – July 6th, 2010

Here’s the core at full resolution.

Lagoon Nebula - M8 Core

Lagoon Nebula - M8 Core

 

Photo Details
50×1 minute ISO 800 exposures
Canon 20da DSLR
WO FLT98
CGEM Mount
SBIG STV Auto Guider

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Jan.02 2010

Flame Nebula

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Here’s an astrophoto of the Flame Nebula, an emission nebula in the Constellation Orion. The bright star in the lower right is Alnitak, the eastern most star in Orion’s belt. The flame nebula is part of a vast network of nebulas that cover Orion and it is located just above the Horse Head Nebula. This picture represents 15×5 minute exposures for a total exposure time of 75 minutes.

Flame Nebula - December 20th, 2009

Flame Nebula - December 20th, 2009

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Dec.23 2009

Horse Head Nebula

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Here is the first picture of the horse head nebula I’ve taken that is decent enough to post. This object is one of the first things I wanted to image when I started astrophotography. About a year after starting I am just now getting good enough to catch a mediocre picture of it. This image would have looked a lot nicer if I had taken better flats. It seems the stacking process dimmed the red color and also distorted the nebula a bit by adding lines/noise to the image. Despite its problems, I’m still pretty happy with it considering its the first success for the horse head. This picture represents 10×5 minute exposures stacked with flats and darks in DSS.

Horse Head Nebula - December 16th, 2009

Horse Head Nebula - December 16th, 2009

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Dec.05 2009

Crab Nebula

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Here’s my first shot of the Crab Nebula. It was taken during a 3/4 moon so the skies were pretty light. This was my first time taking flats, darks and lights and then stacking the images in deep sky stacker. I used 25×2 minute exposures of the nebula along with flats taken at dusk and darks taken at the end of the night.

Crab Nebula - November 29th, 2009

Crab Nebula - November 29th, 2009

Its not quite as nice as this Hubble photo of the Crab Nebula but pretty close (not).

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Nov.08 2009

Orion’s Nebula

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I finally got my pier up and running and had a perfect night to break it in. Orion is just now starting to come out again and I figured I would have a go at my favorite nebula. Here’s a quick process of four frames ranging in exposure time from 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes. I was not auto guiding and my polar alignment was a little off (still working things out).

Orion's Nebula - November 7th, 2009

Orion's Nebula - November 7th, 2009

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Mar.24 2009

M42 Guided Finally!

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M42 Orion's Nebula (Guided)

M42 Orion's Nebula (Guided)

It took me about 2 months after getting my guide scope and STV auto-guider before I actually figured out how to use it. The first few times I tried it, it wouldn’t work. I thought the cable was bad and got a new one, still no luck. Thanks to the guys on the SBIG mailing list I was able to figure it out. With the STV at least you can’t auto-guide unless you are equatorial aligned. For me, this meant I had to get an equatorial wedge and polar align my scope before trying to auto-guide. I bought a wedge from a local astronomer and the picture below is the result of my first polar aligned, wedge mounted auto guided shot of M42. Its 2 2 minute exposures stacked using photoshop (so total of 4 minute exposure). There are still things that I’m not doing right. I’m not perfectly polar aligned for starters, also my focus is off a bit. There are also some errors in the image which I think are the result of a dirty lense. But all these things aside, I was super physch’d when I took this picture. I had been trying to get my STV working for months to no avail. Once I was wedge mounted and polar aligned the thing worked like a charm.

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Feb.05 2009

M42 – First Attempt

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Here’s my first attempt at photographing M42 — Orion’s Nebula. This is a single 30 second exposure, taken with a canon 20da dslr camera and a celestron CPC 1100 fork mounted SCT. I was not eq-aligned during this shot and no guiding was taking place (auto or manual).

First attempt of M42 -- Orion's Nebula

First attempt of M42 -- Orion's Nebula

M42 is one of the easiest and most spectacular nebulas to see and photograph. There are a lot of problems with this photo, but I’m happy with it as a first try. Hopefully future versions will get better.

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