The Dark Side Observatory

in Weatherly, Pennsylvania, USA

Welcome to the Dark Side Observatory in Weatherly, Pennsylvania, USA. The Dark Side Observatory is the personal observatory of Tom and Jane Wildoner. It was constructed in 2017 and continues to be modified as time permits. The links below present some of our images, clicking on an image will open a new window with the full resolution. IMAGE USE: We have a liberal policy in the use of our images, you may share/use the image as long as the image is not edited in any way and credit is given to Tom and Jane Wildoner, The Dark Side Observatory.

Questions or comments can be addressed to thedarksideobservatory@gmail.com

You can follow us 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 and https://www.facebook.com/thedarksideobservatory We also routinely post of latest images on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/tomwildoner/

Our 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, WNEP News, BBC Sky at Night Magazine, SyFy.com, Let's Talk Science and numerous online media outlets and E-Magazines.

RELEASE DATE: 24 September 2021

Veil Nebula Complex in Cygnus

Here is a wide field view of the Veil Nebula Complex found in the constellation Cygnus. This is the remnants of a supernova that is about 1,470 light years from Earth and nearly 50 light years across. The Veil Nebula Complex has about two dozen components that have their own designations including the Eastern Veil, Western Veil, The Funnel, Pickering’s Triangle and more.
Observation data: J2000.0 epochRight ascension: 20h 45m 38.0s[1]Declination: +30° 42′ 30″[1]Distance: 1470 lyApparent magnitude (V): 7.0Apparent dimensions (V): 3 degrees (diameter)Constellation: CygnusDesignations: NGC 6960, 6992, 6995, 6974, and 6979, IC 1340, Cygnus Loop, Cirrus Nebula, Filamentary Nebula, Witch's Broom Nebula (NGC 6960), Caldwell 33/34.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics Redcat, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, ZWO ASI2600MC-P camera, 36 x 300 seconds at 0C with darks and flats, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini. Captured using ZWO AAP and processed using PixInsight. Autofocus using the ProAstroGear Black-CAT and ZWO EAF. Image date: August 2, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 20 September 2021

Jupiter and Saturn from September 19, 2021

Jupiter and Saturn from September 19, 2021, just a quick 30-second video capture of each testing out the ZWO AAP for video capture. You can see Europa in transit on Jupiter.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI290MC. Captured using ZWO AAP and processed using Autostakkert and Registax. Image date: September 19, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 17 September 2021

North American Nebula in Cygnus - NGC 7000

The North America Nebula (NGC 7000) is an emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus. Can you see how it looks like the North American continent complete with a prominent Gulf of Mexico? The name “North America Nebula” was coined by Dr. Max Wolf (ref: Burnham’s Celestial Handbook, Volume 2, by Robert Burnham Jr.) no doubt from his work with E.E. Barnard on dark nebulae. No summer imaging session is complete without putting a little bit of time on this deep space object.
The North America Nebula covers a region more than ten times the area of the full moon, but its surface brightness is low, so normally it cannot be seen with the unaided eye (Wikipedia).
Observation data: J2000.0 epochRight ascension: 20h 59m 17.1sDeclination: +44° 31′ 44″Distance: 2,590 ± 80 lyApparent magnitude (V): 4Apparent dimensions (V): 120 × 100 arcminConstellation: CygnusDesignations: NGC 7000, Sharpless 117, Caldwell 20
Tech Specs: Williams Optics Redcat, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, ZWO ASI2600MC-P camera, 49 x 300 seconds at 0C with darks and flats, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini. Captured using ZWO AAP and processed using PixInsight. Autofocus using the ProAstroGear Black-CAT and ZWO EAF. Image date: July 30, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 5 September 2021

Lagoon and Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius

First light with the ZWO ASI2600MC-P and I targeted the Lagoon and Trifid Nebula region of Sagittarius using the Williams Optics REDCAT. When looking in this region, you are looking into the center of the Milky Way, our galaxy. The Trifid Nebula (blue and red nebula) is near the top and is also known as Messier 20 (M20). The Lagoon Nebula is the largest nebula in this view and is also known as Messier 8 (M8). Several star clusters are also in view including Messier 21 (M21) to the upper left of the Trifid Nebula.
This was also the first test using the ProAstroGear Black-CAT Mount for autofocus on the Williams Optics Redcat using the ZWO EAF, worked like a charm.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics Redcat, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, ZWO ASI2600MC-P camera, Optolong L-eNhance 2" filter, 19 x 300 seconds at 0C with darks and flats, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini. Captured using ZWO AAP and processed using PixInsight. Autofocus using the ProAstroGear Black-CAT and ZWO EAF. Image date: July 30, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 31 August 2021

Planetary Nebula NGC 6781

NGC 6781 is a planetary nebula a few thousand light years away in the constellation Aquila. The planetary nebula is about two light-years across. Within NGC 6781, shells of gas blown off from the faint, but very hot, central star’s surface expand out into space. These shells shine under the harsh ultraviolet radiation from the progenitor star in intricate and beautiful patterns. The central star will steadily cool down and darken, eventually disappearing from view into cosmic oblivion (https://www.eso.org/public/images/ngc6781-potw/).
These nebulae are formed when a star begins reaching its end of life. The star begins throwing off shells of gas that expand away from the star. This forms a ring of hot ionized gas that we see as a planetary nebula. If you look closely, you can see a small blue star in the center of the nebula, this is the star that created the nebula.
Location:Right Ascension (J2000) 19h 18m 28sDeclination (J2000) +06° 32’ 22”Visual Magnitude: 11.8
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 56 x 60 second at 0C with darks and flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using ZWO AAP and processed using PixInsight. Image date: July 30, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 28 August 2021

Globular Cluster NGC 7006

From SpaceTelescope.org, “NGC 7006 resides in the outskirts of the Milky Way. It is about 135,000 light-years away, five times the distance between the Sun and the center of the galaxy, and it is part of the galactic halo. This roughly spherical region of the Milky Way is made up of dark matter, gas and sparsely distributed stellar clusters.”
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 28 x 60 second at -10C with darks and flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using ZWO AAP and processed using PixInsight. Image date: July 28, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 25 August 2021

Globular Cluster NGC 6934 in Delphinus

Here is a view of the globular cluster NGC 6934 in the constellation Delphinus. It is about 54,000 light years away from Earth.
Observation data (J2000 epoch)Class: VIIIConstellation: DelphinusRight ascension: 20h 34m 11.37sDeclination: +07° 24′ 16.1″Distance: 52 kly (16 kpc)Apparent magnitude (V): 8.83
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, ZWO AAP, 75 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Image date: June 5, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 21 August 2021

Elliptical Galaxy Messier 59 (M59)

Messier 59 (also known as M99 or NGC 4621) is an elliptical galaxy about 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. This galaxy has many globular clusters: estimated to be about 2,300. This is far more than the roughly 200 orbiting the Milky Way, but dwarfed by the 13,450 orbiting the supergiant elliptical galaxy Messier 87. Lot’s of background galaxies in this view including NGC 4606 and NGC 4607 in the upper left corner and NGC 4638 and NGC 4637 in the lower right corner.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 75 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: June 5, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 18 August 2021

Arp 286 Trio in the Constellation Virgo

Here is a trio of interacting galaxies almost 90 million light-years away, toward the constellation Virgo. NGC 5566, the largest galaxy in this image, is HUGE, about 150,000 light-years across. Just below it is NGC 5569. To the upper left is the third galaxy, NGC 5560, stretched and distorted by its interaction with NGC 5566. The galaxy trio is also included in Halton Arp's 1966 Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies as Arp 286.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 72 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: June 6, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 15 August 2021

Elliptical Galaxy Messier 49 (M49)

Messier 49 (also known as M49 or NGC 4472) is a giant elliptical galaxy about 56 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. This galaxy has many globular clusters: estimated to be about 5,900. This is far more than the roughly 200 orbiting the Milky Way, but dwarfed by the 13,450 orbiting the supergiant elliptical galaxy Messier 87. Lot’s of background galaxies in this view down to roughly the 14th magnitude.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 60 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: June 6, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 12 August 2021

Fireworks and an Open Cluster

NGC 6946, sometimes referred to as the Fireworks Galaxy, is a face-on intermediate spiral galaxy with a small bright nucleus, whose location in the sky straddles the boundary between the northern constellations of Cepheus and Cygnus. Its distance from Earth is about 25.2 million light-years. NGC 6939 is an open cluster and is located 4,000 light-years from our solar system.
NGC 6946 also appears in Arps Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies as ARP 29. It was placed in the “Peculiar Galaxy” category since it has one spiral arm that is larger than the others.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 60 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: May 31, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 9 August 2021

Open Cluster NGC 6802

Open cluster NGC 6802 is found in the constellation Vulpecula. If you are familiar with Brocchi’s Cluster (The Coat Hanger), this open cluster resides just to the side of it. Robert Burnham lists this cluster at a magnitude of 11 and containing about 60 stars.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 60 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: May 31, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 5 August 2021

