Deep Space Objects
These images are heavily compressed to make them download more quickly - if you would like to see the full size hi-res version please visit my Flickr album or click on the images below.
Many people when seeing these images ask - 'what is it' - followed by 'how big is it' and 'how far away is it'. I have included some relevant information about each image.
All these images were taken from our back garden on the West Coast of Scotland over the last 3 years.
Above - Two images of the same target - same scope, same camera, same mount - the only difference is three years practise and experience !
(Above) M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy. See what happens when two galaxies collide !!! Taken over 24th and 25th March 2017 - 25 x 80 seconds each of RGB and 25 x 240 seconds Lum - lots of high cloud passing across making it look like its in soft focus - next year I will add a couple of hours of luminance data to sharpen it and add considerable detail. Heq5, ED80, Atik 460EX mono, Baader LRGB filters, Atik EFW2 filter wheel, Moonlite stepper focuser. Processed in Pixinsight and Photoshop. That's it now for the Summer !!
The Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as Messier 51a, M51a, or NGC 5194, is an interacting grand-design spiral galaxy with a Seyfert 2 active galactic nucleus in the constellation Canes Venatici. It was the first galaxy to be classified as a spiral galaxy. Recently it was estimated to be 23 ± 4 million light-years from the Milky Way, but different methods yield distances between 15 and 35 million light-years. Messier 51 is one of the best known galaxies in the sky. The galaxy and its companion, NGC 5195, are easily observed by amateur astronomers, and the two galaxies may even be seen with binoculars. The Whirlpool Galaxy is also a popular target for professional astronomers, who study it to further understand galaxy structure (particularly structure associated with the spiral arms) and galaxy interactions.
(Above) The Needle galaxy (NGC4565) from 21st and 22nd March 2017 - RGB one night and Lum the next. Awful seeing and transparency - lots of high cloud - windy too ! 25 x 80 seconds each of RGB and 20 x 240 seconds lum. Atik 460 EX, HEQ5, SW ED80, Baader LRGB filters, processed in Pixinsight and touched up in Photoshop. Not something I am proud of but that's it now until September - no real darkness after this weekend this far North at anything like a sensible time (57º North) - have a nice summer!!
NGC 4565 (also known as the Needle Galaxy or Caldwell 38) is an edge-on spiral galaxy about 30 to 50 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices. It lies close to the North Galactic Pole and has a visual magnitude of approximately 10. It is known as the Needle Galaxy for its narrow profile. First recorded in 1785 by William Herschel, it is a prominent example of an edge-on spiral galaxy.
NGC 4565 is a giant spiral galaxy more luminous than the Andromeda Galaxy. Much speculation exists in the literature as to the nature of the central bulge. In the absence of clear-cut dynamical data on the motions of stars in the bulge, the photometric data alone cannot adjudge among various options put forth. However, its exponential shape suggested that it is a barred spiral galaxy. Studies with the help of the Spitzer Space Telescope not only confirmed the presence of a central bar but also showed a pseudobulge within it as well as an inner ring.
Above - final version of the narrowband image of the Wizard Nebula in Hubble palette. Below the same image in a different palette and one of the single Hydrogen only images (mono). Atik 460EX camera - Skywatcher ED80 telescope - 15 hours exposure over 3 nights.
Technical data - Located 7200 light years away, the Wizard Nebula, surrounds developing open star cluster NGC 7380. Visually, the interplay of stars, gas, and dust has created a shape that appears to some like a fictional medieval sorcerer. The active star forming region spans about 100 light years, making it appear larger than the angular extent of the Moon. The Wizard Nebula can be located with a small telescope toward the constellation of the King of Aethiopia (Cepheus). Although the nebula may last only a few million years, some of the stars being formed may outlive our Sun.
Above - The Flaming Star Nebula. Atik 460EX - SW ED80 - LRGB - 5 hours exposure.
