Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Winter Astronomical Necessity

The sky was clear, cloudless, and dark last night.  And there were not gale force winds.

There was much rejoicing.

I had the telescope and equipment outside and set up by 8pm.  Moonrise was going to be after midnight.  This gave me hours of dark sky.  Yay!

The cold temperature was the challenge.  This piece of equipment is an enormous help, though.  Using it, I was good for hours even though there was frost forming everywhere.

I placed one in the palm of each of my gloves.  Worked well.

So, what did I see?

It turns out that the transparency of the sky made some of the smaller, dimmer, objects on my observing list nearly impossible to see. So, I concentrated on bigger, brighter objects.

Be sure to click on the images to see their larger versions.

M33 The Triangulum Galaxy

It fits nicely in the field of view of the ZWO ASI294MC imager and is easily visible with only a couple of seconds exposure.  I used SharpCap's live stacking to tease out more details and captured this image.  It is 52 frames stacked.  Each frame had an exposure of 8 seconds.

A Giant Pinwheel in Space
M31 The Andromeda Galaxy

This galaxy is huge and bright.  You can see it without any optical assist from a dark sky location, and with binoculars, you can see it even under some city lights! The challenge posed to me is that it is so big and bright.  It swamps the imager and doesn't fit in the field of view.

But, I tried it anyway.  Here is what I captured.

M31 and Companion, M32

It is 25 frames stacked.  Each frame had an exposure of 8 seconds.

M42 The Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula, again?  Yes, no astronomy session is complete without at least taking a peek at the beauty of this bright nebula.

M42, Big and Bright
This image consists of 17 frames and each frame has 8 seconds of exposure.

Pretty, huh?



  1. Beautiful images! Especially M42. It looks like a poppy blooming.

    1. Thanks! M42 looks good through an eyepiece, too. It's a greenish grey in color for most people because there aren't enough photons to excite the color sensitive parts of the eye. Some people, however, usually women and young children, can see the color.

  2. I don't think you can have too many photos of the Orion Nebula. And I quite like the photo of Andromeda.

    1. I love the constellation of Orion. I look up at it every weekday, clouds willing, shortly after opening to garage to take the car to work. Not only is the nebula naked eye visible, the star Betelgeuse is due to go supernova . . .


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