The Dark Side Observatory

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

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: 10 May 2020

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, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 90 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 1, 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

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 in this image is actually the star Alnitak, the left most star in the belt of Orion.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Optolong L-eNhance 2″ filter, 12 x 300 seconds, Gain 200, running at -25C. Image Date: January 22, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, Pennsylvania, USA.
Wide-angle view showing the Horsehead Nebula, belt of Orion and the Orion Nebula, HERE.
Full resolution of today’s image can be found on our FLICKR page.

RELEASE DATE: 6 Apr 2020

The Orion Nebula

Winter imaging is not complete until you image the Orion and Running Man nebula found in the constellation Orion. I really wanted to put more time into this, but spent a lot of time switching from a DSLR setup to a dedicated astronomy camera, and the associated learning curve.
This is probably one of the most photographed nebula in the sky. Objects in this view include M42 (Orion Nebula), M43 (de Mairan’s Nebula), NGC 1977 (The Running Man Nebula), NGC 1975 and NGC 1973.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics REDCAT, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, Optolong L-eNhance 2″ filter, 24 x 300 seconds, Gain 200, running at -25C. Image Date: January 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, Pennsylvani, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 1 Apr 2020

Galaxy NGC 3184 in Ursa Major

NGC 3184 is a spiral galaxy found in the constellation Ursa Major, it is about 40 million light-years away from Earth. The last time I imaged this galaxy was back in 2016 when Supernova SN 2016bkv erupted inside one of the galaxies arms. You can see my image from 2016 HERE.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Canon 6D, 60 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using BYE. Image date: February 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 26 Mar 2020

Messier 109 – A Barred Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major

Here is some combined data from 2019 and 2020 totaling 131 minutes on the barred-spiral galaxy Messier 109 (M109 or NGC 3992) found in the constellation Ursa Major. M109 is about 83 million light years away from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 10.6. M109 has three satellite galaxies (UGC 6923, UGC 6940 and UGC 6969), all visible in this image, and possibly might have more (ref: Wikipedia). Estimates indicate that this galaxy contains about 1 trillion stars!
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Canon 6D (unmod), 131 x 60 second exposures, ISO3200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using BYE and processed using PixInsight. Image date: February 19, 2020 and data from 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 22 Mar 2020

Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) – March 21, 2020

Here is a view of Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) from last evening, March 21, 2020. This is just a 14-minute stacked exposure showing the comet as it is traveling through the constellation Ursa Major. The comet tail is clearly visible.
Technical Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 14 x 60 second exposures, Gain 200, Temp -5C, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SGP v3.1 and processed in DeepSkyStacker. Image date: March 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 21 Mar 2020

Witch Head Nebula (IC 2118)

Here is an early work in progress showing my first attempt at imaging the Witch Head Nebula (IC 2118) in the constellation Orion. The bright star in this image is Rigel. With Orion now in the western skies after sunset, I will probably not be able to add additional data to this until next season. Still, happy to have finally imaged this one!
Tech Specs: Williams Optic’s Redcat 51, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -10C, 30 x 120 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 29, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 17 Mar 2020

The Eskimo Nebula – NGC 2392

Here is my first light image using the ZWO ASI071mc-Pro and the Meade 12” LX-90 at f/10. This is the planetary nebula called The Eskimo Nebula or NGC 2392. It is a double-shell planetary nebula located in the constellation Gemini and is about 2,900 light-years away from Earth at a magnitude of 10.1. Radial velocity measurements reveal that this diameter of the cloud is growing at a rate of 68 miles per second (Burnham, 1978).
It is interesting to compare the same image taken last year using my stock Canon 6D with the image taken using the ASI071, what a difference in the internal details and colors of this planetary nebula, I’ll share the comparison later.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, 24 x 10 second exposures, Gain 200, Temp -3C, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SGP v3.1. Image date: February 28, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 14 Mar 2020

Open Cluster NGC 1664 in Auriga

NGC 1664 is an open cluster in the constellation of Auriga, it has a magnitude of 7.6 and is about 3,910 light years away from Earth. It is also referred to as the “Kite Cluster”, I also found references to a heart-shaped balloon (which I really do not see). Can you find the kite in the center of the image?
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 15, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 11 Mar 2020

