Charlie and Kathy's Astrophotos



Favorite pictures compilation

Calstar 2014
Calstar 2013
GSSP 2013
Calstar 2012
Supernova in M101
Calstar 2011
Calstar 2010
GSSP 2010
Calstar 2009
Calstar 2008
Magellan Observatory 2007
1990-2007

Aug. 24 presentation at SJAA-IMSig on signal and noise in CCDs

For information about how these photos were taken, click here.
For proper motion / parallax study, click here (under construction).

Click on any thumbnail to see the full-sized image.

Emission Nebulae Reflection Nebulae Dark Nebulae Planetary Nebulae Supernova Remnants Stars and Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies Solar System



Emission Nebulae




M8 - Lagoon Nebula
For all images of M8 click here.

Imax=5 Imax=20 Imax=100

ST-4000XCM, 1200s total exposure 6/14/12 Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, CA


Our first image of an emission nebula with the ST-4K!





M16 - Eagle Nebula
For all images of M16 click here.

Imax=2 Imax=5 Imax=10 Nonlinear

ST-4000XCM, 2100s total exposure 7/7/13 Adin, CA


M16 contains both an open cluster and the Eagle nebula, including the "pillars of creation" that are well known from the famous Hubble picture. This was an attempt to obtain a larger image using the new camera. Visually, the faint glow of the nebula was easily seen under the dark skies at Adin, but I still could not detect the pillars visually. I hope we'll get to see this through a large telescope someday.





M17 - Swan Nebula

Imax=50 Imax=20

Starshoot DSCI, 50 exposures, 10s each 9/26/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


This was one of the easier targets, because it is bright and just the right size to fit into the camera's field of view. You can see the "swan" if you rotate by 180 degrees. Note the interesting dark clouds near the top edge, and the red and blue patches close to each other a little bit above the brightest star near the center. There seems to be a little bit of tracking error or something, judging by the elongated star images.





M20 - Trifid Nebula
For all images of M20 click here.

Imax=10 Imax=3.50 Imax=1 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 1800s total exposure 9/26/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


We finally used the new camera to get a reasonably deep exposure of the Trifid nebula, which presents a beautiful combination of emission, reflection, and dark nebulae.





M42 - Orion Nebula
For all images of M42 click here.

Imax=1500 Imax=1000 Imax=500 Imax=250 Imax=150

Starshoot DSCI, 33 exposures, 10s each 9/26/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


As with M31, this object presents a huge range of brightnesses, so 5 different intensity scalings are shown here. Such beautiful colors!





M42 - Orion Nebula
For all images of M42 click here.

Imax=350 Imax=15 Imax=2 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 1080s total exposure 10/3/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is another attempt at the Orion Nebula, using the new camera. Compared with the previous image, the focus is not as good, but a much larger area of the nebula is visible due to the larger sensor area and deeper exposure.





NGC 281
For all images of NGC 281 click here.

Imax=1.2

ST-4000XCM, 1800s total exposure 7/6/13 Adin, CA


This is our latest attempt at this diffuse emission and dark nebula near η Cassiopeiae. Though faint, the nebulosity can barely be made out visually.





NGC 1499 - California Nebula

Imax=0.5 Imax=1

ST-4000XCM, 1500s total exposure 9/14/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


This image shows just a small portion of a diffuse nebula in Perseus whose shape, as seen in wide-angle photographs, vaguely resembles the outline of California.





NGC 2023 / IC 434 / B33 (Horsehead Nebula)

Imax=0.8 Imax=2 Imax=8

ST-4000XCM, 1177s total exposure 9/14/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


I have been wanting for years to capture the Horsehead, but because Orion rises late at Calstar, this famous object has so far eluded us. This time, even though we were having battery problems, we saved our spare battery for the Horsehead, and were able to get about 20 minutes of exposure on it. The bright reflection nebula at left is NGC 2023, the Horsehead is B33, and the emission nebula associated with it is IC 434. Visually, I might have been able to detect something dark are the right location using averted vision, without using filters. I also tried an H-Beta filter I picked up at a recent swap meet, but the results were disappointing - I could not really see anything with it.





NGC 2024 - Flame Nebula
For all images of NGC 2024 click here.

Imax=3.50 Imax=1.50 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 1800s total exposure 10/3/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is an emission / dark nebula near the belt star ζ Orionis (just outside the field of view near the top), which is thought to be the excitation source. The dark features look similar to those of the Trifid nebula, but with more detail. The reflection nebula in the upper right is NGC 2023.





NGC 2264 and Cone Nebula
For all images of NGC 2264 click here.

Imax=1 Imax=0.50 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 5400s total exposure 10/4/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


NGC 2264, in the constellation Monoceros, includes an open star cluser known as the Christmas Tree cluster (left and center), a bright reflection nebula (upper-left), a large area of faint emission, and the spectacular Cone Nebula at lower-right. The reflection nebula can be seen visually, but the emission nebula and Cone features are too faint. The distance is approximately 2700 light years.





