Thursday, September 19, 2019

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Observatory Construction

Posted by Paul On September - 2 - 2018


9/2/2018 A few months ago I decided to add an observatory since I was getting tired of hauling my telescope out and spending quite a bit of time in aligning it.  Having an observatory will enable me to begin imaging almonst immediatly and to continue taking pictures long into the night.  The observatory I'm installing is made by Nexdome in Canada.  Here I will post some pictures of it as well as pictures I've taken during it's construction.  Below are pictures I took from the Nexdome website.






















I was really limited as to where I could place the observatory, both by the layout of our property and zoning restrictions for detached buildings.  Thus, I decided to build on the south end of our driveway.  This had advantages and disadvantages.  It made it easy to build a platform for the obs, but difficult to install a robust heavy pier for the telescope.  I ended up pouring a 2x2x1 foot cement footing that weighed in at about 600 pounds.  I'm hoping that will provide enough rigidity for the pier so that I can take long exposure images without worrying about vibrations..  Here are the construction photos:

9/3/2018 The bids I got for the pier fabrication were way higher than I expected.  I ended up going to a metal sales center and purchased essentially scrap pieces.  I ended up with 3/8 steel plates and a 6 5/8 steel pipe with 3/8 thickness.  They were able to cut the pieces to the sizes I needed, then I drilled the holes myself and tapped where necessary.  I had a local auto fab shop grind off the sharp corners and edges and weld it all together.  Instead of powder coating I cleaned everything with acetone then sprayed it with Rust-Oleum flat black.  Here are the plans for the pier:



9/3/2018 Here are the plans for the observatory layout.

9/5/2018 The telescope computer storage box is finished.

9/14/2018 Here are the latest photos of the observatory and the interior.  Everything is installed, but I'm still changing things to make it more workable inside.  I still need to get the shutter and dome rotation working through the laptop using Sequience Generator Pro.

9/18/2018 Here are some higher quality images that I took today.


Posted by Paul On July - 2 - 2018






6/1/2018 My latest image tonight is Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. Due to it’s proximity to Earth, large size, and active galactic nucleus (which harbors a supermassive black hole), Messier 81 has been studied extensively by professional astronomers. The galaxy’s large size and relatively high brightness also make it a popular target for amateur astronomers. (Wikipedia)

This image was made using my new astrophotography camera and is composed of 29×60 second images. This camera is much more sensitive and the sensor tonight was cooled to 32 degrees F.  I still have a lot to learn about using this camera and Astro Photography Tool software.  These images were made with a camera gain set to 200 then the best 75% were stacked in DSS (Deep Space Stacker) along with 10 dark frames.  I didn't use flat or bias frames.

7/24/18 Last night I imaged NGC 6888. This image is composed of 297 x 15 second which yields 74 minutes of data. I processed it in DSS and Photo Shop.

From NASA: NGC 6888, also known as the Crescent Nebula, is a cosmic bubble about 25 light-years across, blown by winds from its central, bright, massive star. NGC 6888's central star is classified as a Wolf-Rayet star(WR 136). The star is shedding its outer envelope in a strong stellar wind, ejecting the equivalent of the Sun's mass every 10,000 years. The nebula's complex structures are likely the result of this strong wind interacting with material ejected in an earlier phase. Burning fuel at a prodigious rate and near the end of its stellar life this star should ultimately go out with a bang in a spectacular supernova explosion. Found in the nebula rich constellation Cygnus, NGC 6888 is about 5,000 light-years away.


9/25-27/2018 Here is M27, the Dumbbell Nebula, imaged over three nights with a total of 5 hours 24 minutes.  This is the first image set taken in the observatory.