Elliptical Galaxy Messier 60 (M60) ARP 116

Messier 60 or M60, also known as NGC 4649, is an elliptical galaxy approximately 57 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. Together with NGC 4647, a spiral galaxy, it forms a pair known as Arp 116.
The Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies is a catalog of peculiar galaxies produced by Halton Arp in 1966. A total of 338 galaxies are presented in the atlas, which was originally published in 1966 by the California Institute of Technology. The primary goal of the catalog was to present photographs of examples of the different kinds of peculiar structures found among galaxies.
A 2012 Hubble image of this galaxy seems to confirm they are indeed interacting with each other.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 95 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: May 31, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

FLICK EXPLORER IMAGE OF THE DAY - August 6, 2021

RELEASE DATE: 2 August 2021

The Fox Head Cluster - NGC 6819

This is the open cluster NGC 6819 located in the constellation Cygnus. I have seen references calling the cluster the Fox Head Cluster, personally I just don’t see a fox head in this. It is about 7,200 light years away from Earth and has a visual magnitude of 7.3, thus you’ll need a small pair of binoculars to enjoy this jewel.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 44 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: May 17, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 29 July 2021

Wide Field of Globular Cluster Messier 13 (M13)

Messier 13, also referred to as the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, is one of the brightest and best known globular clusters in the northern skies. It shines at a magnitude of 5.8, is about 22,200 light years away and contains an estimated 300,000 stars.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 44 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: May 17, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 25 July 2021

Open Cluster Messier 29 (M29)

This is the open cluster Messier 29 (M29 or NGC 6913) and is found near the star Sadr, the center star of the Northern Cross asterism (in the constellation Cygnus). It is a rich field of sky where the Northern Milky Way passes directly through. M29. It has an apparent magnitude of 7.1 and is about 4,000 light years away. I think M29 looks like a tiny version of the Pleiades cluster.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 53 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: May 13, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 21 July 2021

The LEO Triplet - M65, M66 and NGC 3628

The Leo Triplet is a small group of galaxies in the constellation Leo and include Messier 65 (M65), Messier 66 (M66) and NGC 3628 (a beautiful edge-on spiral galaxy). The trio is estimated to be some 30-million light-years away. In this image, M65 is in the upper right, M66 in the lower right and NGC 3628 on the left.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 121 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: May 13, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 18 July 2021

Galaxy Messier 90 (NGC 4569, Arp 76)

M90 (NGC 4569, Arp 76, UGC 7786 and others) is an intermediate spiral galaxy located approximately 58 million light-years away in Virgo. Halton Arp included M90 in his Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies as Arp 76, describing the galaxy as a “Spiral with a High Surface Brightness Companion.” He may have been talking about the galaxy IC 3583, the irregular-looking galaxy to the left of M90.
Observation data (Epoch J2000):Constellation: VirgoRight ascension: 12h 36m 49.8sDeclination: +13° 09′ 46″Apparent dimension (V): 9.5’ × 4.4’Apparent magnitude (V): 10.26
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 81 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: May 13, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 15 July 2021

Open Cluster Messier 67

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 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -20C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 15 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: April 4, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 11 July 2021

Leo I Dwarf Galaxy

Leo I is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy in the constellation Leo. At about 820,000 light-years distant, it is a member of the Local Group of galaxies and is thought to be one of the most distant satellites of the Milky Way galaxy. Can you see the little blurry object to the right of Regulus? That is the Leo I dwarf galaxy. I previously imaged this using the Meade 12” and wanted to try out the Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED on the same target.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -20C, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount Pier Mounted, ZWO EAF, 18 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: April 7, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 8 July 2021

Galaxy Messier 95 (M95)

Messier 95 (also known as M95 or NGC 3351) is a barred spiral galaxy located in the constellation Leo, it is about 33 million light-years away from Earth. M95 has a magnitude of 9.7 and has around 40 billion stars.
Its spiral arms host a flurry of star birth activity and sparkle with the light of countless young, blue stars. The arms themselves are very tightly wound around the galaxy’s core and are nearly circular (https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/messier-95).
M95 is one of several galaxies within the M96 Group, a group of galaxies in the constellation Leo, the other Messier objects of which are M96 and M105.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 67 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 5, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 2 July 2021

Elliptical Galaxy Messier 86 (M86)

Messier 86 (also known as M86 or NGC 4406) is an elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. Messier 86 is linked by several filaments of ionized gas to the severely disrupted spiral galaxy NGC 4438 (on the right side of my image), indicating that M86 may have stripped some gas and interstellar dust from the spiral. Messier 86 has a rich array of globular clusters, with a total number of around 3,800. Its halo also has a number of stellar streams interpreted as remnants of dwarf galaxies that have been disrupted and absorbed by this galaxy. (ref: Wikipedia).
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 67 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 5, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 29 June 2021

Hercules Globular Cluster Messier 13

Messier 13, also referred to as the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, is one of the brightest and best known globular clusters in the northern skies. It shines at a magnitude of 5.8, is about 22,200 light years away and contains an estimated 300,000 stars.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 98 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 5, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 26 June 2021

Globular Cluster NGC 5466

NGC 5466 is a globular cluster that exhibits a low surface brightness and a less dense core compared to other globular clusters. Burnham lists this cluster at a magnitude of 9.0 and gives it a Class XII (in the Shapley–Sawyer Concentration Class, this is the lowest concentrated center of globular clusters).
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 107 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 3, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 23 June 2021

Elliptical Galaxy Messier 84 (M84)

Messier 84 or M84, also known as NGC 4374, is a giant elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. It is in the bottom right corner of my image. It is the 84th object in the Messier Catalogue and in the heavily populated core of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, part of the local supercluster. Radio observations and Hubble Space Telescope images of M84 have revealed two jets of matter shooting out from its center as well as a disk of rapidly rotating gas and stars indicating the presence of a supermassive black hole. NGC 4388, a spiral galaxy is in the upper left corner of my image.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 68 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 4, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 20 June 2021

Elliptical Galaxy Messier 105 (M105) and Friends

The galaxies M105, NGC 3384 and NGC 3373 form a nice galactic triplet in the constellation Leo. M105 is the elliptical galaxy on the bottom of the image, NGC 3384 is the elliptical galaxy on the upper right and NGC 3373 is a spiral galaxy on the upper left. Magnitudes for these galaxies are 9.3 for M105, 10.0 for NGC 3384 and 11.8 for NGC 3373. The distance to these galaxies is roughly 30+ million light years.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 67 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 3, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 18 June 2021

49% Full Moon (First Quarter)

Here is a view of last night’s 49% full moon.
Tech Specs: Orion 8" f/8 Ritchey-Chretien, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Sky Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount pier mounted, best 20% of 1000 frames, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro. Image date: June 17, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 15 June 2021

Galaxy NGC 4725

This is galaxy NGC 4725 in the constellation Coma Berenices. What is interesting with this galaxy is that it only has one large spiral arm. Most spiral galaxies, including our Milky Way, have two or more arms.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 108 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 20, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 12 June 2021

Galaxy Messier 58

Messier 58 (M58 or NGC 4579) is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo and is about 68 million light years away from Earth. In the Messier Catalog, this galaxy is the most distant object. Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 63 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 20, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 10 June 2021

Partial Solar Eclipse

A view of the partial solar eclipse from Carbon County, Pennsylvania, USA.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens + 2x III extender, ISO 2000, 2 seconds, f/5.6, 400mm, Thousand Oaks Optical 77mm solar filter. Image date: June 10, 2021. Location: Broad Mountain, Carbon County, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 9 June 2021

Galaxy Messier 96

Messier 96 (also known as M96 or NGC 3368) is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 31 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 108 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 20, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 6 June 2021

The Ring Nebula - Messier 57 (M57)

M57 (NGC 6720) is probably one of the most recognizable Messier objects. It is a planetary nebula found in the constellation Lyra, referred to as the Ring Nebula, and lies about 2,300 light-years from Earth. Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 108 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 19, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 3 June 2021

Galaxy Messier 61 (M61)

Messier 61 (also known as M61 or NGC 4303) an intermediate barred spiral galaxy in the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. It has a magnitude of 10.2 and is roughly 52 million light years away from Earth. Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 81 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 7, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 1 June 2021

Solar Halo - May 31, 2021

Captured this beautiful solar halo yesterday while doing some solar imaging in the observatory.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Samyang 14mm f/2.8, hand held. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, Pennsylvania. Image Date: May 31, 2021.

