Nights on Mars Hill

Messier 3

 

Messier 3, M3,

Messier 3

Distance: 33,900 Light Years                                               Telescope: 10” RC F8

Magnitude: 6.2                                                                            Camera: QSI 683

Size: 18 Arc Minutes                                                                Mount: AP 900

Cluster Type: Globular Class VI                                         Exposure: L 10×180 Bin 1, RGB 10×90 Bin2

 

Messier 3 is a globular cluster in the constellation Canes Venatici. M3 shows well in short exposure due to its large size and it is also fairly bright at magnitude 6.2. There are about 500,000 stars in this cluster with a dense core of about 12 arc minutes diameter with reduced density out to about 18 arc minutes diameter. The age of the cluster is about 8 billion years and it is 33,900 light years away. This cluster contains a large amount of variable stars and also blue straggler stars. Over 200 variable stars have been cataloged and most are classified as RR Lyrae variables which have regular periods of less than one day. Blue stragglers are older stars that are much hotter than the surrounding stars. This is unusual in globular clusters as all stars form at about the same time and therefore should be fairly uniform in age. One theory about blue straggler star formation says they are older stars that have merged together from gravitational interaction and as a result are hotter that the surrounding stars. Another possibility is the stripping of outer layers from the star from interaction with other stars.

 

[Wikipedia, SEDS]

Messier 57 The Ring Nebula

Messier 57, M57, NGC 6720

Messier 57 The Ring Nebula

Distance: 2,300 Light Years                           Telescope: 10” RC
Magnitude: 8.8                                                   Camera: QSI 683
Size: 1.4 x 1 Arc-minutes                                Mount: AP 900
Age: 6,000-8,000 Years                                    Exposures: L 13×300 Bin 1, RGB 13×150 Bin 2
Messier 57 is a small Planetary nebula in the constellation Lyra. Although it is very small the outer rings show brightly in short exposures. I took some time during processing trying to control the brightness of the outer ring while not washing out the core area that houses the central star.
Planetary nebula are formed from stars with solar masses of 1-8 times that of our sun. This is really a dying star that is too small to go supernova. Its death spiral begins with a shedding of outer layers that are ejected from the surface. This shedding of gas is the result of gravity overpowering the internal pressure created by fusion. As the star exhausts its hydrogen it is forced to use other elements until this higher pressure can no longer be maintained. At this point the star begins to shed its outer layers while the remaining layers start to collapse causing the core to heat up. This heating is the source of illumination for the ejected gas. The ring shape of M57 consists of gas shed from the outer layer of the dying star at the center of the nebula. The star will be a white dwarf at the end of this process. Observations over the last 100 years have shown this gas ring has been expanding and it can be estimated from the expansion rate that the age of the nebula is 6,000 to 8,000 years. The study of Planetary nebula tells a lot about the dying star. The ejected gas can be analyzed to see which elements are present as these elements were once part of the star.
[SEDS, Williams.edu]

M81 and M82

Messier 81, Messier 82, M81, M82, Bodes Nebula, Cigar Nebula

M81 and M82

Distance: 12 Million Light Years

Magnitude: Messier 81 Magnitude 6.9, Messier 82 Magnitude 8.4

Size: Messier 81 21 x 10 Arc Minutes,  Messier 82 9 x 4 Arc Minutes

Galaxy Type: Messier 81 Spiral, Messier 82 Starburst

Telescope: Televue NP101

Camera: QSI 683

Mount: AP 900

Exposure: L 17×600 Bin 1, RGB 17×300 Bin2

Messier 81 is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major. M81 is the larger galaxy at the bottom of my picture and is about 12 million light years away. With a diameter of 70,000 light years and at magnitude 6.9 it is one of the brighter galaxies and shows well in short exposures. M81 also contains a super massive black hole at its core that is about 15 times larger in mass than the one in our galaxy. The core itself is much larger than the core of our galaxy and contains many older reddish color stars. The spiral arms contain large amounts of dust and gas and are active star formation regions with young blue stars that give their arms their color.

Messier 82 is a spiral galaxy type known as a star burst galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major. M82 is the smaller galaxy directly above M81 and also lies about 12 million light years away. A star burst galaxy is a galaxy that has had a gravitational interaction with another galaxy. In this case it was with M81 several hundred million years ago with the two galaxies presently about 150,000 light years apart. The area above and below the core show these starburst areas and appear as if they are exploding out and away from the galaxy core. Their reddish color and several dust lanes stand out from the rest of the bright galaxy. The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered over 100 young globular clusters in this galaxy and this was probably the result of the interaction with M81 several hundred million years ago.

