Friday, May 17, 2013

In the galaxy far far away

Last week was not so good in terms of weather, but over three nights I was able to collect some exposures for the picture above. Left part is occupated by the M106 galaxy. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in year 1781 and is placed at distance about 25 million light years. It is spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici constellation. It is also a Seyfert galaxy which means it is suspected that part of the galaxy is falling into a supermassive black hole in the center. The mass of this black hole is estimated for 40 million solar masses. NGC4217 galaxy seen in the bottom right is a possible companion of M106. In the whole picture there is a whole lot of other faint and even fainter galaxies. 25 million years that separates us from M106 is not really far in cosmological terms, so what this entry title comes from? Well, take a look into the second picture:
You can see two enlarged parts. The upper one shows some faint chain of objects, that could be the stars. But when checked at SSDS sky server it turned out that this is very distant galaxy cluster. The measured redshift of this cluser is 0.273, that means this cluster is over 3 billion light years away. 
The plot thickens...
The bottom enlarged part shows lonely galaxy in the upper right subframe part. This one has been identified in SSDS with redshift 0.349. That value corresponds to the distance about 4 billion light years! So 160 times further than M106. And the picture has been taken from the backyard using 6" newtonian scope. 
You can do it.
Exposure details: GSO 6" F5 newtonian, Atik314L+ camera, LRGB 300:60:60:60 minutes, bin 1:2:2:2 over three different nights due to weather and short nights.

Clear skies!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

21 million and over one billion light years away

Summer is coming. Days will be even longer and unfortunately nights will become shorter. June and July nights are so short, that you can easily say it is never dark during the nights nearby summer solstice (that will take place this year on June, 21st in the morning). For the incoming summer heats I am presenting you M101 Galaxy also called "Pinwheel". The galaxy was discovered in 1781 by Pierre Méchain. He described his discovery using the words:
"nebula without star, very obscure and pretty large, 6' to 7' in diameter, between the left hand of Bootes and the tail of the great Bear. It is difficult to distinguish when one lits the [grating] wires."
M101 galaxy (aka NGC5457) is face-on spiral galaxy placed about 21 million light years away. M101 is about 70% larger than our Milky Way. This galaxy is also known for its large and luminous  H II regions. You can also easily notice the galaxy asymmetric shape. it is thought that M101 underwent a collision with some other galaxy and that caused this asymmetry.
At the picture also some quite faint and distant galaxies were recorded. At the frame in the picture below you can see a few of them. The four galaxies in the right part of the subframe belowe have radial velocity about 30000km/s. Last researches give us Huble constant value of 74,3 ± 2,1 (km/s)/Mpc. So these galaxies are about 1.3 billion light years away! 

Picture has been taken as LRGB with exposure times 200:30:30:30 minutes and binning 1:2:2:2.

Clear skies!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Whirlpool galaxy now and two centuries ago

Whirlpool Galaxy already has been presented in my blog (see but it was B&W image of luminance only exposed for 90 minutes. Last night I spent some more time on this object and gathered some more photons. The picture above is LRGB composition image (click for larger view). Luminance has total exposure time of 160 minutes unbinned. Each of RGB channels was exposed for 30 minutes with binning set to 2. The sky was not perfect - some haze and high clouds were present, but seeing conditions were decent, so the picture is quite detailed.
Whirlpool galaxy and its companion NGC5195 are placed in Canes Venatici constellation and are about 23 million light years away and this distance increases with 463km every second. This duet can be spotted using binoculars under dark sky. It has been discovered in 1773 by Charles Messier and then in 1845 has been observed by Lord Rosse using his 72 inches diameter telescope. Here is his original drawing of this object:
You can see this drawing is quite detailed, however has been made using twelve times larger instrument than my pictures :)

Clear skies!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Some (short) history

It has been a long time ago when I got interested in astronomy - actually I do not remember the exact date, I think it was over twenty years ago. But it was not very long time ago when I started to do actual astrophotography - not even a whole year has passed. Since again not astro weather is in my place I just collected almost all my astro pictures in the one online gallery. There is not so many of them, but around 120 hours of total exposure time have been spent on all of them, and it is all up to weather conditions (and current Moon phase in some extent). During this 8 months my setup has not changed so much - I am still using HEQ5 Pro equatorial mount, and still GSO 6" Newtonian tube. I started astro picturing with Canon 20D camera, lately it has been replaced with Atik 314L+ monochrome camera with LRGB and H alpha filter set. Some of the pictures have been taken using 200mm telephoto lens (older than me Jupiter lens I bought for 30$). We will see what will be next subject to change - I probably will aim to larger aperture, so 8" f/4 tube would be a great upgrade :)
Anyway - here is all my astro works for the last nine months:

Clear skies!