RELEASE DATE: 30 May 2021

Galaxy Messier 91 (M91)

Messier 91 (also known as NGC 4548 or M91) is a barred spiral galaxy that is found in the south of the constellation Coma Berenices. It is in the local supercluster and is part of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. It is about 63 million light-years away from our galaxy. Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 54 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 19, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 27 May 2021

The Beehive Cluster - Messier 44

Messier 44 – The Beehive Cluster (or also called the Praesepe) is an 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 REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 27 x 60 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: March 9, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 24 May 2021

The Whale and the Pup Galaxies (ARP 281)

Here is a view of the Whale and the Pup Galaxies (NGC 4631 and NGC 4627) found in the constellation Coma Berenices. This galaxy is roughly 22 million light years away from Earth. You can see a few more distant background galaxies on the lower edge of the image. Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 81 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 19, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 22 May 2021

NGC 5907 - The Splinter Galaxy of Draco

This is a view of the Knife Edge or Splinter Galaxy (NGC 5907) located in the constellation Draco and is about 50 million light years away from Earth. Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 54 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 7, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 19 May 2021

Nova Cassiopeia 2021 Observation

Here is a view of the open cluster Messier 52 (M52) and a bright nova designated as Nova Cassiopeia 2021. This observation was done on May 17, 2021 with an estimated magnitude of 6.5.
Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 81 x 60 second at 0C, 20 darks and 20 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using ZWO ASIAir Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 17, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 18 May 2021

Solar Prominence - May 17, 2021

Nice solar prominence on the Sun yesterday.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI290MC, Daystar Quark Chromosphere + Daystar 2" UV/IR filter, ZWO 0.5x Reducer, SharpCap Pro v3.2, best 20% of 5k frames, AutoStakkert, Registax. Image date: 17 May 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory in Weatherly, PA, USA.

FLICKR Explore TOP 500 Image of the Day - May 19, 2021

RELEASE DATE: 16 May 2021

Planetary Nebula Sharpless 200

Here is a view of an ancient planetary nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia and known by several names including Sharpless 2-200 and HDW 2 (Hartl-Dengl-Weinberger 2). It was discovered in the early 1980’s by examining the 1960’s Palomar Observatory Sky Survey. You can read more about the discovery in an article titled “A newly discovered nearby planetary nebula of old age” by Authors: Weinberger, R., Dengel, J., Hartl, H., & Sabbadin, F. Tech Specs: Sky Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -20C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 3 hours 55 minutes of 300 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: December 2020 and January 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 14 May 2021

Crescent Moon and Mercury

Sure hope everyone had a chance to check out the planet Mercury near the crescent moon last night, if not, here is my image. The darker the sky, the more prominent the Earthshine on the moon.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens, Canon 2x III, ISO 320, 2.5 seconds, f/5.6, 180mm. Image date: May 13, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 13 May 2021

Venus and 26 Hour Old Moon

Here is a view of the planet Venus and a young 26 hour old crescent moon in the Western skies last evening (May 12, 2021).
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens, Canon 2x III, ISO 320, 1/25, f/5.6, 400mm. Image date: May 12, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 9 May 2021

Sombrero Galaxy Messier 104

The Sombrero Galaxy, Messier 104 (M104) is in the constellation Virgo. From my vantage point, it just makes it high enough over the roof of my house to capture some photons a few nights a year. The Sombrero Galaxy is about 50,000,000 light years away with an apparent magnitude of 8.3. Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 81 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 20, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 18 April 2021

The Lion Nebula SH2-132

The Lion Nebula, or Sh2-132 has an extended emission nebula visible in the constellation of Cepheus. Can you spot the MANE and the TAIL of the lion? This nebula is located on the southern edge of Cepheus, at a distance of almost 10,400 light years. Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -20C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 2 hours of 300 second exposures with dark/flat frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: November 7, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 15 April 2021

The Whirlpool Galaxy Messier 51

The Whirlpool Galaxy, Messier 51 (M51), or NGC 5194, is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici (just below the last star in the handle of the Big Dipper asterism). M51 is roughly 23 million light-years away from Earth. Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 160 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 3, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

Selected for FLICKR EXPLORE, top 500 photos for April 15, 2021.

RELEASE DATE: 12 April 2021

The Monkey Head Nebula - NGC 2174

The Monkey Head Nebula (NGC 2174) is an emission nebula located in the constellation Orion. The nebula is an H II region, a large cloud of ionized gas in which new stars are being formed. The Monkey Head Nebula lies about 6,400 light years from Earth.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 24 x 300 second (2 hours) exposures with dark frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: November 7, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 9 April 2021

NGC 2264 - Christmas Tree Cluster

Here is a wide field view of NGC 2264, the Cone Nebula and the Christmas Tree Cluster. This is located in the constellation Monoceros and is about 2,600 light years away from Earth. There are other jewels in this image, but it will have to wait until next season to add more time. Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT, Sky Watcher EQ6R-Pro Mount, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro (-10C), Optolong L-eNhance 2” filter, ZWO ASIAir Pro, 24 x 300 seconds with dark and flat frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini. Processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 9, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4).

RELEASE DATE: 6 April 2021

Galaxy Messier 98 (M98)

Messier 98, also known as M98 or NGC 4192, is an intermediate spiral galaxy located about 44 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices, about 6° to the east of the bright star Denebola.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 54 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 2, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 3 April 2021

A View of Galaxy Messier 82 (M82)

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 and 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 (check the Wikipedia reference) to our own, M82 is the prototypical example of this galaxy type.
I image M82 every season, it became a favorite subject of mine ever since the awesome Supernova (SN2014J) in 2014.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 60 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 19, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 31 March 2021

Tycho Crater - March 22, 2021

This is a wide field view of the area around Tycho Crater on Earth's moon. Tycho has a diameter of 53 miles and it is nearly 3 miles deep.
TECH SPECS: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI290MC, Antares Focal Reducer. Captured using SharpCap v3.2, stacked in Autostakkert (best 15% of 2500 images), sharpened in Registax, final image processed in Corel Paintshop Pro. Image Date: March 22, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 29 March 2021

Galaxy NGC 2841

To me NGC 2841 looks like a miniature Andromeda Galaxy. It is often listed on various “best of the” NGC objects lists. NGC 2841 is an unbarred spiral galaxy in the northern constellation of Ursa Major and is about 46 million light-years away from Earth.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 60 x 60 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 2, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 26 March 2021

Leo I Dwarf Galaxy

Leo I is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy in the constellation Leo. At about 820,000 light-years distant, it is a member of the Local Group of galaxies and is thought to be one of the most distant satellites of the Milky Way galaxy. It was discovered in 1950 by Albert George Wilson on photographic plates of the National Geographic Society – Palomar Observatory Sky Survey, which were taken with the 48-inch Schmidt camera at Palomar Observatory. (from Wikipedia)
This was a real processing challenge for me. The bright star Regulus and my focal reducer created all types of reflection and glare on the stacked image. Trying to process out the glare resulted in a dimmer view of the galaxy. Will try this again without the focal reducer at some point.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 60 x 60 second at -10C, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 2, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 24 March 2021

Montes Apenninus - March 22, 2021

The Apenninus Mountains are one of my favorite locations to image on the moon. It is also home to our moons tallest mountain, Mons Huygens, which stands 3.4 miles tall! I never get tired of imaging this region, each time trying to get more details.
TECH SPECS: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI290MC, Antares Focal Reducer. Captured using SharpCap v3.2, stacked in Autostakkert (best 15% of 2500 images), sharpened in Registax, final image processed in Corel Paintshop Pro. Image Date: March 22, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4 Zone).

RELEASE DATE: 23 March 2021

The Moon - Match 22, 2021

A view of last evening’s 64% illuminated moon from Weatherly, PA.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, best 15% of 2,500 frames, unguided. Captured using SharpCap Pro v3.2, sharpened in Registax. Image date: March 22, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA (Bortle Class 4 Zone).

FLICKR Explorer Image of the Day for March 23, 2021.

RELEASE DATE: 22 March 2021

Planetary Nebula Abell 12

This is the planetary nebula called Abell 12, also called “The Hidden Planetary” since it is somewhat masked by the star Mu Orionis. You can see the dim circle with a reddish border just to the upper left of the star. Once zoomed in and further processed I can just make out the 19.1 magnitude central star.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 60 x 30 second at -10C, 30 darks and 30 flats, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 2, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 19 March 2021

Inside the Orion Nebula

I captured this view of the central region of the Orion Nebula, called the Trapezium Cluster, on the night of February 9, 2021. It is also known as Theta-1 Orionis and is about 1,600 light-years away. The four brightest stars have been designated A, B, C, and D (see picture). I also managed to see E and F in the grouping (although you really need to cut down on the exposure to see them clearly). The Trapezium Cluster is what provides the light for the Orion Nebula (M42) in the constellation Orion.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 60 x 1 second, 20 x 5 second running at -10C, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: February 9, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 16 March 2021

Messier 81 - Bode's Galaxy in Ursa Major

Messier 81 (M81) is a large spiral galaxy located in the constellation Ursa Major. It is referred to as Bode’s Galaxy as it was first discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1774 and later picked up by Messier and added to his catalog. The magnitude is listed at a bright 6.9 and the distance is about 11,800,000 light-years away from Earth.
Messier 81 is the largest galaxy in the M81 Group, a group of 34 galaxies located in the constellation Ursa Major. At approximately 11.8 million light years from the Earth, it makes this group and the Local Group, containing the Milky Way, relative neighbors in the Virgo Supercluster. (Wikipedia)
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, 81 x 60 second at -10C, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 7, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 13 March 2021

