South Dome Makeover

On this beautiful Summer Solstice day – here’s the South Dome (Hyperstar + 2600MC Pro CMOS) done and dusted. De-pollinated (thick layer of yellow pollen removed) and vacuumed out. Just the decking to repaint. But that will wait until after the North Dome has been through its yearly pamper.

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Picture of the Week

The Jellyfish nebula region, with Tejat (Mu-Geminorum) on the left and Propus on the right, is this week’s Picture of the Week. This was quite a long project with just a single Sky90 and an M25C OSC CCD. Why was it a long project? Because not only was this a full night’s imaging with the M25C in RGB mode, but it was also followed by two night’s imaging with an H-alpha filter, and a further night’s imaging with an SII filter. All the data was expertly added together and processed by Noel Carboni.

There is a hidden gem in this image (which might not be visible in the low resolution image shown here). But if you go up to the top of the dim nebulosity straight above Tejat, and then come down a little at the 5 o’clock position from the one bright white star seen there, you might just make out a small bright round red region. Not the usual colour for a planetary nebula – but that’s what this is. And it is a planetary nebula that emits strongly in the infrared, which is also very unusual. Furthermore, this image was taken only a few months after this planetary nebula was first identified, which is more than slightly annoying.

I can probably add quite a bit to this region using the 200mm lenses with the Optolong L-Enhance filters and 20-minute subs. Again, I had planned to do just this last season and was thwarted by the weather.

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Picture of the Week

The full extent of the California Nebula is this week’s “Picture of the Week”. This is a combination of both data from the 200mm lenses with M26C OSC CCDs, and the Sky90 array with M26C OSC CCDs. I think I can do even better with this one with some more 200mm lens data, which I was hoping to get this last season, but the weather had other ideas. So this one is due some more data before I consider it “done”. 

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Greg’s Lambda Asterism

This is a 2-frame mosaic using the Sky90 array and M26C OSC CCDs. Centre-bottom is the bright star Epsilon Cassiopei, and above left is the asterism Greg’s Lambda.

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The Methuselah Star!

Is that the most boring and uninspiring star field you have seen on here to date? Quite possibly. But the brightest star you can see here, almost dead centre, is none other than the Methuselah star!!

SAO159459, HIP76976, HD140283 – all designations for the Methuselah star.

This is only 4 x 5-minute subs as the star was about to go behind a bunch of trees on my southern horizon. I didn’t realise the star would be quite so low and quite as far over towards the trees. Never mind, if I am to do it again it will have to be done at the beginning of May rather than the beginning of June.

Any other problem? Yes, the Methuselah star seems to sit right in the middle of geostationary satellite central – it is a helluva mess around there, just as bad as the southern end of the Witch Head nebula. Also, deep down in the southern murk the sky background was a complete mess as well. The only reason anything remotely looking like a star image came out was entirely due to Noel Carboni’s “AstroFlat Pro” software – a real life-saver.

I am really pleased at the outcome of what is probably one of my worst images.

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Picture of the Week

Picture of the Week is M33 – the Triangulum Galaxy.

At the risk of becoming boringly repetitive, this is yet another object with very many total imaging hours, probably well over 15 in total. This has been imaged using all versions of the Hyperstar, so that is the original (no rotation or collimation adjusters) and also the HSIII and HS4. Also imaged with the Sky90s and several different cameras.

This is a strange object to image for me. The subs always come down looking bright and strong, and yet the final stacked image has always come out disappointing given the expectation from the subs. From the quality of the initial data I have always expected far more than I managed to process out of this one.

Again, this is probably as good as I’m going to get from my current location, and so this one must also be considered “done” unless I can manage to move to a darker site.

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Little Planet Shot of the New Forest Observatory

Took this “Little Planet” shot of the observatories today as a record. Brilliant sunshine made the PTGUI blender panic, but I’ll just leave as is for now.

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Picture of the Week

Picture of the Week is gorgeous M13 – the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules.

Again, many hours have gone into this one using several different cameras, several different versions of the Hyperstar, and also the Sky90 refractor at f#4.5.

Another object I have returned to time and time again, and yet another object I really need to steer clear of in future as I don’t think I am going to be able to improve on it much (if at all) from my current location.

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Last Night’s ISS pass

Last night’s ISS pass kicked off around 10:23 p.m. and was a nice 6-minutes long. Ursa Major again centre of image (right way up this time) with Arcturus at the bottom of the shot.

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ISS Pass Last Night

Last night was a 6-minute pass of the ISS starting at 10:26 p.m. As the sky was still fairly light I took (roughly) 20-second exposures. In the middle, upside down, you can see Ursa Major. Follow the handle of the plough up to the top of the frame and the bright star is Arcturus. As you can see there was also a very bright Moon (and quite a lot of broken cloud).

Again no idea why the funny image – click on it to see what it should look like.

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