Here is another take on the same data:



11/16/18 This is Messier 33 or the Triangulum Galaxy. I've been imaging this galaxy over the last several days and have accumulated over 17 hours of images. This picture represents data post-processed from the best 30% of those images.
The Triangulum Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 3 million light-years (ly) from Earth in the constellation Triangulum. It is catalogued as Messier 33 or NGC 598. The Triangulum Galaxy is the third-largest member of the Local Group of galaxies, behind the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy. It is one of the most distant permanent objects that can be viewed with the naked eye.

12/4/2018 This I Messier 34 is about 1500 light years away and spans 7.5 light years. This image was taken on 11/20/2018 and incudes 7 hours of imaging.

1/5/2019 Here is NGC 2238, the Rosette Nebula, which is 5000 light years from earth and 130 light years in diameter. This image is composed of 130 X 120 second exposure images that I took.  I've reprocesssed this on 7/9/19 using PixInsight and Photoshop.  Further imaging details:

Image NGC 2238
Date 1/5/19
Exposure 120 S
No. of lights 130
Darks YES
Flats YES
Gain 200
Binning 2X2
Camera ZWO ASI294MC Pro using Hyperstar V
Filter STC Astro Duo-Narrowband
Software Used Images Plus, PixInsight, PhotoShop
Telescope Celestron 1100HD SCT
Mount 10Micron GM1000HPS
Focuser MicroTouch Focuser

1/5/2019 NGC 7000 The North America Nebula

EXP: 60s x 90

Temp: -10C

Gain: 200

Bin: 2×2

Post Processed in IP then PS

Camera: ASI294MC-PRO with STC Astro Duo-Narrowband Filter

Celestron 1100HD with Hyperstar V



IC 405 (also known as the Flaming Star Nebula, SH 2-229, or Caldwell 31) is an emission and reflection nebula in the constellation Auriga, surrounding the bluish star AE Aurigae. It shines at magnitude +6.0. Its celestial coordinates are RA  05h 16.2m dec +34° 28′. It surrounds the irregular variable star AE Aurigae and is located near the emission nebula IC 410, the open clusters M38 and M36, and the K-class star Iota Aurigae. The nebula measures approximately 37.0' x 19.0', and lies about 1,500 light-years away from Earth. The nebula is about 5 light-years across.

Taken on Jan 29, 30, Feb 1

Exp=120 sec x 254 for 8 h 28 m

Bin = 1×1

Temp=-10 C


Telescope Celestron 1100 Edge HD

Camera ZWO ASI294MC-PRO with Hyperstar V

Filter STC Astro Duo-Narrowband

Mount 10Micron GM1000HPS on pier

Processed using Images Plus and PhotoShop

I imaged the North American nebula on June30th.  It consists of 118 60 sec exposures (1 hour 58 minutes) at a gain of 200, Binning=1×1, T=0 deg C.  It was post processed using  Pixinsight and Photoshop and doesn’t contain darks or flats.

The North America Nebula (NGC 7000 or Caldwell 20) is an emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus, close to Deneb (the tail of the swan and its brightest star). The remarkable shape of the nebula resembles that of the continent of North America, complete with a prominent Gulf of Mexico.

The North America Nebula is large, covering an area of more than four times the size of the full moon; but its surface brightness is low, so normally it cannot be seen with the unaided eye. Binoculars and telescopes with large fields of view (approximately 3°) will show it as a foggy patch of light under sufficiently dark skies. (Wikipedia)

Tis is a reprocess of images that I took on Jan 7,2019. I reprocessed the data using Images Plus, PixInsight, and PhotoShop.

The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion's Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across. It has a mass of about 2,000 times that of the Sun. Older texts frequently refer to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula. (Wikipedia)

Imaging Data
Image M42
Date 1/7/19
Exposure 120s
Number of Lights 30
Darks Y
Flats Y
Gain 120
Binning 1X1
Imaging Software Sequence Generator Pro
Camera ZWO ASI294MC Pro
Cooling Temp Deg C -10
Filter Astronomik L-2 UV-IR Blocking Filter 
Telescope Celestron 1100HD SCT
Mount 10MICRON GM1000HPS
Focuser MicroTouch Focuser



The Eagle Nebula (catalogued as Messier 16 or M16, and as NGC 6611, and also known as the Star Queen Nebula and The Spire) is a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens. Both the "Eagle" and the "Star Queen" refer to visual impressions of the dark silhouette near the center of the nebula,[3][4] an area made famous as the "Pillars of Creation" imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. The nebula contains several active star-forming gas and dust regions, including the aforementioned Pillars of Creation.

