Of the Moon and Messier Marathon

Composite image of Messier Marathon Checklist over Messier Object images. Messier objects by Michael A. PhillipsCC BY 4.0, Link

Beginning amateur astronomers soon encounter the term “Messier objects.” They learn that this is a list of objects outside our Solar System that are visible through small telescopes. This list was originally compiled by Charles Messier, in the 18th century, from his observations and those of contributors. The catalog has been updated over time, as recently as the mid-20th century, to 110 objects in total.  

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NP127is: Imaging the Skies Over Taos, NM

NGC7000 North America Nebula-NP127is by AstroBin user Jerry Macon. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-NP127is flat-field, APO refractor with ZWO ASI128MC Pro full-frame color CMOS camera with 2″ Astronomik L-2 UV-IR Block filter. Exposure 59 x 240″ for a total of 3.9-hours. Mount:Paramount MEII with Absolute Encoders. Software:Sequence Generator Pro, PixInsight 1.8.

We’ve noticed some nice full-color and RGB  deep-sky images made by Jerry Macon using our Tele Vue-NP127is telescope. They’re all taken from his private Dark Star Observatory in Taos, New Mexico.  His image of the expansive North America Nebula (NGC 7000 – above) displays how the deep red light of Hydrogen-α dominates this emission nebula (an  ionized cloud of hydrogen gas about 3° across). A feature of this nebula is the “Cygnus Wall” section at the bottom, that includes “Mexico” and “Central America.” This feature is a dense star-forming region of dust and gas that is often imaged alone without the rest of the nebula. 

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The Sun from Sunny Barcelona, Spain

protuberancias y superficie solares – 18/11/2017 by flickr user Jordi Sesé. All rights reserved. Used by permission. In this impressive image, a massive solar prominence erupts above the limb of the Sun. Furry spicules are visible along the entire edge of the disk. The roiling surface appearance of the Sun is caused by filaments and fibrils (prominence and spicules away from the limb — see blog text for details). All these solar features are usually invisible in ordinary white light. These phenomena are only revealed through narrow-band hydrogen-α light filters. Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ into ZWO ASI174MM monochrome camera using 100mm f/10 achromatic scope with modified Coronado PST Hα and BF10 blocking filter.

If you’re suffering from the cold northern winter like we are at Tele Vue headquarters in upstate New York, you’ll instantly be “warmed” by these “hot” solar images made by Jordi Sesé Puértolas from his balcony in Barcelona, Spain. These photos appear to show a blazing inferno on the “surface” of the Sun. However, science tells us this is not fire we are seeing but hot plasma (ionized gas) and gas in the wavelength of Hydrogen-α light.