Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dust Lanes in Outer Space

Excellent transparency last night.  

I took advantage of it despite the bone chilling cold.  It was 26 degrees Fahrenheit -- not all that cold, really.  I'm just not acclimated yet to Winter temperatures.

The number one object on my observing list was Comet 46P/Wirtanen.  It should be easily visible with my SkyWatcher dobsonian. 10 inches of aperture gathers a lot of light.

At the time of observation, 46P should have been 20 degrees above the horizon. 

I did a local alignment on the stars of the nearby constellation, Fornax, to no avail.  46P was nowhere to be found.  Fornax was barely visible, too.  That should have been my clue.  

46P is still too dim for me to see when it is this low in the sky.

I'll keep trying over the next month as it gets higher and brighter in the sky.  Stay tuned.

With that disappointment, I spent some time looking at a brighter object in the sky, the Andromeda Galaxy.

The Andromeda Galaxy is huge and bright.  It's apparent size is about 6 full moon widths in the sky.

Its size and brightness make it a challenge to capture images with my equipment.

Andromeda, Big And Bright
The bright nucleus blows out the image.

What I usually do with objects like this is place the bright portion out of the field of view and then image the periphery.

Here are some of the captures:

The Andromeda Galaxy

Dust Lanes
By doing this, I can crank up the gain and the exposure times and see some of Andromeda's structure.

Dust Lanes

More Dust Lanes
Bonus Image

With the transparency as good as it was last night, I did not let it go to waste.  I spent time looking at some of my favorite objects and playing with the billions of knobs that SharpCap gives me to tweak.

One my favorites is the Bubble Nebula.  Here is last night's capture.

The Bubble Nebula, NGC 7635
It was made with 79 frames stacked.  The imager gain was set to 516 and each frame exposure was 4 seconds.

Coming Soon?

I'm planning to upgrade my imager to one with greater sensitivity, a deeper well, and a much wider field of view.  There will be lots of fun with that!


  1. The Bubble Nebula, my fave! Yes, I can see the dust lanes of Andromeda in your images, cool.

    1. The nice thing about the Bubble Nebula is that it never sets. It is always above the horizon for those of use in the northern hemisphere.


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