The Leisurely Scientist

Greetings, and welcome to Leisurely Scientist! My name is Tom Wildoner, I have loved the science field, particularly the "Natural Sciences" since I was a child (a long time ago). This photo blog is my attempt to share science through photographs and also to help me organize my work. My interests are wide and include astrophotography, bird and nature photography, landscapes, waterfalls, macrophotography, and more. I hope to share some science information through my photography. I will try and explain processing techniques, equipment setup, and more. I hope you enjoy yourself here and put some of what you learn use. Comments and questions are always appreciated!

You can find me on TWITTER as @tdsobservatory, my image portfolio is available on FLICKR. I also post images on my Facebook account at https://www.facebook.com/tom.wildoner

My images have been used on UNIVERSE TODAY, EARTHSKY, The Washington Post, Sky and Telescope, Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, Earth Science Picture of the Day (EPOD), Amateur Astronomy Picture of the Day and numerous online media outlets and E-Magazines. I have a liberal policy regarding my images, they can be shared as long as credit is given for the image and the image is not edited in any way.

I also manage the Dark Side Observatory in Weatherly, Pennsylvania. The observatory can also be followed on FACEBOOK at https://www.facebook.com/thedarksideobservatory.

The latest processed images are presented below. Wishing you clear skies!

...Tom



RELEASE DATE: 20 Jan 2020

Open Cluster NGC 2281 in Auriga

NGC 2281 is another small open cluster found in the constellation Auriga. It has a magnitude of 5.4 and is about 1,800 light years away from Earth.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 1, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 18 Jan 2020

The Beehive Cluster (M44) in Cancer

Messier 44 – The Beehive Cluster (or also called the Praesepe) is a open cluster that lies in the constellation Cancer. M44 has a visual brightness of magnitude 3.7, so it is easily visible using a modest telescope and can easily be seen using binoculars (it is actually much nicer in a wide-field view). Distance is around 577 light years. Total number of stars in this cluster are in the range of 200 to 350.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 15 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, ZWO UV/IR cut filter. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: December 22, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 14 Jan 2020

Venus in the Western Sky

Bright planet Venus setting in the western sky last evening, January 13, 2020.

Tech Specs: Canon 6D + Canon EF17-40mm f/4L USM lens + tripod. ISO 3200, 4 seconds, f/4, 40mm. Image date: January 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 13 Jan 2020

Globular Cluster NGC 2419 in Lynx

Here is a view of the most distant globular cluster in the Milky Way, NGC 2419, some have postulated that this may be an extra-galactic object. I have seen distances listed as high as 285,000 light-years away from Earth. It appears small and dim, but it is actually very large and very bright (if it was a bit closer to us), there are estimates of 300-400 million solar masses in this cluster.
You can also make out the galaxy NGC 2424, a barred spiral galaxy with a magnitude of 12.6. The view is dominated by the red giant star HD61294 in the lower right, magnitude 5.75, and 41 times larger than our Sun.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 30 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: December 20, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 11 Jan 2020

Open Cluster NGC 2126 in Auriga

NGC 2126 is a small open cluster found in the constellation Auriga. It has a magnitude of 10.2 and is about 3,600 light years away from Earth. The cluster is dominated by the magnitude 6.1 star SAO 40801 which is the bright star in the center of the image.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 1, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 09 Jan 2020

Open Cluster NGC 2129 in Gemini

NGC 2129 is a small open cluster in the constellation Gemini, it is about 7,200 light years away from Earth.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 1, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 07 Jan 2020

Open Cluster Messier 37 (M37) in Auriga

Messier 37 is a large open cluster found in the constellation of Auriga. It has an apparent magnitude of 6.2 and covers about 24 arc-minutes of sky, the distance from Earth is about 4,500 light-years. Did you know M37 has at least a dozen red giant stars included in the cluster?
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: December 20, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 05 Jan 2020

The Flaming Star and Tadpole Nebula

I’ve been wanted to image this section of the sky for some time, this is the Flaming Star Nebula (IC405) and the Tadpole Nebula (IC410). The Flaming Star Nebula is the coma-shaped nebula on the top, the Tadpole Nebula is the large, circular nebula near the center. The open cluster Messier 38 is in the bottom left corner.
From Wikipedia: IC405 is an emission and reflection nebula in the constellation Auriga, surrounding the bluish star AE Aurigae. It shines at magnitude +6.0.
IC410 is a faint and dusty emission nebula of more than 100 light-years across approximately 12,000 light-years away from Earth in the northern constellation of Auriga. NGC 1893, an open cluster, is embedded inside IC410
Tech Specs: Williams Optics Redcat 51 APO, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro, Optolong L-eNhance 2” filter, two image mosaic, each image 24 x 300 second exposures at a GAIN of 200, two hour total exposure, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro (SGP) v3.03. Image date: November 25, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 03 Jan 2020

NGC 2192 - Open Cluster in Auriga

NGC 2192 is a nice little open cluster found in the constellation Auriga. It has a magnitude of 10.9 and is about 11,300 light years away from Earth. The Sky Watcher Esprit frames this cluster nicely mixed in with some brighter 6th and 7th magnitude stars. This size of the cluster is roughly 5-6 arc-minutes wide.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 1, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 01 Jan 2020

Messier 67 - Open Cluster in Cancer

Messier 67 (also known as M67 or NGC 2682) is an open cluster in the constellation of Cancer. It has the nickname King Cobra cluster, not sure where that name came from but would love to know. The cluster is about 2,800 light-years away from Earth. From Burnham's Celestial Handbook, Volume 1, "It is a compact group, some 15' in diameter, and containing 500 or more members, from the 10th to the 16th magnitudes."
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: December 20, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 30 Dec 2019

