Picture of the Week

Our Picture of the Week is the famous Perseus Double-Cluster which hangs like a pair of charms from the ring of stars I call “Greg’s Charm Bracelet”. At the top is beautiful open cluster Stock 2 which looks like a stick-man lying on his side. This is a 2-frame mosaic taken on the Sky90 array with each frame comprising 4-hours of 10-minute subs.

I am particularly happy in the way the star colour turned out in this image, which almost certainly means this is a Noel Carboni processed image.

Posted in Picture of the Week | Leave a comment

Picture of the Week

Picture of the Week for this week is the Crescent nebula region.

The Crescent nebula (NGC6888) region hosts a bunch of very interesting stars as well as the (odd?) Messier object M29 (also called the Cooling Tower), which I have a real difficulty in mistaking for a comet.
P Cygni (SAO69773, 34 Cygni) is a hypergiant luminous blue variable (LBV) of spectral type B1-2-1a-0ep and apparent magnitude 3 – 6 (currently 4.82). It is one of the most luminous stars in the Milky Way.
R S Cygni (SAO69636) is a Carbon star of spectral type C5II, and apparent magnitude 7.099 – 8.496.
B C Cygni (HIP100404) is a red supergiant pulsating variable of spectral type M3.51a and apparent magnitude 9 – 10.8.
W X Cygni (SAO69801) is another Carbon star of spectral type C8e: and apparent magnitude 9.7 – 11.182.
This image was acquired using the Sky90 MiniWASP array and comprises 18 x 10-minute subs captured using 3 x M26C 9Mpixel OSC CCDs.
There is another very red star (possibly a Carbon star) sitting in the centre bottom edge. I have not been able to identify this star. Update on this star. I sent the image off to Noel Carboni and using Stellarium he managed to identify the star as V432 Cygni, a C5,5 Carbon star of magnitude 9.06. Thank you Noel 🙂
Posted in Picture of the Week | Leave a comment

Picture of the Week

Picture of the Week this time is the whole of the Veil nebula in Cygnus. Why is this one a landmark image for the New Forest Observatory? Well this is a composite of ALL the data I have collected on the Veil nebula over many years. So this image includes Hyperstar, Sky90, and 200mm lens (with Optolong L-Enhance filter) data – all combined, using Registar, to give this final result. From my current location I don’t think adding more data (of less than 10s of hours duration) is going to improve this one radically – I am therefore well into the region of diminishing returns. That being the case I can say that for me at least, in this location, the Veil nebula is now well and truly “done”.

Posted in Picture of the Week | Leave a comment

Picture of the Week

The Picture of the Week this time is the very busy Sadr region of Cygnus. This image was captured with the Canon 200mm prime lenses and the ASI 2600MC Pro CMOS cameras. I had originally taken something like 3 and a half hours of UV/IR cut filtered data and I must admit the result was pretty unimpressive. I subsequently got 4-hours of Optolong L-Enhance filtered data and that really brought all the H-alpha out! However, the Optolong filter lets through H-alpha and OIII and the little blue nebula top centre (NGC6914) is a reflection (broadband blue) nebula, so the Optolong filter cut out most of the blue in this spectacular little nebula (I call NGC6914 a little patch of blue in an ocean of red). However, adding in the UV/IR cut filtered data, plus some stand alone NGC6914 data taken on the Sky90 array with the M26C OSC CCDs, I was able to bring back some of the missing blue in NGC6914.

So what do we see in this image? Dead centre is bright star Sadr which is sitting within the Butterfly nebula. Top just left of centre is the blue reflection nebula NGC6914. Lower right of Sadr is the Crescent nebula, and below Sadr on the same level as the Crescent nebula is the open cluster of stars M29. How M29 (the Cooling Tower) could ever be mistaken for a comet I’ll never know. The bright nebula lower left I did identify at some point in the past, but today I’ve forgotten what it is designated. If anyone out there knows please give an answer in the comments.

Posted in Picture of the Week | Leave a comment

Picture of the Week

I added Sky90 data of M44 to the 2-frame 200mm data of the “Stargate” containing M44 to create this composite image. The nearby Carbon stars X Cancri and T Cancri have been annotated. Cameras used M26C OSC CCDs.