NGC 6559

Imax=4 Imax=2 Imax=1 (2100s)

ST-4000XCM, 600s total exposure 7/9/13 Adin, CA


This target was an attempt to get off the beaten path a bit, and was chosen somewhat randomly off the star chart without knowing what to expect. This area of emission and reflection nebulae is located rather close to the Lagoon nebula in Sagittarius. For some reason the wind was really blowing the telescope around during these exposures, and only the first two 5-minute frames were even half-decent. The intensity scalings 2 and 4 above use only the first two frames, while scaling 1 uses all 7 frames.





NGC 6888 - Crescent Nebula

Imax=10 Imax=20

Starshoot DSCI, 80 exposures, 20s each 7/12/10 Adin, CA


This image captures only the brightest portion of a large kidney-shaped object. The bright star near the top of this image is thought to be the source of the luminous gas.





NGC 7000 - North American Nebula
For all images of NGC 7000 click here.

Imax=0.7

ST-4000XCM, 3900s total exposure 9/13/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


This was our first photograph at Calstar taken with the new camera. It was almost straight overhead, in ideal position, and we gave it more than an hour of exposure. Usually the North American Nebula is imaged with a wide field setup to show its full extent and its position alongside the Pelican Nebula. However there are many fine details that can be seen with higher magnification, such as the small reflection nebula near the top of this image. Visually, this is a challenging object, but a faint glow can be made out.





NGC 7000 - North American Nebula
For all images of NGC 7000 click here.

Imax=1.40 Imax=0.70

SBIG ST-4K, 4200s total exposure 9/25/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


This image shows the 'Mexico' region of the North American nebula, which includes some of the brightest and most interesting structures.





NGC 7635 - Bubble Nebula

Imax=10 Imax=20 Imax=40

Starshoot DSCI, 27 exposures, 30s each 9/29/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


Emission nebula in Cassiopeia. The 'bubble' is supposed to be created by stellar wind from the central star colliding with surrounding gas. Note the much brighter object near the central star.





IC 1805 - Heart Nebula

Imax=1 Imax=0.60

SBIG ST-4K, 4500s total exposure 9/25/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


The field of view here is too small to see the 'heart' shape. Our interest was to capture the three dark pillar structures appearing in the right portion of this image, with their unusual webbed and twisted appearance.





IC 4701

Imax=0.5 Nonlinear

ST-4000XCM, 2083s total exposure 7/9/13 Adin, CA


This is an obscure target, chosen somewhat randomly from the star chart. This patch of faint nebuosity (and a lot of stars) is located near the Swan nebula.





IC 5146 - Cocoon Nebula

Imax=1

SBIG ST-4K, 2700s total exposure 9/26/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


With its round shape and combination of emission, reflection, and dark nebulae, the Cocoon Nebula in Cygnus has some similarity to the brighter Trifid nebula. Note that in addition to the dark patches in front of the emission nebula, there is a much larger surrounding dark region (part of dark nebula B168) where the background stars are obscured.






Reflection Nebulae




M45 - Pleiades
For all images of the Pleiades click here.

Imax=5 Imax=2

SBIG ST-4K, 1800s total exposure 9/25/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


This image includes 5 of the 6 brightest stars in the well-known Pleiades cluster: Alcyone (left), Merope (bottom), Electra (right), Maia (near top), and Taygeta (extreme upper-right). Visually, some of the reflection nebula can be seen as a faint haze, but it is difficult to distinguish it from the scattering one might expect from dirt or condensation on the optics. Here, the reflection nebula has the appearance of cirrus clouds, with a fine texture and long streaks traveling in several directions.





M20 - Trifid Nebula
For all images of M20 click here.

Imax=15 Imax=30

Starshoot DSCI, 175 exposures, 10s each 9/18/09 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is again the Trifid nebula, but now centered on the reflective portion. The emissive portion can be seen at the bottom, and partly overlaps with the image from last year.





M78

Imax=20 Imax=40 Imax=80

Starshoot DSCI, 10 exposures, 20s each 9/29/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


Reflection nebula in Orion. It looks like a little ghost!





NGC 1788

Imax=10 Imax=20 Imax=40

Starshoot DSCI, 53 exposures, 20s each 10/1/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


Here you can see only the brightest portion of this complex of reflection, emission and dark nebulae in Orion.





NGC 1973

Imax=40 Imax=80 Imax=400

Starshoot DSCI, 27 exposures, 20s each 9/29/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


Bright reflection nebula near the Orion nebula. It is fairly bright, but the bright stars contained within make it more difficult to see visually.





NGC 2261

Imax=20 Imax=50 Imax=100 Imax=500

Starshoot DSCI, 29 exposures, 15s each 9/30/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


This comet-like nebula is known as Hubble's Variable Nebula because its appearance changes over timescales as short as a few days. The nebula is illuminated by the bright star at its tip. The brightness fluctuations are thought to result from shadows cast by moving dust clouds swirling around the star.





NGC 7129

Imax=7.5 Imax=15 Imax=30 Imax=60 Imax=120

Starshoot DSCI, 61 exposures, 20s each 7/13/10 Adin, CA


This is an interesting reflection/emission nebula in Cepheus. Only the brightest parts can be seen clearly here.