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 left of M38.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 56 x 60 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: December 6, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 10 March 2021

Mars and the Seven Sisters

I captured this image last night showing Mars passing by the Pleiades Cluster in Taurus. After two months of some pretty crappy weather, it’s nice to get out for some astrophotography.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 10 x 60 second exposures with dark and flat frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Two panel mosaic stitched using Microsoft ICE. Image date: March 9, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 7 March 2021

The Horsehead Nebula

The Horsehead Nebula is a diffuse dark nebula in the constellation Orion. The Horsehead Nebula is also referred to as Barnard 33 and is located inside the emission nebula IC 434 (the reddish background), it lies about 1,500 light-years away. The bright star to the left of the Horsehead Nebula is actually the star Alnitak, the left most star in the belt of Orion.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 18 x 300 second exposures with dark frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: November 7th, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 4 March 2021

The Lobster Claw Nebula

Sharpless 157, sometimes referred as the Lobster Claw Nebula, is an emission nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia, at a distance of approximately 11050 light years (3390 parsecs) from the Earth. The small open star cluster NGC 7510 is located at the bottom right part.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 48 x 300 second exposures with dark frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: November 4th, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 28 February 2021

Bailly Crater on Earth's Moon

I imaged Bailly Crater on February 25, 2021, luckily the illumination provided enough shadow for a decent image. The unstable atmosphere and winds only allowed me to grab about 2000 frames during each run, so the final image is not as crisp as I would like it. From Wikipedia - One of the largest wall-surrounded plains on the moon, almost a "sea" in miniature, extending 150 miles from N. to S., and fully as much from E. to W. Named in honor of Jean Sylvain Bailly; French astronomer (1736-1793).
TECH SPECS: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI290MC, Antares Focal Reducer. Captured using SharpCap v3.2, stacked in Autostakkert (best 20% of 2000 images), sharpened in Registax, final image processed in Corel Paintshop Pro. Image Date: February 25, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 26 February 2021

98% Full Moon - February 25, 2021

Here is a quick view of last evening’s 98% full moon. It was so bright last night with the moon reflecting off the snow!
TECH SPECS: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer. Captured using SharpCap v3.2, stacked in Autostakkert (best 20% of 500 images), sharpened in Registax, mosaic in Microsoft ICE, final image in Corel Paintshop Pro. Image Date: February 25, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.


FLICKR Explorer Image of the Day for February 28, 2021.


RELEASE DATE: 25 February 2021

Sunspot AR2804 - February 25, 2021

Some rare clear skies allowed me an opportunity to capture Sunspot AR2804 earlier today, a nice little sunspot group. Nothing fancy, just a white light glass filter on Meade 12” scope.
TECH SPECS: Meade 12” LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX pier mounted, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Antares Focal Reducer, Meade White-Light Solar Filter. Captured using SharpCap v3.2, stacked in Autostakkert, sharpened in Registax, final image in Corel Paintshop Pro. Image Date: February 25, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 23 February 2021

The Seagull Nebula - IC 2177

This is another test image using a Canon lens with an attached ZWO ASI071mc-Pro camera. This is a region northwest of the star Sirius (near the lower right corner) called the Seagull Nebula (IC 2177).
Tech Specs: Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens set at 70mm, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro camera, 1 hour and 30 minutes total exposure (calibrated with darks from the library and flats the next morning) using 300 second subs, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: January 11, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 18 February 2021

Barnard's Loop - Sharpless 276

This is another test shot using my Canon 70-200mm lens with the ZWO ASI071mc-Pro camera. Here I set the lens at 70mm and captured Barnard's Loop (also known as Sharpless 276) in the constellation Orion. You can also make out the Horsehead Nebula and Orion Nebula in this view.
Tech Specs: Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens set at 70mm, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro camera (at -20C), Optolong L-eNhance filter, 1 hour and 30 minutes total exposure (calibrated with darks from the library and flats the next morning) using 300 second subs, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: January 11, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 14 February 2021

Messier 37 - Open Cluster 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, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 30 x 60 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: January 9, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 10 February 2021

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, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 30 x 60 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: January 9, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 6 February 2021

The Tadpole Nebula in Auriga

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. This nebula is also referred to as the Tadpole Nebula - can you see the two tadpole looking objects in the image swimming toward the center?
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, ZWO ASI081mc-Pro camera, 4 hours and 50 minutes total exposure (calibrated with darks from the library and flats the next morning) using 300 second subs, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: December 10, 2020, January 7 and 10, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 2 February 2021

California Nebula and the Pleiades Star Cluster

Here is a wide field view of the California Nebula and the Pleiades Star Cluster. Continued testing of the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lens with a ZWO ASI071mc-Pro camera.
Tech Specs: Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens set at 70mm, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro camera, 1 hour and 50 minutes total exposure (calibrated with darks from the library and flats the next morning) using 300 second subs, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: January 11, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 29 January 2021

The Orion and Running Man Nebula

Here is a view of the Orion Nebula and the surrounding area. Sharpless 279 is on the left, also known as The Running Man Nebula, Messier 42 and 43 on the right and consist of the Orion Nebula and de Mairen's Nebula. In the Sharpless Catalog, the Orion Nebula is designated as Sharpless 281. This is a mix of 10, 30 and 60 second images.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro camera, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 50 minutes total exposure (calibrated with darks from the library), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: January 9, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

FLICKR Explorer Image of the Day for January 29, 2021.

RELEASE DATE: 26 January 2021

NGC 6888 Crescent Nebula Region

This is a wide field view of the Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888, Sharpless 105) located in the constellation Cygnus. The Crescent Nebula is about 5,000 light years away from Earth. The Crescent Nebula was formed by the central star shedding its outer layers. According to NASA, “Burning fuel at a prodigious rate and near the end of its stellar life this star should ultimately go out with a bang in a spectacular supernova explosion”.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 48 x 300 second (4 hours) exposures with dark frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: September 20, 2020 and November 4th and 5th, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 23 January 2021

Open Cluster M35 in Gemini

This is 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 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 30 x 60 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: November 16, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 22 January 2021

The Moon - January 21, 2021

Here is a quick capture of tonight's 61% illuminated moon.
Tech Specs: Meade 12" LX90, Antares Focal Reducer, Celestron CGEM-DX Mount, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro camera, best 15% of 1000 images, unguided, processed in Autostakkert and Registax. Image date: January 21, 2021. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 19 January 2021

The Cocoon Nebula - IC 5146

The Cocoon Nebula (IC 5146) in the constellation Cygnus. This is a reflection/emission nebula, note the dark trail behind it, a dark nebula called Barnard 168, it forms the appearance of a trail behind the Cocoon.
Image taken with a 98% illuminated moon.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 48 x 300 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library), 2" Optolong L-eNhance filter, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: November 28, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.
All equipment used to capture this image can be purchased from Agena AstroProducts (www.agenaastro.com).

RELEASE DATE: 15 January 2021

NGC 7380 The Wizard Nebula

The Wizard Nebula envelopes the open cluster designated NGC 7380. It is about 8,000 light years away from Earth in the constellation Cepheus.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 36 x 300 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library), 2" Optolong L-eNhance filter, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: December 7, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.
All equipment used to capture this image can be purchased from Agena AstroProducts (www.agenaastro.com).

RELEASE DATE: 12 January 2021

Open Cluster NGC 1245

NGC 1245 is a beautiful open cluster that is found in the constellation Perseus. Visible with binoculars, the majority of the stars in this cluster hover around magnitude 12. Another nice region with a scattering of yellow/orange and blue stars.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 20 x 60 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library and flats taken the next morning), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: December 6, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 10 January 2021

Orion Breaking Through the Clouds

Orion breaking through the clouds from the backyard. This has been the typical sky conditions here for almost a month now.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Canon EF17-40mm f/4L USM lens, tripod mounted, ISO 3200, 20 seconds, f/4, 17mm. Image date: November 4, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 08 January 2021

IC 5070 - The Pelican Nebula

This is the Pelican Nebula (IC 5070) in the constellation Cygnus and located adjacent to the North America nebula. Can you spot the pelican in the image?
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 24 x 300 second (2 hours) exposures with dark frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: November 4, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 05 January 2021

Open Cluster NGC 1193

NGC 1193 is a faint open cluster found in the constellation Perseus. I haven't seen very many images of this open cluster, I sure love some of the star colors in this region. There are also a few dozens galaxies hidden in the background stars.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 20 x 60 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library and flats taken the next morning), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: December 6, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 02 January 2021

Rosette Nebula - Sharpless 275

The Rosette Nebula (Number 275 in the Sharpless Catalog) is a large spherical ionized atomic hydrogen region in the constellation Monoceros. The nebula is about 5,200 light-years away and spans nearly 65 light-years.
Imaged under an 89% illuminated moon.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 48 x 300 second exposures, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 software, stacked in DSS and processed using PixInsight and Adobe Lightroom. Image date: November 3, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 30 December 2020

Lunar Halo

While not conducive to astrophotography, they are sure nice to image when you see them. This is a lunar halo, or winter halo, taken last evening, December 29, 2020. These halos are formed by ice crystals high in the atmosphere reflecting moonlight.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, tripod mounted, Canon EF17-40mm f/4L USM lens, ISO 1000, 1.6 second exposure at f/4 and 19mm. Image date: December 29, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

Amateur Astronomy Picture of the Day (AAPOD2) for January 17, 2021.

