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Found 19 results

  1. Hi All, Sharing with you my latest pic, it's been a while since I was imaging since I have been stuck at the eyepiece for the last few outings... and my imaging gear won't see light until my obsy, aka modified shed, is complete. During a particularly clear and transparent night, just after packing up my Dob, I took out the DSLR and grabbed a few subs of the Galactic center in Sagittarius... At the top right is Scorpio stinger, center frame is Sagittarius and bright "star" far left middle frame is Saturn. Few nebulae are visible in the exposure, Lagoon, Trifid and the Cats Paw... Taken using just the unmodded Canon 7D with a 24-105mm lens set at 24mm (no scope) for 6 minutes, 18 x 20sec ISO6400 Subs... I thought it turned out not bad from my backyard for a last minute quickie after packing up. Clear skies, Mariusz
  2. The Lagoon Nebula ( Messier 8, NGC 6523 ) in the constellation Sagittarious. ( click on image to see larger) The Laboon Nebula ( M8 ) is visible to the naked eye under dark skies from most latitudes except the far north. Seemingly covering an area about three times that of the full Moon, M8 actually covers an area somewhat greater than 110 light years and is around 4300 light years from Earth in the Sagittarius-Carina spiral arm of the Milkyway galaxy. ...... The frames for this image where taken back when I was very new to astrophotography and I was experimenting with camera settings. On this occasion I wanted to see if JPEG images might be easier to process - I was disappointed with the results. Now that I have a bit more knowledge and skill at processing I decided to have another attempt at trying to process the set because I liked the way the JPEG files had retained colour in the stars. I am reasonably pleased with the result; the faint detail in the nebula is not there but I quite like the colours in the centre and in the stars. Details: Messier 8, NGC 6523 - Lagoon Nebula Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian telescope. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount.Orion auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector. Nikon D300 (unmodified). 80 x 30 sec ISO 1600 (JPEG) - 31 Aug 14. PixInsight and Photoshop. processed 13 August 2016 Links: https://500px.com/MikeODay http://photo.net/photos/MikeODay
  3. From the album: Mike's Images

    The Lagoon Nebula ( Messier 8, NGC 6523 ) in the constellation Sagittarius - by Mike O'Day ( https://500px.com/mikeoday ) The Laboon Nebula ( M8 ) is visible to the naked eye under dark skies from most latitudes except the far north. Seemingly covering an area about three times that of the full Moon, M8 actually covers an area somewhat greater than 110 light years and is around 4300 light years from Earth in the Sagittarius-Carina spiral arm of the Milkyway galaxy. Links: https://500px.com/MikeODay http://photo.net/photos/MikeODay Details: Messier 8, NGC 6523 - Lagoon Nebula. also contains: NGC 6526 NGC 6530 NGC 6533 IC 1271 IC 4678 7SGR 9SGR Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian telescope. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount. Orion auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector, UHC-S 'nebula' filter. Nikon D300 (unmodified) (14bit NEF). Field of view (deg) ~ 1.35 x 0.90. 20 x 120 sec ISO400. 26 x 30 sec ISO 1600. 23 x 240 sec ISO 200. PixInsight and Photoshop. 2 August 14 . re-processed 24 April 2016 to include the additional subs ( the first version only made use of the 23 x 240 sec ISO 200 subs ) and putting use the processing lessons I have learnt over the past year.