Messier 82 - Starburst Galaxy in Ursa Major

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. You can view a few images of that supernova at this link: https://flic.kr/p/jT5nYp
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90, Canon 6D, 90 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using BYE. Image date: February 19, 2020 and March 12, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 8 Mar 2020

The Moon - March 7, 2020

A view of last evenings waxing gibbous moon, 96% illuminated. This is a six panel mosaic, each panel consisting of the best 25% of 500 images.
Tech Specs: Meade 12” LX-90 (at f/10), ZWO ASI071mc-Pro, unguided. Captured using SharpCap Pro v3.2, stacked in Autostakkert, mosaic pieced together using Microsoft ICE. Image date: March 7, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 6 Mar 2020

Sirius and the Pup

I took the opportunity on March 1st to try and capture an image of Sirius and the Pup, the companion white dwarf to the brightest star in the sky (besides the Sun). I chose to use the Meade 12” LX-90 and the ZWO ASI290MC camera to tackle this image. Information from Stella Doppie (https://www.stelledoppie.it/index2.php?iddoppia=27936) was showing the Pup at a distance of 11.193 arc-seconds from Sirius, the next few years are prime for imaging the Pup as it is approaching its maximum distance from Sirius.
The snapshot shown was taken from inside SharpCap (v3.2) using a GAIN of 109 and exposure setting of 0.986 seconds. To help confirm this was the companion to Sirius, the camera was rotate to make sure the Pup rotated with the camera.
Using the CCD Calculator tool from Astronomy Tools (https://astronomy.tools/calculators/ccd), the resolution of the photograph was calculated to be 0.2"/pixel (using a 2.9 um CCD pixel size and a 3,048mm focal length). Measuring the pixel distance from the center of Sirius A to what I believe is Sirius B shows a calculated distance of 12.6 arc seconds, which is close to the predicted 11.193 separation provided by Stella Doppie.
Additional details including a video can be found at this link:https://sites.google.com/view/thedarksideobservatory/deep-sky-astrophotography/doublebinary-stars/sirius-and-the-pup
Tech Specs for all images and video: Meade 12” LX-90, ZWO ASI290MC camera. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: March 1, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 3 Mar 2020

Venus in the Evening Sky

Here is a shot of Venus in the western sky taken on 1 March 2020 just after sunset. Did you know Venus shows phases similar to the moon? Currently, Venus is 62% illuminated. You can read more about the phases of Venus here: https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/tracking-venus-in-late-2019-and-early-20
Tech Specs: Meade 12" LX-90, ZWO ASI290MC, best 25% of 5,000 frames, captured with SharpCap Pro v3.2 at 800 x 600 resolution. Image date: March 1, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 1 Mar 2020

The Dog Star and the Little Beehive Cluster

Here is a wide-field view of the star Sirius and the open cluster Messier 41 (M41), just squeezing them both in the field of view using the Williams Optics Redcat and Canon 6D camera. Sirius, Alpha Canis Majoris, is also known as the Dog Star, Nile Star, The Sparkling One and many others. At a distance of 8.7 light years, Sirius is the 10th nearest star to Earth.
Located 4-degrees south of Sirius is the open cluster Messier 41 (M41). M41 has an apparent magnitude of 4.5 and is about 2,300 light years from Earth. M41 is also referred to as the Little Beehive Cluster, but I can’t find the exact reference. M41 was mentioned by Aristotle about 325 B.C. as one of the mysterious “cloudy spots” then known in the sky. (REF: Robert Burnham Jr., Burnham’s Celestial Handbook, 1978).
Tech Specs: Williams Optic Redcat 51, iOptron ZEQ25 mount, Canon 6D, unguided, 10 x 60 second exposures, ISO 3200. Captured using BYE, processed in ImagesPlus. Image date: February 14, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 27 Feb 2020

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, Canon 6D camera, Canon 6D, 114 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using BYE. Image date: February 19, 2020 and March 12, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.
Image selected as the AgenaAstro Feature Friday image, February 28, 2020.

