IC 342 – The Hidden Galaxy of Camelopardalis

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A relatively un-photographed galaxy, IC 342 lies very close to the Milky Way, somewhere between 7 million and 11 million light years. The galaxy IC 342 lies in a dusty area near the galactic equator. Think of the galactic equator as the middle, horizontal line through the Milky Way galaxy. This is where most of the stars and dust are located. Peering through the galactic equator results in objects often being obscured. However, IC 342 really stands out.

Our local group of galaxies includes the Milky Way, Andromeda, Large Magellanic Cloud, M33, M32 plus many more. This group moves through the universe together. IC 342 leads up the IC 342 group of galaxies. The IC 342 group is the closest group of galaxies to our local group of galaxies.

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NGC 7129 – Reflection Nebula in Cepheus

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NGC 7129 is a reflection nebula located in the constellation Cepheus. Located 3,300 light years away, NGC 7129 is a young open cluster of newborn stars. Many of the stars within the cluster are less than 1 million years old, which is very young when you consider many of these stars will live to be many billions of years old. The gaseous features are the left over ingredients for star formation.

NGC 7129 is a reflection nebula. Reflection nebulas reflect light from nearby stars while emission nebulas generate light from ionized gases. Reflection nebulas are images through red, green, and blue filters while emission nebulas are best imaged with narrowband filters (Sulphur-II, Hydrogen-Alpha, Oxygen-III).

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NGC 281 – Pacman Nebula

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The Pacman Nebula is something I’ve been wanting to image for quite some time. Mostly because it looks like what it is called… Pacman. NGC 281 is a very bright emission nebula in Cassiopeia only 9,200 light years away. Emission nebulas emit light due to ionized gases within the cloud.

To date, this is the longest image I’ve ever captured, coming in at 30 hours of imaging time! And more amazingly, I’ve had 9 nights of clear skies over the course of about 3 weeks. It usually would take 1-2 months to get this amount of imaging time.

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IC5067 – The Pelican Nebula

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The Pelican Nebula is an emission nebula within the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. The Pelican Nebula is identified as IC5070, but the prominent feature imaged below is a small portion, which is identified as IC5067.

The Pelican Nebula is an active star forming region, which helps to ionize the gasses, allowing for easier imaging through narrowband filters.

The Pelican Nebula is 1,800 light years away. This nebula is quite large. The image below is a single panel. In order to capture the entire nebula, I would need to create a mosaic 3 panels wide by 4 panels tall (12 panels total).

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M16 – The Eagle Nebula with the Pillars of Creation

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The Eagle Nebula is a cluster of stars newly formed or in the process of forming. On April 1, 1995, the Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of the central region of the nebula, which is now famously referred to as the Pillars of Creation. You can see these pillars within the middle of my image. You can al see another feature within this image, the Stellar Spire, which is located to the top-left of the Pillars. Just like the pillars, the Spire is a birthplace of stars.

Located in the constellation Serpens, The Eagle Nebula is 5,700 light years away. Officially, the Eagle Nebula is considered an open cluster. However, a much larger region, identified as IC 4703, is an emission nebula, which contains a strong hydrogen-alpha signal.

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M82 – The Cigar Galaxy

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In the constellation Ursa Major, you can find M82, The Cigar Galaxy. M82 is part of a group of galaxies, called the M81 group. M82 and M81 (Bode’s Galaxy) are the brightest members of the group. M82 and the associated group are fairly close, only 12 million light years away, making it a fairly easy galaxy to image due because it is so bright.

The starburst activity, shown in yellow/orange color, is due to M82 interacting with M81. The starburst activity is better seen with the use of a hygrogen-alpha filter.

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NGC 6543 – Cat’s Eye Nebula

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The Cat’s Eye nebula is a planetary nebula in the constellation Draco. A planetary nebula is the ejected shell of a red giant star at the end of a medium sized star’s life. This particular planetary nebula is around 3,300 light years away. The small fuzzy object to the right is the barred spiral galaxy NGC 6552, which lies 350 million light years away.

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M95

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The M95 galaxy (also known as NGC 3351), located in the constellation Leo, is a barred spiral galaxy 32 million light.

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