Archive for May, 2009

The satellite van is in sunny Brockenhurst right now and there’ll be a live broadcast from the New Forest Observatory tonight on the local Meridian News.  We’re due to have a few days (and nights!) fine weather apparently, so I guess we’ll all be bleary eyed for work again on Monday 🙁  Watch this space for more on tonight’s programme.

Well that went a lot smoother than I was expecting, these Meridian guys are very professional and make the whole thing appear very relaxed and easy (which it isn’t).  Even Louey (our black Labrador) made a cameo appearance on the night 🙂

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Noel continues to turn them out 🙂  This time he has collated all of our previous data and skilfully combined the lot to give this wide field panorama of the M78 region in Orion.  Noel has combined original Hyperstar RGB data of M78 together with Sky 90 RGB and H-alpha data to bring out not only the beauty of M78 itself, and the surrounding dark nebulosity, but also the very faint Barnard’s Loop off to the left.

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Noel has just completed the digital image processing of this one taken on Friday 23rd January 2009 from the New Forest Observatory.  This is the nice open cluster M38 in Auriga with close-by smaller open cluster NGC1907.  Some red emission nebulosity, LBN794 can be seen to the right of the image.  The reason I haven’t centralised M38 is that this is one of four frames I want to stitch together of this area.  I have three of the frames and hope to get the fourth frame later this year to complete the mosaic.

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This image of M106 was acquired on Wednesday 1st April and Noel has recently processed it.  I love the Mother-of-Pearl appearance of M106, it makes it one of my favourite galaxies.  This region of Canes Venatici (lying below the handle of the Plough or Big Dipper) is crammed full of galaxies – how many can you see in this image?  A quick scan shows at least 18 other galaxies, a bit harder looking I’m sure will pull out a few more 🙂

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Radio interview recorded in April 2009

A new local radio (webcast) station recently opened in Brockenhurst and Greg was invited along to talk about the New Forest Observatory.  You can listen to the interview here 🙂

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For regular visitors it will not have escaped your notice that there haven’t been many new images posted so far this year.  This is due to two factors.  One – Noel has been very busy with other programming jobs and has barely come up to surface in the last 6 months.  Two – I have had very poor weather conditions since the beginning of the year and have only managed to capture about 5 or 6 new images so far in 2009 🙁  However, Noel needed a break from the day job and processed a single framer of the Cone Nebula taken last Winter using the Hyperstar III kit.  I had intended that this would be a 6-framer with the whole of the Cone Nebula plus a couple of nearby lying reflection nebulae.  But of course the weather had other ideas and what was to be my Winter mega-project just turned out to be a single frame of less than 4 hours.  Likewise I had hoped this Spring to get four more frames lying off the bottom of the Markarian chain to complete a mega-mosaic of the region.  Result so far – nothing – nada – zilch – zero.  I guess I should not really bother trying to plan projects – the weather is always guaranteed to let me down.  Enough moaning – here’s the Cone Nebula.

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There was a big surge in sales of Star Vistas in America just over a week ago, and over this weekend in Canada.  This corresponds to the release of the Star Vistas review in the American publication Sky & Telescope.  This also shows the power of advertising!!

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The Great Globular Cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules is pretty well known to all who scan the Northern Hemisphere skies.  It is probably the most beautiful globular cluster in the Northern Hemisphere both visually, and for imaging.  This is a great object to capture as it can stand its own both as a widefield object or as a much closer up (magnified) image.  The only thing you must be careful not to do is oversaturate the core of M13 (which is quite easy to do) otherwise your subsequent processing will not be able to pull out individual stars right into the core.  M13 is a colourful globular, and if your processing is up to maintaining good star colour, you will see many red giants dotted around the cluster.  The trick to getting a good M13 image is to take very many well-focused, but short sub-exposures.  I typically do not go beyond 2-minute subs for M13 images with either the Hyperstar or the Sky 90.  An evening’s worth of 100 sub-exposures should provide you with good smooth data to work with.  There is also the added benefit of course that it is possible to get good images of M13 even with the Moon up and causing mischief 🙂  M13 was dicovered by Edmond Halley (yes the comet man) in 1714, and on a good clear night [and in the right position] it is just naked-eye from the New Forest Observatory.

Make the most of imaging this one, it usually marks the end of imaging season for at least the next month 🙁

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