This week the New Forest Observatory is honoured to present the masterful work of the man who is in my opinion, currently the best amateur deep-sky imager on the planet – may I introduce you to Rogelio Bernal Andreo who hails from Sunnyvale, California, U.S.A.
Steve Cannistra beat me to imaging CTB1 the supernova remnant in Cassiopeia and Rogelio beat me to another project I have had on the whiteboard for years, namely an image of the whole of Cassiopeia at high resolution. Rogelio has created a really outstanding deep-sky image here – look at the full extent of the Gamma Cass nebulosity he has captured – have you ever seen the Gamma Cassiopeia nebulosity looking like this before? I certainly haven’t. And all the open star clusters (which Cassiopeia is noted for) really make this a striking image that I can wander around for hours at a time. But this is not just a one-off piece of “lucky” imaging, this is but one of dozens of truly ground-breaking works of art captured and created by Rogelio. Rogelio’s Cassiopeia image can be seen at much higher resolution here, please visit his web site and take a good look at this image. Here’s what Rogelio has to say about his Cassiopeia image:
“When I was a kid, the first constellation that called my attention wasn’t Orion or the Big Dipper. It was Cassiopeia, the “W”, and I would immediately go look for it and recognize it. Cassiopeia wasn’t my early call into astronomy, but for a while it was the only reason for me to look up at the night sky from a light polluted city in southern Spain “Look, there’s Cassiopeia!”… Well, maybe it was some sort of an early call…
This past week, during four different outings at three different sites and around 550 more miles in my SUV, I managed to capture this beautiful “starscape”.
There’s no better way to (hopefully) enjoy this image but at the largest resolution possible. And while the large image linked above is over 5600 pixels wide, it is still 1/2 of its original resolution, but I felt I had to reduce its size to avoid producing a JPEG over 12mb even at 55% quality (which is already quite degraded). The large image linked above weights almost 6mb (that’s at 60% quality), so if you have a slow connection, be aware of that.
It’s not a picture of some gorgeous and prominent celestial structures such as nebulae, galaxies, etc. but it’s a very special image for me. I hope you enjoy it!
It may seem a simple image to capture and process, but processing was a bit challenging indeed. First, it’s a 3×2 mosaic, so all the challenges associated with mosaics apply here – resolved with more or less fortune. Also, getting the subtle – but real – changes in background illumination took some work. Except for the darker areas, that are more prominent in part because of the “lack” of stars, you’ll notice that areas with a brighter background don’t really have more or less stars than other areas with a slight darker background, and pulling these background illumination differences with a swarm of stars in front can be tricky.
I find it’s rather interesting to surf around the image looking for star clusters, and of course, there are plenty of them. Some people may feel that the Gamma Cas and Pacman nebulae could have been selectively processed to become more prominent, or perhaps more detailed, but although any field swarmed by stars can get in the way of other features and often times our goal is to give way to the dust or gas rather than the stars, I think it’s obvious that the stars and nothing else are indeed the protagonist of this image.. Why let anything else steal the show?”
Indeed Rogelio, that’s exactly how I feel about this image as well.
Rogelio’s work leaves me in a bit of a quandry regarding what to show for future Deep-Sky Images of the Week as I could easily turn this section into “Rogelio’s Deep-Sky Image of the Week”. However, I will certainly be showing other great amateur images over the coming weeks, but don’t be too surprised when I put up the next Rogelio masterpiece 🙂
Thank you Rogelio for sharing this most inspiring image with us all.