    © Copyright Mike O'Day 2016 - all rights reserved

  4. You look to the South on a crystal clear night and spot Scorpius and Sagittarius gleaming above the horizon. Probably some of the best observable night sky objects are within these fine constellations. My 4.5 inch reflector was ready to go at 12 AM on Sunday morning, I aligned the stars Altair and Dubhe in the two star alignment feature on its GoTo mount . I was thinking of either imaging Saturn and Jupiter. But I chose to observe some of the dazzling and interesting objects in Sagittarius. I slewed my telescope to M25 first. a beautiful open cluster in the top part of Sagittarius' border. My next target was the fantastic Sagittarius Star Cloud or M24, an object I have been longing to see! All the objects had a dusty glow to them and since it was in the top part of the constellations boundary. Atmospheric haze did not affect it, after that. I decided to check out the stars that make the "Teapot" asterism in Sagittarius. I went through all that I could see from Ireland. I could see all the stars other than Kaus Australis . Following my adventure in Sagittarius I decided to move my way up the Milky Way into Scutum the shield. I observed the famous Wild Duck cluster in my highest magnification and what a sight it was! But, as I was browsing Stellarium for other interesting objects in Scutum I found something cool indeed. What was it? It was the asteroid Juno! Juno was and is currently magnitude +9.9 near the Wild Duck cluster. I star hopped my way using Stellarium as a map. And I found it within a few minutes. It may not of looked the part but hey, in astronomy one of the main things you must understand. It's not about what it looks like, it's what it represents. With that I decided it was time to go in as it was 1:30AM. Thank you for reading! Clear skies to all Adam
  5. Barnard's Galaxy ( NGC 6822 ) in the constellation Sagittarius ( click on image to see larger ) Barnard's Galaxy is one of a number of dwarf galaxies relatively near to us in our Local Group of galaxies. Similar in structure to the Small Magellanic Cloud, Barnard's galaxy is thought to be about half the size and around eight times as far away at 1.6 M Light Years. Weather permitting I hope to add more subs to help bring the faint detail further out from the sky background. Details: Barnard's Galaxy ( NGC 6822 ). Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian telescope. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount. Orion 80mm f5 guide scope and auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector, no filter. Nikon D5300 (unmodified). Field of view (deg) ~ 1.35 x 0.90. ISO400, 14bit NEF, Long Exp. NR on. 40 x 180sec (1/3 before & 2/3 after zenith) 25 Aug 16. Processed in PixInsight and finished off in Photoshop. Links: https://500px.com/MikeODay http://photo.net/photos/MikeODay
  6. Barnard's Galaxy ( NGC 6822 ) in the constellation Sagittarius ( final version - well, at least until I can get more data ) ( click on image to see larger ) Barnard's Galaxy is one of a number of dwarf galaxies relatively near to us in our Local Group of galaxies. Similar in structure to the Small Magellanic Cloud, Barnard's galaxy is thought to be about half the size and around eight times as far away at 1.6 M Light Years. Weather permitting I hope to add more subs to help bring the faint detail further out from the sky background. Details: Barnard's Galaxy ( NGC 6822 ). Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian telescope. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount. Orion 80mm f5 guide scope and auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector, no filter. Nikon D5300 (unmodified). Field of view (deg) ~ 1.35 x 0.90. ISO400, 14bit NEF, Long Exp. NR on. 40 x 180sec (1/3 before & 2/3 after zenith) 25 Aug 16. Processed in PixInsight and finished off in Photoshop. re-processed to increase contrast and brightness of galaxy and a slight increase in overall sharpness. Links: https://500px.com/MikeODay http://photo.net/photos/MikeODay
  7. I was bitten by the Messier bug back in the beginning of 2013. By the start of that summer I had seen over 70 Messiers with the help of my Helios NatureSport 10x50 binoculars, Sky-Watcher Explorer 130P and my two favourite dark sky sites: a “local” one in the north of the Cheshire plain and a location further afield in North Wales. The objects that had eluded me were mainly the fainter galaxies in Ursa Major and Virgo and the southerly Messiers, i.e. those lying below -30 degrees in declination: M55, M54, M70 and M69 in Sagittarius and M6, M7 and M62 in Scorpius. My 2013 summer holiday to Switzerland coincided with a new moon and some marvellously clear skies. To my great surprise and satisfaction I was able to bag all the southerly Messiers. The open star clusters M6 and M7 twinkled almost as bright as city lights in the 10x50 bins. Globular cluster M55 was large and diffuse and M54 was also a straightforward sighting in the bins. For the small and faint globular clusters of M69 and M70 I had to resort to my newly acquired