The Hercules Cluster of Galaxies

Spring is typically the time of year for galaxy hunting. So why not try to capture as many galaxies as possible in one single frame? When you point your telescope in between the constellations of Hercules and Serpens you might come pretty close to the expectations.
The Hercules Cluster of Galaxies contains about 200 member galaxies, some 500 million light-years distant, with a wide range of mostly spiral galaxies, a smaller number of elliptical galaxies, and a healthy collection of colliding galaxies. This image clearly shows the contrasting colors of younger star forming galaxies which are primarily blue, while older galaxies are mostly yellow.

Hercules Cluster or Abel 2151

Telescope: 16″ f3.75 Dream Scope
Camera: FLI ML16803
Mount: ASA DDM85
Exposure: 75x5min L + 35x5min each for RGB
Date: March – April 2017
Location: Southern Alps, France

Data acquisition: Karel Teuwen and Bart Delsaert
Processing: Bart Delsaert

Update May 2nd, 2017: I’ve created an inverted, annotated image of the area. The annotations are coming from the NGC, IC and PGC catalogues. The PGC catalogue goes up to magnitude 18, but you can clearly see a lot of much fainter galaxies without catalogue number.

NGC3718: This galaxy is twisted – revisited

About three years ago I posted a picture of NGC3718, which I took from my suburban, light polluted, home observatory. Here’s a link to that post.
As second light from my remote observatory I revisited this peculiarly shaped galaxy but now with better equipment and, most importantly, far better skies. I think the differences are obvious.

NGC3718

Telescope: 16″ f3.75 Dream Scope
Camera: FLI ML16803
Mount: ASA DDM85
Exposure: 63x5min L + 20x5min each for RGB
Date: March – April 2017
Location: Southern Alps, France

And here’s a cutout:

First light of my remote observatory

Two months ago I had the opportunity to acquire a remote controlled observatory from a friend who is now in the final stages of setting up an observatory in Chile. The observatory is in a small hamlet in the southern Alps in France where the skies are really dark (SQM 21.6-21.8 typically) and where there are a lot of clear nights during the year.
On the rare occasions of me smiling, my mouth moves a millimeter or two. So on the picture below you can see I’m really, really happy.

 

And here’s the first light, the Pinwheel galaxy, or M101.

 Telescope: 16″ f3.75 Dream Scope
Camera: FLI ML16803
Mount: ASA DDM85
Exposure: 67x5min L + 22x5min each for RGB
Date: March – April 2017
Location: Southern Alps, France

Some widefield leftovers from the Haute Provence

When I was in France end of September my CMOS camera was attached to my refractor (see previous post). In parallel I used my Canon 6D(a) – Samyang 135mm f2 – Star Adventurer combo to make some widefield pictures of some well known constellations. Some of these pictures are multiple frame mosaics, so please click on the pictures to view these in full format (and count the stars)
cepheus-cassiopeia

Dusty fields from Cassiopeia to Cepheus

auriga

Constellation of Auriga, also needs some dusting

cassiopeia

The “W” asterism in Cwassiopeia

orion

I tried to capture the bright star Sirius nicely in the middle but misaligned a bit. Fortunately I got some nice nebula and dust in the frame.  (shot with 35mm lens)

Results from my astrophotography week in the south of France

During the last week of September I had the opportunity, for the fourth consecutive year, to go with a group of people to the south of France in the Haute Provence where I could dedicate 100% of my time to astrophotography. The weather could have been better, but worse too. We could enjoy two full nights of really dark skies. During the first few nights there was still a waning moon. On other nights we could enjoy some clear skies for a few hours.  It was also the first time I had the opportunity to test my new CMOS-based camera under dark skies, setting it to high gain and many, many short exposures. I also worked in parallel: My CMOS camera was mounted on my telescope while my DSLR captured some widefield pictures. These pictures I still need to process. So here are the first results:
lbn437_lrgb

LBN437 & Sh2-126 in Lacerta

Telescope: Takahashi FSQ106ED @ f/3.6 f=385mm
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-C
Mount: Losmandy G11
Guiding: OAG with Lodestar
Exposure: 370x60sec L + 60x60sec R + 60x60sec G + 60x60sec B
Date: September 28th-29th, 2016
Location: Montlaux, France

ldn1251

LDN1251 in Cepheus

Telescope: Takahashi FSQ106ED @ f/5 f=530mm
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM-C
Mount: Losmandy G11
Guiding: OAG with Lodestar
Exposure: 240x60sec L + 60x60sec R + 60x60sec G + 60x60sec B
Date: September 26th-27th, 2016
Location: Montlaux, France