2015-07-12 Astrophotography: The Veil Nebula Complex

20150711_The Veil_DBE_CC_HT_NR_SAT_STAR1A few nights ago I was able to enjoy the clearest and darkest skies we have had since mid-April.  It was clear as a bell with minimal atmospheric haze, and only a quarter moon that did not rise until almost 2am. The only detracting elements that I had to contend with was light pollution from nearby Burlington and swarms of ravenous mosquitoes.  I was planning on photographing a part of the sky surrounding the star of Sadr in the constellation of Cygnus, however the skies were (more…)

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2015-06-18 Astrophotography: The North American and Pelican Nebula (NGC 7000, IC 5070)

20150617_NGC7000(4)_DBE_CC_HT_HDR_ACDNR_HT_SAT-4I often seem to start these posts off by remarking about how we finally had clear night skies and that it has been cloudy for weeks, but this last stretch of poor visibility has really seemed to drag on and on.  In the last four weeks we have had one very clear night, and it happened to coincide with the full moon.  This makes it very challenging to image faint deep space objects.  Last night, the streak continued and while the stars were actually visible there was a constant layer of high altitude clouds passing through diffusing the light from the sky and preventing it from being truly dark.  I have felt so pent up lately that I decided that I would go out and setup, if only for the sake of exercising my skills with the gear.  As I started to image, I cursed the clouds and yearned for truly clear, dark skies.  I located my practice target, and began to review images to check for exposure settings and composition, and I noticed something about the images that was quite intriguing.  As I studied the image on the back of the camera LCD, I (more…)

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2015-06-06 Astrophotography: The Great Hercules Cluster Messier 13

20150607_M13_CROP_DBE_BN_SCNR_HT_HDR_ACDNR2_HT_SAT-2There are over 150 Globular Star Clusters found inside the Milky Way Galaxy.  Larger galaxies can have even more, with Andromeda Galaxy containing more than 500, and Galaxy Messier 87 a staggering 13,000.  These star clusters contain hundreds of thousands of densely packed stars and form a spherical cluster due to the gravitational relationship with one another.  Little is known about Globular Clusters with relation to how they were formed.  There is debate over whether the stars were all formed at the same time, or whether stars were acquired somehow over many generations of stars and hundreds of millions of years.  The theories on formation even change from one star cluster to another, but similarities can be drawn between them.  Most contain older yellow stars and very few young hot stars, which suggest that (more…)

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2015-05-28 Astrophotography: The Flaming Star Nebula IC 405

Flaming Star-3I am still very new to astrophotography, and one of the aspects that interest and excite me the most about it, is that there is so much to learn about every facet of this photographic genre.  From image collection to data processing, astrophotography is perhaps the most complicated form of photography that exists.  With persistence and dedication to overcome the challenges inherent in astro, I find that the personal rewards in this growth are immeasurable.  It seems that every time I sit down to dig into this I am able to learn something new, and through this learning process I am able to improve upon my techniques.  A perfect example is the image contained in this blog post.

I captured the photos use to create this image back in April, and was very (more…)

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2015-05-23 Astrophotography: The Pleiades Star Cluster

The Pleiades is one of the most beautiful open star clusters found in the winter sky.  It is easily seen by the naked eye even in light polluted sites and has a distinct “dipper” configuration.  Due to it’s prominence in the night sky it is an excellent and common target for the beginner astrophotographer.  In fact, while these images were not my first attempt at astrophotography, The Pleiades was indeed my very first target. (more…)

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2015-05-20 Astrophotography: M101 Galaxy

20150521001-Edit (Gradient - Edits)-2Last night we had unexpected clear skies.  The forecast called for partly cloudy skies, but as the sun began to set the remaining wisps of clouds in the upper atmosphere dispersed and much to my delight it was clear from horizon to horizon.  I kept glancing out the window as Venus and Jupiter began to emerge as twighlight took over.  Slowly, the brighter stars began to appear and as the sun’s glow to the west faded the fainter stars began to emerge… and still, no clouds in the sky.  At around 10:30pm as Astronomical Twilight ended (the time of night when it becomes truly dark) I set up my tripod and equatorial tracking mount in the back yard and sighted in on a target that I had not previously photographed. (more…)

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2015-05-14 Astrophotography: M81 and M82 Galaxies

20150514_M81_M82_ImagesPlus2-Edit (double stretch)-2-2After weeks of either clouds or bright moonlight, conditions finally came together for Astrophotography.  We had a clear night, with no moon, and I was eager to find and shoot my first Galaxy.  A common target for beginner astrophotographers is the pair of galaxies classified as Messier 81 and Messier 82.  They are located relatively close to one another and can be found by drawing a straight line from the star Phecda to Dubhe of Ursa Major and extending it again by about the same distance. (more…)

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