AE Aurigae / IC 405
For all images of IC 405 click here.

Imax=2 Imax=1 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 3600s total exposure 10/5/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


IC 405, also known as the Flaming Star nebula, contains clouds of dust (blue) and gas (red) that are believed to have been present before the brightest star in the image, AE Aurigae, traveled near it, providing illumination. This is our first decent image of this rather faint object after a couple of tries.





IC 348

Imax=1 Imax=2 Imax=7

ST-4000XCM, 1500s total exposure 9/14/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is a nice little reflection nebula near ο Persei.





IC 4955

Imax=2 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 2700s total exposure 9/27/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


This reflection nebula consists of several faint wisps around a loose star cluster. A well-defined edge is visible on one of them.






Dark Nebulae




B86 and NGC 6520

Imax=20 Imax=200

Starshoot DSCI, 204 exposures, 10s each 9/17/09 Lake San Antonio, CA


The black patch at center is Barnard 86, a dark nebula in the Sagittarius Star Cloud near the center of the Milky Way. The star cluster to its left is NGC 6520.





B72 - Snake Nebula

Imax=1.5

ST-4000XCM, 1800s total exposure 9/14/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is another dark nebula that can be seen against the dense stars of the Milky Way in the southern part of Ophiuchus. It was rather low in the sky.





B92

Imax=5 Imax=10 Imax=20 Imax=50

Starshoot DSCI, 157 exposures, 10s each 7/4/10 San Jose, CA


This dark nebula borders the 'small Sagittarius star cloud'. This image was taken a few miles south of San Jose. The sky conditions were such that the Milky Way in Sagittarius could be seen, but there was substantial sky glow. Under these conditions B92 was difficult to find, and it took many comparisons between acquired images and reference photographs to be sure of it. There was also substantial wind, so many images had to be discarded. Pluto is also in this image, as discussed here.





B142/143 - "E" Nebula

Imax=1 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 2100s total exposure 10/4/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


This image shows the darkest portion of a dark nebula in Aquila known as the "E" nebula (the name is a little puzzling since, even in wide field images, the dark shape doesn't look much like an E). A reddening of stars near the edges of the dark patches is clearly seen. It is easier to see this in the "nonlinear" image, since the processing method used there retains the star colors even when the intensity saturates the display.






Planetary Nebulae




M27 - Dumbbell Nebula

Imax=30 Imax=10

Starshoot DSCI, 18 exposures, 30s each 9/25/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


Visually, we could see only a little bit of structure, and no color.





M57 - Ring Nebula
For all images of M57 click here.

Imax=100 Imax=50 Imax=20

Starshoot DSCI, 16 exposures, 30s each 5/28/10 Palo Alto, CA


The Ring Nebula, taken right outside our door, near a bright lamp and with a nearly full moon.





M76 - Little Dumbbell

Imax=5 Imax=15 Imax=40

Starshoot DSCI, 131 exposures, 10s each 9/19/09 Lake San Antonio, CA


A planetary nebula in Persius. Although it is small, the central bar structure could be seen visually fairly easily.





M97 - Owl Nebula

Imax=20

Starshoot DSCI, 46 exposures, 10s each 12/29/08 Phoenix, AZ


This object is faint, but it appears to have a green color. I ended up with a small number of exposures here due to wind problems.





NGC 40

Imax=20 Imax=40 Imax=80 Imax=160 Imax=2000

Starshoot DSCI, 148 exposures, 10s each 10/8/10 Lake San Antonio, CA


We picked this target because the RASC Observer's Handbook described it as an 'unusual red planetary,' and it didn't disappoint! Like many planetaries, the central star appears blue.





NGC 246

Imax=5 Imax=10 Imax=20 Imax=30 Imax=1000

Starshoot DSCI, 142 exposures, 10s each 9/18/09 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is another planetary I had not seen before, in Cetus. It is faint but has interesting structure. The (very hot) central star has a distinct blue color, as seen in the right-most image.





NGC 1501

Imax=6 Imax=100

SBIG ST-4K, 1200s total exposure 9/27/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


This happy blue planetary nebula in Camelopardalis surprised us with its interesting color and texture.





NGC 2392 - Eskimo Nebula

Imax=25 Imax=65 Imax=500 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 300s total exposure 10/3/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


In certain photographs, this planetary nebula in Gemini resembles a face surrounded by a thick hood. For the best chance of seeing that here, tilt your head 90 degrees to the right and look at the nonlinearly scaled image. The blue and purple color combination seems unusual.





NGC 6302 - Bug Nebula

Imax=3 Imax=15 Imax=80 Nonlinear

ST-4000XCM, 1200s total exposure 7/7/13 Adin, CA


This planetary nebula in Scorpio is quite far south (declination -37°), and at Adin (41° N latitude) it only rises 12° above the horizon. Neverthess, this object was worth a look because of its unique shape.





NGC 6369 - "Little Ghost"

Imax=5 Imax=40 Imax=100

Starshoot DSCI, 72 exposures, 10s each 9/18/09 Lake San Antonio, CA


A small planetary nebula in Ophiuchus. I had never looked at this one before, and Kathy chose it from the Observer's Handbook. Small but distinct, not difficult to see visually. Some faint outer structure is visible in the leftmost image.