RELEASE DATE: 24 Feb 2020

Open Cluster Messier 50 (M50)

Messier 50 (M50) is an open cluster that can be found in the constellation Monoceros. The cluster is about 3,200 light years away from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 5.9, there are about 50 members in this cluster.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 7 x 120 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 21 Feb 2020

Open Cluster Messier 47 (M47)

Messier 47 (M47) is a bright open cluster that can be found in the constellation Puppis, to the upper left of the star Sirius in Canis Major. The cluster is about 1,600 light years away from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 4.2, there are about 50 members in this cluster.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 7 x 120 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 18 Feb 2020

Pleiades Star Cluster (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."
Work in progress as I would like to add several more hours if/when the weather cooperates!
Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien told us in The Hobbit that the Pleiades were known in the ancient days if Middle-earth as Remmirath, or "The Netted Stars"?
Tech Specs: Williams Optic Redcat 51, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -10C, 30 x 120 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 29, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 12 Feb 2020

Open Cluster Messier 46 (M46)

Messier 46 (M46) is an open cluster that can be found in the constellation Puppis, to the upper left of the star Sirius in Canis Major. The cluster is fairly bright and contains about 500 stars and is about 5,400 light years away. If you close you can also spot the planetary nebula, a small ring, known as NGC 2437, while it looks like it is part of the cluster, it is actually in front of it by 2,500 light years.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 7 x 120 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 21, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 6 Feb 2020

Clavius Crater - February 3, 2020

Clavius is a large crater found on the southern side of the moon, it measures approximately 136 miles across. The crater was named after Christoph Klau (or Christophorus Clavius) a 16th century German mathematician and astronomer.
Tech Specs: Meade 12" LX-90, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI290MC, best 25% of 2,500 frames. Captured using SharpCap v3.2 and processed in Autostakkert! 3.0.14. Image date: February 3, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 2 Feb 2020

Open Cluster NGC 2141 in Orion

NGC 2141 is another rich open cluster found in Orion's Club. It has a magnitude of 9.3 and is about 13,100 light years away from Earth. This is an old open cluster with estimates in the 1.7 billion year range, the age of the stars and the location behind Orion have a reddening effect on the stars color. Not many young blue stars in this group.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 1, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 31 Jan 2020

Perseus Double Cluster and Comet PanSTARRS (C/2017 T2)

Here is a view of the famous 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). Also in this image is a visitor, Comet PanSTARRS (C/2017 T2), you can find it just right of center as a greenish blur with a little tail pointing to the upper left.
Tech Specs: Williams Optic Redcat 51, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -10C, 30 x 120 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 29, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

FLICKR Explore Photo of the Day for January 31, 2020!

RELEASE DATE: 29 Jan 2020

Open Cluster NGC 2194 in Orion

NGC 2194 is a rich moderately concentrated open cluster found in the arm of Orion. It has a magnitude of 8.5 and is about 12,300 light years away from Earth. The cluster has 140+ stars down to magnitude 15. The bright star on the lower left is 73 Orionis, a main sequence star, magnitude 5.43.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 1, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 26 Jan 2020

Open Cluster NGC 2169 in Orion

NGC 2169 is a small open cluster found in the constellation Orion. It is about 3,600 light years away from Earth and is nicknamed "The 37 Cluster", can you see the 37 in the image?
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro running at -25C, 20 x 60 second exposures, GAIN 200, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2. Image date: January 1, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 22 Jan 2020

Imaging the Night Sky

The night of 20-21 January 2020 resulted in 11.5 hours of imaging time, woot! Luckily everything was online and capturing photons the entire evening with only a few minor tracking issues. Here is an image of the Sky Watcher Esprit 120 in action. Imaging your setup also helps you resolve extraneous light sources around your scope, as you can see.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Samyang 14 mm lens, ISO 3200, 13 seconds. Image Date: 20 Jan 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 20 Jan 2020

Open Cluster NGC 2281 in Auriga

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

RELEASE DATE: 18 Jan 2020

The Beehive Cluster (M44) in Cancer

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

RELEASE DATE: 14 Jan 2020

Venus in the Western Sky

Bright planet Venus setting in the western sky last evening, January 13, 2020.
Tech Specs: Canon 6D + Canon EF17-40mm f/4L USM lens + tripod. ISO 3200, 4 seconds, f/4, 40mm. Image date: January 13, 2020. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 13 Jan 2020

Globular Cluster NGC 2419 in Lynx

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

RELEASE DATE: 11 Jan 2020

Open Cluster NGC 2126 in Auriga

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

RELEASE DATE: 07 Jan 2020

Open Cluster Messier 37 (M37) in Auriga

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

RELEASE DATE: 05 Jan 2020

The Flaming Star and Tadpole Nebula

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

BBC Sky at Night Magazine March 2020!