RELEASE DATE: 29 December 2020

NGC 457 - The Owl Cluster

Here is the Owl Cluster in Cassiopeia, also known as NGC 457. The Owl Cluster is about 7,900 light-years away. The two bright stars inside this cluster are magnitude 5 Phi-1 Cassiopeia and magnitude 7 Phi-2 Cassiopeia.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 20 x 60 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library and flats taken the next morning), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: November 9, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 26 December 2020

The Andromeda Galaxy - Messier 31 (M31)

The Andromeda Galaxy is also designated Messier 31 (M31) and is the nearest major galaxy to our Milky Way. Also pictured are the elliptical galaxies Messier 110 (M110) to the upper left of Andromeda and Messier 32 (M32) the large white dot just to the right of the center of Andromeda. This is a five panel mosaic which I plan to add additional data to.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, each panel is 60 x 60 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: November 9th to the 13th, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 21 December 2020

The Great Conjunction

The great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn was almost missed because of passing rain and snow showers, but I managed to grab a quick image in the southwestern skies before they disappeared below the tree line.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens, tripod mounted, ISO 1250, 2.5 seconds at 90mm and f/2.8. Image date: December 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 21 December 2020

NGC 7789 and Rho Cassiopeiae

This is the open cluster NGC 7789 and the unusual orange star Rho Cassiopeiae (Rho Cas) in the lower right corner. Rho Cas is designated as a yellow hypergiant star, these stars are massive and have a short life of only a few million years. There have only been seven yellow hypergiant stars found in the Milky Way. NGC 7789 contains about 1000 stars and an area of the sky almost half the size of the full moon.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 20 x 60 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library and flats taken the next morning), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: November 9, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 18 December 2020

The Pacman Nebula - NGC 281/Sh2-184

NGC 281 is an HII region in the constellation of Cassiopeia and part of the Perseus Spiral Arm. NGC 281 is also known as the Pacman Nebula for its resemblance to the video game character and in the Sharpless Catalog, Sh2-184.
This was a test image adding 2.5 hours of data under an 89% illuminated moon to an existing stack of 2 hours of data collected back in September.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 30 x 300 second exposures, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 software, stacked in DSS and processed using PixInsight and Adobe Lightroom. Image date: September 19, 2020 (2 hours) and November 3, 2020 (2.5 hours). Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 14 December 2020

Bubble Nebula Region

Here is a wide-field image of the Bubble Nebula region including several Sharpless Objects as well as the open cluster Messier 52.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -5C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 4 hours total using the Optolong L-eNhance filter, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: October 13 and November 3, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 8 December 2020

Jupiter and Saturn Conjunction

Jupiter (the brighter object) and Saturn in my Western skies this evening, December 8, 2020 - getting closer to there closest approach on December 21, 2020.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens, tripod mounted, ISO 1250, 6 seconds at 70mm and f/2.8. Halo and spikes added with StarSpikes Pro v4. Image date: December 8, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 7 December 2020

The Perseus Double Cluster

This is the double cluster in the constellation Perseus (between Perseus and Cassiopeia), they are also designate NGC 869 and NGC 884. Check out the red supergiants in this view! Did you know that the Perseus Double Cluster is surrounded by one of the largest concentrations of red supergiants stars in the sky? (Red supergiants, neutrinos and the Double Cluster, Tristram Brelstafff, 1996).
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -5C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 80 x 60 seconds, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: November 8, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 4 December 2020

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.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 129 x 60 second exposures (calibrated with darks from the library and flats taken the next morning), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software, processed in PixInsight. Image date: November 13 and November 16, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 1 December 2020

The Pleiades - M45

The Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters and Messier 45, are an open star cluster located in the constellation Taurus. Robert Burnham states in his Celestial Handbook, "undoubtedly the most famous galactic star cluster in the heavens, known and regarded with reverence since remote antiquity." Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien referred to the Pleiades as Remmirath, or "The Netted Stars" in The Fellowship of the Ring?
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -5C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, 8 hours total including 4 hours using the Optolong L-eNhance filter, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: November 8, 2020 and September 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

Selected for FLICKR EXPLORE, top 500 photos for December 1, 2020.

RELEASE DATE: 28 November 2020

Sunspot AR2786

Today’s sunspots including the large sunspot AR2786. Tech Specs: Williams Optics Redcat51, Sky Watcher EQ6R-Pro Mount, Thousand Oaks Optical Solar Filter, ZWO ASI290MC, ZWO ASIair Pro running beta software v1.5.1 in video capture mode, processed in Autostakkert! and Corel PaintshopPro. Image Date: November 28, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 26 November 2020

The Jellyfish Nebula - IC443

IC 443 (also known as the Jellyfish Nebula and Sharpless 248) is a galactic supernova remnant in the constellation Gemini. On the plane of the sky, it is located near the star Eta Geminorum. Its distance is roughly 5,000 light years from Earth (ref: Wikipedia).
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -5C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 30 x 300 second (2.5 hours) exposures, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: October 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 21 November 2020

The Heart Nebula - IC1805

The Heart Nebula (IC 1805) lies about 7,500 light years away from Earth in the Perseus Arm of the Galaxy in the constellation Cassiopeia. The brightest part of the nebula (a knot at its western edge) is separately classified as NGC 896, because it was the first part of the nebula to be discovered. The nebula's intense red output and its morphology are driven by the radiation emanating from a small group of stars near the nebula's center. This open cluster of stars, known as Melotte 15, contains a few bright stars nearly 50 times the mass of our Sun, and many more dim stars that are only a fraction of our Sun's mass. The Heart Nebula is located adjacent to the Soul Nebula forming a view referred to as the Heart and Soul Nebula.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -5C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 24 x 300 second (2 hours) exposures combined with 12 x 300 (1 hour) second exposures from 2019, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: October 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 18 November 2020

The Soul Nebula - IC1848

This large star forming region is called the Soul Nebula (or Embryo Nebula) and is found in the constellation Cassiopeia. This nebula is often shown next to the Heart Nebula (IC 1805). The Soul Nebula is about 6,500 light years away from Earth. The nebula contains several open clusters and there are few smaller emission nebulas around the perimeter. The star clusters are surrounded by hydrogen, which glows red from the young hot stars nearby.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -5C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 24 x 300 second (2 hours) exposures combined with 12 x 300 (1 hour) second exposures from 2019, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: October 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 15 November 2020

Flaming Star Nebula - IC405

This is the Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405) located in the constellation Auriga. The comma shaped object contains both emission and reflection nebulae.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -5C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 24 x 300 second (2 hours) exposures with dark frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: October 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 12 November 2020

The Crescent Nebula - NGC 6888

This is a clip from a larger image showing the Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888, Sharpless 105) located in the constellation Cygnus. Just trying to figure out how much detail can be captured using the Williams Optics REDCAT on a wide field image. The Crescent Nebula is about 5,000 light years away from Earth. The Crescent Nebula was formed by the central star shedding its outer layers. According to NASA, “Burning fuel at a prodigious rate and near the end of its stellar life this star should ultimately go out with a bang in a spectacular supernova explosion”.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -10C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 56 x 300 second (4 hours and 40 minutes) exposures with dark frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: September 20, 2020 and November 4, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 9 November 2020

Galaxy NGC 1023 in Perseus

Here is galaxy NGC 1023 in the constellation Perseus. From Wikipedia: NGC 1023 is a barred lenticular galaxy (magnitude 9.4) and a member of the NGC 1023 group of galaxies in the Local Supercluster. Distance measurements vary from 9.3 to 19.7 million parsecs (30 to 64 million light-years).
NGC 1023 was discovered by William Herschel in 1786. If you look close you can see a small companion on the right-hand side, this is designated as PGC 10139 (also referred to as NGC 1023A because of its possible connection to the main galaxy). It is a magnitude 13.6 irregular galaxy. It is also cataloged in the ARP Atlas (Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies) as ARP 135.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90 (at f/10), ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 108 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: September 18, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 6 November 2020

Planetary Nebula NGC 6765

NGC 6765 is a small dim planetary nebula in the constellation Lyra, overshadowed by the Ring Nebula (Messier 57) which is only about 4-degrees away. The magnitude of this planetary nebula hovers around 13 and it only measures 0.67 arcmin wide. You can just start to see evidence of an outer shell on the upper part of the nebula.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90 (f/10), ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 54x60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: October 8, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 2 November 2020