The Eagle Nebula is part of a diffuse emission nebula, or H II region, which is catalogued as IC 4703. This region of active current star formation is about 7000 light-years distant. A spire of gas that can be seen coming off the nebula in the northeastern part is approximately 9.5 light-years or about 90 trillion kilometers long.

Imaging Data
Image M16
Date 7/19-20/2019
Exposure 60s
Number of Lights 233
Darks Y
Flats Y
Gain 200
Binning 1X1
Imaging Software Sequence Generator Pro
Camera ZWO ASI294MC Pro
Cooling Temp Deg C 0
Filter STC Astro Duo-Narrowband
Telescope Celestron 1100HD SCT
Mount 10MICRON GM1000HPS
Focuser MicroTouch Focuser

8/3/2019 I've reprocessed images I took on 2/1/19 of IC 1848 the Soul Nebula.

The Soul Nebula is an emission nebula located in Cassiopeia. Several small open clusters are embedded in the nebula: CR 34, 632, and 634 (in the head) and IC 1848 (in the body). The object is more commonly called by the cluster designation IC 1848.

Small emission nebula IC 1871 is present just left of the top of the head, and small emission nebulae 670 and 669 are just below the lower back area.

The galaxies Maffei 1 and Maffei 2 are both nearby the nebula, although light extinction from the Milky Way makes them very hard to see. Once thought to be part of the Local Group, they are now known to belong to their own group- the IC 342/Maffei Group.

This complex is the eastern neighbor of IC1805 (Heart Nebula) and the two are often mentioned together as the "Heart and Soul".

This image is composed of 76 180 seconds images taken in the Hyperstar configuration.


Here is a reprocess of images I took on 1/2/19 (my second try at imaging with Hyperstar V)
This is Messier 33 or the Triangulum Galaxy. The Triangulum Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 3 million light-years (ly) from Earth in the constellation Triangulum. It is catalogued as Messier 33 or NGC 598. The Triangulum Galaxy is the third-largest member of the Local Group of galaxies, behind the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy. It is one of the most distant permanent objects that can be viewed with the naked eye.
Temp=-10 deg C
Processed in DSS then PI

8/21/2019 Last night I imaged IC 1805 the Heart Nebula.  The Heart Nebula, IC 1805 lies some 7500 light years away from Earth and is located in the Perseus Arm of the Galaxy in the constellation Cassiopeia. It was discovered by William Herschel on 3 November 1787. This is an emission nebula showing glowing ionized hydrogen gas and darker dust lanes.


The very brightest part of this nebula (the knot at the western edge) is separately classified as NGC 896, because it was the first part of this nebula to be discovered.


The nebula's intense red output and its configuration are driven by the radiation emanating from a small group of stars near the nebula's center. This open cluster of stars known as Melotte 15 contains a few bright stars nearly 50 times the mass of our Sun, and many more dim stars that are only a fraction of our Sun's mass.


Imaging Data:

Exposure= 60s x 300 of which 259 were used

Binning = 1×1

Camera Temperature= 0 deg C

Filter= STC Astro Duo-Narrowband Filter

8/21/2019  On 8/19/2019 I imaged NGC 6960 or The Veil Nebula is a cloud of heated and ionized gas and dust in the constellation Cygnus.