M81 and M82 are part of the M81 galaxy group that also includes 32 other galaxies located in the constellations Ursa Major and Camelopardalis. There is another galaxy that is also interacting gravitationally with M81 called NGC 3077. It is thought that NGC 3077 is partially responsible for the star development in M81. NGC 3077 is the fuzzy galaxy in the lower left corner of my image.

[Hubble, SEDS, Wikipedia]

 

Lunar Eclipse April 14-15 2014

Distance: 238,855 Miles (Average)                                 Camera: Canon DSLR + 400mm Lens
Magnitude: -13 Full Moon, -1 Eclipsed Moon            Mount: Tripod
Size: 2,159.2 Miles Diameter                                            Exposure: 1/1600 Second

I rarely try to image the moon but I could not let this opportunity pass as a full Lunar eclipse viewable in totality does not occur often. The sky was clear at sunset but by 10PM the marine layer was coming up the valley. I went ahead with my plan but was cut short just after midnight, however I was fortunate enough to capture the first half before it clouded over completely.

I don’t know about all of the talk regarding this being a “Blood Moon”. I don’t remember hearing this term during the last lunar eclipse in 2011. I’m sure it is a media creation to drum up viewers.

I used 64 .jpeg images to create the video and added two separate images at the end that show the orange colored fully eclipsed moon.

 

 

 

Veil Nebula

NGC 6992, NGC 6960, NGC 6979, NGC 6974, Pickering's Triangle

Veil Nebula

Distance: 1,470 Light Years                           Telescope: Televue NP101 + .8 Reducer

Magnitude:  8                                                     Camera: QSI 683

Size:  180×180 Arc-minutes                          Mount: AP 900

Age: 5,000-8,000 Years                                   Exposures: Ha 12×1200, OIII 12×1200 For Each Panel

The Veil nebula is a large supernova remnant in the constellation Cygnus. It consists of several nebula each with their own names-> NGC 6960 is the Western Veil, NGC 6992 is the Eastern Veil, Pickering’s Triangle, NGC 6974, and NGC 6979. The entire area is about 3 degrees across at a distance of 1,470 light years. The Veil nebula is the result of a very large star going supernova about 5,000 to 8,000 years ago. The resulting structure is shaped by the very large amounts of energy that form a shock wave that expands into the surrounding space and not only shapes but also illuminates the dust and gas in the area.

NGC 6960, Witches Broom Nebula, Finger of God Nebula, Filamentary Nebula

NGC 6960

NGC 6960, the Western Veil, has several common names. These are the Witches Broom, Finger of God, and Filamentary nebula. The star next to the nebula is 52 Cygni.

NGC 6992, Eastern Veil Nebula, NGC 6995, IC 1340

NGC 6992

NGC 6992, the Eastern Veil, also contains NGC 6995 and IC 1340. The thinner part is NGC 6992 and the first wider part is NGC6995 followed by IC 1340.

Pickering's Triangle

Pickering’s Triangle

Pickering’s Triangle, is the large broom head shaped object between the Eastern and Western Veil. (Some internet sources name this as NGC 6979 but it is doubtful William Herschel meant this object when he discovered this area. Pickering’s Triangle was discovered by photographs at a later date.) NGC 6974 and NGC 6979 are the two smaller nebula with the brighter knots between Pickering’s and the Eastern Veil.

All of the images shown here are captured using only Hydrogen alpha and OIII filters. There is plenty of Sulfur present in this area but I did not like the image color when this filter was added. The mosaic consists of 4 panels consisting of the Eastern, Western, and Pickering’s nebulas plus a filler image to fill in the gap.

[Wikipedia]

 

North America + Pelican Nebula

 

NGC 7000, North America Nebula

North America Nebula

Distance: 1,600 Light Years                                 Telescope: Televue NP101 + .8 Reducer

Magnitude: 5                                                            Camera: QSI 683

Size:  120×100 Arc-minutes                                 Mount: AP 900

Age: Not Known                                                       Exposures: SII 19×900, Ha 18×900, OIII 12×900

NGC 7000, commonly called the North America nebula, is a large emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus. Much of Cygnus has the Milky Way galaxy running through and it is a target rich environment. The North America nebula gets its name because it is shaped like the North American continent. It lies in the Orion arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. In my photo it is easy to see the shape of the Gulf of Mexico, Central America, Florida, and the entire US and Canada. The part that resembles Central America is called the Cygnus Wall and contains the largest star forming regions of the nebula. This area is rich in Hydrogen gas and dust and like most Hydrogen rich objects it appears red in LRGB imaging. I like the shape of the Cygnus Wall and how there appears to be a “wind” blowing dust away from the wall area. The dark area that forms the Gulf of Mexico is a dark dust cloud that spans past the Florida part of the nebula all the way to the Pelican Nebula. The source star that illuminates the entire nebula is located in this dark dust cloud and is down and to the right of the Florida part. This star is also responsible for illuminating the nearby Pelican Nebula. It does not appear bright in the image but that is because of the dust that obscures our view. In the same dark nebula area you can see the asterism formed by seven stars that appears to look like the Orion nebula.  Moving up the East Coast from Florida, I like the two parts of the dark nebula that would be where the Carolinas and Maine are located. They are illuminated from the side and have an eerie yellowish-orange color in narrowband. The Continental US and Canadian parts of the nebula are rich in stars and there is another wispy concentration of gas and dust in the Canadian part of the nebula.