NGC 6445

Imax=40 Imax=20

Starshoot DSCI, 12 exposures, 30s each 9/26/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


Kathy chose this planetary nebula in Sagittarius as a target, to make sure we looked at more than just the well-known showpiece objects. Visually we could tell that it was ring-like, and it shows some interesting color.





NGC6543 - Cat's Eye Nebula

Imax=1300 Imax=800 Imax=400 Imax=20

Starshoot DSCI, 61 exposures, 5s each 7/11/10 Adin, CA


This turned out to be very bright but small, with not much structure visible at this resolution.





NGC 6781

Imax=15

Starshoot DSCI, 39 exposures, 20s each 10/1/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is a planetary nebula in Aquila. Visually it appeared as a faint glowing disk. As with many planetary nebulae, a blue star appears in the center.





NGC 6826 - Blinking Planetary Nebula

Imax=500 Imax=1000 Imax=1500 Imax=2600

Starshoot DSCI, 50 exposures, 10s each 10/9/10 Lake San Antonio, CA


Visually, when looking directly at this object you will mainly see the bright central star, but if you look off-center through the eyepiece, the surrounding nebula appears brighter.





NGC 6905 - Blue Flash Nebula

Imax=150 Imax=300

Starshoot DSCI, 1200s total exposure 9/15/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is a fairly bright planetary nebula in Delphinus that Kathy picked. It was not difficult to find visually. We went back to the old unguided imaging method, using only 5 second exposures for the best resolution. However, the exposures may have been a bit too short in this case.





NGC 7008

Imax=20 Imax=35 Imax=50 Imax=80

Starshoot DSCI, 28 exposures, 20s each 7/13/10 Adin, CA


Another planetary with some interesting structure, one of Kathy's picks.





NGC 7009 - Saturn Nebula

Imax=1100 Imax=200 Imax=50

Starshoot DSCI, 20 exposures, 10s each 9/27/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


This planetary nebula has some interesting inner structure (can be seen only in the Imax=1100 image with full intensity scale) in addition to the faint rays ("ansae") for which this object is named.





NGC 7027

Imax=1000 Imax=100 Nonlinear

ST-4000XCM, 190s total exposure 7/6/13 Adin, CA


This is a tiny but bright planetary nebula in Cynus.





NGC 7293 - Helix Nebula

Imax=1.1 Imax=30 Nonlinear

ST-4000XCM, 1451s total exposure 7/8/13 Adin, CA


Under the dark skies at Adin, this large, diffuse planetary nebula was not difficult to see visually. It is located in a rather sparse area of the sky, so it took a while to find a bright enough star for the guiding CCD. The tracking was not great (wind problems?) but this is still an improvement over the previous attempt, since the new camera allows the entire nebula to fit into a single field of view. Note the deep blue color of the central star. For all images of NGC 7293 click here.





NGC 7662 - Blue Snowball

Imax=860 Imax=200 Imax=50

Starshoot DSCI, 39 exposures, 10s each 9/27/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


Visually, we did not see any structure, just a blue blob. However, an interesting feature can be seen in the full-scale (Imax=860) image.






Supernova Remnants




M1 - Crab Nebula
For all images of M1 click here.

Imax=3.50 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 1800s total exposure 10/3/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


This was an attempt to get a much deeper exposure of this famous supernova remnant in Taurus. While we succeeded in improving the signal-to-noise ratio, the focus is not quite as sharp as is in our original attempt. The 'nonlinear' version allows the outermost structure to be seen. Visually, the surface brightness is low, and I could see only a diffuse glow and not the filaments.





NGC 6960 - Veil Nebula (west half)
For all images of the Veil Nebula click here.

Imax=2 Imax=1 Imax=0.5

ST-4000XCM, 1800s total exposure 9/13/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


Obtaining good-quality images of the Veil Nebula has been an ongoing project, but the images shown here are the best so far. Even with the larger area CCD, we can only image part of it in a single exposure. The portion shown here includes the bright star 52 Cygni.





NGC 6992/5 - Veil Nebula (east half)
For all images of the Veil Nebula click here.

Imax=5 Imax=2.5 Imax=1 Imax=0.5

ST-4000XCM, 1800s total exposure 9/13/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


Here is another portion with a more complicated structure.





IC 443

Imax=1

SBIG ST-4K, 2700s total exposure 9/26/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


IC443 is a supernova remnant in Gemini with a rich filamentary structure. We were not sure what to expect when we decided to image it, and we ended up centering on the brightest edge.






Stars and Open Clusters




Barnard's Star

Imax=1000 Imax=100

Starshoot DSCI, 6 exposures, 10s each 9/25/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is the second-closest star system to our own, and the closest one that is observable from our latitude. This is a red dwarf star, with only 1/2500th the luminosity of the Sun. Distance: 5.94 ly (compared with 4.22 ly for Proxima Centauri). Magnitude: 9.54. Spectral type: M5. In this image, it is the bright orangish spot to the left of center.





