Winter Wonderland

After an astonishing run of warm weather, and an unheard of ( for February!) run of clear nights, I’ve been able to capture a few new images of some old favourites.

Firstly, I was able to get some more RGB photons for the image of Sharpless 223 presented in the last post. I’ve also updated the processing so that it isn’t quite so pastel-shaded. This is a faint nebula!

Sharpless SH2-223

Another H-alpha image was of the Seagull Nebula, IC2177, that lies in the southern skies on the border of Monoceros and Canis Major. Unfortunately, as it culminates it passes right through some of the light pollution murk I have on my southern horizon, so I didn’t bother trying to get any decent RGB frames to go with the H-alpha

IC2177,The Seagull Nebula

M44, aka Praesepe, aka the Beehive Cluster, is a large bright open cluster in Cancer, and is visible to the naked eye. This is comprised of 12 x 5min exposures through each of R, G and B filters.

M44, the Beehive Cluster

As the Moon rose later and later, I was able to use the one-shot colour Atik 460EX to garb some images too. NGC2903 in Leo is a bright spiral galaxy, often described as one of the galaxies that Messier missed… This is from 30 x 5min exposures:

The Leo Triplet of M65, M66 and NGC 3628 is, of course, instantly recognisable to most imagers. This image is from 19 x 5min frames:

The Leo Triplet

And finally, planetary nebula M97, the Owl Nebula and M108, a spiral galaxy in Ursa Major, make a great pairing. This image is composed from 49 x 5min exposures. One of the interesting things about this image is the number of faint galaxies that are distributed throughout it, some down to magnitude 19!

M97, the Owl Nebula, and M108

Conjunction of Mars and Neptune

This month produced a very close conjunction of Mars and Neptune with the two planets separated by only a couple of arc minutes or so. This image shows a very overexposed Mars, with a bluish Neptune close by. And very near to Neptune, its large moon Triton is clearly visible. The image is a composite of 12 x 10sec exposures.

Abell 426

Abell 426 is a galaxy cluster located in Perseus, close to the famous variable star Algol. This is composed of just 9 x 10min frames, but the images does contain a wealth of galaxies, as the annotated image shows.┬áThe faintest one I’ve found is mag 18.0…

A busy night

The great thing about long clear winter nights is that there’s so much time for imaging! These are three targets that were captured during one such evening recently:


An edge-on spiral galaxy in Andromeda, 21 x 5min frames.


A reflection nebula, with a bit of emission thrown in, in the Perseus molecular cloud.┬áThere’s a lot of dark, dusty stuff in there, but my skies aren’t really dark enough to pick it up properly. However, you can “see” it by the relative absence of stars around the nebula. 21 x 10min frames

Comet 38/P Stephan-Oterma

And finally 8 x 5min frames, aligned on the comet nucleus, which diplay its movement through the stars of Gemini.


This is quite a bright object from Sharpless’s catalogue of emission nebulae, also known as NGC1491, situated in Perseus. 16 x 10min H-alpha and 5 x 5min R, G and B.