Technical data - IC 405 (also known as the Flaming Star Nebula, SH 2-229, or Caldwell 31) is an emission/reflection nebula in the constellation Auriga, surrounding the bluish star AE Aurigae. It shines at magnitude +6.0. Its celestial coordinates are RA 05h 16.2m dec +34° 28′. It surrounds the irregular variable star AE Aurigae and is located near the emission nebula IC 410, the open clusters M38 and M36, and the K-class star Iota Aurigae. The Nebula measures approximately 37.0' x 19.0', and lies about 1,500 light-years away from Earth. It is believed that the proper motion of the central star can be traced back to the Orion's Belt area. The nebula is about 5 light-years across.
Above - The Iris Nebula - Atik 460EX - SW ED80 - LRGB - 6 hours exposure.
Technical data - The Iris Nebula, also NGC 7023 and Caldwell 4, is a bright reflection nebula and Caldwell object in the constellation Cepheus. NGC 7023 is actually the cluster within the nebula, LBN 487, and the nebula is lit by a magnitude +7 star, SAO 19158. It shines at magnitude +6.8. It is located near the Mira-type variable star T Cephei, and near the bright magnitude +3.23 variable star Beta Cephei (Alphirk). It lies 1,300 light-years away and is six light-years across.
Above - M31 - Andromeda Galaxy. You are looking at about a hundred billion suns!! Probably the second most famous object in the night sky and a favourite subject for astro-imagers just starting out because it is bright and big. It's actually quite difficult to image well , as the outer arms are very faint whilst the central core is very bright (high dynamic range). Hard to believe, that in years to come this massive galaxy will collide with our own (Milky Way) - but don't worry - it wont happen for several billion years.
Technical data - The Andromeda Galaxy (/ænˈdrɒmᵻdə/), also known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224, is a spiral galaxy approximately 780 kiloparsecs (2.5 million light-years) from Earth. It is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way and was often referred to as the Great Andromeda Nebula in older texts. It received its name from the area of the sky in which it appears, the constellation of Andromeda, which was named after the mythological princess Andromeda.
Andromeda is approximately 220,000 light years across, and it is the largest galaxy of the Local Group, which also contains the Milky Way, the Triangulum Galaxy, and other smaller galaxies. Despite earlier findings that suggested that the Milky Way contains more dark matter and could be the largest in the grouping, the 2006 observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope revealed that Andromeda contains one trillion (1012) stars: at least twice the number of stars in the Milky Way, which is estimated to be 200–400 billion. The mass of the Andromeda Galaxy is estimated to be 1.5×1012 solar masses, while the Milky Way is estimated to be 8.5×1011 solar masses.
The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are expected to collide in 4.5 billion years, eventually merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy  or perhaps a large disc galaxy. The apparent magnitude of the Andromeda Galaxy, at 3.4, is among the brightest of the Messier objects, making it visible to the naked eye on moonless nights, even when viewed from areas with moderate light pollution.
Above - the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. LRGB image with Atik 460EX and SW ED80 - 3 hours exp. One of the few things I have imaged that you can see with the naked eye!
Technical data - In astronomy, the Pleiades (/ˈplaɪədiːz/ or /ˈpliːədiːz/), or Seven Sisters (Messier 45 or M45), is an open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. The celestial entity has several meanings in different cultures and traditions.
The cluster is dominated by hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Dust that forms a faint reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars was thought at first to be left over from the formation of the cluster (hence the alternative name Maia Nebula after the star Maia), but is now known to be an unrelated dust cloud in the interstellar medium, through which the stars are currently passing. Computer simulations have shown that the Pleiades was probably formed from a compact configuration that resembled the Orion Nebula. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood.
Above - the Outer Limits Galaxy or more correctly NGC891 - LRGB - Atik 460EX - 6 hours exp. If you look closely (especially in the high resolution version) there are at least 30 other galaxies and nebula visible.