Messier 36 - Open Cluster in Auriga

Messier 36 (M36 or NGC 1960) lies at a distance of about 4,100 light years away from Earth and is about 14 light years across. There are at least sixty members in the cluster. The cluster is very similar to the Pleiades cluster (M45), and if it were the same distance from Earth it would be of similar magnitude.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: December 20, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 28 Dec 2019

Betelgeuse – Alpha Orionis

This is the star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion. In the last few weeks there has been some discussion about the dimming of this star and the possibility of it going supernova. While it will explode someday, the recent dimming is probably due to its variability and not that it is getting ready to explode (maybe). You can read more about this at EarthSky.org.
Here are some interesting facts about this 9th brightest star in the sky. The name Betelgeuse is derived from the Arabic Yad al-Jauzā’ meaning “the hand of Orion”. Betelgeuse is a red supergiant, 20 times the mass of the sun, is a variable star and lies at a distance around 640 (I’ve found various ranges, this number seems like the largest I have come across) light-years away from Earth.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 5 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: December 21, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 26 Dec 2019

Messier 35 and NGC 2158 in Gemini

Here is a wide field shot of the open clusters Messier 35 and the compact open cluster designated NGC 2158, both found in the constellation Gemini. This is a huge open cluster that almost fills the same size in the sky as a full moon, it is about 2,800 light-years from Earth. As with any wide-field image of this open cluster, you get the added benefit of catching NGC 2158 nearby, not related to M35 as it lies about 9,000 light-years further away.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Darks included. Image date: December 20, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 23 Dec 2019

Messier 38 - Open Cluster in Auriga

Messier 38 (M38 or NGC 1912) is a large open cluster found in the constellation Auriga. It lies at a distance of about 4,200 light years away from Earth and is about 13 light years across. Also included in this view is open cluster NGC 1907 to the upper right of M38.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Darks and bias included. Image date: December 20, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 21 Dec 2019

The Triangulum Galaxy - Messier 33

From Wikipedia: The Triangulum Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 3 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Triangulum. It is catalogued as Messier 33 or NGC 598. The Triangulum Galaxy is the third-largest member of the Local Group of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy and about 44 other smaller galaxies. 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.
Another test shot using the new ZWO ASI071MC-Pro camera and figuring out settings based on the target being captured.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro, 16 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2 live stacking and saved in FITS format for processing. No darks or bias frames. Image date: November 24, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 18 Dec 2019

Galaxy NGC 2403 in the Constellation Camelopardalis

Test exposure of NGC 2403 using the ASI071MC-Pro camera, no darks or bias frames used. NGC 2403 is an intermediate spiral galaxy in the constellation Camelopardalis. NGC 2403 is an outlying member of the M81 Group, and is approximately 8 million light-years distant. Star forming regions can be seen in this galaxy.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro, 11 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2 live stacking and saved in FITS format for processing. Image date: November 24, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 16 Dec 2019

Galaxies Maffei I and Maffei II in Cassiopeia

Here is a view of two very dim galaxies hidden to the side of the Heart and Soul Nebula. They are called Maffei I and Maffei II. They were discovered by the Italian Astrophysicist Paolo Maffei in 1967 using infrared emissions. Both are hidden by the dust and gas of our Milky Way galaxy, I was pleasantly surprised to spot these two little blurs using the Williams Optics REDCAT51 scope. The yellow box shows where I zoomed in to show the galaxies on the bottom right view.
If it was not obscured by the Milky Way, Maffei I would be one of the largest and brightest galaxies in our sky, covering an area ¾ the size of the moon! Amazing!
Tech Specs: Williams Optics Redcat 51 APO, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro, Optolong L-eNhance 2” filter, 60 x 60 second exposures at a GAIN of 200, one hour total exposure with dark/bias frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro (SGP) v3.03. Image date: November 25, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 14 Dec 2019

The Heart and Soul Nebula Mosaic

The Heart and Soul Nebula (IC 1805 and IC 1848) two panel mosaic. This two panel mosaic shows a wide field view of the Heart and Soul Nebula (previously imaged separately). Each panel was a combined 60-minute exposure, the final mosaic stitched together using Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE).
The Heart Nebula is masking two deep sky objects that I was surprised to pick up in a wide field view, I'll share these in the next image.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics Redcat 51 APO, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro, Optolong L-eNhance 2” filter, each panel was 60 x 60 second exposures at a GAIN of 200, one hour total exposure with dark/bias frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro (SGP) v3.03. Image date: November 25, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 12 Dec 2019

The Capes of Sinus Iridum - December 7, 2019

Here is a view on Earth’s moon in a region called Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows), there are two capes, or points, named Promontorium Laplace and Promontorium Heraclides. This area has also been called the “jeweled scimitar” because of its resemblance to the scimitar sword (or sabre). If you look close, you can see some “wrinkle ridges” on the flat surface area. These were caused when lava cooled and contracted, they are also referred to as veins.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher 120ED Esprit, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI290MC, best 15% of 2500 frames, unguided. Captured using SharpCap Pro v3.2 and stacked in AutoStakkert! 3.0.14. Image date: December 7, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 10 Dec 2019

Tycho and Clavius Craters – December 7, 2019

A view of Tycho and Clavius craters on Earth's Moon on December 7, 2019.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher 120ED Esprit, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI290MC, best 15% of 2500 frames, unguided. Captured using SharpCap Pro v3.2 and stacked in AutoStakkert! 3.0.14. Image date: December 7, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

A short video showing the construction of the Dark Side Observatory from the design to first light.

Copyright 2019 Tom Wildoner, LeisurelyScientist.com, The Dark Side Observatory