IC 5070, IC 5067, Pelican Nebula

Pelican Nebula

Distance: 1,800 Light Years                                 Telescope: Televue NP101 + .8 Reducer

Magnitude: 8                                                            Camera: QSI 683

Size:  60×50 Arc-minutes                                      Mount: AP 900

Age: Not Known                                                      Exposures: SII 13×900, Ha 18×900, OIII 13×900

IC 5070, commonly called the Pelican Nebula, is a large emission nebula in the constellation of Cygnus. It is part of the North America nebula complex and is illuminated by the same source star. It resembles a pelican that appears to be looking at the North America Nebula. The distinct emission area along the neck and back area is known as IC 5067 and is a large star forming region. The large Dark nebula in between NGC 7000 and IC 5070 is LDN 935 and it helps shape the image of the Pelican and North America nebula. The Spitzer Space Telescope has looked in to this very dense dust cloud and found a lot of star formation. The same Spitzer Space Telescope has found 2076 YSO (Young Star Candidates)  in the entire North America+ Pelican region.

Below is a mosaic consisting of the two images above:

NGC 7000, IC 5070, IC 5067, North America Nebula, Pelican Nebula

North America + Pelican Nebula

Below is a mosaic consisting of the combined false luminance images:

NGC7000, IC 5070, IC 5067, North America Nebula, Pelican Nebula

North America + Pelican Nebula

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cluster of Clusters

Most of the winter nebula are now out of reach from my house. I would have moved on to some galaxies but my longer focal length scope is on the shelf waiting for an adapter. I wasn’t too excited about going after open clusters but I am happy I did as I found some of them to be very interesting especially the ones located in the arms of the Milky Way.  Some had nebulosity in the area and others had several galaxies in the background. I decided on three minute exposures using only RGB filters. Below is what I captured.

Messier 35, M35, NGC 2158

Messier 35

Messier 35 is an open cluster in the constellation Gemini. At 2,800 light years the apparent size is about 24 light years in diameter and at 5.3 magnitude it is visible under ideal conditions. The age is thought to be about 100-110 million years. It contains 513 stars of varying spectral types. To the lower right is star cluster NGC 2158 which is much dimmer at magnitude 8.6 but contains many more stars than M35. At a distance of 16,000 light years and an age of one billion years it is not related in any way to M35.

Messier 36, M36

Messier 36

Messier 36 is an open cluster in the constellation Auriga. At 4,100 light years the apparent size is about 12 arc minutes or 14 light years. It is a magnitude 6.3 cluster with about 60 known stars that are very young at 25 million years. Open cluster NGC 1931 and its surrounding nebula SH2-237 can be seen to the right of the cluster.

Messier 37, M37

Messier 37

Messier 37 is an open cluster in the constellation Auriga. At 4,400 light years the apparent size is about 24 arc minutes or 20-25 light years. There are some differences in distance among different sources. It is a magnitude 6.2 cluster with about 500 stars of varying spectral types. There are a few red giants in this cluster which would put the age at about 300 million years.

Messier 38, M38

Messier 38

Messier 38 is an open cluster in the constellation Auriga. At 4,200 light years the apparent size is about 20 arc minutes or 25 light years. It is a magnitude 7.4 cluster at an age of about 220 million years. LBN 794 is the nebula that appears to the right of the M38 cluster. Herschel H39-7 is the open cluster below M38.

Messier 44, M44

Messier 44

Messier 44 is an open cluster in the constellation Cancer. At 577 light years the apparent size is about 95 arc minutes. It is a magnitude 3.7 cluster with about 350 stars at an age of 730 million years.

Messier 46, M46

Messier 46

Messier 46 is an open cluster in the constellation Puppis. At 5,400 light years the apparent size is about 27 arc minutes or 30 light years. It is a magnitude 6.0 cluster containing about 500 stars at an age of 300 million years. Planetary Nebula NGC 2438 is seen just above the cluster and its central star is magnitude 17.7. This is not part of M46 and it is the foreground at a distance of 2,900 light years. The smaller planetary nebula Minkowski 1-18 is seen above that.

