I put a QHY268M CMOS camera into the Observatory to replace the significantly larger pixel sized Apogee U8300 that has been hanging around since the very early days and is starting to hiccup. These were all test images with 3 minute exposures from my fairly light polluted suburban back yard observatory. (SQM is 20.0 to 20.4 depending on season and quality of the night.) Most images are 2-3 hours total exposure in LRGB. Some images were a total loss due to filter wheel problems and filter shift causing incompatible flat frame corrections. Corrective actions have been taken to secure the filters and ensure proper indexing. As it is, none of these images are great but I can’t bring myself to throw them out so think of this as a first light post of sorts for the QHY268M.
A barred spiral galaxy approximately 33 million light years away.
M108 is a barred spiral in Ursa Major and contains about 125 billion solar masses.
M13 is a globular cluster of several hundred thousand stars in the constellation Hercules.
M106 is an intermediate spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici with a detected supermassive black hole at it’s core. It resides approximately 22-25 million light years away. It’s one of the largest and brightest nearby galaxies.
The Leo Triplet
The Leo Triplet, also known as the M66 group, contains M65, M66, and NGC 3628 commonly called the Hamburger Galaxy. The galaxy group resides approximately 35 million light years away.
IC 1805 / Sharpless 190, more commonly known as the Heart Nebula, lies approximately 7,500 light years from Earth. This data set was comprised of 43x20min Ha, 23x20min O[III], and 24x20min S[II] for a total exposure time of 30 hours over several nights in November 2019.
We had some great weather for the annual star party at Pickett State Park, TN last new moon. This star party is still young and looking to grow. The park rangers are doing a great job, it’s a great venue for presentations and a great field for observing / photography. I’m not sure why it still remains a hidden gem of sorts.
Overall sky quality, other than some early clouds, was excellent. With SQM measurements around 21.77 mag/arcsec^2 this was the darkest I’ve seen Pickett. I would note too that of the other dark sky sites I routinely visit, this quality of night is nothing to complain about.
I was the first one to arrive for the star party on Saturday night at Look Rock South. It’s a beautiful view to the south looking into the Smokies.
We definitely had some clouds for the beginning of the night with some sucker holes now and then. I was never able to get off a 20 minute shot without the clouds rushing in within 10 minutes…
But things finally started to clear up and the Milky Way really started to pop out.
Once it was cleared up I was off to take some test shots and validate the portable rig was ready for more serious projects. NGC 6820 AKA Sharpless SH 2-86 and all the surrounding emission and dark nebula has always been a favorite of mine. It’s located in Vulpecula not that far from M27, the Dumbbell Nebula. It reminds me of a less popular M16 with it’s gas and dust pillars and dark globules. Open cluster NGC 6823 resides in the midst of the nebula and is about 6,000 light years away.
NGC 206 is the brightest star cloud in the arms of the Andromeda Galaxy visible to us here on Earth. You often see M31 imaged wide field but there is a wealth of detail to be found in the star clouds and dust lanes that start to pop out with a little more focal length. Taken late last year from my back yard.
Cloudy winter nights have inspired a second look back at some fun summer targets. Here’s NGC 6871 in Cygnus.
A widefield shot of the famous Double Cluster from Sept 17th 2014 at Cherry Springs State Park. The Double Cluster is in Perseus but is in close proximity to Cassiopeia.
The Scutum Star Cloud taken under the dark skies of Cherry Springs State Park on 17-Sept-2014.