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Here is my first DSO travel report from the south Pacific: A week ago I arrived at Lizard Island (14°27 S, 145° 27´E) for research on their marine biological station until early January. It must be one of the darkest places on earth. Lizard Island is situated on the Great Barrier Reef about 20 km off the Australian coast and this far north in Queensland there are very few human inhabitants on the mainland and no light can be seen there from here. Closest town is Cairns 200 km to the south. I have been here virtually every December since 2002 but for the first time I now brought a travel kit for astrophotography. It consists of a SW StarAdventurer and a 300mm f/4 Canon telephoto lens with an ASI071 OSC camera. Having a cooled camera here is essential. I have once tried some AP here with a DSLR with extremely noisy results since the night time temperature here is rarely below 25°C. I also brought my PoleMaster camera for polar alignment. The whole kit with tripod weight 8 kg. The lens is only 1.2 kg. Focusing a telephoto lens precisely is tricky so I had to invent a microfocuser made from a folded sheet of aluminium cut out from a beer can. I shaped the sheet into a rod that presses onto the edge of the focusing ring by the force of a rubber band. Functioning a a lever it provides both a fine micro movement and fixes the ring so focus does not slip. Even if Lizard Island is close to paradise there are unfortunately also clouds, but so far I have had two relatively clear nights. First night was spent trying to find the very faint constellation of the Octans and its southern pole star. This was not easy for someone used to the northern hemisphere with the bright Polaris, and I had to print out a bunch of star charts just to get some orientation. When I finally found it clouds moved in of course. On Friday night it cleared from midnight until sunrise, and PoleStar helped me do what appears to have been a perfect polar alignment. I then aimed at the Large Magellanic Cloud and collected 145 x 90s of data, so about 3.6 hours, which is rather ok with this fast lens. The StarAdventurer behaved perfectly with no star trails in any of the unguided 90 s subs. So, here is the first result from this adventure, processed in PI and PS on a small laptop screen - I will probably have another go at it when I get back home to my 43" screen. The Tarantula Nebula (NGC2070) can be seen in the upper left corner of the galaxy. Wiki writes: The Tarantula Nebula has an apparent of 8. Considering its distance of about 160,000 ly, this is an extremely luminous non-stellar object. Its luminosity is so great that if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would cast visible shadows.In fact it is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also one of the largest H II regions in the Local Group with an estimated diameter around 200 to 570 pc and also because of its very large size, it is sometimes described as the largest although other H II regions such as NGC 604, which is in the Triangulum Galaxy could be larger.The nebula resides on the leading edge of the LMC where ram pressure stripping, and the compression of the interstellar medium likely resulting from this, is at a maximum. Hopefully I get the chance to add more images to this thread soon - the weather report for tonight looks promising.
Galaxy 2MASX J05314916-6721339 in Dorado in the region of the Large Magellanic Cloud ( LMC ) and not far ( in angular terms ) from NGC 2004 and NGC 2011. From Simbad: 2MASX J05314916-6721339 "Galaxy in a group of galaxies" - Type: Sa D ( Spiral ) ( J2000: 5h 31m 49.16s -67d 21' 33.92" ) ( http://simbad.u-strasbg.fr/simbad/sim-id?Ident=%403123415&Name=2MASX J05314916-6721339&submit=submit ) ( other id: IRAS Faint Source Catalog - IRAS F05319-6723 ) It can be found in the vicinity of NGC 2004 and NGC 2011 -------------- Crops taken from full frame image: Dragons Head Nebula and NGC 2014 in the Large Magellanic Cloud ( LMC ) ( not far from the Tarantula Nebula - NGC 2070 ) - NGC 2004 - NGC 2011 - NGC 2014 - NGC 2020 - NGC 2021 - NGC 2030 - NGC 2032 - NGC 2035 - NGC 2040
( click tap on image to see larger and sharper ) This image shows multiple bright nebula and star clusters in an area adjacent to the the Tarantula Nebula ( NGC 2070 ) in the nearby irregular galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud ( LMC ). The largest of these are the bright pink nebula in the upper right part of the image ( NGC 2014 ) and the blue nebula in the lower right ( NGC 2030 ). Details: Bright Nebulae: NGC 2014 ( upper right, pink) size 30 x 20 arcmin Mag +8. NGC 2020 size 2.0 arcmin NGC 2030 ( lower right, blue ). NGC 2032 . NGC 2035 size 3.0 x 3.0 arcmin NGC 2040 size 3.0 x 3.0 arcmin Open clusters: NGC 2002 size 2 arcmin Mag +10.1 NGC 2004 size 2.7 arcmin Mag +9.6 NGC 2006 size 1 arcmin Mag +11.5 NGC 2011 size 1 arcmin Mag +10.6 NGC 2021 size 0.9 arcmin Mag +12.1 NGC 2027 size 0.7 arcmin Mag +11.9 NGC 2034 NGC 2041 size 0.7 arcmin Mag +10.4 Image centre RA 05h 33m 25.583s, Dec -67° 18' 02.586" (nova.astrometry.net) Field of view (arcmin): 58.8 x 39.2 Scale (full size image) 0.585 arcsec/pixel Telescope: Orion Optics CT12 Newtonian ( mirror 300mm, fl 1200mm, f4 ) Corrector: ASA 2" Coma Corrector Quattro 1.175x Effective Focal Length / Aperture : 1410 mm f4.7 Mount: Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Guiding: TSOAG9 Off-Axis-Guider, Starlight Xpress Lodestar X2, PHD2 Camera: Nikon D5300 (unmodified) (sensor 23.5 x 15.6mm, 6016x4016 3.9um pixels) Filter: none HDR combination of four sets of exposures: 9 x 300 sec ISO 200 4 x 120 sec ISO 200 4 x 120 sec ISO 100 4 x 60 sec ISO 100 Pixinsight & Photoshop 29 January 2017 link: 500px.com/MikeODay
Another DSO from the Southern Hemisphere. The Tarantula nebula is a part of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Given that it is 160,000 ly away (120 times further than the Orion nebula) it is massive. Wikipedia has some interesting trivia on it: if NGC2070 was as close to earth as the M42 it would take up 30° in the sky. At the same time it would be bright enough to cast shadows. Capture details: 40 frames @ 300sec (1/3 at ISO1600 and 2/3 at ISO800 over two nights) 10 darks for each setting. Clear skies! HJ