RELEASE DATE: 03 Jan 2020

NGC 2192 - Open Cluster in Auriga

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

RELEASE DATE: 01 Jan 2020

Messier 67 - Open Cluster in Cancer

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

RELEASE DATE: 30 Dec 2019

Messier 36 - Open Cluster in Auriga

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

RELEASE DATE: 26 Dec 2019

Messier 35 and NGC 2158 in Gemini

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

RELEASE DATE: 18 Dec 2019

Galaxy NGC 2403 in the Constellation Camelopardalis

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

RELEASE DATE: 16 Dec 2019

Galaxies Maffei I and Maffei II in Cassiopeia

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

RELEASE DATE: 14 Dec 2019

The Heart and Soul Nebula Mosaic

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

RELEASE DATE: 7 Dec 2019

The Heart Nebula (IC 1805)

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. (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_Nebula)
The Heart Nebula is located adjacent to the Soul Nebula forming a view referred to as the Heart and Soul Nebula. Now to splice the images together into a mosaic of the region.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics Redcat 51 APO, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro, Optolong L-eNhance 2” filter, 60 x 60 second exposures at a GAIN of 200, one hour total exposure with dark/bias frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro (SGP) v3.03. Image date: November 25, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

FLICK EXPLORER Image of the Day for December 7, 2019.

RELEASE DATE: 5 Dec 19

NGC 457 The Owl Cluster

Short test exposure using the ASI071MC-Pro on the Sky Watcher, this is the Owl Cluster in Cassiopeia, also known as NGC 457. The smaller open cluster in the upper right is NGC 436. The Owl Cluster is about 7,900 light-years away.
Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120mm ED Triplet APO Refractor, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro, 6 x 60 second exposures, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using SharpCap v3.2 live stacking and saved in FITS format for processing. Image date: November 24, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

RELEASE DATE: 2 Dec 19

The Soul Nebula

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 emissions nebula around the perimeter. The star clusters are surrounded by hydrogen, which glows red from the young hot stars nearby.
Tech Specs: Williams Optics Redcat 51 APO, Celestron CGEM-DX mount (pier mounted), ZWO ASI071MC-Pro, Optolong L-eNhance 2” filter, 60 second exposures at a GAIN of 200, one hour total exposure with dark/bias frames, guided using a ZWO ASI290MC and Orion 60mm guide scope. Captured using Sequence Generator Pro (SGP) v3.03. Image date: November 25, 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA, USA.

Mercury Transit 2019

Here is a view of the Mercury transit across the sun from earlier today in Pennsylvania. Tech Specs: Sky-Watcher Esprit 120ED, ZWO ASI290MC, Daystar Quark Chromosphere + Daystar 2" UV/IR filter + 0.5x focal reducer, SharpCap Pro v3.0, best 15% of 500 frames, AutoStakkert, Registax. Image date: 11 November 2019. Location: The Dark Side Observatory in Weatherly, PA, USA.

Meteorite Impact During Eclipse

There was some discussion after the recent total lunar eclipse about a possible meteorite impact occurring. After scrubbing my data, it looks like I captured it around the same time as it was reported. I haven't read anything recent confirming the impact, but thought I would share the images/dates/times so you can check your data.

Lunar Eclipse 2019 from The Dark Side Observatory

A quick overview of last evenings lunar eclipse in under 3-minutes. All lunar imaging taken using a Sky Watcher 120ED Triplet and Canon 6D stock camera.

The Messier Objects


Deep Sky Objects


Lunar Photography


Planetary Photography


Solar Photography


Wide-Field Views


Palomar Globular Clusters


Comets


Observatory Images


Double Stars


Asteroids


Nova and Supernova