Deep Sky (Artemis 285), 2005

Art-285 Camera Details here.

With the experience gained from my MX716 camera, and my good site at Hexham, I was able to attempt long exposure imaging straight away following the successful build of the camera.

For all these images, click on the thumbnail for a medium size image (normally 800x600) and on the link in each description for the full size (around1390 x 1040) image.

The first target, which fitted nicely on the large chip, was Messier 81 - Bode's Nebula in Ursa Major. f6.3 with the Mirage telescope. 6 x 5 minutes L, 1 x 5 min each RGB, 8th. February 2005. I had previously imaged the galaxy on 4th.February, but was prevented by cloud from obtaining colour frames.

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The sky cleared again briefly on 10th. but again I was thwarted by cloud. But a good window opened on 13th. February and I was able to obtain an image I'd been hoping for of Messier 35 and NGC 2158 in Gemini. L 8 x 2 mins, RGB each 2 mins. TMB refractor. NGC 2158 is much further away from us than M35, hence the close packed appearance.

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The night of 15/16 February was excellent, only misting over in the early hours, and I obtained two images. First Messier 67 in Cancer. Another quite large open cluster, requiring the extra field of view of the TMB refractor. L 8 x 2 minutes, RGB each 2 mins.

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Following M67, I was able to go for an image I''ve long wanted to get - the full Leo Trio - M65, M66 and the remarkable NGC3628. I had previously imaged M65 and M66 with the MX716 camera on the TMB refractor, but again the larger chip of the ART-285 was able to encompass all three. L 8 x 6 minutes, RGB each 5 minutes. Unfortunately the sky was misting over when I was taking the colour frames, so the colour balance is a bit doubtful. No doubt I will revisit this group!

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Typically of course when one has some new equipment the skies have remained cloudy, with snow and frost for over two weeks. But some clear sky on the night of 6/7 March 2005 gave me another opportunity to try the Artemis.

Messier 97 - the 'Owl' nebula in Ursa Major. This time with the Mirage at f10. 13 frames x 2 minutes. Cruelly the clouds closed in again before I was able to obtain colour frames. So when I do........

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After a holiday away I returned to the most dismal weather we've had for some time. Almost two weeks of continuous cloud cover, mist and occasional rain. But eventually a moderately clear night on 2nd. April 2005 gave an opportunity for some galaxy chasing with these results. Firstly M104 - the Sombrero in Virgo. My first image of this galaxy, rather hazy sky and quite low at 20 degrees altitude, but just acceptable. L 15 x 2 min, RGB each 2 min binned 2x2. Artemis with Mirage at f6.3

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Next was M64 - the Blackeye in Coma Berenices. Much higher at 55 degrees and the best conditions of the night. Same exposures as M104

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Finally with twilight fast approaching I visited M63 - the Sunflower in CanesVenatici. By now the mist was thickening, so despite the 75 degrees altitude the sky glow was starting to be intrusive. L 8 x 3 minutes, RGB each 3 minutes binned 2x2. Artemis with Mirage at f6.3

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A couple of days later, the evening of 4th April the skies cleared exceptionally well after rain, and before the next weather front arrived I had excellent clarity. The first target was NGC2903 - a beautiful barred spiral galaxy in Leo. I spent some time fine tuning the Periodic Error on my Gemini mount, with the result that I was able to image for 3 minutes unguided without any trailing, and obtained a pleasing result. L 10 x 3 min frames, RGB each 3 min binned 2x2. Artemis with Mirage at f6.3

In 2009 with more processing experience and later software I reprocessed the original data and consider the result to be a much more pleasing rendition.

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I then decided to try for the Ringtail colliding Galaxies NGC 4038/4039 in Corvus. I previously imaged this from COAA in Portugal, but wanted it using my own telescope from Hexham. It was low at 15 degrees, and the tails are much fainter than the galaxy cores. So two versions, one heavily stretched to (just) show the tails, and another more pleasing. The clouds rolled in just as I was finishing the sequence, so I had to synthesise the blue frame from the red and green. L 10 x 4 min frames, RG(B) each 1 x 4 min binned 2x2. Artemis with Mirage at f6.3

The stretched image shows what was probably a speck on the cover glass of the chip - needs attention!

