My first serious planet attempt, Saturn

Saturn is probably the single most imaged planet, besides Earth of course. The rings are just mesmerizing. Imaging planets is a lot different than my normal fare of DSOs, it uses a video camera instead of a normal DSLR/CCD. Because of the unsteady air and extreme magnification you have to take thousands of images and stack them keeping the best parts of each and discarding the rest. The result, can be very nice:


I bought an Orion Starshoot Solar System Imager IV for about $99 just for this and am using a Celestron CPC 1100 XLT 11 inch SCT at about 2800mm focal length with a 2x barlow. The magnification of this scope is nice but man, what a pain in the rear to use compared to my refractors!

Share this post! Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Supernova SN2012aw in M95 galaxy

Supernova SN2012aw was one of those times where you just get lucky. I was fortunate enough to image M95 on February 25th and just discovered there was a supernova in the very outer lanes of that galaxy so I imaged it again, the supernova is clearly visible. This was probably one of the closest supernova to Earth in the history of humans.

Supernova SN2012aw   Almost exactly a month apart and the difference is obvious. One interesting thing to put this into perspective is that this did not happen in March 2013, in fact, not in this year, not in this century, and indeed, it happened some 38 million years ago. The distance of M95 is approximately 38 million light years away. This means somewhere between the extinction of the dinosaurs and the evolution of the Homo species is when the event happened but the light from it is just now reaching the Earth. Really makes you think.

The other amazing thing to me is how obvious it really is. You hear about how bright and violent a supernova explosion is but it takes something like this to really show you. That little dot is not much larger than any of the other stars in the image, except the other stars are not in that galaxy. If you look close at the galaxy and see the hazy dust that forms it’s structure, that dust is millions of stars. One of those little particles of dust way out on the edge of the galaxy exploded with such force that it is as bright as the central core of the galaxy it is in. Wow.

The magnitude of this supernova was around 13 when this image was shot.

Hopefully there weren’t any life supporting planets anywhere in that area! There is a fantastic little article on this spectacular supernova in the M95 galaxy on National Geographic’s website.

I hope you enjoyed my image of SN2012aw!

Share this post! Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Comet Gerradd C/2009 P1, My first comet

Comet Gerradd was discovered by G. J. Gerradd on August 13, 2009 in Australia’s Siding Spring Observatory.You can find out more about C2009 p1‘s creator on Wikipedia.

Here you see the comet visually near the galaxy NGC 6015 (upper right corner) in the constellation of Draco. Notice that the comet sports two tails, this is because the gas that vaporizes off the comet due to the sun’s heating is being blown by the solar wind in one direction while the particles of debris and dust fall off in a different direction since they are not affected by the solar winds as much.

In the main image the comet is about as close to earth as it was going to get and is well inside the orbital distance of Jupiter, about half way between that distance and the orbit of Mars, sitting above the orbital plane of the planets. The smaller images show comet Gerradd moving across the frame in its travels across the sky.Image of Comet Gerradd  As you can tell I imaged comet Gerradd for over an hour. It was also a wonderful comet to view with binoculars. There were several of us out that night and I was certainly not the only one imaging the comet.

I hope you enjoyed Comet Gerradd!

Share this post! Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail