Jul 042021
 

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.

M95

A barred spiral galaxy approximately 33 million light years away.

M95
M95 – Annotated

M108

M108 is a barred spiral in Ursa Major and contains about 125 billion solar masses.

M108
M108 – Annotated

M13

M13 is a globular cluster of several hundred thousand stars in the constellation Hercules.

M13
M13 Annotated

M106

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.

M106
M106 – Annotated

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.

The Leo Triplet
The Leo Triplet – Annotated
Feb 142021
 
IC 1795 – A star forming region in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia. Hubble Pallet Emission line imaging from Clinton, TN. Poor seeing conditions over several nights in Nov 2020 but almost 33 hours of total exposure time. AP130GTX with Apogee U8300 camera riding on AP1200GTO in backyard observatory.

Apr 042020
 

We’ve had far too many rainy days followed by isolation and the closure of astronomy parks and related facilities. Even if it cleared, we have nowhere to go. So here’s a quick reminder of the winter nebula that are leaving now not to be seen until next year. I wish I had time to do a mosaic and capture the whole nebula but I didn’t. It truly is a LARGE nebula. This image is 2.4 degrees across and could hold more than 18 full moons. (The moon varies between about 29′20″ – 34′6″ in size)

NGC 1499
AP130GTX, Apogee U16M, 14x20min HA
Clinton, TN
Dec 012019
 

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.

Melotte 15 – The open star cluster that lies at the center of IC 1805 and provides the radiation that gives the nebula it’s soft glow.
NGC 896 – The brightest part of the Heart Nebula; it was cataloged separately because it was the first part of the Heart Nebula to be discovered.
The Heart Nebula – This image spans almost 2.6 degrees x 2.6 degrees. For scale, it would take 27 full moons to fill this field of view.
Jul 282019
 

We had a great clear spell 7/23 through 7/27 with only moderate lunar interference in the early hours of the morning. This is 14 hours of exposure divided equally across Hydrogen-alpha, Oxygen [III], and Sulfur[II] emission lines. Scope was an AP130GTX with Apogee U16 CCD on an AP1200GTO mount. Located outside Clinton, TN. The following are crops from the main image.

Finally, here is the nearly full frame image encompassing the whole area.

May 072019
 

Due to a moisture breach of my camera causing frosting issues which caused me to throw out all but 4.5 hours of data out of 18 I figured I might as well post this as it’s not going to get much better. Image scale was 1.31 arcsec/pixel which seems to give fairly decent sampling for the average seeing here in East Tennessee. Imaging location just outside Clinton, TN with average SQM measurements ranging from 20.1 to 20.4 mag/arcsec^2.

M106 – 4.5 hours AP130GTX, Apogee U8300, AP1200GTO

Jan 282018
 

I recently replaced the dome control electronics after the Foster Systems controller bit the dust and I replaced with a MaxDome II controller for rotation and shutter operation.  It’s working flawlessly so far and I couldn’t be happier.  I threw the 5″ refractor back in the observatory with the 16803 chipped camera for a widefield rig at 2.2 arcsec/pixel resolution.  Drizzle processing yields better star shapes/sampling than the low resolution would suggest.  Both images are cropped from the same image with 20.5 hours of total exposure time in the traditional Hubble Pallet.

 

Jul 302017
 

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.

Emission Nebula NGC 6820 or Sharpless SH 2-86. AP130GTX with Field Flattener Custom 4″ OAG Apogee U16 CCD w/Baader Ha 7nm filter AP900GTO Mount 9x20min Exposures Image Scale 2.16 arcsec/pixel; reduced to 4.32 arcsec/pixel

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.