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Many years later (2019) using recently acquired software I did some work on the above images with this result. But there is no doubt this subject deserves a closer visit if I ever have suitable sky conditions here in NE England.

On the weekend of 8th-10th April I found myself at Calvert Trust, Kielder for a stargazing weekend. The forecast was dubious, so I didn't dismantle my Gemini etc., but just took my EQ3 mount and TMB refractor. BIG mistake!! The Friday night was one of the best for a long time! But I fitted my Art285 with my 135 mm camera lens, and the tracking of the mount was good enough to obtain some wide field images. First the area around Messier 81 and 82.

Working from top to bottom, M82 (mag. 8.6), M81 (mag. 7.0), NGC 3077 (mag. 10), NGC 2976 (mag. 10.1)

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Then I turned my attention to the Virgo area, and obtained a decent image of Markarian's chain, albeit without colour frames.

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After a long period of poor weather, and too late in the year for anything darker than Astronomical twilight, at last the weather improved. On the night of 8th May I was able to obtain this image of the close galaxy group NGC 5985, 5982 and 5981 (left to right) in Draco. Art285, Mirage at f6.3

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A couple of days later, the night of 10th May was crisp and clear, and I was able to obtain this image of the beautiful edge on spiral galaxy NGC4565 in Coma Berenices. Art285, Mirage at f6.3

This image was published in the September 2005 issue of Astronomy Now

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With the fine weather continuing, even though the nights were no longer fully dark, I managed a little more on 12/13th. May.

First some colour information to add to my earlier M97. 2 frames binned 2x2 for each colour.

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Then a quick look at NGC 4631 - the Whale galaxy in Canes Venatici. Remarkably well named for this slightly distorted edge on galaxy. Art285, Mirage 8 at f6.3, L 8 x 3 minutes, summed in pairs then median combined. RGB each 2 minutes, binned 2x2.

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Finally with Nautical Twilight now apparent, a quick visit to M13. Not the best, and a little trailed, so no full size. But reasonably well resolved, better than my previous (LX90 with MX716) effort and will suffice for now. L14 x 30 secs, summed in pairs then median combined. RGB each 4 x 30 secs.

The night of 29/30th May 2005 was decently clear albeit slightly hazy, but despite the Astronomical twilight I was able to revisit Messier 13 with better results than above. L 24 frames x 20 seconds, RGB 3 each at 20 secs binned 2x2, Art285 with the Mirage 8 at f 6.3. Cropped a little to centre the cluster in the frame (should have moved the telescope!)

There is a lot more to come from M13, but it will have to wait until I get a full dark clean sky.

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Weather forecasts are notoriously fickle in the UK, and the night of 7/8th. June 2005 was no exception - a forecast of cloud cover actually ended up with thin haze, adequate for snatching a few pics in a mixture of Astronomical and Nautical twilight. The Summer globulars will never be fully contrasty for me, but are worth logging. So here first is M53 in Coma Berenices. I probably should have captured this the April night I obtained my image of nearby M64. Maybe next year! L 18 frames x 30 seconds, RGB each 3 x 30 seconds binned 2x2, Art 285 with Mirage 8 at f6.3.

Next I moved on to the large globular M12 in Ophiucus. L 21 x 30 secs, RGB each 3 x 30 seconds binned 2x2, Art 285 with Mirage 8 at f6.3.

Looking at the Skymap display for Serpens, almost directly 'below' M14, I realised that Pluto was culminating around 0030 UST, just toward the end of Astronomical twilight. so here is an image probably showing the planet. A further one needs to be taken in a day or so time to confirm movement. 15 x 30 second frames, Art 285, Mirage 8 at f6.3.

Then finally on to M14 in Ophiucus. L 22 x 30 secs, RGB each 3 x 30 seconds binned 2x2, Art 285 with Mirage 8 at f6.3.