The Ghost of Cassiopeia - Widefield

IC 59 and IC 63 are found in the constellation Cassiopeia very near the bright star Gamma Cassiopeia. This set of objects is also known as the Ghost of Cassiopeia. Gamma Cassiopeia also has the informal nickname of Navi. The “IC” designation comes from a group of objects discovered between 1888 and 1907, most made possible by photography, and known as the Index Catalogue.
These nebulae are a combination of emission and reflection, they are located about 610 light years from Earth and are about 10 light years across. Gamma Cassiopeia provides the radiation to light up this area of dust and gas, eventually dissipating the area.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at -5C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 36 x 300 second (3 hours) exposures with dark frames, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 Beta software. Image date: September 19, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 29 October 2020

Stephen's Quintet Galaxies

Stephan’s Quintet can be found in the constellation Pegasus, the apparent magnitude of these galaxies hovers around 14.0, making this a tough object to capture. This group of galaxies was discovered by Edouard Stephan in 1877 at Marseille Observatory. Although referred to as a quintet, only four of the five galaxies are interacting with each other at a distance of about 300 million light years! NGC 7320 is actually much closer at a distance of “only” 40 million light years.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 88x60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: August 10, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 24 October 2020

Emission Nebula IC 1396

This is the faint emission nebula designated as IC 1396 in the constellation Cepheus. This region is energized by the bright, bluish central multiple star HD 206267. You can see the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula, IC 1396A, on the lower edge of this image. From NASA APOD, “Stars could still be forming inside the dark shapes by gravitational collapse. But as the denser clouds are eroded away by powerful stellar winds and radiation, any forming stars will ultimately be cutoff from the reservoir of star stuff.”
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 32 x 300 seconds (2hr40min), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 software, stacked in DSS and processed using PixInsight and Adobe Lightroom. Image date: September 19th and 20th, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 20 October 2020

NGC 7331 and the Deer Lick Group

Here is an image of NGC 7331, the most prominent member of the Deer Lick Group of galaxies in the constellation Pegasus.
The name of the group was reportedly given by Tomm Lorenzin, author of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing". This name was given in honor of the Deer Lick Gap in the mountains of North Carolina where he observed and had an especially fine view of this group of galaxies.
NGC 7331 is about 40 million light years away from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 10.4.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90 (at f/10), ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 108 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: September 18, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 16 October 2020

ARP 278 Interacting Galaxies

Here is a view of a pair of interacting galaxies listed in the Arp Catalog of Unusual Galaxies as ARP 278, they are also designated as NGC 7253A and 7253B. These galaxies are currently merging and producing significant star formation, they are about 200 million light years away from Earth in the constellation Pegasus.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 86x60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: August 14, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 12 October 2020

The California Nebula - NGC1499

The California Nebula (NGC 1499) is an emission nebula in the constellation Perseus. This nebula is about 1,000 light years from the Earth. The nebula is being lit up by the star Menkib which is the brightest star in the center of my image.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 42 x 300 second exposures, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 software, stacked in DSS and processed using PixInsight and Adobe Lightroom. Image date: September 19, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 10 October 2020

The Planet Mars

Mars imaged last evening, best 15% of 20k frames.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI290MC, unguided. Captured using SharpCap v3.2 (64 bit), processed in Autostakkert and Registax. Image date: October 9, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 8 October 2020

The Pacman Nebula - NGC 281

NGC 281 - NGC 281 is an H II region in the constellation of Cassiopeia and part of the Perseus Spiral Arm. It includes the open cluster IC 1590, the multiple star HD 5005, and several Bok globules. NGC 281 is also known as the Pacman Nebula for its resemblance to the video game character.
** An H II region is a large, low-density cloud of partially ionized gas in which star formation has recently taken place.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 30 x 300 second exposures, guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 software, stacked in DSS and processed using PixInsight and Adobe Lightroom. Image date: September 19, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 3 October 2020

ARP 86 Interacting Galaxies

Here is a pair of interacting galaxies known as NGC 7753 and NGC 7752, collectively known as ARP 86 (as listed in Arp's ATLAS OF PECULIAR GALAXIES). The pair are located in the constellation Pegasus and are about 272 million light years away from Earth.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 81x60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: August 14, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 30 September 2020

Messier 1 - The Crab Nebula in Taurus

The Crab Nebula, Messier 1, is the result of a supernova that was first observed and then recorded in Chinese astronomical writings in the year 1054. The Crab Nebula is found in the constellation Taurus and is about 6,700 light years away. This explosion was so bright that it was visible during daylight hours for over 20 days and remained visible in the night sky for over two years.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90 (at f/10), ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 161 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: September 18, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 27 September 2020

Globular Cluster Messier 2

Messier (M2) is the first globular cluster listed in the Messier catalog and is located about 37,000 light years away from Earth. M2 is located in the constellation Aquarius and is one of the largest globular clusters. It has an estimated diameter of 150 light years and contains over 150,000 stars bound together by their mutual gravitational attraction.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 21 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: September 9, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 24 September 2020

Elephant Trunk Nebula

Here is a small clip from a larger view of IC 1396 in the constellation Cepheus called the Elephant Trunk Nebula. The Elephant Trunk Nebula is about 2,400 light years from Earth and stretches for over 20 light years. This area is also a star forming region containing over 250 young stars both in it, and around it.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT51, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro running at 0C, Sky-Watcher EQ6R-Pro mount, Optolong L-eNhance filter (2”), 32 x 300 seconds (2hr40min), guided using a ZWO 30mm f/4 mini guide scope and ZWO 120 Mini, controlled with a ZWO ASIAir Pro running v1.5 software, stacked in DSS and processed using PixInsight and Adobe Lightroom. Image date: September 19th and 20th, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 21 September 2020

Planetary Nebula NGC 40

From Wikipedia: NGC 40 (also known as the Bow-Tie Nebula and Caldwell 2) is a planetary nebula discovered by William Herschel on November 25, 1788, and is composed of hot gas around a dying star. The star has ejected its outer layer which has left behind a smaller, hot star with a temperature on the surface of about 50,000 degrees Celsius. Radiation from the star causes the shed outer layer to heat to about 10,000 degrees Celsius, and is about one light-year across. About 30,000 years from now, scientists theorize that NGC 40 will fade away, leaving only a white dwarf star approximately the size of Earth.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 142 mixed 1-second, 5-second, and 10-second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: August 16, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 17 September 2020

Messier 15 in Pegasus

M15 (NGC 7078) is a bright globular cluster located in the constellation Pegasus. The age of this cluster is estimated to be 12 billion years, ranking it as one of the oldest known globular clusters.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 27 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: September 9, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 14 September 2020

Globular Cluster NGC 6426

NGC 6426 is a globular cluster located in the constellation Ophiuchus. It is designated IX in the galaxy morphological classification scheme and was discovered by the British astronomer William Herschel on 3 June 1786. It is at a distance of 67,500 light years away from earth. (from Wikipedia)
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 30 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: July 20, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 7 September 2020

Globular Cluster Messier 107

Messier 107 (M107) is a loose globular cluster found in the constellation Ophiuchus. M107 is about 20,900 light-years away from Earth. It is the last globular cluster in the Messier Catalog.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 15 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: July 20, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 4 September 2020

Messier 97 - The Owl Nebula

The Owl Nebula (also known as Messier 97, M97 or NGC 3587) is a planetary nebula located approximately 2,030 light years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The owl-like appearance is caused by various formed shells expanding away from the central star.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 60 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 15, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 29 August 2020

Messier 88 - A Spiral Galaxy to Envy

Messier 88 (M88 or NGC 4501) is about 47 million light years away in the direction of the constellation Coma Berenices and belongs to the Virgo Cluster. I simply love how this galaxy poses for photographs, it’s hard to pick a bad angle with its symmetrical arms and well defined spiral. In this image, I used 60 x 60 second exposures shooting at f/10 on my Meade 12” LX-90 telescope using the ZWO ASI071mc-Pro cooled to 5C.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 60 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 26, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 26 August 2020

The Moon - August 25, 2020

Last night's moon shining at 52% illumination, three panel mosaic with the Meade 12".
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, three panels, best 20% of 300 frames, unguided. Captured using SharpCap v3.2, processed in AutoStakkert, stitched in Microsoft Image Composite Editor. Image date: August 25, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 25 August 2020

The Moon - August 24, 2020

I managed to grab a few frames of last night's moon before the fog settled in. Here is a three panel mosaic of the 41% illuminated waxing crescent moon. Hope you like it!
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, three panels, best 20% of 300 frames, unguided. Captured using SharpCap v3.2, processed in AutoStakkert, stitched in Microsoft Image Composite Editor. Image date: August 24, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

Selected for FLICKR EXPLORE 8/26/2020 top 500 photos.