SkyMaster 10x70 bins, and even then it was a struggle to see them. The 10x50 bins, however, were sufficient to pick out globular cluster M62 further west in Scorpius. The fact that these objects were 8 degrees higher in the sky than when seen from home was a key factor in my success. Subsequent summer holidays in Portugal and Spain benefitted from being another 5 degrees further south, so once again with clear dark skies, the most southerly Messiers were easily seen. In fact, conditions were sufficiently favourable at our holiday home 80 miles south west of Barcelona, that M7 was a naked eye object. That sky was a wonder to behold! As a side note, when locating M6 and M7 on these holidays I followed the instructions of my Messier guidebook which recommended navigating from the tail of Scorpius. More recently, after studying my star atlas, it was clear that navigating from the spout of the teapot asterism in Sagittarius was a better bet, especially from more northerly latitudes where only the top half of Scorpius is visible. About a year ago I started to wonder if it might be possible to see M6 from my North Wales site, latitude of 53 degrees, as the sky there stays remarkably dark right down to the horizon. At that latitude M6 should lie almost 5 degrees above a low horizon. Alas, such things are a rarity in North Wales! After several failed attempts last year and this, I celebrated success a couple of months back on 17th June. M6 was clearly visible as a faint fuzz in my 10x50 bins. By now I had graduated from the 130P to a Sky-Watcher Skyliner 250PX Dob. Looking through the Dob with a 17.3mm eyepiece, the cluster occupied a significant part of the 1 degree FOV. There was a suggestion of a "V" shape at its centre and a bright orange star (BM) glowed in the upper right of the eyepiece. I estimated M6 to be about 2 degrees above the hilly horizon so I knew straight away that M7 wouldn't be visible, as it lies 2.5 degrees further south than M6. Not yet beaten, I turned the Dob a few degrees west into Scorpius and with a "seat of the pants" navigation (due to a lack of any prominent star patterns) just managed to locate a faint M62 in Scorpius. A reconnaissance of the local area uncovered another suitable viewing spot a couple of miles away where I estimated the horizon was 2 degrees lower which, in theory, gave the opportunity to see M7. My first visit to this new site on 17th July was a disappointment as a band of thin, low lying cloud mostly obscured the area of interest. My next visit on 24th July was a different story. I arrived at 11:15 when M6 and M7 should have been at their highest, and set up poste-haste. The sky wasn't fully dark yet and the only star in the teapot asterism of Sagittarius I could see with the naked eye was Nunki, the top of the handle. Thanks to my success in June, I was able to navigate quickly using my 10x50 bins to M6, which again showed as a definite fuzz. I then swept around the teapot looking keenly for Kaus Australis, the base of the spout which was roughly the same declination as M7. To my surprise and excitement I found it, so I knew M7 was at least above the horizon. I then navigated from the top of the spout, still using my 10x50 bins, to where I reckoned I would find M7 and sure enough, a very faint fuzz appeared. I then dashed over to my Dob using the same eyepiece as previously, navigated through the finderscope, and there in the eyepiece was M7, occupying most of the FOV! I could discern a definite "V" shape with 4 stars in each arm on a west-east axis. Looking through the binoculars, I estimated M7 to be about 1.5 degrees above the horizon, which fitted with my previous calculations. I then mounted my Canon 500D on a tripod and fitted a 50mm f/1.7 lens. I took several photos of the teapot asterism (at ISO3200, 6 seconds exposure), hoping against hope to capture both M6 and M7 in the shots. When I got home I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I had been successful. By 12:45 the sky had darkened in the south such that the teapot asterism was now clearly visible to the naked eye. I then returned to my Dob, hoping to see the globular clusters of M69 (near the base of the spout), nearby M70 and M54 (near the base of the handle). I had success with each object: M69 and M70 were both faint fuzz balls, M54 was rather brighter but smaller. I then turned my attention further east with M55 in mind. I rehearsed star hopping with my bins a couple of times so that navigation with the Dob was straightforward. Looking through the eyepiece there was the mighty, but faint, globular cluster of M55. In the combined sessions of 17th June and 24th July I saw all the southerly Messiers for the first time from this country - and from a latitude close to that of home. These viewings gave me the satisfaction of having seen all Messiers from a latitude of 53 degrees or higher. So that is my story of the southerly Messiers. I wonder what tales of frustration and success other observers can share about their experiences seeking out these low-lying objects, especially from UK latitudes?