Lalande 21185

Imax=10000 Imax=100

Starshoot DSCI, 297 exposures, 1s each 12/29/08 Phoenix, AZ


This is another nearby red dwarf star, at a distance of 8.31 light years. It is called BD +36°2147 in the Observer's Handbook and is visible most of the year.





Epsilon Eridani

Imax=500 Imax=10000

Starshoot DSCI, 59 exposures, 1s each 9/25/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is another nearby star. Distance: 10.5 ly. Magnitude: 3.7. Luminosity: 1/3 that of the Sun. Spectral type: K2.





61 Cygni

Imax=200 Imax=2000

Starshoot DSCI, 55 exposures, 1s each 9/17/09 Lake San Antonio, CA


61 Cygni is a magnitude 5 double star in Cygnus, famous for being the first star whose parallax was measured. This was accomplished by F. W. Bessel in 1838 using visual observation techniques, before photography existed! Distance: 11.4 ly. Individual magnitudes (A,B): 5.20, 6.05. Luminosities: only 0.065 and 0.038 compared with the Sun. Spectral types (A,B): K5, K7.





S Cephei

Imax=75000 Imax=1000 defocused

Starshoot DSCI, 93 exposures, 0.2s each 7/10/10 Adin, CA


This star in Cepheus is of spectral class N, and has a rather striking red-orange color, much more so than stars like Betelgeuse and Antares. In the image on the right, the star is defocused to allow its color to be more easily displayed (the black circle in the middle is the shadow of the secondary mirror).





M11 - Wild Duck Cluster

Imax=400 Imax=800 Imax=1600

Starshoot DSCI, 299 exposures, 1s each 7/12/10 Adin, CA


This was a beautiful object in the eyepiece. Unfortunately, the computer display does not have adequate dynamic range to give a fair impression. There is some interesting color variation among the stars, but it is difficult to see without zooming in on the image.





M37

Imax=50 Imax=500

Starshoot DSCI, 53 exposures, 5s each 9/30/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


One of three open clusters (along with M36 and M38) in Auriga. Estimated distance: 4700 light years.





M52

Imax=100 Imax=1000

Starshoot DSCI, 80 exposures, 5s each 9/29/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


Open cluster in Cassiopeia.






Globular Clusters




M9

Imax=30 Imax=2 Nonlinear

ST-4000XCM, 1500s total exposure 7/8/13 Adin, CA


This is a globular cluster in Ophiuchus that is positioned near the plane of the Milky Way. The idea here was to try to catch M9 and the dark nebula B64 in the same image. Comparing with other images, it looks like we captured part of the dark nebula in the lower-right part of this image, but the darkest patch is outside the field of view to the right.





M10

Imax=5 Imax=20 Imax=150 Nonlinear

ST-4000XCM, 300s total exposure 7/6/13 Adin, CA


This is a nice globular cluster in Ophiuchus. In the "nonlinear" image, the intensity is scaled logarithmically while the color ratios (hues) are preserved, allowing the star colors to be seen more easily. It appears that many of the brightest stars in the cluster are either very "red" (actually orange) or blue.





M13 - Hercules Cluster

see notes

Starshoot DSCI, 9 exposures, 10s each 6/6/08 San Jose, CA


This was one of my first attempts at a deep sky object. 9 images were combined using the MaxIm softare that came with the camera. In the process, the color information was lost, so this is a black-and-white image.





M15

Imax=20 Imax=50 Imax=100 Imax=500

Starshoot DSCI, 69 exposures, 10s each 9/30/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


Compact globular cluster in Pegasus, approximately 40000 light years distant.





M22

Imax=50 Imax=200

Starshoot DSCI, 16 exposures, 10s each 9/27/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is a nice globular cluster but was rather low in the sky. Most of the images were blurry, but some were relatively clear. To obtain this image, only the best 16 out of 52 exposures were combined.





M56

Imax=18

SBIG ST-4K, 900s total exposure 9/27/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


We shouldn't forget to look at a new globular cluster every now and then.





NGC 6440

Imax=100 Imax=20

Starshoot DSCI, 5 exposures, 30s each 9/26/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is a globular cluster in the same eyepiece field as NGC 6445. The orange color is real-- apparently there is a lot of galactic dust obscuring this object.






Galaxies




M31 - Andromeda Galaxy
For all images of M31 click here.

Imax=160 Imax=20 Imax=2.50 Imax=1 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 3000s total exposure 9/26/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


This was an attempt to image all of M31 through a mosaic of three exposure locations. We captured most of it, but perhaps could have benefitted from an even larger field of view. The most interesting parts to me are along the outer edge, where individual blue stars and a few nebulae can be seen.





NGC 206 in M31
For all images of M31 click here.

Imax=1 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 3900s total exposure 10/3/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is a new attempt to capture the star clouds along the southern end of M31, including NGC 206 (the brightest patch). Numerous blue supergiant stars (and a few pink nebulae) can be seen, but the focus could have been better.





