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.

The Leo Trio

No Spring observing season would be complete without imaging this group of galaxies in Leo – M65, M66 and NGC3628. This image was the first one I’ve tried using my Canon 400D through the MN190, and although I could have had better flat frames, it still came out reasonably well. It’s a stack of 18 x 5min frames at ISO 800.


Having for some time struggled with star shapes and drift I finally realised that – unsurprisingly – my polar alignment was out. I put that  right using the EQ6’s polar alignment scope, and then tested it out on M66 in Leo. Much better!

Taken with the MN190/314L+ combination, this is comprised of 12 x 5min luminance frames and 5 x 5min R, G and B frames. It could have done with some more colour, but at least the stars are nice and round!

Leo Duo

While I was shooting the Whale and Hockey Stick, I needed to do a meridian flip, so to give the galaxies time to properly pass the meridian, I pointed the telescope at M65 and M66 in Leo, and took 5 x 5min exposure just through the luminance filter. Normally seen with NGC3628 to make the Leo Trio, or Leo Triplet, the latter galaxy was just off-frame. M66 is on the left, M65 on the right.

Leo Duo

Normally, I’d have gone for the Leo Trio, but as the width of the field of the Atik isn’t quite big enough, I had to leave NGC3628 out, and keep in just M65 and M66 instead!

This image used 9 x 5min luminance exposures though a clear filter, and 8 x 2min each of red, green and blue, binned 2×2, and taken through the ED80. There’s some colour coming through on M66 in particular, but I still need to work out how to get some more colour into the stars, which are uniformly white! Nevertheless, I’m reasonably pleased with the result, and may add some more frames into it if I get chance in the near future.

Leo Triplet

Well, I’m still struggling a bit with getting autoguiding working. It was behaving itself intermittently last night while I was trying to image the Leo Triplet of M66 (lower left), M65 (lower right) and NGC3628 (top). Unfortunately, the camera was sest to take low-res jpgs, instead of raw , so the picture isn’t great 🙁 15 x 2min exposures @ ISO800 through the ED80.