  8. Omega Nebula in Sagittarius ( Messier 17, NGC 6618 ). Visible to the naked eye the Omega Nebula, also known as the Swan, Horseshoe or Lobster Nebula, M17 is in the Milkyway and is aound 4200 light years distance from Earth Links: 500px.com/MikeODay photo.net/photos/MikeODay Details: RA 18h 22m, Dec -16deg 10'. Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount Orion Short Tube 80mm guide scope and auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector, UHC-S 'nebula' filter. Nikon D5300 (unmodified). Field of view (deg) ~ 1.35 x 0.90. 37 x 100 sec ISO800. Pixinsight & Photoshop 14 August 2015 - processed 3 Oct 2015
  9. Astrophotography Scrapbook Vol. 1 Cover Page Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius ( Messier 8, NGC 6523 ) The Fighting Dragons of Ara ( NGC 6188 ) War and Peace in Scorpius ( NGC 6357 ) Spiral Galaxy NGC 6744 in Pavo Ptolemy's Cluster in Scorpius ( Messier 7, NGC 6475 ) A Million Stars in the Deep South ( NGC 104, 47 Tucanae ) A Wishing Well in Carina ( NGC 3532 ) A Beehive in the Southern Sky ( NGC 2516 ) The Sliver Coin in Sculptor ( NGC 253 ) The Great Nebula in Orion ( Messier 42, NGC 1976 ) A Cluster of Pearls in Centaurus ( NGC 3766 ) - new 5 Dec resources: Scrapbook Template ------------------------------------- When I show my astrophotography images to my friends and family they invariably want to know what they are looking at. This led me to wonder if there was a way I could display my images on a single page together with a few notes on the target object as well as few technical details of the capture for those who might be interested. What I came up with a "scrapbook" like page that combines all of these three elements in a single PDF sheet ( or jpeg image) that ultimately I might combine together to form a PDF book that I can share online or send to friends and family. In the meantime, I thought I might post in this thread each page of my work-in-progress towards volume 1 of my Astrophotography Scrapbook. Any and all comments, observations, suggestions and constructive criticisms will be warmly received. Cheers Mike ps. The pages have been sized to fit full screen on an IPAD
  10. Clear skies at last! It's been a while since my last report but hopefully weather armageddon has now past us by and we can get out there doing what we do best. Due to early morning commitments, this was only a short binocular session but still satisfying none the less. I started with a quick check on Ursa Minor and yes, all stars were present and correct. The sky had moved substantially since my last session so I took a little time to familiarise myself with some old friends. M27 (the Dumbbell nebula) stood out quite well in Vulpecula, as did M29 and M39 in Cygnus. Overhead, the Milky Way appeared reasonably clear and it was very enjoyable just sweeping through the rich star fields. To the North-East, Casseopeia was beginning to rise. NGC 663 and M52 were both very obvious in the 15x70s. I couldn't see M32, once I had moved round to Andromeda but M31 filled a substantial part of my field of view. I have only ever seen the Andromeda companions in a scope. I wonder if anyone has managed them with a pair of binoculars. I then moved round to the Southern skies to test the sky out for future reference. In Scutum, M11 (the Wild Duck cluster) looked very nice but I couldn't find M26. To be fair, I didn't spend long looking.... there was Sagittarius (or at least the Northern half of it) just popping his head over the low-ish tree line. M22 was impressive, despite it being so low in the sky. Sadly, I wasn't sure if I could make out M28. Anything further South is impossible due to viewing restriction. M24 was not as clear as I had previously seen it but it is a fine starfield and tolerant of a bit of light thrown up by Medway, which is three miles to the South of me. North in a line from M24, I could find three fuzzies. First was the open cluster M18. I believe this has 20 - 25 members but the binoculars revealed just a very small fuzzy circle. Just North from there was a larger and easier fuzzy area to view. I look forward to getting M17 (the Omega nebula) in my scope sight. Further North again is M16 (the Eagle nebula) though obviously it was just the associated cluster that I could see. Nice to start the season with three new finds. I look forward to spending a little more time with Sagittarius. It is my favourite constellation. __________________________________________________ ______ Observing Session: Sunday 22nd July 2012, 23:30 hrs to 00:05 hrs BST VLM at Zenith: 5.4 New - Revisited - Failed
