Saturday, April 24, 2021

Leo Triplet - Hamburger with faint tail?

Located in the constellation of Leo this set of three galaxies (NGC 3628, M65, M66) is a very popular target during galaxy season (mid-April through May) for astrophotographers. All three galaxies are close enough to be interacting with each other but only NGC 3628 and M66 are noticeably distorted. M66 is the closest galaxy at 33 million light-years (bottom left), while M65 is the next closest at 35 million light-years (bottom right), and NGC 3628 is the farthest at 40 million light-years.

My original image of this was from over four years ago and this time around I was most interested in the rarely captured tidal tail coming off the left-side of NGC 3628 (a.k.a. The Hamburger Galaxy). I was not aware of this tail until I read an article on the Leo Triplet in the April 2021 issue of Sky & Telescope. Tidal tails consist of stars and gas formed during close encounters of two galaxies. In this case, NGC 3628 and M66, which had their closest encounter at only 82,000 light-years 800 mya . The tail extends a whopping 300,000 light-years and there is a recently discovered dwarf galaxy (Leo-TDG) at the end. I was not confident that I would get anything in my borderline Bortle 5 sky, however, there are some hints of it if you look closely, especially near the upper corner of the galaxy (Yay - it is not a failure). The dwarf galaxy would be off the image even if it were visible. I like the prominent dust lane that bisects this galaxy into two halves (or buns holding the hamburger). One other noteworthy thing with NGC 3628 is a small fuzzy blob just below the the central portion of the galaxy - it is not clear what this is, but Halton Arp, American Astronomer and author of Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies believed they were material ejected from the core.

I thought M65 and M66 both came out well and their central structures are well detailed - much better than I was expecting. All three of these galaxies are disturbed somewhat and are included in Dr. Arp's catalog (There you Gary Imm, I finally did some Arp objects). I thought about posting these separately but thought I might be pushing it with my refractor and they are already cropped a bit so I lift it alone.


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Leo Triplet
Dates: 4-3, 4-4, 4-5, 4-6, 4-7, 4-8
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro
Telescope: Astro-Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm
f/7
Focal Reducer: 0.8x AstroTech Field Flatterner/Focal Reducer
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: ZWO EFW 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO L, R, G, B
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope/ZWO 60mm Guidescope
Exposure: L 367 x 60, R 97 x 60, G 99 x 60, B 102 x 60
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: 8 C
Processing: NINA, PixInsight, Photoshop, Topaz DeNoiseAI.

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Friday, April 16, 2021

Making a Natural Color Image From Narrowband Data (HaGO) Process by Dylan O’Donnell

I did a quick processing of my 2021 narrowband version of IC2177 - Seagull Nebula using a color palette developed by Dylan O’Donnell. This palette was developed to mimic natural color rather than the psychedelic color scheme of SHO images. Basically Ha is put into the red channel, OIII is put into the blue channel, and broadband green is used for the green channel. Dylan was asking for examples using his technique. Ideally I would have collected more green but it is what I had. It certainly looks closer to a natural color scheme. Since I was able to do a real RGB image, I was able compare the star colors with the HaGO image. To me it looks like they match pretty well.






IC 2177 - Seagull Nebula
Dates: 2-21, 2-23, 3-4, 3-5, 3-7, 3-9, 3-10, 3-12, 3-13, 3-14, 3-15, 3-19, 3-20, 3-21, 3-23
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro
Telescope: Astro-Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm
f/7
Focal Reducer: 0.8x AstroTech Field Flatterner/Focal Reducer
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: ZWO EFW 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO Ha, OIII, G
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope/ZWO 60mm Guidescope
Exposure: Ha 91 x 240, OIII 82 x 240, G 35 x 60
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: 0 C
Processing: NINA, PixInsight, Photoshop, Topaz DeNoiseAI.

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

M44 - Praesepe (Beehive Cluster)

M44 is an open star cluster in the constellation Cancer approximately 610 light-years from our sun.  As one of the closest star clusters to Earth it has been recognized since Roman times. It is relatively young, like most open clusters, at 600 million years and spans about 15 light-years with about 1000 stars. Its location in the night sky at halfway between Gemini and Leo makes it a very popular object for astrophotographers in the Northern hemisphere during spring time. The large yellow red-giants make a pleasant contrast to the more abundant brighter hot blue main sequence stars. Also scattered in this image are very tiny galaxies which if you look closely can detect. One such galaxy, PGC24400, is located in the lower central portion of the image and there are at least five others scattered throughout.


