Saturday, February 9, 2019

Nebulosity in the Pleiades?

The Pleiades, also known as the "Seven Sisters," and also as "Messier 45," is an open star cluster in the constellation Taurus.

It is naked eye visible and resembles a tiny "little dipper."

The cluster is dominated by young hot blue luminous stars, the brightest of which illuminate reflection nebula.

The Pleiades has nebulosity?  Who knew?

Whenever I took a peek at M45 through my widest field eyepiece, I could see the beautiful blue stars and maybe a hint of a blue glow between them, but no nebula . . .

I've seen photos from astrophotographers showing the nebula so I figured that it takes some serious equipment to capture it.

When I was out last weekend, I thought I'd try to capture an image with my modest gear.

I was amazed to watch as SharpCap integrated the frames from the ZWO ASI294MC.


Friday, February 1, 2019

Gorgeous Cold Morning

Thursday morning was really cold.

It was 430am and I was following my morning workday ritual.  I loaded my backpack, my running gear, and lunch box into the back of the car and then pressed the button to open the garage.

As I always do, I stepped into the driveway and took a survey of the sky.

No clouds.  It was clear.

Holy cow!  Venus, the Moon, and Jupiter were having a conjunction.  It was beautiful.  I stood there staring at it for a few moments.

On a lark, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone.  Honestly, I didn't expect much.  It was dark and it was a phone camera, afterall.  And then, I remembered that my phone, a Google Pixel 3XL, has a "Night Sight" mode for the camera.

I framed the image of the sky on the screen and pushed the button to take the photo.  The camera app put up a little message, "Hold still."

I held still.

A few moments later, this image appeared.

Venus, Moon, and Jupiter Conjunction
In it, you can clearly see Venus to the left of the Moon, with Jupiter to the right.  And a smattering of other stars.  On the right side of the image, the constellation, Scorpio stands out.

It's not great astrophotography, but is a pretty good image from a phone!

Below, I labeled the visible stars.


With these images, you can click on them to see their larger versions.


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