Deep Sky (SBIG ST10XME), 2010


In a pic of the Leo Trio with my ST4000XCM, I said that NGC 3628 deserved a close up. And on 20th February 2010, although a late start, then later thin cloud followed by thicker cloud cut my efforts short, I've made a start. Probably no more data now until the Moon gets out of the way.

13 x 10 minutes, ST-10XME with AO-8 on 12" LX200R.

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Well I eventually DID get more data on NGC 3628, collected on the nights of 6th and 7th March. So here is the result.

Luminance 44 x 10 minutes, RGB each 6 x 5 minutes binned 2x2. ST-10XME with AO-8 on 12" LX200R.

This image appeared in the August 2010 issue of Sky at Night magazine, and featured in The Sky at Night BBC TV programme, August 2012.

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The second session of data collection (night of the 6th) showed an asteroid passing in front of the galaxy, identified as mag 15.3 Asteroid 14257 2000 AR97 Here it is on the first frame. I have made an animation of the pass which uses 15 frames, each was a 10 minute exposure. Unfortunately I missed four frames during the recording session, so there is a jump (40 minutes worth - grrr, I hadn't realised that the preset imaging sequence had ended!)

Animated GIF here (444KB)

Another clear (tho' not crystal clear) night on 9th March 2010. So I went for a target I've never imaged before - the attractive grand spiral galaxy NGC 2841 in Ursa Major. Apparently quite bright at magnitude 9.5, but a relatively low surface brightness. I had to use a reducer to obtain a guide star, so this was taken on the 12" Meade at f7. ST-10 with AO-8. Luminance 19 x 10 minutes, RGB each 6 x 5 minutes binned 2x2

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I last imaged the barred spiral Canes Venatici galaxy Messier 106 in 2005 with the MX716 camera. About time for another visit to capture more of the faint outlying clouds of stars and gas, and hopefully finer detail. The small galaxy in the corner is NGC 4248. Data captured over two nights, March 10th and 21st. Luminance 24 x 10 minutes, RGB each 7 x 5 minutes binned 2x2. ST-10XME with AO-8 on 12" LX200ACF at f7.

This image featured in The Sky at Night BBC TV programme, August 2012

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The often imaged Markarian's Chain in Virgo contains an interesting pair of Galaxies, NGC 4438 (the larger one) and NGC 4435 , known as 'The Eyes' and deserving of closer attention. (Cropped from vertical full frame). The extreme distortions of 4438 are probably due to the proximity of 4435.

Numerous background galaxies in this image, taken over two nights, 7th and 9th April 2010. Luminance 20 x 10 minutes, RGB each 7 x 5 minutes binned 2x2. ST-10XME with AO-8 and Astronomik filters on 12" LX200ACF at f7.

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With all the experimentation with lenses, my main imaging took a back seat for a while, and May twilight nights were upon me. But still good Astronomical twilight, so with a nicely clear night on 12th May 2010, I thought I'd try (with a view to returning in September) and see if I could pick out the extended shell of NGC 6543 - the Cat's Eye nebula in Draco. And I could!! But it's faint, and I used 11 x 10 minute subs binned 2x2 to get as much data as possible in the limited time. To get a decent result unbinned will require many hours of data. The nebula itself 'bloomed' in about a minute, so of course was horrible in the 10 minute subs, but I took several one minute frames as well to get a bit of structure and pasted it into the centre. No colour, probably no chance now until the Autumn, but we shall see....

ST-10XME with AO-8 on Meade 12"" at f10.

The core nebula is very small - only 20 arc-seconds. To image at a reasonable size the seeing would have to be sub arc-second and a 3x Barlow used. OK I've got a Barlow, but the seeing? No chance in the UK!

I was away from home most of the Summer (see the Eclipse 2010 trip), and the Autumn weather was disappointing. This small but beautiful galaxy, magnitude 10.2 NGC 7217 in Pegasus was a real challenge. I tackled it on three separate nights, but seeing conditions almost defeated me, and the only really worthwhile luminance data was 4 x 20 minute frames from the early hours of 30th August 2010. But it proved just enough to tease out the fine detail . RGB was only 3 each at 5 minutes binned 2x2. ST-10XME with AO-8 on 12" LX200ACF at f10.