I really like clusters but you would never know it since I rarely do them. In fact I have only done this once before over five years ago - this image is far superior to that image. So I did not originally intend on doing 7.5 hours for this cluster but am glad I did. The moon was out for part of it and I was also doing other objects which were not up yet so it was very convenient.



M44 - Praesepe (Beehive Cluster)
Dates: 3-29, 3-30, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5, 4-6
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro
Telescope: Astro-Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm
f/7
Focal Reducer: 0.8x AstroTech Field Flatterner/Focal Reducer
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: ZWO EFW 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO L, R, G, B
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope/ZWO 60mm Guidescope
Exposure: L 168 x 60, R 94 x 60, G 91 x 60, B 96 x 60
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: 5 C
Processing: NINA, PixInsight, Photoshop, Topaz DeNoiseAI.

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Saturday, April 3, 2021

NGC 3169, NGC 3166, NGC 3165, and NGC 3156

NGC 3169, NGC 3166, NGC 3165, and NGC 3156 are all cosmic neighbors approximately 75 million light-years away in the constellation of Sextans.  The two largest members, NGC 3169 (left center) and NGC 3166 (right center), are interacting and they are estimated to be only 160,000 light-years apart.  NGC 3165 is the small galaxy oriented vertically just to the right of NGC 3166 and NGC 3156 is a lenticular galaxy shown on the lower right.  I did pull some detail but not as much as I would have liked as all of these galaxies are on the smaller size for my setup.  NGC 3169 is an asymmetric unbarred spiral galaxy with a very noticeable dust lane as seen even on my image and home to a couple of supernova events in the last 50 years.  

I did crop it quite a bit but there is only so much you can do, that is why they invented bigger telescopes.  Fortunately the wide field has a lot to offer such as other galaxies scattered throughout and also a colorful starfield.  I have been processing nebulae for months now and this was a delightful change. 


NGC 3169, NGC 3166, NGC 3165, and NGC 3156
Dates: 3-19, 3-20, 3-22
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro
Telescope: Astro-Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm
f/7
Focal Reducer: 0.8x AstroTech Field Flatterner/Focal Reducer
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: ZWO EFW 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO L, R, G, B
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope/ZWO 60mm Guidescope
Exposure: L 176 x 60, R 85 x 60, G 58 x 60, B 79 x 60
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: 5 C
Processing: NINA, PixInsight, Photoshop, Topaz DeNoiseAI.

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Thursday, April 1, 2021

IC 2177 - Seagull Nebula Closeup (SHO)

This is the second image of IC 2177 that I posted recently.  The first image was an HaRGB combination taken with a Canon T3i/600d and 200mm lens whereas this SHO combination was taken with my Astro-Tech 115 Refractor and ZWO ASI1600.  The nebula is nearly 240 light-years across and is 3800 light-years away on the border of Monoceros and Canis Major.  I really like the dense strands in a wispy cloud structure around the head of the Seagull.  The region around the eye socket, a.k.a. NGC 2327, is very interesting as not only it contains a cluster whose brightest star (HD 53367) lights-up the head but also dark nebula that forms a narrow channel from the edge to the socket.


I also find the swirling gas that forms the golden frame of the wings really interesting.  The hardest part was bringing out the blue oxygen-rich regions as they had the most inherent noise.  Unfortunately this nebula does not get that high in the sky and worse yet, most of the light pollution in my area is to the south.  I keep trying different methods to bring in the RGB stars and this was done with four steps.  The first was making a mask PS using Astronomy Tools select bright stars followed by a second pass with more exposure.  The result was pretty good with very tiny stars which some people probably would prefer.  I like slightly larger stars so I did a combination using PixelMath in PI after several iterations - this brought back the star cluster NGC 2343 in the lower left which was less noticeable after the first step.  Finally, I did a combination of with the image after the second pass to smooth in the stars to the nebula for the final image.


Dates: 2-21, 2-23, 3-4, 3-5, 3-7, 3-9, 3-10, 3-12, 3-13, 3-14, 3-15, 3-19, 3-20, 3-21, 3-23

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IC 2177 - Seagull Nebula
Dates: 2-21, 2-23, 3-4, 3-5, 3-7, 3-9, 3-10, 3-12, 3-13, 3-14, 3-15, 3-19, 3-20, 3-21, 3-23
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro
Telescope: Astro-Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm
f/7
Focal Reducer: 0.8x AstroTech Field Flatterner/Focal Reducer
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: ZWO EFW 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO Ha, OIII, SII, R, G, B
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope/ZWO 60mm Guidescope
Exposure: Ha 91 x 240, OIII 82 x 240, SII 89 x 240, R 58 x 60, G 35 x 60, B 37 x 60
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: 0 C
Processing: NINA, PixInsight, Photoshop, Topaz DeNoiseAI.

