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Bringing the Universe to Your Classroom!

Showing posts with label digital imaging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label digital imaging. Show all posts

Saturday, June 1, 2019

What's In The Sky - June 2019

Get ready for summer stargazing! With the weather warming up, June is a great time of year to enjoy relaxing evenings under starry skies with your telescope or astronomy binoculars. Here are a few of Orion Telescopes and Binoculars top picks for June 2019 stargazing:

Jupiter at Opposition

Jupiter shines brightly in the constellation Ophiuchus during June and will be at opposition to the Sun on June 10. Around the same time is also its closest approach to Earth, making it an ideal time for observation. Use a SkyQuest XT6 PLUS Dobsonian along with the 10mm Plossl eyepiece and Shorty 2x Barlow lens that come with it to get views of the largest planet in our solar system at 240x magnification! Or, pair it with the Orion StarShoot 1.3mp Solar System V Imaging Camera for an affordable planetary imaging system!

M13 - Great Globular Cluster in Hercules imaged on ATEO-1 by Insight Observatory.
M13 - Great Globular Cluster in Hercules imaged on ATEO-1 by Insight Observatory.

Summer is Globular Season!

Globular star clusters are densely packed balls of stars that are concentrated towards the center of the Milky Way. June skies offer some of the finest globular cluster viewing opportunities. While you can detect most globular clusters in 50mm or larger binoculars, a moderate to high-power eyepiece in a 6" or larger telescope offers the best chance to resolve individual stars. In the constellation Hercules, look for M92 and the “Great Cluster” M13. In Scorpius, look for M4 and M80. The constellation Ophiuchus is home to six globulars – M10, M12, M14, M107, M9, and M19. Can you spot them all?

The Virgo Cluster

A treasure trove of galaxies can be explored if you point your 6” or larger telescope toward the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. The Event Horizon radio telescope array released the first image of a black hole in April, of the supermassive black hole in M87. While the black hole might need an Earth-sized radio telescope array to resolve it, the galaxy itself can be viewed with more affordable equipment. Aim your telescope at M87 in the constellation Virgo and start scanning the surrounding night sky. How many galaxies can you see?

Summertime Star Party

Take advantage of the New Moon on June 3rd and the galaxies and globular clusters visible to put on a star party! Not only will the dark skies of the moonless night provide great opportunities to see fainter objects more clearly, but the warm June weather will make it easy to enjoy starry sights all night long with friends and family.

Swirling Spirals

Around 10pm in mid-June, two glorious, face-on spiral galaxies M51 and M101 will both be in a great position for viewing and imaging. Look for M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, to the southwest of the star Alkaid at the end of the Big Dipper's "handle". Scan the sky to the northeast of Alkaid to find M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy. Under very dark skies, these distant galaxies can barely be detected in smaller telescopes, but a 10" or larger reflector will reveal much more impressive views. If you're viewing from an especially dark location, try to resolve the delicate spiral arms of M51 in a 10" or larger telescope.

M101, M27, and M51 imaged on ATEO-1 by Mr Daniels 8th-Grade Students from the Plymouth Community Intermediate School, Plymouth, MA.
M101, M27, and M51 imaged on ATEO-1 by Mr Daniels 8th-Grade Students from the Plymouth Community Intermediate School, Plymouth, MA.

Gems of the Summer Triangle By 10pm in mid-northern latitudes, the Summer Triangle, comprising beacon stars Vega (in Lyra), Deneb (in Cygnus), and Altair (in Aquila), will be fully visible above the horizon. Several celestial gems lie within its confines, including the Ring Nebula (M57), the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), open star cluster M29, and the visually challenging Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888). To catch a glimpse of the elusive Crescent, you'll almost certainly need an Orion Oxygen-III Filter in a larger telescope.

Summer Sky Challenge Discovered in 1825 by the German astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve, NGC 6572 is bright enough to be seen in a humble 60mm refractor telescope from a dark sky site; but it is very, very small! At only 8 arc-seconds in size, it takes a lot of magnification to distinguish this from a star. The easiest way to find it is to look in the target area for a green star. NGC 6572 is one of the most intensely colored objects in the night sky. Some say this is green, some say it is blue; what do you think?

