My article and image of IC1396 in Skynews magazine Mar/Apr 2019

IC1396 in Skynews
IC1396 in Skynews

Very pleased to have my image of IC1396 and short article featured in the “Parting Shot” section of the March/April issue of Skynews Magazine. It’s always an honour to have your work recognized like this.

IC1396 and Elephant Trunk Nebula
The image of IC1396 that is featured in Skynews

I imaged IC1396 (the Elephant Trunk Nebula) in the Fall of 2018 using the Skywatcher Esprit 100 Triplet Refractor, Moravian 16200EC CCD and Optolong filters. All riding on an EQ6 mount and Skyshed pier. 

This issue of Skynews is of particular interest to me because it deals with light pollution. A growing problem that is not just the bane of amateur and professional astronomers. It’s becoming quite the problem and this issue covers some of the particulars of it.

I’ve been a dark sky advocate since 2008 and have provided a lot of information and knowledge on the topic of light pollution to my city officials and staff. I also input on our LED street light conversion.

Light pollution is very easy to fix. In fact out of all the pollutants, it’s by far the simplest to reduce and even stop.

Flip that switch and turn of lights over night. Shield lights down to the ground so the light (and energy) is wasted up into the night sky. If you are going to use LED, look for 2700K or lower lights. Amber is better (1750K-2200K) and is now becoming readily available. It also looks much nicer, more warm and cozy than bright harsh white LEDs.

Check out my section on light pollution here. You can also read more about IC1396 in my post of it here.

Thanks for reading and clear skies!

Lobster Claw, a Bubble and open cluster

Lobster claw, bubble nebula and open cluster M52
Lobster claw, bubble nebula and open cluster M52
The Esprit 100 triplet refractor and Moravian G3-16200EC CCD camera riding on the EQ6 mount and Skyshed Pier.
Imaging telescope: Esprit 100 triplet refractor and Moravian G3-16200EC CCD camera riding on the EQ6 mount and Skyshed Pier.

From left to right, the Lobster Claw Nebula (Sharpless 157), the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) and open cluster M52. I captured this image of all three in October 2018 using the Esprit 100 triplet, Moravian 16200EC CCD camera and Optolong H-alpha filter. They lie in the constellation Cassiopeia. To the lower right in the image is a smaller emission nebula, NGC 7538.

Technical:

  • Skywatcher Esprit 100mm APO refractor, F5.5
  • Moravian G3 16200 CCD @ -10deg
  • Optolong filters Ha 7nm
  • Skywatcher EQ6 mount / Skyshed Pier
  • 300min / 10min subs
  • SGP, PHD, EQmod softwares for acquisition
  • Pixinsight 1.8 calibration, processing
  • Seeing and transparency average
  • Location: Kitchener, Ontario

Meet M78 a Reflection Nebula in Orion

m78 a reflection nebula
m78 a reflection nebula

I imaged M78 a Reflection Nebula in Orion using a remote telescope in New Mexico. This data was taken over two nights and is using the luminance data I posted of M78 previous. Its been combined with RGB data to give this colour image. And wow is this region of space colourful!

M78 is about 1,600 light years from Earth. Two 10th magnitude stars located inside the nebula, have their starlight reflected off the dust and small carbon grains within the nebula. This gives the blue colour we see in the image.

To the upper right, the vivid bright glowing red streak, is part of Barnard’s Loop in Orion. An emission nebula. The loop takes the form of a large arc centered approximately on the Orion Nebula.

Technical:

  • Takahashi FSQ-ED 106mm APO refractor, F5
  • SBIG STL11000M CCD
  • LRGB filters
  • Mount: Paramount GT-1100S
  • 230 minutes / 10min subs (L x 100min, R x 40min, G x 40min, B x 50min)
  • Pixinsight 1.8 calibration and processing
  • Seeing and transparency excellent
  • Imaging location: New Mexico, USA

IC1848 The Soul Nebula

IC1848 The Soul Nebula

Click image to view higher resolution.

Esprit100-Moravian-G3-16200EC-EQ6-Skyshed-pier
An Esprit 100 triplet APO refractor and Moravian G3-16200EC CCD camera riding on a Skywatcher EQ6 mount and Skyshed pier.

IC1848 the Soul Nebula rises in the constellation of Cassiopeia in the Fall months of the northern hemisphere. This large emission nebula is often referred to along with its neighbour, IC1805 the Heart Nebula;  the Heart and Soul Nebulae. This is a 15 hour image taken over a few nights in September and October. It consists of narrowband H-alpha data as well as colour data. A synthetic luminance was created using the RGB masters. IC1848 the Soul Nebula is a large star forming region. Several small open clusters are embedded in the nebula. This nebula is officially designated Westerhout 5 (also Sharpless 2-199 and LBN 667) but is more commonly called by the star cluster within it, IC1848.  This emission nebula is 7500 light years from Earth.

