Winter Wonderland

Last night was a wonderfully clear, moon-free night, and being just about the longest night of the year meant I could get started early! The three images below were all taken with an Atik 460EX OSC with IDAS LPS filter through an Equinox 80 refractor, and processed in PixInsight.

First up was NGC1746, an open cluster in Taurus that I noticed a little while ago and thought would make a good imaging target. This is from 14 x 10min subframes:


I then moved round to one of the most iconic areas of the winter sky, and took 15 x 10min frames of the region around Alnitak, capturing the Flame and Horsehead nebulae (NGC 2024 and B33 respectively):


Finally, I tried M41, an open cluster in Canis Major. This never gets very high above my slightly murky southern horizon, but the combination of the LPS filter and PI processing did the trick from just 7 x 10min exposures:


The Delights of Orion

With two clear nights this weekend, I couldn’t resist trying my hand at two of Orion’s best known objects, the iconic dark Horsehead Nebula (B33) and the Flame Nebula (NGC2024). These two fit nicely in the field of view of the 80mm refractor with the Atik attached, and the first image below was composed from 15 x 5min exposures through H alpha, SII and OIII filters, mapped to red, green and blue respectively. Also visible just below centre is the reflection nebula NGC2023.

Switching scopes to the LX200R with x0.63 focal reducer, I closed in on the Horsehead, and acquired this H alpha image by combining 20 x 5min frames.

Saturn and the Flame Nebula

It’s a beautiful night outside, so here’s another go at Saturn. This was taken using just a TouCam through the LX200R, without a Barlow of any sort. I’ve found it difficult to get a good image with a 2x Barlow in place – I just tend to end up with a big fuzzy blob.

Never mind. I also tried to grab a bit of the Flame Nebula before Orion sank behind the trees at the bottom of the garden. Unfortunately there’s only about 15 minutes exposure, and it definitely needs more.