Well, for once the weather smiled on me and the following night of 8/9th June was also clear although hazy. But again good enough to obtain a second image of Pluto, confirming movement. Animated gif here The movement is over 23 1/2 hours, and Skymap gives it as around 96 arc-secs.

Clyde Tombaugh must have had the patience of a saint when originally looking for Pluto!

Mid June in the Northern UK strands us with twilight nights, the darkest being Nautical twilight. And this year (2005) the longest days also coincided with a Full Moon. No chance of deep sky imaging, one might think. But a Hydrogen alpha deep sky filter cuts out all the upper end of the spectrum, and enables imaging of nebulae even in twilight moonlit skies.

The evening of 22nd. June was very clear following days of cloud and rain, and I took the opportunity to revisit the Crescent Nebula, NGC6888 in Cygnus. And the filter certainly proved its worth! Art285, Mirage 8 at f 6.3, 12 frames x 4 minutes. Colour added in Photoshop.

This image was published in the September 2005 issue of Sky at Night magazine

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I also paid a visit to the Eagle Nebula, M16 in Serpens.. Setup as above, 10 frames x 4 minutes, monochrome is the original H-alpha, this time colour added using Noel Carboni's Actions.

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This and the above Crescent nebula images are the first using my new 90 mm aperture 1250 mm focal length Skymax Mak-Cass as a guide scope with my modified Vesta webcam and GuideDog software. I'd previously used my AT1010 80 mm aperture 480 mm focal length refractor, but the longer tube and 2x Barlow to increase the guiding accuracy made the setup rather cumbersome and prone to movement. The new arrangement seems very promising!


Another fine night on 25th. June, but I was tired and mixed up my filters , then clouds rolled in alas. But fortunately the following night was also clear, and I was able to have a second shot at my target, M17, the Swan or Omega nebula in Sagittarius. Again the H-alpha filter brought out fine nebulosity, and I was also able to acquire some true colour information. L 6 x 4 mins h-alpha, RGB each 3 x 2 mins binned x2. Artemis with Mirage 8 at f6.3

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Then although the Nautical twilight was also brightening and a gibbous Moon rising, I visited M20 - the Trifid nebula, also in Sagittarius and at only 12 degrees altitude, but still a better result than my earlier attempt. Same settings as for M17.

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By 8/9th July, a short window of Astronomical twilight starts to appear, and with a beautifully clear night (2005) I took the opportunity to add Messier 52 Open cluster in Cassiopeia to my list. Art285, Mirage 8 at f6.3, L 8 x 2 minute, RGB each 2 x 2 minute binned 2x2. All autoguided.

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Although the image on 8th July of M52 was pleasing, I experienced some distortion of the brighter stars - occasionally noticed in earlier images with the Mirage, and obviously still present despite collimation. So I set to and recollimated. With this result. Granted the sky conditions were better, but the stars seem tighter with less distortion on the brighter ones, and fainter stars better resolved. The flaring is probably partly atmospheric and partly reflective within the telescope. Early hours of 12th. July 2005, Art285, Mirage 8 at f6.3, L 8 x 2 minutes, RGB from the 8th. July image.

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Holidays, cloud and full Moon intervened for a few weeks, but a clear tho' gusty night on 3rd. August gave an opportunity to image a lesser known but attractive planetary nebula, NGC6781 in Aquila. It is fairly small, only 1.9 arc-minutes in diameter and at magnitude 11.4 not an easy visual target. But the Mirage at f10 and the Artemis 285 captured it nicely.

Luminance 12 x 2 minutes, RGB each 3 x 2 minutes binned 2x2.

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At the end of August I revisited COAA - the Astronomy centre in the Algarve run by Bev and Jan Ewen-Smith. Beautiful weather, almost too hot at times - the area was suffering from a prolonged drought with forest fires inland. Fortunately they were mostly under control when I was there, so the smoke which had earlier obscured the sky was no longer a problem. I was interested in some Southern objects which I had been unable to image satisfactorily from my more Northern home location, and was able to capture a number of images.