Posted in Picture of the Week | Leave a comment

Picture of the Week

This week we feature Polaris, the North star, together with the surrounding Integrated Flux Nebula (IFN).

This is really seat of the pants imaging to get this one. Why? Because as we are imaging so close to the Pole we cannot autoguide! We are relying totally on how good our Polar alignment is for how long we can take a sub-exposure. We also cannot dither subs – so this is really basic imaging.

For this particular image I used the Sky90 array and 36 x 5-minute sub-exposures.

Posted in Picture of the Week | Leave a comment

Got Today’s EPOD (number 130)

Got today’s EPOD with Carbon star C W Leonis. Thank you Jim for continuing to publish my work 🙂 


Posted in Carbon Stars, EPOD | Leave a comment

Is it Really Worth it?

Clear last night so I started setting up early so I could get some good imaging time in. The last tweak I needed to do was to get the two Canon 200mm lenses aligned to one another (perfectly) and then I was good to go. So after about half an hour I got them aligned, next was just focusing and then IMAGING TIME!

Last time I checked both lenses had the perfect 0, 0, 0 score in CCDInspector (zero pixel shift in X, zero pixel shift in Y, and zero pixel collimation). However, running CCDInspector last night one lens was still perfect (the one I hadn’t re-aligned) and the other lens was miles out! That’s strange, I haven’t seen a collimation shift by moving the whole lens assembly before. Never mind, I’ll just recollimate and get on with the imaging. So I altered the collimation on the offending lens and on re-checking CCDInspector things were not changing as I had expected. So I scrolled across the whole of the image to see if I could work out what was happening, and yes the whole of the right hand side was “off” – but there was also a pair of spikes across a bright star. Oh dear – the dome aperture was cutting across the lens and this is why the collimation looked bad. Also, I have now just wrecked the perfect collimation I had so now I have to waste good imaging time getting the collimation back again. Oh well stop whingeing and just get on with it. After about the 3rd collimation adjustment, the star I had been using for focusing now became too dim for FocusMax to do its stuff – yes, it was clouding over. O.K. I know when it’s time to give up, so I shut everything down. By the time I had shut up shop and got out of the observatory, it had cleared up again. Sometimes you just have to take the hint and go indoors and watch the TV in the warm.

Posted in mini-WASP Array | Leave a comment


Only 6 x 10-minute subs from last night, so pretty noisy, but at least it’s the first image since November 14th 2023, so a major landmark. 200mm lenses and the ASI 2600MC Pro CMOS cameras. Need to take some new flats.

Posted in 200mm lens and ASI 2600MC-Pro camera, mini-WASP Array | Leave a comment

First Clear Night in Weeks.

A couple of nights back we had the first clear night in many weeks. This is such a rare event it deserves an entry all of its own.

So, starting at 7 p.m. I began work on setting up the 200mm lenses for use with the UV/IR cut filters (for stars and galaxies) having removed the Optolong L-Enhance filters (for nebulae). Very first thing I had to do was take one of the Dell Optiplex 7010 computers indoors to sort out. The computer wasn’t booting up and the power-on light was flashing. Luckily I’ve come across this one before and what the symptoms mean is that the RAM needs re-seating. Re-seating carried out successfully indoors, the computer was brought back out to the observatory, fired-up, and all was well! Actually I discovered a second issue with this particular computer. It has always been VERY slow and it always seemed to be doing far too many read-writes to the HDD. On re-seating the RAM I found the root cause of this problem. There was only a SINGLE STICK of 4Gb RAM in the computer! So I just ordered a bunch more RAM to upgrade this RAM-slugged computer.

Next thing was to re-focus the 2 lenses as there were different filters now in place. That took all of 2-minutes. Now, finally, the biggest pain to sort out. I now need to re-flatten both ASI 2600MC Pro cameras as changing filters clearly changes the optical path to the cameras requiring re-collimation. So I get started on that (extremely boring) job when suddenly no stars are appearing on the monitor. Yep – complete cloud cover at 9:30 p.m. time to shut down for the night – and the final (boring) job is set ready for the next clear night. This imaging business really is a thankless task, especially in the U.K.

Posted in mini-WASP Array, News | Leave a comment