NGC5371 and Hickson 68

Compact Galaxy Groups have always been of interest to astronomers ever since Stephan discoverd his famous Stephan’s Quintet in 1877. The Hickson Compact Galaxy Groups were compiled by Paul Hickson and published in his Atlas of Compact Groups of Galaxies in 1994. There are exactly 100 entries. NGC 5371 is a face-on spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici. NGC 5371 (which also seems to be known as NGC 5390) is a symmetrical face-on Sbc barred spiral galaxy at a distance of 100 million light years. This galaxy with Hickson Galaxy Group 68 makes up the Big Lick Galaxy Group.

NGC5371 (left) and Hickson 68 (right)

Telescope: 16″ f3.75 Dream Scope
Camera: FLI ML16803
Mount: ASA DDM85
Exposure: 58x5min L + 17x5min each for RGB
Date: April – May 2017
Location: Southern Alps, France

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)
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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

Trip to Rhodos

During the first half of July my family and I had our summer holiday and this year we decided to go to Rhodos. I must admit that the presence of dark skies is part of the selection criteria 🙂  The touristic north side of the island is not suited for astrophotography. However, a 1 hour drive with our rental car took us to the hills inland. The spot I selected, using the light pollution maps, was south of the little village Laerma. During the three nights I spent under the dark skies, there was only 1 visitor, a nosey hedgehog. Here are some results. All pictures were taken with the same setup: a tripod with a Skywatcher Star Adventurer mounted on top, a modified Canon 6D and a Samyang 135mm f2 lens @ f2.4. All the pictures are a stack of 50 to 90 frames of 60s at ISO1600. The north latitude of 36° offers better views on more southern constellations like Scorpius and Sagittarius this time of year. Feel free to count the stars and let me know so I can check the level of precision of the star counting algorithm of my image processing software Pixinsight.

Antares-region-and-Saturn_small

Rho Ophiochi in Scorpius. Saturn at top center is photobombing the scene.

North-America-and-Sadr_small

North America nebula & Sadr area in Cygnus

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IC1396 area in Cepheus

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Lagoon and Triffid nebulae region

Hear_and_Soul_region_small

Heart and Soul nebulae @ the Double Cluster in Cassiopeia

Aquila_small

Aquila area in our Milky Way

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Altair area in our Milky Way

tom-and-milky-way

My son Tom joined me for one night and managed to stand still during this 60s 1 frame exposure. A Samyang 14mm f2.8 lens was used for this picture.

Jupiter, April 5th 2016

Jupiter is almost a month past opposition and getting smaller but still reasonable in angular size (43″). The seeing was rather good that early evening and it shows in the end result. It’s also my first real try with WinJupos where I derotated and combined 5 RGB series of 3x40s each.

2016-04-05-1913_9-223859-2

Telescope: Celestron C14 f=7040mm
Camera: ZWO ASI120MM
Mount: Mesumount 2
Guiding: none
Date: 19u25m UT, April 5th, 2016
Location: Overijse, Belgium

Edit April 30th: April has been a good month for planet photography with many clear skies and relative good seeing. Here’s a composition of my three best resuults of the month. I tried to process the images in a similar way to get uniform results.

Jupiter_overview

Jupiter and the transits of Io and Ganymede

The seeing was fair on March 16th and so I took the time to capture the transit of moons Io and Ganymede across the surface of Jupiter. At the start of this animation grey Ganymede is already in front of Jupiter’s surface and more difficult to see. On the right Europa is getting eclipsed by our solar system’s giant planet. Later on Io’s shadow is catching up with Ganymede’s. The animation is the result of 15 frames, each 10 minutes apart. Total time equals +/- 2,5 hours. Some frames were captured with poor seeing as you can see.

2016-03-16-animation

Telescope: Celestron C14 f=7040mm
Camera: ZWO ASI120MM
Mount: Mesumount 2
Guiding: none
Date: 19u20m –  21u40m UT, March 16th, 2016
Location: Overijse, Belgium