  11. Re-processed 12th August 2017 using the new PhotometricColorCalibration tool from Pixinsight. This function seeks to adjust the colour balance of the image by plate solving the image and comparing the colour of the stars in the image with the colour values for these stars as stored in various databases. ( please click / tap on image to see larger / sharper ) ................. Trifid Nebula ( M20, NGC 6514 ) I manged to capture another 60 odd 240sec images in late July to add to the data I captured at the end of June ( Trifid Nebula WIP ) Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius ( Messier 20, NGC 6514 ) ( please click / tap on image to see larger and sharper )' and a crop of the main part of the nebula ... I am quite pleased with how the colour balance turned out - especially the colours of the stars ( my goal has been to get the colours of the stars as close as I can to how they would look with "daylight" whitebalance and no light pollution / sky glow). ----------- "High Dynamic Range" ( HDR ) image of the Trifid Nebula - built from exposures ranging from 1/8 to 240 seconds in duration. Image details: from nova.astrometry.net: Size: 52.2 x 35.5 arcmins. Centre: 18h 2 min 30.8 sec, -22deg 57' 37.7''. Orientation: up is -88.2 East of North ( ie. E^ N> ). Telescope: Orion Optics CT12 Newtonian ( mirror 300mm, fl 1200mm, f4 ). Corrector: ASA 2" Coma Corrector Quattro 1.175x. Effective Focal Length / Aperture : 1410mm 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). Location: Blue Mountains, Australia Moderate light pollution ( pale green zone on darksitefinder.com map ). Capture: 12 sets of sub-images with exposure duration for each set doubling ( 1/8s to 240s ) all at ISO800. Processing: Calibration: master bias, master flat and no darks. Integration in 12 sets. 105 x 240sec main image. 5 each for exposures 1/8 to 120sec - to caputure highlights. HDR combination using Pixinsight's PixelMath function.
  12. I struggled with the colour balance with this one - the 'red' stars in the cluster are still too pink I think. Anyway it is as good as I have been able to get it so far... Bright Nebulae in Corona Australis with the Globula Cluster just over the border in Sagittarius ( NGC 6723, 6726, 6727, 6729 ). The complex of bright nebula reflects the light from nearby stars and shines out from an area of dense obscuring cloud 400 light years away in the constellation of Corona Australis. Their apparent neighbour in Sagittarius, the globula cluster NGC 6723, is in fact much further away with its light just now reaching us from 28,000 years ago. The bright star in the lower left, Epsilon Coranae Australis, is a yellow-white star twice the size of the Sun and is a relative stone's throw away at 99 light years distance from Earth. Links: 500px.com/MikeODay photo.net/photos/MikeODay Details: RA 19h 2m, Dec -36deg 40'. Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount Orion Short Tube 80mm guide scope & auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector & UHC-S 'nebula' filter. Nikon D5300 (unmodified). Field of view (deg) ~ 1.35 x 0.90. 20 x 200 sec, 20 x 15 sec, 20 x 7 sec, 20 x 3 sec, 20 x 1 sec, ISO800. Pixinsight & Photoshop taken 19 Sept 2015 (processed 5 Oct 2015)
  13. Bright Nebulae in Corona Australis with the Globula Cluster just over the border in Sagittarius ( NGC 6723, 6726, 6727, 6729 )..by Mike O'Day ( 500px.com/MikeODay ) The complex of bright nebula reflects the light from nearby stars and shines out from an area of dense obscuring cloud 400 light years away in the constellation of Corona Australis. Their apparent neighbour in Sagittarius, the globula cluster NGC 6723, is in fact much further away with its light just now reaching us from 28,000 years ago. The bright star in the lower right, Epsilon Coranae Australis, is a yellow-white star twice the size of the Sun and is a relative stone's throw away at 99 light years distance from Earth. Links: https://500px.com/MikeODay http://photo.net/photos/MikeODay Details: RA 19h 2m, Dec -36deg 40'. Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount.Orion Short Tube 80mm guide scope & auto guider - PHD2 Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector & UHC-S 'nebula' filter Nikon D5300 (unmodified) Field of view (deg) ~ 1.35 x 0.90 20 x 200 sec ISO 800 20 x 15 sec ISO 800 Pixinsight & Photoshop 11 September 2015 ( re-processed 5 Apr 2016 )