Technical data - NGC 891 (also known as Caldwell 23) is an edge-on unbarred spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It was discovered by William Herschel on October 6, 1784. The galaxy is a member of the NGC 1023 group of galaxies in the Local Supercluster. It has an H II nucleus.
In 2005, due to its attractiveness and scientific interest, NGC 891 was selected to be the first light image of the Large Binocular Telescope. In 2012, it was again used as a first light image of the Discovery Channel Telescope with the Large Monolithic Imager.
Above - the Witches Broom - part of the Veil Nebula. LRGB image Atik 46EX - SW ED80 - 2.5 hours exp.
Technical data - The Veil Nebula is a cloud of heated and ionized gas and dust in the constellation Cygnus. It constitutes the visible portions of the Cygnus Loop (radio source W78, or Sharpless 103), a large but relatively faint supernova remnant. The source supernova exploded circa 3,000 BC to 6,000 BC, and the remnants have since expanded to cover an area roughly 3 degrees in diameter (about 6 times the diameter, or 36 times the area, of the full moon). The distance to the nebula is not precisely known, but Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) data supports a distance of about 1,470 light-years.
The Hubble Space Telescope captured several images of the nebula. The analysis of the emissions from the nebula indicate the presence of oxygen, sulfur, and hydrogen. This is also one of the largest, brightest features in the x-ray sky.
Above - The Cat's Eye Nebula - LRGB - Atik 460EX - SW ED80 - 7 hours exp. My toughest target to date - VERY small and VERY faint.
Technical data - The Cat's Eye Nebula or NGC 6543, is a planetary nebula in the northern constellation of Draco, discovered by William Herschel on February 15, 1786. It was the first planetary nebula whose spectrum was investigated by the English amateur astronomer William Huggins. Demonstrating that planetary nebulae were gaseous and not stellar in nature. Structurally, the object has had high-resolution images by the Hubble Space Telescope revealing knots, jets, bubbles and complex arcs, being illuminated by the central hot planetary nebula nucleus (PNN). It is a well-studied object that has been observed from radio to X-raywavelengths.
Above - the Bubble Nebula - Atik 460EX - SW ED80 - LRGB - 5 hours exp.
Technical data - NGC 7635, also called the Bubble Nebula, Sharpless 162, or Caldwell 11, is a H II region emission nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia. It lies close to the direction of the open cluster Messier 52. The "bubble" is created by the stellar wind from a massive hot, 8.7 magnitude young central star, SAO 20575 (BD+60°2522). The nebula is near a giant molecular cloud which contains the expansion of the bubble nebula while itself being excited by the hot central star, causing it to glow. It was discovered in 1787 by William Herschel. The star BD+60°2522 is thought to have a mass of about 44 M☉.
Above - the Coccoon Nebula - LRGB - Atik 460EX - SW ED80 - 5 hours exp.
Technical data - IC 5146 (also Caldwell 19, Sh 2-125, and the Cocoon Nebula) is a reflection/emission nebula and Caldwell object in the constellation Cygnus. The NGC description refers to IC 5146 as a cluster of 9.5 mag stars involved in a bright and dark nebula. The cluster is also known as Collinder 470. It shines at magnitude +10.0/+9.3/+7.2. Its celestial coordinates are RA 21h 53.5m, dec+47° 16′. It is located near the naked-eye star Pi Cygni, the open cluster NGC 7209 in Lacerta, and the bright open cluster M39. The cluster is about 4,000 ly away, and the central star that lights it formed about 100,000 years ago; the nebula is about 12 arcmins across, which is equivalent to a span of 15 light years.
When viewing IC 5146, dark nebula Barnard 168 (B168) is an inseparable part of the experience, forming a dark lane that surrounds the cluster and projects westward forming the appearance of a trail behind the Cocoon.
Above - M42 - the Great Nebula in Orion - probably the best know object in the night sky. It's enormous - bigger than a full moon and very bright. Canon 1100D - SW ED80 - 1 hour exposure. Hard to image due to the high dynamic range - keeping the whispy faint arms without blowing out the central core is a challenge but it is SO beautiful !!