NGC 205 (Companion of M31)

Imax=10 Imax=20 Imax=40 Imax=80

Starshoot DSCI, 66 exposures, 20s each 10/7/10 Lake San Antonio, CA


The Andromeda Galaxy has two companions that appear prominently in many photographs, M32 (NGC 221) and NGC 205, shown here. NGC 205 is the more distant (from M31) of the two. Notice the bright, star-like nucleus, and the dust clouds.





M32 (Companion of M31)

Imax=20 Imax=40 Imax=80 Imax=160 Imax=320 Imax=640

Starshoot DSCI, 27 exposures, 20s each 10/7/10 Lake San Antonio, CA


M32 (NGC 221) is the closest and brightest of the satellites of M31. This galaxy appears highly concentrated, with an extremely bright star-like nucleus. In these images it appears that M32 has a nucleus even brighter than that of M31.





M33 - Triangulum Galaxy
For all images of M33 click here.

Imax=12 Imax=3 Imax=1

ST-4000XCM, 2400s total exposure 9/13/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


At a distance of 3 million light years, M33 is one of the nearest galaxies, about the same distance as Andromeda. It is, in my opinion, the most spectacular of all the galaxies for imaging, since it is possible to resolve a large number of individual stars and nebulae. There are globular clusters in the image as well, though it is not obvious how to distinguish them from stars. The brightest emission nebula, appearing at about the 4:30 position relative to the center, is NGC 604.





M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy
For all images of M51 click here.

Imax=1 Imax=2 Imax=4 Imax=16 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 2400s total exposure 5/30/14 Monte Bello, CA


M51 was almost straight overhead, but the air was very humid with dew forming on everything. There was fog in the valley even at sunset, and we were wondering if it would reach the Monte Bello parking lot. After about 45 minutes of exposure the fog finally came in and we had to stop.





M61

Imax=2.5 Imax=32

ST-4000XCM, 1500s total exposure 4/12/13 Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, CA


Nice face-on spiral in Virgo cluster, with a few bonus galaxies. Note the lumpy, crooked arms. This is one of Kathy's picks.





M63 - Sunflower Galaxy

Imax=20 Imax=40 Imax=80 Imax=160

Starshoot DSCI, 56 exposures, 30s each 6/5/10 Palo Alto, CA


This galaxy is in Canes Venatici, not far (in the sky) from the Whirlpool galaxy, and was taken from our local park under a rather bright sky. The spiral arms have a texture that I have not seen before.





M64 - Black Eye Galaxy

Imax=15 Imax=30 Imax=60 Imax=120 Imax=240

Starshoot DSCI, 52 exposures, 20s each 7/12/10 Adin, CA


I tried to spot the 'eye' visually, but I was not sure if I could see it. This is suprising considering how obvious it is in the photograph.





M65 and M66

Imax=10

ST-4000XCM, 1232.532s total exposure 5/13/12 Palo Alto, CA


First attempt at M65 (lower-right) and M66 (upper-left), from the front porch. The sky suddenly clouded over after about 20 minutes of exposures.





M74

Imax=2 Imax=6.5 Nonlinear

ST-4000XCM, 2100s total exposure 7/7/13 Adin, CA


A nice side-effect of the time we have spent on imaging over the past few years is that it has pushed us to look at new objects that we never bothered to look for in the past, and M74 is one such object--chosen by Kathy. This is a rather faint galaxy, though, and was not very high in the sky when we took this image (and it was starting to get light out).





M77

Imax=10 Imax=25 Imax=75 Imax=150 Imax=500 Imax=1000

Starshoot DSCI, 125 exposures, 10s each 9/18/09 Lake San Antonio, CA


A spiral galaxy in Cetus. It has a star-like nucleus as can be seen in the above sequence. This galaxy has some very faint outer structure that is barely hinted at in the image on the left.





M81
For all images of M81 click here.

Imax=5 Imax=50

ST-4000XCM, 3600s total exposure 1/13/12 Palo Alto, CA


This is my first attempt to obtain a real image with the ST-4K camera. This was from our patio, so the lighting conditions were very bad, with a bright sky and a nearby lamp shining directly onto the telescope. This was with autoguiding- two 1200s exposures and four 300s exposures.





M82

Imax=80 Imax=40 Imax=20

Starshoot DSCI, 52 exposures, 30s each 6/5/10 Palo Alto, CA


This is the so-called "exploding galaxy" in Ursa Major. The unusual redish clumps in the middle are supposed to be regions of intensive star formation. This image and several others were taken from a local park. Some guys were camped out in a motorhome nearby and doing weird things.





M84, M86, and others

Imax=2 Imax=10 Imax=40

ST-4000XCM, 1800s total exposure 5/11/13 Bonny Doon, CA


This image shows part of the Virgo cluster. The two bright elliptical galaxies are M86 (upper-left) and M84 (lower-right). The two bright edge-on galaxies are NGC 4388 (bottom-left) and NGC 4402 (top).





M87

Imax=20 Imax=40 Imax=80 Imax=160

Starshoot DSCI, 47 exposures, 15s each 7/12/10 Adin, CA


We found this well-known elliptical galaxy by accident while searching in the Virgo galaxy cluster. The feature at 4:00 is probably the jet, whose origin is thought to be a black hole near the center of the galaxy.