The first attempt on 27th. August, tho' not entirely successful, was the Eastern section of the Veil, NGC6992 - not a deep south object of course. Several 1 minute frames unguided, Artemis on the COAA 8" f4.4 Newtonian. H-alpha filter. The target was just a bit too big to fit in two frames.

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The following night an attempt at the Lagoon nebula was disappointing (but see below!) Then much better, on 29th. August, Delle Caustiche - the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud, also known as M24. Artemis with my 135 mm lens on the single axis drive camera mount.

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The following night was too hazy for imaging, but 31st. August was nicely clear, and this Lagoon (M8) was the result. Artemis with my TMB refractor, 8 x 1 minutes, H-alpha filter. Mounted on the COAA GPDX, thanks, Bev.

I didn't get any colour information - as time progressed during the H-alpha sequences, I noticed some strange spikiness creeping into the star images. As the sky moved round, I was imaging through a tree! But for a false coloured (red) medium format image click here

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On the last night of my holiday, 1st. September, I reverted to the 135 mm camera lens on the COAA camera mount to tackle NGC7000 - the North America Nebula. Slight haze at low levels but with the nebula being almost overhead, no problems. 32 Luminance frames using H-alpha, 9 each standard RGB, all 1 minute frames. Very satisfactory!

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After my return from COAA, not only was there a full Moon, but I wanted to make some changes to my guiding camera mount. A bit of work with Aluminium bar and tube rings, and all was ready. Except for clear sky! But eventually a beautiful night arrived on 23/24 September (2005) and I was able to obtain a full image of NGC6992. This time with the TMB refractor and my 0.63 Celestron reducer. A bit of star distortion at the edges due to the reducer, but the whole segment nicely encompassed in a mosaic of two frames.

6 minute frames, Art285 with H-alpha filter.

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Although there was a bright last quarter Moon, the air was extremely clean, so I then targeted M33, the Pinwheel galaxy in Triangulum. Only 45 degrees away from the Moon, nevertheless a pleasing image. Again the Art285 and TMB refractor with reducer and 6 minute frames. Also again some star distortion. I need to look for an alternative reducer.

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I still wasn't happy with NGC6992 above, but a couple of clear nights on 25th. and 26th. September gave the opportunity to revisit the target with the Artemis at prime focus of the TMB. A little lost from the bottom edge, but with colour as well, I'm well pleased!

Artemis 285, TMB105 refractor. Mosaic of two images. Luminance each 5 x 6 minute frames with H-alpha filter, median combined. Colour normal RGB each 2 x 6 minute frames averaged. No darks. Processed with Maxim DL, Photoshop and Neat Image.

This image was used as the front cover for the January-March 2005 issue of the SPA magazine, and (monochrome) in the July-September 2006 issue

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Following the capture of the above the sky was still clear, so I revisited vdB142, the peculiar 'Elephant's Trunk' nebula, part of the larger IC1396 cluster and nebulosity in Cepheus. (Imaged in 2021 here).

Artemis 285, TMB105 refractor. Luminance 7 x 10 minute frames with H-alpha filter, median combined. Colour normal RGB each 3x 3 minute frames medianed. No darks. Processed with Maxim DL, Photoshop and Neat Image.

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Following the Veil saga, October was frequently wet and windy, with little opportunity for deep sky imaging. But I managed to obtain a few images using narrow band pass filters. 

7th. October the Pelican Nebula - IC 5070, adjacent to the North America Nebula in Cygnus. One of my first attempts at Hydrogen-alpha, Sulphur II and Oxygen III colour mixes. All 5 minute frames. Artemis with TMB refractor. 

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30th. October, The Tulip nebula, SH2-101 in Cygnus. Artemis and Mirage at f6.3. 4 minute frames, H-alpha only, coloured in Photoshop.

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And one I overlooked from September!

