Messier 16 or as commonly call the Eagle Nebula, or Star Queen Nebula is an open cluster and nebula located in the constellation of Serpens. The central spires of dust and gas were made famous by the Hubble's "Pillars of Creation" image. The pillars and other regions of the nebula host new star formation. The central spire is some 9.5 light years in length. The age of the cluster is around 5 million years.
NGC 3079 is a barred spiral in Ursa Major, but for me the real "star" in this image is the Twin Quasar. Which is a single quasar that appears doubled by gravitational lensing by a foreground galaxy. It took the light 8.7 billion years to arrive here. The light from one component takes an additional 14 months to arrive having taken a longer path. This was the first observable object demonstrating the effects of gravitational lensing.
An open cluster located Scorpius. The name derives from Robert Burnham's description that it resembles an outline of a butterfly with open wings. The cluster is estimated to contain up to 300 members, and its age is 50 to 100 million years old. Like most open clusters, the stars will disperse over millions of years and become more background stars in Scorpius.
Messier 51 and NGC 5194 are a pair of interacting galaxies. It is the brightest member of the M51 galaxy group, which also includes M63, the Sunflower galaxy. It is about 35-40% the size of our galaxy, and is Seyfert galaxy with an active galactic nucleus. NGC 5194 is thought to have passed through M51's disk some 500 million years ago that led to an enhanced spiral pattern and increased star formation and then passing through the disk again some 50-100 million years ago to a position currently located behind the galaxy. The two galaxies will eventually merge after a few more passes.
Somewhere in this image is Quasar 3C 273, an extremely distant galaxy, but shines with the light of a near by star. When first discovered, the presented a paradox. In images they look like a star, but their red-shift, the amount their light is shifted towards the red side of a spectrum, suggested an object billions of light years away. The name quasar is a abbreviation from quasi-stellar object (QSO). 3C 273 was the first object to be identified as a quasar. It is one of the brightest and closest optical quasars to us at 2.4 billion light years away when the light left the object. A quasar is active galactic nucleus that is powered by supermassive black hole that is surrounded by an accretion disk with in falling material. The luminosity given off can be several thousand times brighter than an entire galaxy.
The quasar is also known as galaxy PGC 41121 and is near the very center of the image.
iTelescope.net is an web based network of remotely controlled telescopes currently based in four areas. The service has telescopes based in New Mexico, and California in the United States, in Spain, and in Australia. Using a web browser, one can control or upload a planned observation that can reserve telescope time and execute automatically at the appointed time. It describes itself as a Self-Funding Observatory with most of the profits invested back into upgrading their operation.
Here are a few of the images I've taken with the new camera and equipment. Still working out the bugs with the new equipment and camera.
First up is the Great Globular Cluster in the constellation of Hercules. Imaged under a full Moon, so not the best imaging conditions.
Just received a new camera, and no charge for the extended cloudiness that comes with any astronomical purchase. Received a just out ASI 1600MM-Cool camera. It is a 16 megapixel 4/3 CMOS sensor, that has a resolution of 4656 x 3520 pixels, and a pixel size of 3.8 nanometers. It also has a two stage TEC cooling system that can take the sensor down to 40C below the ambient temperature. It also has a very low read noise, which is good for deep sky, and with its relatively high frame rate it can also be used as a planetary camera. Looking forward to trying it out in both types of imaging.
After using the dome for several years, started thinking about the next observatory. Wanted the capability of using two scopes in those seeming rare clear moonless nights, and the ability to image without having to rotate the dome. At the time, automating my dome was looking rather difficult and expensive.
Settled on a roll off roof observatory, and after doing research, ordered plans for a SkyShed RoR. Picked the 10 foot by 10 foot one, based on my ability to haul the supplies, and most likely I would be building it by myself.
When you first start astrophotography, it quickly becomes apparent how much a convenience a permanent setup brings. First you have to bring out the tripod, the counterweights, and the scope. Then haul out the power, either battery(s) or A/C cord. Then a table for the computer, then the computer. Then all the cables to control the mount, the cameras. Then the mount has to be polar aligned with the axis of the earth so the mount can track objects better as they rotate through the sky. Of course, by then, clouds will appear out of no wheres.
So a high priority was to build a permanent setup for the scope and equipment. I decided to tackle building a dome, well because I think domes are cool. They also do a great job of blocking wind, reducing dew, and any stray light, which luckily I don't have much of a problem with.