  14. So here it is. Inspired by the lyrical, but fascinating ramblings of more experienced members of SGL, I thought that I would have a go at writing an observing report myself. It is a bit daunting as all that I write nowadays is business reports and sound bites. Scope Nights was showing an unheard of unbroken blue line for last Thursday. All night clear! What unexpected joy!!!! It appeared a bit too late for any serious planning, but not to worry, a night under the stars was beckoning. As it was a school night and I would be needing my brain on Friday, I decided to get a couple of hours kip and rise at 1am as the moon was setting. So. Scope out, alarm set and then finally slipping into dreams of the forthcoming DSO (possibly bought on by a combination of too much cheese and the excitement of a clear night). 1am - Out of bed and out to my waiting scope. Stars! Deep joy!! Followed about 30 seconds later by frustration on discovering a heavily fogged up secondary mirror....... there followed ten minutes of clearing condensation. Which gave me ample time to plot my path across the heavens. At this point I noticed a low haze in the south. This was a shame, as I had hoped that the, yet to be explored Sagittarius was to be my "Main Event" for the night. Inevitably, by the time the scope was clear and columation tweaked, cloud had covered most of the sky. After a further 15 mins of sulking and a futile attempt to vent my spleen on the "Will this weather ever end" thread (even the WiFi was refusing to play), I noticed a hazy Antares peering through the cloud low to the south. Over the next few minutes, the muted glow became a beacon of amber hope as the arc of Scorpius emerged shining crisply over my garden hedge. And so to the observing. I decided to forsake the known beauty of M4 (an easy to find favourite glob) for the uncharted waters to the east towards Sagittarius. M19 and then directly down to M62 was the plan. A couple of fruitless casts failed to locate it. Then it came floating into view, clear as day. An open cluster with a bright nebula about 1/4 of a degree west! One of the loveliest things that I have seen at the eyepiece. It is worth pointing out at this stage that I use Stellarium as my guide when observing. It has very clear charts but gives no information save for object name and magnitude. It took me some time to work out that I had overshot massively and jumped straight to M21 and the Trifid Nebula!! The obligatory list: *** M21 & Trifid Nebula (M20) - A bright fairly tight open cluster with a couple of strands of bright stars trailing through towards the Nebula. All sitting comfortably in the same 1.25 field of view. The nebula was unmistakable in direct vision, with some texture and dark lanes with gaze averted. I'm looking forward to a revisit for the double at M21's center. M28 Globular Cluster - A random slew to the east whilst being confused about the identity of M21, brought the hazy M28 into view. Smaller, bright but not resolvable this could easily be mistaken for a galaxy. Still a nice sight. **M22 Globular Cluster - My goodness, if only I lived further south so that I could see this beauty high in the sky and in proper darkness!! Tightly packed and easily resolvable with hints of colours. I am assuming that the slight halo effect expending from the bright core would resolve into many more stars under dark skies. * M25 Open Cluster - Very nice, Plenty of bright stars of varying appearance (a bit like M35 but a bit tighter). ** Eagle Nebula (M16) - Bright, easy to find, everything that you want form a nebula! This one responded well to a UHC filter with a couple of defined regions visible and hints of more structure to come. There was a definite lightening of the sky by now - this would be great in the dark! ** Omega /Swan Nebula (M17) - Loads of bright stars and a clear bright "V" shaped core to the nebula with wispy hints that it extends far further than visible in the of the approaching dawn. M18 Open Cluster - About a degree south of the Omega Nebula lies this tight little cluster. Marking the approach to the, rather grandly named Sagittarius Star Cloud..... ** Sagittarius Star Cloud (M24) - @&£*%# &@?? - Stars everywhere! Fills the eyepiece. Not bright spectacular stars like those in the Pleiades, just hundreds and hundreds of them. Not much else to say about it really ..... A little window on the core of our galaxy. Izar Double - Getting really quite light now. So decided to head west (and up) to Bootles. I had dim memories of an SGL thread on Izar being a double that might prove interesting. Seeing wasn't the most stable, but I think that the lighter sky helped reduce the glare. With a bit of columation tinkering, I managed to get a clear split at 200x with only the merest hint of the spectacular colour difference that the writ-ups promise. It was still a really rewarding way to wrap up an evening. Thanks for sticking with my somewhat ham fisted attempts to describe one of my best night's viewings. The sheer diversity of sights and the fact that it rose from the wreckage of despondency when the clouds descended, made it all the better. Any tips for other non Messier treats in this area would be gratefully received. Paul PS. Hope that this isn't too long....
