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.
Just getting around to publishing some pictures from the 2016 Black Forest Star Party at Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. What a great stretch of weather for PA! The nights weren’t the darkest or most transparent (SQM 21.4-21.5) nights I’ve had at CSSP but clear and a little murky was way better than the alternative after driving up from Knoxville TN. Had a great time with some old friends and good to see some old club members too.
Had a few imaging problems related to dithering and settle time / settle criteria that made me lose a fair number of shots but I got two images which, I have to be honest, I’m not real pleased with. They are however, more challenging objects, but would have come out better had the sky conditions been closer to the SQM 21.8 that I’ve seen before at CSSP. But, we take whatever quality of clear sky we can get during a pre-planned star party!
Messier 63 (also known as M63, NGC 5055, or the Sunflower Galaxy) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici consisting of a central disc surrounded by many short spiral arm segments. M63 is part of the M51 Group, a group of galaxies that also includes M51 (the ‘Whirlpool Galaxy’). M63 is an active galaxy with a LINER nucleus.
In 1971, a supernova with a magnitude of 11.8 appeared in one of the arms of M63.
Friday night was fantastic without a cloud to be seen. Saturday night was less pristine with a lot of thin cloud moving through. I thought we had some clearing later but a lot of the images from Sat night showed very inconsistent background values which leads me to believe we had thin stuff moving through all night. Still, how many clear nights can you ask for? It was a great TSSP and looking forward to the Fall Star Party.
SQM measurements topped out around 21.3 on Friday night and 21.4 on Saturday night.
On April 1st through April 3rd Pickett State Park, a newly designated IDA Dark Sky Site, held its first Astronomy Weekend Star Party. We were clouded out Friday night but clouds on Saturday finally yielded to clear skies albeit with some very gusty winds until the wee hours of the morning.
My buddy and I drove up to Pickett State Park which recently was designated a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association. The night wasn’t perfect; cold, little too windy, and high thin clouds to the south that at times mucked with our images. I had wanted to test out a new widefield camera tracker from StarSync LLC. Unfortunately, I forgot my intervalometer so I was limited to 30 second exposures which isn’t the best test. Still, I think it’s the tracker I’ve been waiting for. I love the design.
This enigmatic formation of gas and dust lies in the constellation of Monoceros (the Unicorn) not far off the right arm of Orion. This is a close-up of a small section of a much larger complex, generally known as the Christmas Tree cluster. The mysterious Cone Nebula is also a part of this same cloud.
The red regions of this nebula are caused by hydrogen gas that has been stimulated to emit its own light by the copious ultraviolet radiation coming from the hot, blue stars of the cluster. The blue areas shine by a different process: they are mainly dust clouds that reflect the bluish light of the same stars.
C/2013 US10 (Catalina) is an Oort cloud comet discovered on 31 October 2013 by the Catalina Sky Survey at an apparent magnitude of 19 using a 0.68-meter (27 in) Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope. As of September 2015 the comet is around apparent magnitude 6.
When discovered on 31 October 2013 observations from another object from 12 September 2013 were used in the preliminary orbit determination giving an incorrect solution that suggested an orbital period of only 6 years. But by 6 November 2013 a longer observation arc from 14 August until 4 November made it apparent that the first solution had the wrong object from 12 September.
By early May 2015 the comet was around apparent magnitude 12 and had an elongation of 60 degrees from the Sun as it moved further into the southern hemisphere. The comet came to solar conjunction on 6 November 2015 when the comet was around magnitude 6. The comet came to perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on 15 November 2015 at a distance of 0.82 AU from the Sun. At perihelion, it had a velocity of 46.4 km/s (104,000 mph) with respect to the Sun which is slightly greater than the Sun’s escape velocity at that distance. It crossed the celestial equator on 17 December 2015 becoming a northern hemisphere object. On 17 January 2016 the comet will pass 0.72 AU (108,000,000 km; 67,000,000 mi) from Earth and should be around magnitude 6 while located in the constellation of Ursa Major.
C/2013 US10 is dynamically new. It came from the Oort cloud with a loosely bound chaotic orbit that was easily perturbed by galactic tides and passing stars. Before entering the planetary region (epoch 1950), C/2013 US10 had an orbital period of several million years. After leaving the planetary region (epoch 2050), it will be on an ejection trajectory.
Taken 12/5/2015 from Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina. Sky quality was a little hazy early on and deteriorated by morning. SQM readings started around 21.1 and topped out around 21.2 mag/arcsec^2. This has always been a favorite object but I have always struggled processing it. It’s dim, it’s difficult, it always seems soft…. I’d prefer to shoot these dark dusty nebula from a darker site and if I ever get the chance I’ll be coming back to this object.