Technical data - The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion's Belt in the constellation of Orion.[b] It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across. It has a mass of about 2000 times the mass of the Sun. Older texts frequently refer to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula.
The Orion Nebula is one of the most scrutinized and photographed objects in the night sky, and is among the most intensely studied celestial features. The nebula has revealed much about the process of how stars and planetary systems are formed from collapsing clouds of gas and dust. Astronomers have directly observed protoplanetary disks, brown dwarfs, intense and turbulent motions of the gas, and the photo-ionizing effects of massive nearby stars in the nebula.
Above - the Dumbbell Nebula - Atik 460EX - SW ED80 - LRGB - 5 hours exp.
This object was the first planetary nebula to be discovered; by Charles Messier in 1764. At its brightness of visual magnitude 7.5 and its diameter of about 8 arcminutes, it is easily visible in binoculars, and a popular observing target in amateur telescopes.
Above - the Rosette Nebula - OSC Starlight Express - 3 hours exp.
Technical data - The cluster and nebula lie at a distance of some 5,000 light-years from Earth) and measure roughly 50 light years in diameter. The radiation from the young stars excites the atoms in the nebula, causing them to emit radiation themselves producing the emission nebula we see. The mass of the Nebula is estimated to be around 10,000 solar masses.
A survey of the nebula with the Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed the presence of numerous new-born stars inside optical Rosette Nebula and studded within a dense molecular cloud. Altogether, approximately 2500 young stars lie in this star-forming complex, including the massive O-type stars HD 46223 and HD 46150, which are primarily responsible for blowing the ionized bubble. Most of the ongoing star-formation activity is occurring in the dense molecular cloud to the south east of the bubble.
A diffuse X-ray glow is also seen between the stars in the bubble, which has been attributed to a super-hot plasma with temperatures ranging from 1 to 10 million K. This is significantly hotter than the 10,000 K plasmas seen in HII regions, and is likely attributed to the shock-heated winds from the massive O-type stars.
Above - the Triangulum Galaxy - Canon 100D - SW ED80 - 50 mins exp.
Technical data - The Triangulum Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 3 million light-years (ly) from Earth in the constellation Triangulum. It is catalogued as Messier 33 or NGC 598, and is sometimes informally referred to as the Pinwheel Galaxy, a nickname it shares with Messier 101. The Triangulum Galaxy is the third-largest member of the Local Group of galaxies, behind the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy. It is one of the most distant permanent objects that can be viewed with the naked eye.
The galaxy is the smallest spiral galaxy in the Local Group and it is believed to be a satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy due to their interactions, velocities and proximity to one another in the night sky. It also has an H-II nucleus.
Above - M81 - the Triangulum Galaxy - Canon 1100D - SW ED80 - 1.5 hours exp.
Technical data - Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode's Galaxy) is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellationUrsa Major. Due to its proximity to Earth, large size and active galactic nucleus (which harbors a 70 million M☉ supermassive black hole), Messier 81 has been studied extensively by professional astronomers. The galaxy's large size and relatively high brightness also make it a popular target for amateur astronomers.
Above - M81 and M82 - Canon 1100D - SW ED80 - 2 hours exp. The bright spot on the left of the core in the bottom right galaxy is the supernova referred to in the technical data.
Technical data - asaabove plus - Messier 82 (also known as NGC 3034, Cigar Galaxy or M82) is a starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. A member of the M81 Group, it is about five times more luminous than the whole Milky Way and has a center one hundred times more luminous than our galaxy's center. The starburst activity is thought to have been triggered by interaction with neighboring galaxy M81. As the closest starburst galaxy to Earth, M82 is the prototypical example of this galaxy type. SN 2014J, a type Ia supernova, was discovered in the galaxy on 21 January 2014. In 2014, in studying M82, scientists discovered the brightest pulsar yet known, designated M82 X-2.