  15. Hi All, When I first moved out of the New Forest I was advised not to bother taking telescope. I'd always taken it for granted that there wasn't any point pursuing astronomy as a hobby from London because of the light pollution. People will tell you that you can't see faint messier objects, you can't see stuff near the horizon and you certainly can't see the Milky Way. In fact ordinarily this is what I'd tell but sometimes a night comes along that defies common experience, and last night changed every assumption I had about what can be seen from an urban park... Of course I do have certain natural advantages - I have exceptional peripheral vision and I don't quite live in London. Teddington is pretty dark by London standards and Bushy Park is a huge asset for an astronomer because you can get out from all the sodium lamps. The Northern horizon is always a write-off but the rest of the sky can be surprisingly good. Coupled with recent thunderstorms that have washed the sky clean of its usual load of dirt, I did have it particularly easy. Even when I was walking down, ST80 slung over the shoulder, I was surprised by just how clear it was. Even from street level I could make out all the priniciple stars of the summer triangle constellations, even faint little Sagitta showing up. Once in the park I was truly astounded because the Southern horizon, normally an impenetrable glow of pollutants, was as sharp as I could hope with the teapot clearly visible. With this in mind, I immediately set up and went hunting for something I'd always wanted to see, the Lagoon Nebula. I never expected to see it from London with such a small scope but within minutes I had it clear in the viewfinder. Another astronomical lifelong ambition achieved. The stars of the cluster sparkled on their pool of glowing nebulosity, shockingly easy to see. This, I could tell, was going to be an epic one. I followed the advice of another user, andrew63, and swept the area with my trusty Nikon bins too, so I was able to check and double check that I'd seen all these things. I went through Sagittarius and found the following: M8 (Lagoon Nebula) - Beautful, surpassed all expectations M17 (Omega Nebula) - Found this one harder with just a faint glow of nebulosity and no real structure. Better view with bins M18 - Maybe not the most visually spectacular cluster I found M20 (Trifid Nebula) - Best view was with the bins, although clearly visible nebulosity in the ST80 M21, M23, M25 - Again, best views with the bins, although I found M25 especially lovely in the scope M22 - Astounding sight, nice large glow of globular cluster. A superlative object and a new favourite along with M8 M24 - Ah, the advantages of widefield telescope... Countless stars to sweep through. M28 - A little disappointing. Maybe I misread but TL@O seems to confuse the position of this one and M22. After that I moved on up the sky towards Scutum. M11 is now a permanent fixture on any night, but tonight I saw structure in it, and it held up well to a little more magnification. Having never seen M26 I thought I'd "tick off" Scutum, and indeed I did find it, a faint sparkling patch next to delta. The Wild Ducks were still the main highlight. The next bit was something of a shock though, and feel free to be as disbelieving as you like. I wouldn't believe me either, except I grew up in the New Forest. I've always been slightly confused that seeing the Milky Way is such a big deal for people - where I grew up it was just... there. In August it was this ever-present glow down the middle of the sky, and out on the Forest it would start to resolve into its countless stars. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful sight, but I never appreciated how wonderful it is until I moved to London and couldn't see it. That is until I looked up, resting my eyes from the eyepiece, stared into the transparent sky above me and saw a faint, diffuse glow arching through Cygnus and on into Aquila. I had to blink, but I wasn't imagining it because it had a big dark rift in the middle but I was actually looking at the Milky Way while inside the M25. I don't think nights like that come along too often. I should be clear about this though, it was exceptionally faint, but it's something I've grown up with and can recognise a mile off (Or a few hundred parsecs anyway) so