Astrophotography

The astro images displayed in the slideshow represent a range of deep sky objects that were photographed from our deck in Lake Tahoe through a telescope with camera and a motorized mount – both connected to a computer controlled by planetarium and imaging software.

M1 – Crab Nebula, M57 – Ring Nebula and M27 – Dumbbell Nebula are amongst the most famous examples of planetary nebulas. The name “planetary” is a misnomer – they have no relationships to planets but early astronomers thought they look like planets. Their spherical shapes of multi-colored gases are formed by ionized gases expelled from dying stars (look at the center of the nebula) during their red giant stage. Their respective shapes, for which they are often named, are caused by the stellar winds.  These objects range from 1,300 to 6,500 light years in distance from the earth.

NGC 6960 – Veil Nebula (also known as the Witch’s Broom) and IC 443 – Jellyfish Nebula are also forms of emissions nebulae. They are supernova remnants of expanding gases of hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur.  The strands of gases are colorized for effect.

M15 and M92 are globular clusters – 33,600 and 26,700 light years away respectively. These objects date back to the early days of the universe (12 to 13 billion years ago) and consists of over 100,000 aging stars bounded together by gravity. They are amongst the brightest deep sky objects.

NGC 7331 is a spiral galaxy 50 million light years away in the Deer Lick Group. The Leo Triplet (also known as M66 Group) is a small group of galaxies about 35 million light years away in the constellation Leo.  This group consists of the sprial galaixes M65, M66 and NGC 3628.

TelescopeThe image on the left shows my current telescope set up.  For deepsky viewing, there is a 10″ Deep Sky Instruments Ritchey-Chretiens astrograph with a SBIG ST-10XME camera.  Piggy-backed on top of it and used both as a guiding scope and for wide field astrophotography is a Televue NP-101is 4″ Nagler-Petzval refractor with a STF-8300M camera.  It has its own guiding scope consisting of a Borg mini-50 and a ST-i guider.  The mount is an Astro Physics 1200GTO. The various hardware components are connected to a Dell Studio 17 laptop running Windows 8 via a USB cable. Software used includes Software Bisque’s The Sky X, Diffraction Limited’s MaxIm DL, CCD’s CCDStack2, CCD AutoPilot and CCD Navigator.  Additional image processing is done in Adobe’s Photoshop.