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

IC 2177 - Seagull Nebula Widefield (HaRGB)

IC 2177 (a.k.a. Seagull Nebula) is on the border of the constellations of Monoceros (The Unicorn) and Canis Major (The Great Dog) approximately 3700 light-years away.  This very popular object is a thick cloud of mainly hydrogen gas and dust spans over 100 light-years.  The head is illuminated by the bright star, HD 53367, located in the eye socket while other young stars in the region supply the radiation necessary for the reddish glow of the rest of the nebula.

I used a Canon 200mm lens with my old T3i/600d modified to capture this widefield shot and was a little disappointed not to get more surrounding nebulosity.  On the other hand this object sits low in the sky facing the most light polluted direction from my yard so it is not totally surprising.  I used the Astronomik 12nm clip-in filter to collect the most of the nebulosity and also the Astronomik Ultra High Contrast filter (UHC) for the RGB data.  UHC filters aren't considered true narrowband filters but are the most restrictive broadband (i.e. most NB of the broadband).  They let in a range, rather than a specific wavelength, that covers OIII and Hb and a second range that covers Ha and SII.  they were popular a few years back however have now been replaced by filters such as the L-Enhance, L-Extreme, and Triad which really are narrowband filters for one-shot color (OSC) cameras.  I left it as a widefield image as I like how it faces the star cluster, M50, on the left - it looks like it is staring at it.

I will have a higher resolution narrowband of the head region taken with my telescope soon.


IC 2177 - The Seagull Nebula
Dates: 2-20-21, 3-2-21, 3-4-21, 3-7-21, 3-9-21
Camera: Canon T3i/600D modified
Lens: Canon 200mm f/2.8L II USM
Focal Length: 200mm
f/3.5
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter: Astronomik Ha Clip-in, Astronomik UHC Clip-in 
Autoguiding: None
Exposure: Ha 229 x 60, UHC 132 x 60
Temp: -2 C
Processing: PixInsight, Photoshop, Topaz DeNoiseAI.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

IC 443 - Jellyfish Nebula

IC 443, a.k.a. SH2-248, is commonly called the Jellyfish nebula for its similar appearance to the marine sea creature.  It is a giant supernova remnant (SNR) located approximately 5000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Gemini.  The exact age is uncertain, however, it is believed that the supernova event that produced what we see now occurred some 3,000 to 30,000 years ago.  Recent research from the Chandra X-ray observatory indicates that the explosion that formed the nebula also created a neutron star or pulsar and further suggest the age is likely tens of thousands of years old making the 30,000 year old age more likely. 


My favorite parts of this nebula are the stringers at the base of the main body and the high density area on the top left side of the main body where it seems to explode outward.  I was imaging this for quite a while starting when the moon was out capturing a couple hours or so per night for a total of 12 nights.  Of course I had to trash quite a few sub frames due to the marvelous Connecticut sky conditions.  Processing was straight forward and I did few new things that I picked up from others.  I like removing the stars with Starnet++ but I always have trouble putting them back but this time I think I did OK.  I have to Starnet++ the old fashioned, through Windows, as the last time PixInsight updated it stopped working.

Dates: 2-4-21, 2-5-21, 2-8-21, 2-9-21, 2-20-21, 2-25-21, 3-1-21, 3-2-21, 3-3-21, 3-4-21, 3-5-21

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IC 443 - Jellyfish Nebula (a.k.a. SH2-248)
Dates: 2-4-21, 2-5-21, 2-8-21, 2-9-21, 2-20-21, 2-25-21, 3-1-21, 3-2-21, 3-3-21, 3-4-21, 3-5-21
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro 
Telescope: Astro-Tech AT115EDT 115mm Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 805mm
f/7
Focal Reducer: 0.8x AstroTech Field Flatterner/Focal Reducer
Mount: Orion Sirius
Filter Wheel: ZWO EFW 8 x 1.25"
Filter: ZWO Ha, OIII, SII, R, G, B
Focuser: ZWO EAF
Autoguiding: ASI120 Mini attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope/ZWO 60mm Guidescope
Exposure: Ha 72 x 240, OIII 72 x 240, SII 73 x 240, R 40 x 60, G 40 x 60, B 40 x 60
Gain: 139
Offset 21
Temp: -2 C
Processing: NINA, PixInsight, Photoshop, Topaz DeNoiseAI.

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