Ice Stars – January 8, 2017

Posted in ASTRO on January 8, 2017 by maxpho

I’m in hibernation mode…

No clear skies for some time now, lots of snow, very cold, not much to do…

It’s the perfect time to take a few shots of…snowflakes.

These images were all taken from my balcony, on a microscope slide that I’ve placed  outside my window for a few minutes at -10 degrees Celsius.

Equipment: Canon 550D with a SMC Pentax M 1:2.8 28mm inverted lens, 60mm extension tubes and Nissin MF18 Macro ring flash.

Note the lovely rainbow colors at the edges and small features of the flakes.









Horsehead Nebula – 2016/2017

Posted in ASTRO on January 4, 2017 by maxpho

My final result of the Horsehead Nebula (also known as Barnard 33) in Orion. For now at least. Next time I will image this object it will be in the light of hydrogen. For now, this is what 80 minutes (192 frames, each a 25 seconds exposure) of unfiltered data looks like under good conditions (mag +6 sky):


And a smaller version, this time together with the Flame Nebula. This is a two-frame mosaic, resized to 70%.


A crop 100% size, mosaic. A different processing workflow was used:


And the Flame nebula, reworked:


NGC 891 and friends -January 2, 2017

Posted in ASTRO on January 3, 2017 by maxpho

NGC 891 is an interesting edge-on galaxy found in the constellation of Andromeda. It is “only” 30-million light years away.

Not a difficult object to observe at the eyepiece, even in small instruments. I’ve observed the galaxy at 40x magnification before starting the image acquisition, and the highly elongated shape is easily visible. Unfortunately, no dark lane observable through the 4.5 inch refractor, but I know that the dust lane is reserved to telescopes of at least 8 inches in diameter.

The interesting fact about the following image is that not only NGC891 is well visible, but many more faint galaxies are imaged all around the frame. Some go as faint as magnitude +18, some perhaps fainter.

So, the image (quite large). Note that the stars towards the corners of the image are quite elongated, due to a incorrect distance of the imaging camera from the field flattener (I shall correct that!).


And some of the more interesting galaxies in the field, with their “proper” names and magnitudes:


Spending a bit more time with the above image, I’ve determined the limiting stellar magnitude in the image (+20.5), and also found out that I’ve captured the light of the two dwarf satellites of NGC 891, one of which (dwB) has a very low surface brightness and a magnitude (R) of +17.98! This is good news for me, imaging such a dim object with a rather small refractor and camera setup.

More about the two dwarf satellites can be found HERE.

And the identification:

two dwarf satellites.jpg

Star Trails at Runcu Stone – January 1, 2017

Posted in ASTRO, Uncategorized on January 2, 2017 by maxpho

A first post on this blog for 2017: a long 2-hour exposure acquired by my wife during one of our trips to Runcu Stone (Dambovita County), on the first of January 2017. She used a Canon 550D at ISO 3200 and 1 minute long subs, with a Samyang 8mm fisheye lens, all on a small tripod. I’ve only did the processing. The intense light pollution at lower right comes from the city of Sinaia.



Mars-Neptune conjunction and comet 45P – December 31, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on January 1, 2017 by maxpho

My last astro-shots for 2016: the close conjunction of Mars and Neptune and one final shot of comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, both acquired under superb conditions at Runcu Stone, Dambovita county.

First shot shows Mars and Neptune in Capricornus in a region with a few faint galaxies. Neptune’s Triton is also detectable in the image:


Next, comet 45P imaged at an altitude of 9 to 7 degrees. Very low above the horizon but the great conditions allowed for detecting its splitting tail and a disconnecting event. The comet was well visible in 15×80 binos and a 9×50 finder.

45P Dec 31.jpg

Also, a test image of M31 with the TS 65Q APO Refractor. Some problems with the field-flattener lens and stacking issues (see the image below, left-side area), so I’ve ended up with a cropped and downsized image. The issues were resolved eventually, but for now this is the only shot using this setup. Since this image was acquired, I’ve also solved my guiding problems (using PHD and a 200mm F.L. finder scope with the ASI174MM camera), and test shots at 800mm FL with the ASI1600MM shot pinpoint stars at 5 minutes (with no binning). The following imaging sessions at Runcu Stone will produce some nice results I hope.

So the M 31 image, with an inverted view. I like the “black-hole” effect on the right hand image.


The Rosette, the Horsehead and comet Johnson – December 30, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on December 31, 2016 by maxpho

Another trip to the Runcu Stone location in Dambovita County, under rather dark skies. This time I had a mag +6 sky at my disposal, with a few meteors and a lovely horizon-to-horizon Milky Way.

There were many subjects to choose from, but my list resumed to three: the Rosette nebula, the Horsehead nebula and comet Johnson.

First, the end result showing Rosette with its open cluster (NGC 2244) in black-and-white:


And a color version, with data from 2014 acquired with a small 65mm refractor and Canon 550D DSLR:


Now, the Horsehead nebula, with a geostationary satellite streak. This is work in progress, but I don’t know when I will revisit this object:


And the last object, the small comet Johnson, located at the moment near the Ursa Major / Bootes border:

C2015 V2.jpg

M1, Hubble’s Nebula and M41 – December 27,2016

Posted in ASTRO on December 28, 2016 by maxpho

Another session with my brother-in-law and the ASI1600MM, and this time my first “nicer” shot: the M1 “Crab Nebula” in Taurus.

The equipment: 115mm F/7 APO Refractor with field-flattener and ASI1600MM with no filter. The EQ6 mount was  self guiding after an initial 3-star alignment; this allowed for pinpoint stars at 20 seconds of exposure, but 25 to 30 seconds shots were also possible. The conditions were not the best at all: suburban sky, mag +5.0 visual, some wind, and -6 Celsius.

Despite these, the following shot presents some nice structural details inside “the Crab” and also five asteroids from mag +17 to +18.3 in the field (thanks to Adrian Sonka I was able to identify them as well):


Despite catching five asteroids in the field, many more were too dim for my setup and conditions to image. To put thing into perspective, here are the positions of known asteroids in the field of view at the moment of acquisition:


And a closer view of the nebula, with an inverted view, for better discerning the filaments inside the nebula:

Crab detail.jpg

Despite being a rather short total exposure under suburban skies, the image turned up pretty nice; this is also my very first image of this object…

Another shot, this time a second run at this object, showing Hubble’s Variable Nebula with some distinct changes (especially close to its source-star), compared to the December 2 image:

Huble Comp.jpg

And an animation:

Hubble anim.gif

And a last shot for this session, only 3 frames each a 20-second image, of the open star cluster Messier 41: