Archive for May, 2010

For those of you looking for my high speed flash photography site can I remind you that you will find ultra-fast Xenon flash images here.

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Just under one month to go before I open up the 4 pinhole cameras that have been looking towards the south for the past 5 months.  Time seems to pass at an ever accelerating rate – as Peter Landsberg said, I think I live in logarithmic time 🙂

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This is the central frame of a large mosaic being constructed of the galaxy-rich region at the Virgo/Coma border – hot off the press from Noel Carboni.  We see Markarian Chain central and at the bottom M87 in this Hyperstar III image.  This is just one of seven (yes 7!) Hyperstar III frames taken in this general area during April – I am surprised we had so many clear nights in the one month.  The mega-mosaic will also incorporate 3 frames taken 2 years ago with the Sky 90/M25C system with its 3.33 x 2.22 degree field of view per frame.  I will cover the region up to (Northwards) M100 and its surroundings, and Southwards to well below M87 where plenty more small galaxies are to be found.  I’m not sure what the final size of the mosaic will be, but I estimate it somewhere in the region of 6 degrees by 4 degrees – high-resolution and good depth 🙂  Another Parker-Carboni mega-imaging-project in the same league as the Veil nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, and of course the Belt and Horsehead region of Orion.

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The photo below is an animation of two images of open cluster NGC7789 (in the constellation Cassiopeia), taken around 18 months apart, from the New Forest Observatory, Hampshire, U.K. The star sitting just below the open cluster has changed in magnitude during this period from about magnitude 7 (brightest) to approximately magnitude 14 (dimmest). This impressive variable star (WY Cas) sure appears like it’s trying to get our attention.  According to Roger Pickard of the British Astronomical Society, W Y Cass does indeed vary by something like 7 magnitudes over a period of about 18 months! So, no aliens this time, but instead rather an incredibly interesting object all the same. Processing as usual by Noel Carboni, Florida U.S.A.

Please click on the image to see the animation in a new window:

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Just went out and voted for one of the parties that does not wish to bring back hunting with dogs.  Brian May has created an effective campaign to make people more aware which parties have the strongest links to the stone-age.  And yes I do live in the country and have done for most of my life – I also happen to like the wild creatures that live there too, and greatly admire their ability to survive despite man’s best attempts to make sure they don’t.

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Managed to bag today’s EPOD with an image of the White Lady Falls, Lydford Gorge, Dartmoor National Park – the highest falls in Devon.  Thanks once again to Jim for publishing my work (even the non-deep-sky stuff 🙂 )

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The imaging object for this month is actually a pair of objects lying in the constellation Ursa Major.  M97 also known as the Owl nebula is a lovely little planetary nebula, so named as it has a pair of dark round spots in its green interior which look like a pair of Owl’s eyes.  It is very small at only 170″ in diameter and it is also quite faint at magnitude 9.9.  Close by there is another Messier object, a small spiral galaxy M108 which measures 8.7′ x 2.2′ and is similarly faint at magnitude 10.  Normally a long focal length is used so that there is a reasonable image scale for the Owl nebula, but if both objects are to be captured we need to work at shorter focal lengths.  In the accompanying image the focal length is much too short really to bring out the two objects well, but it still seems to work by showing them in their largely barren environment.  Surprisingly a couple of other “smallish” objects also do well in large field images including the Crab Nebula and M13 the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules.

At this time of the year we find Ursa Major near the zenith so we benefit from the best dark skies from our site and also minimum atmospheric interference.  M97 and M108 still need plenty of exposure time however, like any object, and a minimum of 4 hours using 5-minute subs is recommended for either the f#4.5 Sky 90 system, or even the f#2 Hyperstar III scope.

We are now being forced to start imaging at indecently late hours as summer approaches and if like me you have a day job you are approaching the end of your imaging season until later in the year 🙁

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