RELEASE DATE: 23 August 2020

Galaxy Messier 85 (M85)

Messier 85 (M85) is a lenticular or elliptical galaxy located in the Virgo Cluster of galaxies in the constellation Coma Berenices. M85 is the large galaxy on the top of the image. It is about 60 million light years from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 10. Messier 85 is interacting with two nearby galaxies designated NGC 4394 (the barred spiral galaxy on the bottom) and MCG 3-32-38 (the tiny elliptical galaxy just to the right of M85).
Constellation: Coma BerenicesRight ascension: 12h 25m 24.0s Declination: +18°11’28” Distance: 60 million light years (18.5 megaparsecs) Number of stars: 400 billionApparent magnitude: +10.0Apparent dimensions: 7′.1 x 5′.5Radius: 62,500 light years
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 58 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 26, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 16 August 2020

Globular Cluster Messier 71 (M71)

M71 is about 12,000 light years away from Earth and is about 27 light years across. Up until the 1970’s this cluster was designated as a densely packed open cluster because of the loose central region, today it is designated as a loosely concentrated globular cluster with a young age of 9-10 billion years.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 29 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 25, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 13 August 2020

Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 2903

NGC 2903 is a barred spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. It was discovered by William Herschel who cataloged it on November 16, 1784. NGC 2905 is a bright star cloud within this galaxy.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Canon 6D (stock), 60 x 60 second exposures, ISO 3200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: February 22, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 10 August 2020

Globular Cluster Messier 14 (M14)

Messier 14 (M14 or NGC 6402 in the New General Catalog) is a globular cluster in a rather empty area of the constellation Ophiuchus. It was discovered in 1764 by the French astronomer Charles Messier who described it as a “nebula without stars, not large, faint, and round”. M14 is approximately 29,000 light-years distant. You will definitely need binoculars or a small telescope to see this cluster.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 14 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 25, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 7 August 2020

Fireworks Galaxy NGC 6946

From Wikipedia: NGC 6946, (also known as the Fireworks Galaxy, Arp 29, and Caldwell 12), is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 18 million light-years away, in the constellations Cepheus and Cygnus. It was discovered by William Herschel on September 9, 1798. NGC 6946 is highly obscured by interstellar matter of the Milky Way galaxy, as it is quite close to the galactic plane. The diameter of the galaxy is approximately 40,000 light-years or just about a third of the size of the Milky Way.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 59 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: June 14, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 2 August 2020

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) - July 31, 2020

Here is Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) passing in front of several galaxies on July 31, 2020.
Tech Specs: ZWO ASI071mc-pro, Williams Optics REDCAT51, 29 x 60 seconds with dark and flat frames. Stacked in DSS and processed in PixInsight. Image Date: July 31, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 31 July 2020

Messier 27 – The Dumbbell Nebula

The Dumbbell Nebula (Messier 27, M27 or NGC 6853) is a bright planetary nebula in the constellation Vulpecula. It is easily seen in binoculars and wide-field photographs. The central star is an extremely hot blueish subdwarf. The nebula was created by the dying star ejecting a shell of gas into space. No summer is complete without imaging this nebula!
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 58 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 25, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 27 July 2020

Globular Cluster Messier 12 in the Constellation Ophiuchus

Messier 12 (M12 or NGC 6218 in the New General Catalog) is a globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus. It is also referred to as the “Gumball Globular”. It was discovered in 1764 by the French astronomer Charles Messier who described it as a “nebula without stars”. M12 is approximately 15,700 light-years distant. You will definitely need binoculars or a small telescope to see this cluster. This cluster contains about 200,000 stars, the brightest of them are about 12th magnitude.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 20 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 25, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 23 July 2020

Trifid and Lagoon Nebula

Continued testing of the Askar 72mm Quintuplet Petzval Flat-Field Astrograph running at f/3.9 with the included Askar 0.7x reducer. Here is a wide-field shot of the Trifid and Lagoon Nebula in the constellation Sagittarius using the Askar Astrograph paired up with a ZWO ASI071mc-Pro camera, Optolong L-eNhance filter, and controlled with the ZWO ASIair Pro, all running on an EQ6-R Pro mount. Lot's of details for only 25-minutes of exposure time.
The Askar 72mm is available through AgenaAstro (www.agenaastro.com).
Tech Specs: Equipment listed above, 25 x 300 seconds with dark frames. Stacked in DSS processed using PixInsight and ImagesPlus, cropped and adjusted using Adobe Lightroom. Image Date: July 14, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 18 July 2020

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) - July 17, 2020

Here is Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) from last evening, just a single image before the clouds rolled in.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens, tripod mounted, ISO 400, 6 seconds, f/2.8, 70mm. Image Date: July 17, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 15 July 2020

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) - July 14, 2020

Here is Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) from last evening. This is a nine minute exposure using 20-second subs. Just starting to capture some details in the tail.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Williams Optics REDCAT on an iOptron SkyTracker mount (1st Gen). ISO 400, 27 x 20 seconds with darks, bias and flat frames. Stacked in DSS and processed in PixInsight and Adobe Lightroom. Image Date: July 14, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 11 July 2020

Messier 13 Hercules Cluster

Messier 13, also referred to as the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, is one of the brightest and best known globular clusters in the northern skies. It shines at a magnitude of 5.8, is about 22,200 light years away and contains an estimated 300,000 stars.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 27 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 22, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 8 July 2020

Galaxy Messier 94

Here is a view of the spiral galaxy named Messier 94 (M94 or NGC 4736) found in the constellation Canes Venatici. It has an apparent magnitude of 8.99 and is about 16 million light-years away from Earth.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 53 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 15, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 5 July 2020

The Surfboard Galaxy M108

Messier 108 (M108 or NGC 3556), nicknamed the Surfboard Galaxy, is a barred spiral galaxy located in the constellation Ursa Major. The galaxy lies at an approximate distance of 45.9 million light years from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 10.7.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 55 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 3 July 2020

Solar Prominence - July 2, 2020

Nice solar prominence on yesterday’s sun! Earth was added to give a rough idea of the size.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics Redcat 51, ZWO ASI290MC, Daystar Quark Chromosphere + ZWO 2" UV/IR filter, SharpCap, best 25% of 5k frames, AutoStakkert, Registax. Image date: 2 July 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory in Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 30 June 2020

The Spindle Galaxy Messier 102

Messier 102 (M102), also known as the Spindle Galaxy, is an edge-on lenticular galaxy located in the northern constellation Draco. The Spindle Galaxy lies at a distance of 50 million light years from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 10.7. It has the designation NGC 5866 in the New General Catalogue.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 57 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 19, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 26 June 2020

Globular Cluster Messier 53 (M53)

Messier 53 (also known as M53 or NGC 5024) is a globular cluster in the Coma Berenices constellation and is one of the more outlying globular clusters. It is roughly 60,000 light-years away from our solar system.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 16 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 19, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 22 June 2020

Globular Cluster Messier 10 (M10)

Messier 10 (or M10) is a globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus. It is approximately 15,000 light years away. From Wikipedia, “A globular cluster is a spherical collection of stars that orbits a galactic core as a satellite. Globular clusters are very tightly bound by gravity, which gives them their spherical shapes and relatively high stellar densities toward their centers.”
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 20 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 25, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 19 June 2020

Spiral Galaxy Messier 99

Messier 99 or M99 (NGC 4254) in the constellation Coma Berenices is a spiral galaxy approximately 56 million light-years away from Earth. Burnham states, “The spiral pattern is very well defined, although somewhat asymmetric, with an unusually far-extending arm on the west side….”
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 49 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 19, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 16 June 2020

Globular Cluster Messier 5 (M5)

M5 (NGC 5904) is a bright globular cluster located in the constellation Serpens. M5 is one of the oldest globular clusters, as well as one of the brightest, in our galaxy. Estimates to the number of stars vary from 100,000 to as many as 500,000.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 30 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 25, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 12 June 2020

Galaxy Messier 100 (M100)

Messier 100 (M100, NGC 4321) is the largest spiral galaxy of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster and is about 55 million light-years away from Earth. It is a "grand design spiral galaxy" with prominent and well-defined spiral arms. It has an apparent magnitude of 9.5, a nice bright target even for a small telescope.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 55 x 60 second exposures, BIN2, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 22, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 9 June 2020

Sunspot AR2765 - June 9, 2020

Sunspot AR2765, from SpaceWeather.com "New-cycle sunspot AR2765 is crackling with B-class solar flares."
Tech Specs: iOptron ZEQ25GT mount, Williams Optics Redcat51, ZWO ASI290MC, Daystar Quark Chromosphere + Daystar 2" UV/IR filter. Best 25% of 2500 frames captured using Sharpcap Pro. Image date: June 9, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 8 June 2020

M63 - The Sunflower Galaxy

Here is a view of the Sunflower Galaxy, Messier 63 (M63) found in the constellation Canes Venatici. It is a spiral galaxy surrounded by many short spiral arm segments. It is also a member of a group of galaxies referred to as the M51 Group. The Sunflower Galaxy lies roughly 37 million light years from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 9.3.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 60 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 15, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 5 June 2020

Globular Cluster Messier 92

M92 is a bright, compact globular cluster located in the northern section of Hercules. I think Robert Burnham said it best, “This is a beautiful rich globular cluster which in almost any other constellation would be considered a major show object; in Hercules it has been somewhat overshadowed by the splendor of the fabulous M13.” (Burnham’s Celestial Handbook – Volume 2 – Robert Burnham Jr.)
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 19 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 19, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 3 June 2020