It constitutes the visible portions of the Cygnus Loop, a supernova remnant, many portions of which have acquired their own individual names and catalogue identifiers. The source supernova was a star 20 times more massive than the Sun, which exploded around 8,000 years ago. The remnants have since expanded to cover an area of the sky roughly 3 degrees in diameter (about 6 times the diameter, or 36 times the area, of the full Moon).  The distance to the nebula is not precisely known, but Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) data supports a distance of about 1,470 light-years.


The Hubble Space Telescope captured several images of the nebula. The analysis of the emissions from the nebula indicate the presence of oxygen, sulfur, and hydrogen. The Cygnus Loop is also a strong emitter of radio waves and x-rays.


Imaging Data:

Exposure= 30s x 240 of which 202 were used

Binning = 1×1

Camera Temperature= 0 deg C

Filter= STC Astro Duo-Narrowband Filter


This is a set of images taken on August 21, 2019 of IC 1396.
The Elephant's Trunk Nebula is a concentration of interstellar gas and dust within the much larger ionized gas region IC 1396 located in the constellation Cepheus about 2,400 light years away from Earth. The piece of the nebula shown here is the dark, dense globule IC 1396A; it is commonly called the Elephant's Trunk nebula because of its appearance at visible light wavelengths, where there is a dark patch with a bright, sinuous rim. The bright rim is the surface of the dense cloud that is being illuminated and ionized by a very bright, massive star (HD 206267) that is just to the east of IC 1396A. The entire IC 1396 region is ionized by the massive star, except for dense globules that can protect themselves from the star's harsh ultraviolet rays.

The Elephant's Trunk Nebula is now thought to be a site of star formation, containing several very young (less than 100,000 yr) stars that were discovered in infrared images in 2003. Two older (but still young, a couple of million years, by the standards of stars, which live for billions of years) stars are present in a small, circular cavity in the head of the globule. Winds from these young stars may have emptied the cavity.

The combined action of the light from the massive star ionizing and compressing the rim of the cloud, and the wind from the young stars shifting gas from the center outward lead to very high compression in the Elephant's Trunk Nebula. This pressure has triggered the current generation of protostars. (Wikipedia)

Imaging Data:
Exposure= 120s x 180 of which 75 were used for a total of 150 minutes
Binning = 1×1
Camera Temperature= 0 deg C
Filter= STC Astro Duo-Narrowband Filter
Camera: ASI294MC PRO in Hyperstar configuration.


The Pleiades , also known as the Seven Sisters and Messier 45, are an open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky.

The cluster is dominated by hot blue and luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Reflection nebulae around the brightest stars were once thought to be left over material from the formation of the cluster but are now considered likely to be an unrelated dust cloud in the interstellar medium through which the stars are currently passing.

Computer simulations have shown that the Pleiades were probably formed from a compact configuration that resembled the Orion Nebula. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood. (Wikipedia)

Imaging Data:

August 23, 2019

Exposure= 30s x 300 of which 273 were used


Binning = 1×1

Camera Temperature= 0 deg C

Filter= LP UV/IR

Camera= ASI294MC PRO in Hyperstar mode



I imaged NGC 281 on August 31, 2019. It is composed of 360 x 60s images.

NGC 281, IC 11 or Sh2-184 is a bright emission nebula and part of an H II region in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia and is part of the Milky Way's Perseus Spiral Arm. This 20×30 arcmin sized nebulosity is also associated with open cluster IC 1590, several Bok globules and the multiple star, B 1. It collectively forms Sh2-184, spanning over a larger area of 40 arcmin. A recent distance from radio parallaxes of water masers at 22 GHz made during 2014 is estimated it lies 2.82±0.20 kpc. (9200 ly.) from us. Colloquially, NGC 281 is also known as the Pacman Nebula for its resemblance to the video game character.

Imaging Data:

Date: 8/31/19

Exposure= 60s x 360

Binning = 1×1

Gain = 120

Camera Temperature= 0 deg C

Filter= STC Astro Duo-Narrowband Filter

Camera = ASI294MC PRO in Hyperstar position


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