A quick visit to Cygnus on 20th. September with the H-alpha filter yielded this image of the fairly faint bright nebula SH2-104. 5 minute frames, Artemis 285 and Mirage at f10. Colour added in Photoshop.

A couple of years ago I imaged Messier 31 - the Great Andromeda Galaxy from Dalby Forest in Yorkshire (Here). Time for a re visit with the Artemis! And despite dire warnings of gales and blizzards, the night of 24th. November was crystal clear and quite still.

Artemis 285 with 135 mm camera lens. All frames 5 minutes.

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The night of 27/28 November2005 was exceptionally clear, so I decided to visit the Horsehead - B33 nebula in Orion. But although I was able to obtain several frames, I experienced a form of 'herringbone' interference in all the frames, which was not entirely lost in the stacking. However, here it is until I can get a better example. Monochrome only - the colour frames were unusable.

The interference source was never fully tracked down, but it may have been a dirty connection - it disappeared after some experimentation. Art285, Mirage at f6.3

In September 2003 I briefly visited the unusual barred spiral galaxy NGC7479 in Pegasus. The image (MX716 from light polluted Boldon) was only fair, and so it was time for a renewal of my acquaintance. With somewhat better results. November 29th. 2005, Artemis 285, Mirage 8 at f6.3. L 13 x 4 minute frames, RGB each 3 x 4 minutes. This small galaxy may deserve a revisit at f10!

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A few days of unpleasant cloudy conditions then an excellent clear night made up for it. December 6th. 2005 saw me staying up all night to make the most of the good conditions.

The first target was Messier 33, the Pinwheel galaxy in Triangulum. Recently imaged with the TMB refractor and Celestron reducer. Slight distortions toward the corners of that image, but I realised that the galaxy would just fit in the un reduced field of view. And here is the result. Artemis 285, TMB refractor. Luminance 10 x 6 minutes, RGB each 3 x 6 minutes.

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The next target had to be the Horsehead area, B33 in Orion, earlier imaged with the Mirage, but with mysterious interference. The wider field of the TMB allowed me to image the nearby Flame Nebula, NGC2024 at the same time. This is a target that will deserve revisiting with narrow band filters to reduce the extreme brightness of Alnitak.

Luminance 9 x 6 minutes, RGB each 3 x 6 minutes.

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Then back onto the mount with the Mirage 8", and a lesser known target, the nice edge on spiral galaxy NGC 2683 in Lynx, with two or three tiny distant galaxies in the same field. The night was getting on, and a bit of mist appearing, so the image is slightly affected by background haze. Artemis 285, Mirage 8 at f6.3. Luminance 12 x 4 minutes, RGB each 3 x 4 minutes.

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In January 2011 I reprocessed the Flame image for submission to the Sky at Night TV program. With the experience in processing gained over the last five years, I *think* it's an improvement! I couldn't do anything about the bright halo around Alnitak - I think it's a filter reflection.

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An attractive galaxy cluster is situated in Leo along a section of the 'Sickle', half way between Gamma (Algieba) and Zeta Leonis. It includes (top down in this image) NGCs 3193, 3187 (barred), 3190 and near the bottom, 3185. None brighter than 10th magnitude, 3187 being 12.9. The image required substantial processing to obtain sufficient contrast against a rather 'furry' sky in the early hours of December 13th. 2005. But pleasing, and much better than earlier efforts (see MX716 page) Luminance 9 x 4 minutes, RGB each 3 x 2 minutes binned 2x2. Artemis 285 with Mirage 8 at f6.3

The group is also known as Hickson 44 and Arp 316.

There is a superb image of the upper three of the group, taken with seriously high end equipment from a desert site, here.

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Here's an M1 left over from 9th. December. The session was ended prematurely by cloud, but I was able to use some material from an earlier spoilt session on 5th. November. Artemis with Mirage at f10. I can't remember now what the mix of frames was - should have posted it when I first processed it! But I hope to return when sky conditions again permit, and try for a better image without the slight trailing apparent in this one. It must stand at the moment however - it's my best M1 to date!