Archive for December, 2016

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:


Comet 45P Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova – December 25, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on December 26, 2016 by maxpho

A new session with this nice comet at sunset. Very low above the horizon, but this time presenting a nice tail. Again this comet was used also as a test subject: the ASI1600MM coupled this time with the small 65 mm APO Refractor. It turns out that this combination is actually great for wide-field deep-sky imaging.

First, the comet:

45P on stars.jpg

Comet 45P.jpg

And since my brother in-law was with me and we were both wanting to see some other objects, I’ve decided to get some very-short exposures of a few other targets.

For example, with the limiting visual magnitude of +5.4 at zenith, we could see rather well the Andromeda galaxy; so the conditions were quite good for my suburban location.

One of the targets was galaxy NGC 7331 together with the nearby small galaxy cluster “Stephan’s Quintet” and many other small galaxies scattered in the field. Some galaxies are mag. +15 !!! That is something, considering that only 10 frames were stacked, each a 20 seconds exposure. 3 minutes and 20 seconds of total exposure for mag +15 on suburban skies with a 65 mm refractor !


Of course, for a good image, I would need something like 200 or 500 frames; but for now, I believe the results are very promising.

One other subject: M 52 open star cluster together with the Bubble Nebula. Only about 3  minutes was the total exposure time.


ASI 1600 MM – First light

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2016 by maxpho

Santa was good with me this year again, and gave me a new astro-camera: the ASI 1600MM.

However, the First Light shots were acquired in poor conditions, with lots of fog and low temperatures (-5 Celsius).

The main subject was comet 45P Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, which for now sits very low above the South-Western horizon. An elongated coma and a ghost tail may be glimpsed in the following shot.


And since this was first light, I’ve also decided to image the “Double Cluster”:

Double cluster.jpg

This small-format, 16 Megapixels camera will surely be put to serious testing the following weeks 😉

Santa’s location finally confirmed

Posted in ASTRO, Uncategorized on December 23, 2016 by maxpho

After years of imaging the Moon, with no strange phenomena observed (no UFOs, no strange alien structures and no giant messages found on the lunar surface), I’ve finally found something interesting in one of my recent shots: the true location of Santa Claus!!!

It seems that he is well adapted to the cold weather near crater Posidonius. So well adapted that he doesn’t even wear shoes! Just enjoying the live-show that humanity presents to him, and wondering “When will earthlings come back here and save me the trip to that hot blue ball of theirs?”

Merry Christmas!


Lunar features at almost Full Moon – December 13, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on December 16, 2016 by maxpho

It is not always that I take shots during Full Moon. Especially High Resolution images. This happens because the details are usually washed out by the intense light and since the illumination doesn’t  allow for any shadows, no small details are easily detectable.

However, since I was planning for some limb images, I’ve decided to take a few shots of the in-disc details as well. The seeing was poor, but some small details are detectable.

The following shots presents Vallis Alpes and the nearby mountains; note that the small rille inside Vallis Alpes is visible in some areas, due to white material deposited onto its walls.


And a comparison with an image of the same area under more favorable illumination (image acquired back in September 2015):

vallis comp.jpg

MARE HUMBOLDTIANUM – December 13, 2016

Posted in ASTRO on December 14, 2016 by maxpho

Good illumination and favorable libration made imaging Mare Humboldtianum rather easy on an almost Full Moon night and -8 Celsius. Of course the seeing did not approve…again.