M88

Imax=2 Imax=5 Imax=15

ST-4000XCM, 1800s total exposure 5/11/13 Bonny Doon, CA


Bright spiral galaxy in Virgo cluster. Top row: full frame. Botton row: cropped.





M90

Imax=2.5 Imax=68

ST-4000XCM, 1731s total exposure 4/12/13 Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, CA


Spiral galaxy in Virgo. The small streak in front of the galaxy is from some faint, unidentified object that was slowly moving during the ~30 minutes of exposures. The nucleus of this galaxy is quite bright.





M98

Imax=2 Imax=10

ST-4000XCM, 900s total exposure 5/11/13 Bonny Doon, CA


Spiral galaxy in Coma Berenices. Limited exposures due to battery problems. Top row: full frame. Botton row: cropped.





M101
For all images of M101 and supernova SN 2011fe click here.

Imax=10 Imax=5 Imax=2 Imax=1 Nonlinear

ST-4000XCM, 2934s total exposure 7/6/13 Adin, CA


The supernova is no longer visible. This was our first image from GSSP in 2013.





M104 - Sombrero Galaxy

Imax=5 Imax=10 Imax=50

ST-4000XCM, 300s total exposure 6/14/12 Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, CA


This is our first attempt at this unique galaxy. Unfortunately, by the time the clouds moved out of the way it was very low in the sky.





M106

Imax=15 Imax=30 Imax=60 Imax=120 Imax=240

Starshoot DSCI, 38 exposures, 20s each 7/13/10 Adin, CA


This is a bright spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici.





NGC 253
For all images of NGC 253 click here.

Imax=10 Imax=3 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 3000s total exposure 9/27/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


Here is NGC 253 in all its glory, a giant peppermint candy swirl of star-stuff and galactic dust. This is one of the (apparently) largest and brightest galaxies, but it is also rather far south (declination -25°). With the new camera we were finally able to capture the entire galaxy in a single exposure.





NGC 278

Imax=7.50 Imax=18.50

SBIG ST-4K, 900s total exposure 10/5/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is a small face-on spiral galaxy in Cassiopeia. This tiny, pearl-like galaxy is one of Kathy's picks.





NGC 891

Imax=7.5 Imax=15

Starshoot DSCI, 38 exposures, 30s each 10/1/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is an edge-on galaxy in Andromeda with a prominent dust lane appearing in photographs. Visually, the galaxay appeared as a faint streak of light, and the dust lane was impossible to discern.





NGC 1300

Imax=1 Imax=3 Imax=10

ST-4000XCM, 1800s total exposure 9/15/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


This galaxy in Eridanus has a striking barred structure. It was rather low in the sky, so that the increased sky glow and possibly reduced transparency were factors. We wanted to take more exposures but ran out of battery power.





NGC 4565

Imax=2 Imax=5 Imax=10

ST-4000XCM, 2100s total exposure 7/14/12 Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, CA


This is a nearly edge-on galaxy in Coma Berenices with a bright nucleus peaking around its dark lane. The image boundaries were chosen to include a number of much fainter galaxies.





NGC6207

Imax=10 Imax=20 Imax=30 Imax=100

Starshoot DSCI, 34 exposures, 30s each 7/11/10 Adin, CA


This galaxy is very close to M13, and was one of Kathy's picks.





NGC 6822 - Barnard's Galaxy

Imax=0.70 Imax=1.70

SBIG ST-4K, 3600s total exposure 10/5/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


At a distance of 1.6 million light years, NCG 6822 is one of the closest galaxies visible from our latitude. This small, irregular galaxy contains numerous emission nebulae, the brightest of which can be seen here. Numerous stars can be resolved, as well. The bubble-like feature at upper-right from center seems particular striking and appears similar to a feature in M33 (near the bottom of the M33 image, right of center).





NGC 7331

Imax=10 Imax=20 Imax=100

Starshoot DSCI, 14 exposures, 30s each 9/25/08 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is the same galaxy that appears on the cover of the 2008 Observer's Handbook, but that cover image appears as a mirror image compared with the images shown here. I'm pretty sure that my image is the correct one! As with M31, there is a bright central core, dust lanes, and faint outer arms, but the general appearance is a bit different.





NGC 7600

Imax=15 Imax=20 Imax=50 Imax=100

Starshoot DSCI, 14 exposures, 30s each 10/1/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is an elliptical galaxy in Aquarius, not far from NGC 7606. Visually, it appeared as just a small, faint fuzz patch.





NGC 7606

Imax=5 Imax=10 Imax=15 Imax=25

Starshoot DSCI, 35 exposures, 30s each 9/30/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is a spiral galaxy in Pegasus that Kathy chose from the star chart.





NGC 7317-20

Imax=5 Imax=10 Imax=20 Imax=50

Starshoot DSCI, 50 exposures, 30s each 9/30/11 Lake San Antonio, CA


This famous galaxy cluster in Pegasus, known as Stephan's Quintet, is >200 million light years distant. However, the brightest galaxy (NGC 7320) is apparently much closer (40 million light years).