Messier 48, M48

Messier 48

Messier 48 is an open cluster in the constellation Hydra. At 1,500 light years the apparent size is about 54 arc minutes or 23 light years. It is a magnitude 5.5 cluster and it contains about 80 stars at an age of 300 million years.

Messier 50, M50

Messier 50

Messier 50 is an open cluster in the constellation Monoceros. At 3,200 light years the apparent size is about 16 arc minutes or 20 light years. It is a magnitude 5.9 cluster and it contains about 200 stars at an age of 78 million years. LBN 1023 is the small nebula in the lower right corner and is 3×3 arc minutes in size. LBN 1021 is in the top right corner and is very small at 2×2 arc minutes.

Messier 67, M67

Messier 67

Messier 67 is an open cluster in the constellation Cancer. At 2,700 light years the apparent size is about 12 light years. It is a magnitude 6.1 cluster and contains about 500 stars at a very old age of about 4 billion years. It is the oldest open cluster in Messier catalog.

[SEDS] [SkySafari Pro]

 

NGC 2359 Thor’s Helmet

NGC 2359, Thors Helmet

NGC 2359 Thor’s Helmet HOO

Distance: 15,000 Light Years                              Telescope: Televue NP101 + .8 Reducer

Magnitude:  8                                                           Camera: QSI 683

Size:  22’x14’ Arc-minutes                                    Mount: AP 900

Age: Not Known                                                       Exposures: Ha 14×900, OIII 10×900

NGC 2359, also known as Thor’s Helmet, is an emission nebula in the constellation Canis Major. Named after the helmet of the Norse god of thunder, this nebula is more like an interstellar bubble caused by a Wolf-Rayet star in the nebula. A Wolf-Rayet star is a short lived supergiant  that emits a stellar wind that is powerful enough to sculpt odd shapes in the surrounding gas and dust. This star, HD56925, is thought to be in the last stages of evolution and about to go supernova. This object is similar in type and structure as NGC 6888, the Crescent Nebula.

[Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes] [1001 Celestial Wonders to See Before You Die, Michael E. Bakich]

False Luminance created from Ha and OIII:

NGC 2359, Thors Helmet Ha

NGC 2359 Thor’s Helmet
False Luminance

 

IC 405 The Flaming Star Nebula

IC 405, Flaming Star Nebula

IC 405 The Flaming Star Nebula

Distance: 1,500 Light Years                             Telescope: Televue NP101 + .8 Reducer

Magnitude: 9                                                        Camera: QSI 683

Size:  30×20 Arc-minutes                                 Mount: AP 900

Age: Not Known                                                  Exposures: SII 17×1200, Ha 24×1200, OIII 18×1200

IC 405, also known as the Flaming Star Nebula, is a combination of emission and reflection nebula in the constellation of Auriga. The star AE Aurigae is surrounded by gas and appears to be on fire hence the nickname. AE Aurigae is the source illumination star that is ionizing the surrounding gas creating the emission part of the nebula. The light from this same star also reflects off the surrounding dust creating the reflection part of the nebula. It is thought that this star was originally part of the Trapezium cluster inside of the Orion Nebula and it is moving away at 62 miles per second.

[WISE]

HSS Version: Ha 24×1200 + SII 17×1200:

IC 405, Flaming Star Nebula

IC 405 The Flaming Star Nebula

Ha Version: Ha 24×1200

IC 405, Flaming Star Nebula

IC 405 The Flaming Star Nebula

 

NGC 2175 The Monkey Head Nebula

NGC 2175, Monkey Head Nebula

NGC 2175 The Monkey Head Nebula

Distance: 850 Light Years                                          Telescope: Televue NP101 + .8 Reducer

Magnitude: 6.8                                                               Camera: QSI 683

Size:  45 Arc-minutes                                                   Mount: AP 900

Age: Approx. 2,000,000 Years                                   Exposures: SII 27×900 Ha 26×900, OIII 23×900

NGC 2175 is an open star cluster surrounded by nebulosity in the constellation Orion. The star cluster is located directly behind the “eye” of the monkey head. The entire nebula consists of the following star clusters:  NGC 2175, NGC 2175S, NGC 2174 and the nebula surrounding them. NGC 2175S, also known as Lund 1182, is located at the “base of the skull” of the monkey head. NGC 2174 is the star cluster located directly behind the “mouth” of the monkey head. The entire complex is commonly called the Monkey Head Nebula.

[cseligman.com, SEDS]

LRGB version with Televue NP101 (no reducer) using 12 x 300 second exposures from a Bortle 6 zone:

NGC 21751, NGC 2174, Monkey Head Nebula

NGC 2175 The Monkey Head Nebula