I knew exactly what it was. I also had to let the wife know I might be a little late home... I then went ever higher and had another crack at M27 which was a revelation - with averted vision and a bit of magnification it started to reveal some of its structure wonderfully. Am I really still within the GLA I wondered? Next logical step was the Ring Nebula, and with the stability of the sky I was able to power it right up to 80x (Pushing it with my scope) and had the best view of it I have managed, with the hole clear with averted vision - better even than when we were n Pembrokeshire. I took out my bins again and searched out M39 in Cygnus, a lovely little haze of stars. And on a galactic note I finished off by looking for Andromeda as it creeps ever higher in the sky. Although not brilliant, I could make out the shape of the galaxy clearly, and the core was nice and crisp. I was satisfied too to find M32 lurking beneath it. M110 will have to wait until our autumn trip to the West country though. So that wraps it up. My messier count is up to about 34, I managed to find an awful lot I'd never seen before, and I am now perfectly satisfied that, at least from the periphery, astronomy is a worthwhile hobby here in London. I doubt the Milky Way is a regular sight even in Bushy Park though... DD
  16. Omega Nebula in Sagittarius ( Messier 17 , NGC 6618 ) ( click on image to see larger ) Omega Nebula in Sagittarius ( Messier 17, NGC 6618 ). Visible to the naked eye the Omega Nebula (also known as the Swan, Horseshoe or Lobster Nebula) M17 is in the Milkyway and is aound 4200 light years distance from Earth. Links: 500px.com/MikeODay photo.net/photos/MikeODay Details: RA 18h 22m, Dec -16deg 10'. Skywatcher Quattro 10" f4 Newtonian. Skywatcher AZ Eq6 GT Mount Orion Short Tube 80mm guide scope & auto guider - PHD2. Baader MPCC Mark 3 Coma Corrector, UHC-S 'Nebula' filter. Nikon D5300 (unmodified). Field of view (deg) ~ 1.35 x 0.90. 37 x 100 sec ISO800. Pixinsight & Photoshop 14 August 2015 re-processed 8 Aug 2016 with current workflow.
  17. James

    MilkyWay

    From the album: La Palma

    Sagittarius and a chunk of the Milky Way... needs no introduction; plenty of DSO's in there!!! 10x 2 min @ISO3200, Canon 650D, tracked using a Vixen Polarie, 24-105 Sigma lens at f/4 at 35mm.

    © James Mackay

  18. From the album: Deep Sky Imaging

    This is a photo of the Milkyway around Sagittarius and the center of our galaxy. This image was taken with a unmodded Canon 7D and a 24-105mm Lens set at 24mm and consists of a stack of 18 x 20 second subs taken at ISO6400. No tracking, just a camera pointed up on a standard tripod. The night I was imaging this, Sagittarius was at near zenith on a particularly clear night.
  19. For deep sky observers and astrophotographers it simply is the stuff of dreams. In late April on an early morning imaging run I exposed the wonderful region of Sagittarius and southern Ophiuchus for what was my first good imaging session of the year. As many of you know, I still buck the trend of digital capture and prefer analog methods. I continue to produce wide-field images like this, perhaps as a reminder of how things were done in the glory days of film astrophotography (they truly were) when very few were doing serious work. Today there is an explosion in the population of astrophotographers, thanks to modern equipment. I am pleased to share this image, captured the old fashioned way. It was captured under the dark skies of my home in Maine, USA. An old Pentax 67 with a 165mm f/2.8 portrait lens set at f/4.8 and exposing Kodak Ektachrome 200 for 35 minutes using my Meade 2080 as the guiding platform. The Kodak transparency was push processed to gain effective speed and allow faint details to be rendered in brighter tones. The dynamic range of this film is phenomenal and proves that reciprocity failure, the cop out of many imagers to go digital, is a myth. To be fair, it is digital technology that allows this image to be processed to reveal just what it has stored in those thin layers of emulsion. When the film is gone, so are these images. They will be relegated to the ash heap of history. I hope you enjoy the image, a glimpse of a time gone by and surviving by a thread, in my freezer right next to the frozen peas.
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