 Technical:

  • Skywatcher Esprit 100mm APO refractor, F5.5
  • Moravian G3 16200 CCD @ -10deg
  • Optolong filters Ha-R-G-B (synthetic luminance)
  • Skywatcher EQ6 mount / Skyshed Pier
  • 15 hours / 5min subs
  • SGP, PHD, EQmod softwares for acquisition
  • Pixinsight 1.8 calibration, processing
  • Seeing and transparency average
  • Location: Kitchener, Ontario

M78 reflection nebula 100mins of luminance data

M78 reflection nebula

Click image to view higher resolution.

This is 100 minutes of luminance data of the M78 reflection nebula. Taken from iTelescope New Mexico observatory. Messier 78 is a reflection nebula in the constellation Orion. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1780 and included by Charles Messier in his catalog of comet-like objects that same year. For those wondering about the bright patch in the lower left corner, it’s a hint of the Flame Nebula which is near the infamous Horse Head Nebula.

 Technical:

  • Takahashi FSQ-ED 106mm APO refractor, F5
  • SBIG STL11000M CCD
  • Luminance filter
  • Mount: Paramount GT-1100S 
  • 100 minutes / 10min subs
  • Pixinsight 1.8 calibration, processing
  • Seeing and transparency excellent
  • Imaging location: New Mexico, USA

IC1396 and the Elephant Trunk Nebula

IC1396 and Elephant Trunk Nebula

Click image to view higher resolution.

IC1396 is a large region of ionized gas about 2,400 light years from Earth. The Elephant Trunk Nebula (extending vertical from bottom to center of image) is an interstellar gas and dust concentration. It gets its name because it appears to resemble an Elephant head and trunk. This nebula is now thought to be a star forming region.

Esprit100-Moravian-G3-16200EC-EQ6-Skyshed-pier
An Esprit 100 triplet APO refractor and Moravian G3-16200EC CCD camera riding on a Skywatcher EQ6 mount and Skyshed pier.

Light pollution has long been the bane of stargazers and astrophotographers alike. In the past, I’d load up the car and travel to dark sites to get away from the sky glow plaguing my Kitchener Ontario home. Fast forward a decade, add some life and work commitments, ten years of aging, and long sleepless nights away from home became harder to pull off. So, I decided to become an urban astrophotographer.

 But is deep-sky imaging really possible from the city? Absolutely. While there’s no substitute for a dark rural sky, I found ways to adapt to my circumstances. First, I pick the objects that climb high enough to photograph well; objects like bright reflection nebular or that contain a lot of narrowband (H-alpha) or even a good mix of both. Second, I found imaging with LRGB filters is a little less susceptible to the effects of light pollution compared with the one shot colour camera I used previously. Finally, I put together a semi-permanent setup that allows me to get some sleep while the equipment runs unattended.

 My image of IC1396, above, is proof of what can be accomplished from the city. The photo combines 9 hours and 40 minutes of exposure data, shot through Optolong filters with a Sky-Watcher Esprit 100mm triplet refractor and Moravian Instruments G3-16200 CCD camera, all riding on a Sky-Watcher EQ6 mount and Skyshed Pier.

 “You have to have work with what you’ve got” a friend of mine always says. That’s what I did. And you can too!

 Technical:

  • Skywatcher Esprit 100mm APO refractor, F5.5
  • Moravian G3 16200 CCD @ -10deg
  • Optolong filters (Ha-sL-R-G-B)
  • Skywatcher EQ6 mount / Skyshed Pier
  • 9 hours 40 min / 5min subs
  • SGP, PHD, EQmod softwares for acquisition
  • Pixinsight 1.8 calibration, processing
  • Seeing and transparency average

Sadr Gamma Cygni Region

Click image to view higher resolution.

The bright star at center is Sadr, also known as Gamma Cygni. It is located in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan and rises high overhead during the late Summer here in Ontario. Sadr forms the intersection of an asterism of five stars that is known as the Northern Cross. This region is rich with nebulosity and dark dust. It’s 1,826 light years from Earth. 

 Technical:

  • Skywatcher Esprit 100mm APO refractor, F5.5
  • Moravian G3 16200 CCD @ -10deg
  • Optolong filters (Ha-R-G-B)
  • Skywatcher EQ6 mount
  • 10 hours / 5min subs
  • SGP, PHD, EQmod softwares for acquisition
  • Pixinsight 1.8 calibration, processing
  • Seeing and transparency average