All objects described above can easily be seen with the suggested equipment from a dark sky site, a viewing location some distance away from city lights where light pollution and when bright moonlight does not overpower the stars.
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Saturday, April 27, 2013

One Shot Color of Carina Nebula

The southern hemisphere is full of "deep-sky wonders" as much as the northern hemisphere. Having access to remote robotic telescopes in locations such as New South Wales, Australia, allows us northern hemisphere observers to image and research a whole new frontier. Here is an image of NGC 3372, The "Carina Nebula" captured by Michael Petrasko on the evening of April 26, 2013 (local time NSW). This image was taken with a full moon in the sky at the time. Its clearly evident that there is no "wash out" from the light of the moon whatsoever.

NGC 3372 - Carina Nebula imaged by Michael Petrasko
NGC 3372 - Carina Nebula imaged by Michael Petrasko

The Carina Nebula (also known as the Great Nebula in Carina, the Eta Carina Nebula, or NGC 3372, as well as "Grand Nebula") is a large bright nebula that surrounds several open clusters of stars. Eta Carinae and HD 93129A, two of the most massive and luminous stars in our Milky Way galaxy, are among them. The nebula lies at an estimated distance between 6,500 and 10,000 light years from Earth. It appears in the constellation of Carina and is located in the Carina–Sagittarius Arm.

The Carina Nebula is one of the largest diffuse nebulae in our skies. Although it is some four times as large and even brighter than the famous Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is much less well known, due to its location far in the Southern Hemisphere. It was discovered by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1751–52 from the Cape of Good Hope.

iTelescope.com's T-13 - Takahashi Sky90
iTelescope.com's T-13 - Takahashi Sky90

The image is a 15-minute exposure taken with an SBIG ST2000XMC One Shot Color CCD camera through a Takahashi SKY90 3" (90mm) Apochromatic Refractor (pictured left) provided by iTelescope.net. Processing was done with SBIG CCDOps software and Adobe Photoshop CS6. 3x5 images were stacked with 3 synthetic luminance images created from each color image for noise reduction.

One shot color CCD camera can provide interesting images (if processed properly with synthetic luminance images) just as well, if not better, than high-end monochrome CCD cameras that use Red, Green and Blue color filters.
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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Toyotas, iPads and Galaxies... Oh My!

Waiting for my vehicle to be serviced has never been so exciting! Yesterday as I waited for my Toyota Rav4 SUV to be serviced in the dealership's waiting room, I experimented with iTelescope.net on my iPad. iTelescope.net does not recommend using Safari for a web browser (only Firefox and Chrome), however, because the Toyota dealership had such good wi-fi reception, I thought I would experiment and make an attempt imaging a galaxy from iTelescope.net's remote robotic telescope location at Siding Spring Observatory, Australia. 

M83 - Barred Spiral Galaxy in Hydra  - 300 sec. exposure
M83 - Barred Spiral Galaxy in Hydra  - 300 sec. exposure

The iTelescope.net remote robotic telescope "Launchpad" page in Safari worked flawlessly until I got to the "One Click Image" page that lists a catalog of recommended objects with the exposure times already programmed. I was not able to execute the "Submit Image" button. The workaround for this was to go into the "Single Image" page and manually set the object desired as well as the exposure settings. After inputting the settings, the "Acquire Image" button worked just fine. The object I imaged was the barred spiral galaxy, M83 in the constellation of Hydra. Messier 83 (also known as the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy, M83 or NGC 5236) is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 15 million light-years away. It is one of the closest and brightest barred spiral galaxies in the sky, making it visible with binoculars and small telescopes. Six extragalactic supernovae have been observed in M83 making the object a good candidate for the part of a continued supernova search program.

T9 - 12.5" Ritchey-Chrétien Cassegrain
T9 - 12.5" Ritchey-Chrétien Cassegrain

The instrument I used via my iPad to capture the above image of M83 was the Medium Deep Field (T9) which is a 12.5" Ritchey-Chrétien Cassegrain with a long focal length of f/9. This telescope is typically used for imaging & some photometry. It has a selection of color imaging filters and a photometric V filter. Its teamed with an STL-11000M CCD Camera. T9 is a prime imaging platform in the southern hemisphere and is capable of brilliant narrowband imaging with several Astro Photo of the Day (APOD) prizes under its belt already. It is a highly reliable telescope which has enabled countless iTelescope.net users to capture southern glories as well as valuable science data. It has often been used in Hubble Space Telescope support missions.

After having success imaging a galaxy visible from the other side of the globe, using my iPad, I feel that making appointments that require extensive wait times just got a lot more painless!
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