The Moon - May 31, 2020

Plato Crater on Earth's Moon. From Wikipedia: Plato is a lava-filled lunar impact crater on the Moon. Its diameter is 101 km. It was named after ancient Greek philosopher Plato. It is located on the northeastern shore of the Mare Imbrium, at the western extremity of the Montes Alpes mountain range.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI290MC, best 25% of 10,000 frames, unguided. Captured using SharpCap v3.2, edited with Registax and PixInsight. Image date: May 31, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 31 May 2020

Supernova SN2020fqv in Galaxy NGC 4568

Here is a view of the Siamese Twins Galaxies, also known as the Butterfly Galaxies, located in the constellation Virgo. These galaxies are in the early phase of colliding and merging with each other. Also identified in this image is a new supernova designated SN2020fqv that was discovered on March 31, 2020 by the Zwicky Transient Facility. The magnitude of the supernova is about 15.5. The galaxies are about 60-million light years away from Earth.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 44 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 25, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 28 May 2020

Supernova SN2020hvf in Galaxy NGC 3643

Here is a view of the galaxy NGC 3643 that shines with a magnitude of just 13.5, also in this view is supernova SN2020hvf, you can see how it outshines even the galactic core, impressive. This is a Type Ia supernova.
From Wikipedia: A type Ia supernova (read "type one-a") is a type of supernova that occurs in binary systems (two stars orbiting one another) in which one of the stars is a white dwarf. The other star can be anything from a giant star to an even smaller white dwarf.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 44 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 25, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 26 May 2020

Supernova SN2020hvp in Galaxy NGC 6118

Here is a shot of the galaxy NGC 6118, it is a grand design spiral galaxy located 83 million light-years away in the constellation Serpens. It measures roughly 110,000 light-years across; about the same as our own galaxy, the Milky Way. The magnitude of this galaxy is about 12.4. The "dot" in this image is a star that has gone supernova, designated SN2020hvp, inside that galaxy. Estimated magnitude in this image is 16.5. This supernova was discovered on April 21, 2020.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 45 x 60 second exposures (Gain 200, Offset 65, Temp 5-degrees F), guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 25, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 25 May 2020

Galaxy NGC 4274

From Wikipedia: NGC 4274 is a barred spiral galaxy located in the constellation Coma Berenices. It is located at a distance of about 45 million light years from Earth. It was discovered by William Herschel in 1785.
NGC 4274 is characterized by its overlapping outer arms, forming a ring structure. The inner arms begin near the edge of the bulge and they are bright and dusty, with dust lanes that more prominent at the near side. Outside the near-ring a set of fainter outer arms. These outer arms also form a ring. A third rings exists near the nucleus.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Canon 6D (stock), 60 x 60 second exposures, ISO 3200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: February 22, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 23 May 2020

Solar Halo

I snagged this image of a solar halo while biking the Lehigh Gorge rail trail on May 19th. Jane and I were just talking about seeing some mare’s tail clouds (cirrus clouds) earlier. Did you know these are caused by ice particles high in the atmosphere that are refracting and reflecting the light passing through them?
EarthSky.org states that, “That’s why, like rainbows, halos around the sun – or moon – are personal. Everyone sees their own particular halo, made by their own particular ice crystals, which are different from the ice crystals making the halo of the person standing next to you.” (ref: https://earthsky.org/space/what-makes-a-halo-around-the-moon).
Tech Specs: Apple iPhone X. Date: 19 May 2020. Location: Lehigh Gorge State Park, Pennsylvania, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 21 May 2020

Crescent Venus - 6%

Here is a view of the planet Venus captured during mid-day. Venus is currently only 6% illuminated and getting a bit harder to image in the heat of the day.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI290MC, best 10% of 5,000 frames, UV/IR filter, unguided. Captured using SharpCap Pro, stacked in Autostakkert, processed in Registax. Image date: May 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 20 May 2020

The UFO Galaxy NGC 2683

Here is the spiral galaxy NGC 2683 in the constellation Lynx. If you look close, to the right of this glaxy is the galaxy PGC 2030408 at magnitude 16.8. I found a reference nicknaming NGC 2683 the UFO Galaxy, it is about 20 million light-years away from Earth.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Canon 6D (stock), 60 x 60 second exposures, ISO 3200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: February 22, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 17 May 2020

Changing Face of Venus

Here is a composite image showing how the view of planet Venus is changing just from April 28th the May 13th, each night forming a thinner crescent shape. I’m now at the point where I must image Venus during the day because it is too low after sunset to image from inside the observatory. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I'll be able to add a few more pics to this series.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI290MC, UV/IR filter, unguided. Captured using SharpCap Pro, stacked in Autostakkert, processed in Registax. Image date(s): April 28 to May 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 15 May 2020

SN 2020jfo in Messier 61

Here is a view of the relatively new supernova SN 2020jfo located in the beautiful spiral galaxy Messier 61 in the constellation Virgo. The left image was taken on May 13, 2020 showing the bright supernova, the image on the right was taken on April 1, 2019. Doing a quick comparison, it looks to be hovering at magnitude 14.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 55 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: May 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

AAPOD2 Picture of the Day for May 17, 2020

RELEASE DATE: 14 May 2020

Venus - May 13, 2020

Here is a view of the planet Venus captured during the day. Venus is currently only 13% illuminated and heading between the Sun and Earth causing the crescent to get progressively thinner and the planet to get progressively larger.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI290MC, best 10% of 2,000 frames, UV/IR filter, unguided. Captured using SharpCap Pro, stacked in Autostakkert, processed in Registax. Image date: May 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 13 May 2020

Globular Cluster Messier 3

Messier 3 (also known as M3 or NGC 5272) is a globular cluster found in the northern constellation of Canes Venatici. M3 is one of the three brightest globular clusters in the Northern hemisphere (along with M13 and M5). This cluster is made up of around 500,000 stars. It is estimated to be 11.4 billion years old. It is located at a distance of about 33,900 light-years away from Earth.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 39 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: April 22, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 7 May 2020

Galaxy Messier 65 in Leo

Messier 65 (also known as NGC 3623) is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 35 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1780. Along with M66 and NGC 3628, M65 forms the Leo Triplet, a small group of galaxies.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Canon 6D (stock), 60 x 60 second exposures, ISO 3200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: February 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 4 May 2020

Venus in the West

Venus from last night is now only 22% illuminated and now past peak brightness.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI290MC, best 10% of 10,000 frames, UV/IR filter, unguided. Captured using SharpCap Pro. Image date: May 3, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 2 May 2020

Galaxy Messier 66 in Leo

Messier 66 or M66, also known as NGC 3627, is an intermediate spiral galaxy in the equatorial constellation of Leo. It was discovered by French astronomer Charles Messier on March 1, 1780, who described it as "very long and very faint". This galaxy is a member of a small group of galaxies that includes M65 and NGC 3628, known as the Leo Triplet, or the M66 Group.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Canon 6D (stock), 57 x 60 second exposures, ISO 3200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: February 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 29 Apr 2020

Bright Venus in the Western Skies

As of last evening, the planet Venus is 27% illuminated and near its maximum brightness. Its brightness comes from its proximity to Earth, it is currently passing between us and the sun. The crescent phase will grow thinner and thinner until we lose sight of Venus in the western glow. It reappears in the morning skies of late June. You can check our EarthSky’s article on this at: https://earthsky.org/tonight/venus-at-its-brightest-in-late-april
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI290MC, best 25% of 10,000 frames, UV/IR filter, unguided. Captured using SharpCap Pro. Image date: April 28, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 28 Apr 2020

NGC 2261 - Hubble’s Variable Nebula

Here is a view of NGC 2261 also known as Hubble’s Variable Nebula. The dust cloud is being illuminated by the star R Monocerotis, the brightest area on the left of the fan-shaped nebula. It is thought the condensation near the star varies over time changing the illuminations of the fan. The star is roughly 2,500 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 -20C, 15 x 120 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 22, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 25 Apr 2020

Galaxy NGC 2841 in Ursa Major

NGC 2841 is a spiral galaxy found in the constellation Ursa Major. It has an apparent magnitude of 10.1 and is about 46 million light years from Earth.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Canon 6D (stock), 60 x 60 second exposures, ISO 3200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: February 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 23 Apr 2020

Lyrid Meteor Shower

I managed to capture a few Lyrid meteors last evening, April 21, 2020. Here is a composite image showing two meteors. The Big Dipper asterism and the star Vega (in the constellation Lyra) have been highlighted in this view to help orient you. The focal point of the Lyrid Meteor Shower is in the direction of Vega, you can see how these meteors point in that general direction.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Lensbaby Fisheye Lens, tripod mounted, unguided, controlled with BackYardEOS software platform for automated 30-second images all night. Date: April 21, 2020 Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

Image featured on EarthSky.org

RELEASE DATE: 22 Apr 2020

Galaxy Messier 106 (M106) in Canes Venatici

Messier 106 (M106) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici and is approximately 23.7 million light years from Earth.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 60 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, Offset 65, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro and processed using PixInsight. Image date: March 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 19 Apr 2020