Archive for February, 2016

Orion Nebula with the ASI 174MM

Posted in ASTRO on February 28, 2016 by maxpho

A month ago I’ve decided to recapture the Orion Nebula (M 42) with the 115mm APO Refractor. Last time I’ve used this refractor to image M 42, it was coupled with the ASI 120MM camera.

For this session I used the new ASI 174MM with a Baader RGB filter set. The result would have been far better if the location for the session would have been up in the mountains; but it wasn’t, and the light pollution kept blocking any faint light from the nebula to reach my camera…

Nevertheless, a nice view did emerge from the many thousands of frames acquired that night. The processing was done mostly to show the more intricate details inside the nebula, with no excessive color saturation or increased brightness.


Setup and method: Teleskop Service 115mm F/7 APO Refractor with ZWO ASI 174MM camera, on SkyWatcher EQ 6 mount with normal tracking (no guiding).

Exposures for Luminance (UV/IR-cut filter): 13x20sec, 100x8sec, 1000x2sec, 1000×0.5sec. Exposures for RGB: 100x1sec each channel.

So only short exposures for this image. Next time I have a chance I’ll try a different approach for the acquisition part (some long exposures perhaps).

The same night I got a fast glance at the Leo I galaxy near Regulus. Same equipment but no RGB sequence this time, only 20×20 seconds with no filter. Some stars from this faint galaxy are visible, as are some other small galaxies around the field of view:

Leo I.jpg

The above result is a good reason for me to plan for a longer session with this object in the near future.


First six and eight-legged creatures in 2016

Posted in Comana on February 21, 2016 by maxpho

As I’ve mentioned in the previous post, some unusual high temperature values were recorded in the first part of February this year (up to +22 degrees Celsius). This allowed for some of the invertebrates that hibernated (either as adults or as larvae) during December and January, to get outside for a quick warm-up. I’ve encountered some of these creatures during brief drives in the Comana Woods, south of Bucharest, in the first half of February. Some small snow patches were still present, and they did make great backgrounds.

“Ice spider”:



And another species, this time on a more “normal” terrain:



spider 5.jpg

Some flies were also present:




And the first flowers of 2016 in the woods, a few days from opening:


A superb debut of the Spring, but a bit too early…



Zerynthia polyxena – February 21, 2016

Posted in Evenimente, Experimente, Specii rare on February 21, 2016 by maxpho

One of my “back to Nature” activities (involving breeding some insect species for re-population of areas that had these species which are now critically endangered) is up and running well I might say:

ZERY 1.jpg

This year’s species is Zerynthia polyxena, one of the most beautiful butterflies in Europe, and one of the earliest ones to emerge in March.  Last year I’ve reared almost a hundred caterpillars of this species, collected either as larvae or egg from two locations with very large populations (one of the locations had around 1000 larvae !!). The reason for this was to repopulate one area that had the species until a few years ago (but was eradicated due to very stupid and fast urbanization) and to increase the very fast declining numbers of individuals at another location (the very stupid way that agriculture is done is the main reason for this population’s decline).

Of course I had to make a few investigations regarding the future habitats where the butterflies will be released, and as for any other projects of this kind, I can only hope that the locations I have in mind will remain the same for some time (that is, not to be destroyed by humans in the next 5-10 years at least).

At the moment, due both to very warm temperatures for this period of the year (+15 to +20 degrees Celsius!!) and a warm winter from my part (the location for the butterfly pupae had temperatures above 10 degrees Celsius in December and January), some of the individuals have started to emerge. This is good but not very good, since their host plant is still mostly underground at the predicted locations. I have to ensure some good conditions for this adults until I’ll release them back to Nature.

For now, a few shots with some of the freshly emerged butterflies:

ZERY 2.jpg

ZERY 3.jpg

ZERY 4.jpg