Wide-field Wonders

Here are some wide-field vistas captured using an Atik 460ex OSC camera with a 100mm camera lens attached.

The first is of a region in Auriga, around M36 and M38. The HII regions haven’t come out quite as well as I’d hoped: The Flaming Star nebula is on the right hand edge of the picture with IC410 to its left. M38 is the cluster above centre, while the one to the left of centre is M36. 30 x 5min exposures.

Next up is a colourful region in Gemini. The two bright stars are μ (on the left) and η Geminorum, while open cluster M35 is visible above. The Monkey Head Nebula (NGC2175) is visible lower right, while the fainter HII region IC443 aka the Jellyfish Nebula can be seen between the two stars. 15 x 5min.

And finally, a view of eatern Leo. The bright star upper right is θ Leonis, and the Leo Triplet of M65, M66 and NGC3628 can be seen below. There are three other small galaxies in there as well (NGC3593, NGC3596 and NGC3655), if you know where to look 🙂 15 x 5min.

Open Clusters of Winter

Here’s a collection of open clusters captured last night using a Canon 70D at ISO800 with IDAS LPS filter through an Equinox 80.

The first is of M35 in Gemini, with its smaller neighbour NGC2158. This is from 7 x 10min exposures.


The next image is from the southern constellation of Puppis, and is from 12 x 5min exposures. In the lower right is big bright open cluster M47. Above it is NGC2423, while in the lower left is yet another open cluster, M46; at the top of M46 is a small planetary nebula, NGC2438.


The final image is a full size crop of M46 showing the nebula in a bit more detail.



A Cluster and a Nebula – Part 2

Last night was the first opportunity for a while to get out and do some photography, and I decided to have a go at one of my favourite objects, The Rosette Nebula in Monoceros. The image below is taken through the Equinox ED80 with EOS 400D and CLS filter, and is a stack of 42 x 3 min images at ISO800.

Before I started off I was a bit sceptical about how much of the H-alpha I’d be able to get, but all things considered, I’m reasonably pleased with the result. As ever, a few more frames wouldn’t hurt, though!

I had a little bit of time left towards the end of the evening, so took 10 x 3min frames of M35, a bright open cluster in Gemini. A smaller cluster, NGC 2158, is visible south-east of M35.

Autoguiding’s working!

Well, at long last I think I’m finally getting the hang of this autoguiding lark! The picture below is of M44, the Beehive cluster. It’s a stack of 16 x 2min exposures taken with a Canon EOS400D at ISO800 through a 8″ Meade LX200R witha a Meade f/6.3 focal reducer; autoguiding was done using a Starlight Xpress Lodestar guider through an Equinox ED80 refractor. Image acquisition and processing was performed using Images Plus 3.0.
M44 isn’t a particularly interesting subject, but it’s big and it’s bright – good for practising on! While I type this, the same set up is imaging globular cluster M3 in Canes Venatici. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Well, while M3 was being captured, the optics on both scopes started to dew up. I ended up with 10 x 2min images which were processed to give this image. It’s not as sharp as I’d like – more work on focusing required – but at least the guiding worked 🙂

M35 and Autoguiding

Although we’ve had a few clear nights recently, I haven’t posted any pictures. That’s because I’ve been try to get autoguiding working properly on my system, but I’ve had a lot of problems! The first time I tried a couple of weeks back on M42 (see below) it worked fine, but never since. I won’t go into it all here, but after thinking it was working tonight, I set it going to image open cluster M35 in Gemini. Of course, as soon as I set it going, the guide camera lost the guide star! I ended up with this, which doesn’t look to bad when shrunk down, but the close up shows the degree of trailing I was getting 🙁

The faint smudge visible below and to the right of M35 is another open cluster, NGC 2158.

Equinox ED80, stack of 20 x 30s exposures, ISO800, Canon EOS 400D