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The evening of 6th October 2010 was most promising and I revisited the 'Pacman' nebula, NGC 281. 10 x 10 minute Luminance Ha, 5 x 10 minute each OIII and SII, blended HOS. SBIG ST-10XME, Astronomik filters and AO-8 on Meade series 5000 127 refractor.

I would have liked more data, but had to get some sleep to attend the funeral the next day of Gordon Bradbury, an Astro friend from Guisborough who sadly died suddenly and totally unexpectedly in his sleep the previous week aged only 47. He always came up to Kielder with us, and also abroad to La Palma and Les Granges. We'll miss you, Gordon.

I dedicate this image to him.

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Some years later I started using Bob Franke's method for adjusting colours of SHO combined images. So here is my take on this (August 2018)

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On 16th October with stable high pressure and beautifully clear skies (although for some days it had been cloudy) and once the Moon had set, I imaged NGC 1961 in Camelopardalis. This disturbed magnitude 10.9 galaxy is also classifed as Arp 184. The small galaxies upper left and lower centre are respectively PGC17659 (mag 14.8) and PGC17642 (mag 15.8)


Still work in progress, this image 13 x 10 minutes, ST-10 on LX200ACF at f10. Rather 'noisy' in the fainter sections - next visit I think 20 minute subs might be needed.

Eventually I managed to get more data on the nights of 14th and 15th November. Each night starting around 3 am - clouds and Moon intervened! So finally Luminance 13 x 10 minutes + 9 x 20 minutes, RGB each 5 x 10 minutes binned 2x2. All ST-10XME on Meade 12" ACF at f10.

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A very faint Supernova remnant lurks in Cassiopeia, quite close to the big 'W'. Variously known as Abell 85, CTB-1, G116.9+0.2, PK 116.9+0.1 and LBN 576. Difficult to image except in very dark contrasty skies, and this attempt is a bit disappointing. Taken on the blustery night of 2nd November 2010, the air was clean, but occasional clouds limited the imaging time. 11 x 10 minutes H-alpha, OIII and SII each 4 x 10 minutes. SBIG ST-10XME on Meade 127 refractor, Astronomik narrow band filters. RGB mapped HOS. All binned 2x2. I think I will need much longer unbinned exposures to have any chance of doing this object justice. And with our British weather.....

Well, despite severe gales, rain and fast moving clouds, there were some good clear periods in early November 2010, and I succeeded in acquiring new data over three nights, 6th, 10th and 12th. This time with my TMB105 refractor and William Optics 0.8 reducer/flattener. SBIG ST-10XME with AO8. Luminance (and Red) with a Baader 7nm H-alpha filter, Green and Blue with Astronomik OIII and SII filters. Ha 13 x 30 minutes, OIII and SII each 6 x 10 minutes binned 2x2.

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After unseasonable heavy snowfalls at the end of November, a few clear (and very cold!) nights in early December gave opportunities for imaging. This is the central portion of Abell 426 - the Perseus Galaxy Cluster. The brightest in the group is NGC 1275, 13th magnitude Perseus A. Too numerous to name, there are galaxies in this image fainter than 16th magnitude. Data collected over two nights (2nd and 5th) due to seeing and weather problems. Luminance 11 x 20 minutes, RGB each 6 x 10 minutes binned 2x2. SBIG ST-10XME on Meade series 5000 127 mm refractor.

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Another clear night on 7th December, and for a run testing various optics I targeted the beautiful rich open cluster NGC 7789 in Cassiopeia. This was the result using the Meade Series 5000 127 mm refractor. ST-10XME, Luminance 12 x 5 minutes, RGB each 8 x 3 minutes binned 2x2.

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Added later. This also benefits from artificial star spikes applied using StarSpikes Pro. Full Size

This image appeared in the June 2011 'Hotshots' in Sky at Night magazine