NGC 7814

Imax=1 Imax=3 Imax=6 Imax=10 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 3600s total exposure 10/4/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


This is a spectacular edge-on spiral galaxy in Pegasus. Numerous smaller, fainter galaxies can be seen as well (this is the reason for including the uncropped versions). A faint, slow-moving object appears as a broken streak near a bright star in the lower-right part of the full-sized image. Based on its slow motion, it might be an asteroid (see Ceres below).





IC 10

Imax=1 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 2669s total exposure 10/5/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


IC 10 is a small, irregular galaxy in the constellation Cassiopeia. It is a member of our local group, and its distance, 2.8 million light years, is similar to that of the Andromeda and Triangulum galaxies. This image shows dust lanes and pink clouds that are apparently large emission nebulae.





UGC 12613 - Pegasus Dwarf Irregular Galaxy

Imax=0.70

SBIG ST-4K, 2700s total exposure 9/26/14 Lake San Antonio, CA


UGC 12613 is another nearby galaxy in our local group, at a distance of about 3 million light years, in the constellation Pegasus. It was too faint to see visually, and we had to search for it using test exposures. In this image we see only the brightest central portion, which appears as a faint smudge.





Perseus Galaxy Cluster

Imax=1 Imax=10 Nonlinear

SBIG ST-4K, 1800s total exposure 10/4/13 Lake San Antonio, CA


At an estimated distance of 240 million light years, this large galaxy cluster includes NGC 1275, which is the brightest galaxy in the image, slightly above-right from center. NGC 1275 is a strong source of radio and X-ray emission, and is thought to consist of two colliding galaxies. The resolution in this image is not good enough to see the dark lanes of the foreground galaxy clearly, though some hint of this structure can possibly be made out in the 'nonlinear' image by comparing with higher-resolution images.





Coma Berenices Galaxy Cluster

Imax=5 Imax=10 Imax=20 Imax=40 Imax=80 Imax=10, circled

Starshoot DSCI, 106 exposures, 20s each 7/13/10 Adin, CA


This image is centered on NGC 4889, an elliptical galaxy that is the brightest in the Coma cluster. A majority of the objects in the image are galaxies, at a distance of ~300-400 million light years. The cluster contains ~1000 galaxies in total. In the right-most image, objects that are definitely galaxies are circled, based on material from Albert Highe's website.





Corona Borealis Galaxy Cluster

Imax=2 Imax=1

ST-4000XCM, 1800s total exposure 7/14/12 Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, CA


This galaxy cluster, thought to be about 1 billion light years from us (z=0.072), is the most distant target we have imaged so far. If you zoom in on the central region of the image, most of the objects you see are galaxies. Comparing with the charts for Abell 2065 in Hoffman and Crane, Astrophys. J. 215 , 379 (1977), it appears that the faintest galaxies visible are about 19th magnitude.





NGC 4319 and Quasar Markarian 205

Imax=1.5 Imax=7 labeled

ST-4000XCM, 1200s total exposure 9/15/12 Lake San Antonio, CA


This was our first effort to image a quasar, Markarian 205 in Draco, next to NGC 4319. The image on the right has them labeled. The prevailing view is that NGC 4319 is in the foreground (92 million light years away) while Markarian 205 is far behind it, about 1 billion light years from us, based on its redshift. However, opponents of the big bang theory have argued that some photographs have shown a faint bridge connecting the two objects, and thus they should be at the same distance, despite their different redshifts. In our image, while the quasar appears bright, the resolution and exposure depth would not be sufficient to distinguish it from a foreground star.






Solar System




Sun

Philips SPC 900NC Webcam 5/20/12 Palo Alto, CA


These are pictures from the May 20 solar eclipse, which was annular in northern California. In Palo Alto, the moon was supposed to block about 89% of the sun's disk. Most of the details to be seen through the telescope were on the Sun, though the edge of the moon had noticeable bumps. Top row: the edge of the Moon covers a pair of sunspots. Middle row: portions of the Sun as seen near the eclipse maximum. Bottom row: the edge of the Moon uncovers another group of sunspots.



Pointing phone camera into eyepiece 5/20/12 Palo Alto, CA


These are Kathy's pictures of the eclipse that she took through the eyepiece using her smartphone camera.





Venus

zoomed out zoomed in

Pointing digital camera into eyepiece 1/1/09 Phoenix, AZ


I found Venus during the day and wanted to take a picture of it, but even the blue sky alone was too bright for the shortest exposures of the Orion Starshoot. Instead, I got these pictures by pointing a digital camera into the eyepiece. This was actually difficult because it is not possible to get much of the field view of the eyepiece into the camera's lens system, even with the lens right up against the eyepice. The size of Venus on this day should have been about 22 arcsec.





Philips SPC 900NC Webcam 5/20/12 Palo Alto, CA


Here is a thin crescent Venus as seen on the evening of the May 20 eclipse, 16 days before it transits the Sun.





Venus Transit

Philips SPC 900NC Webcam 6/5/12 Palo Alto, CA


We saw the transit of Venus! These pictures were taken from outside my building at work, where we had a mini star party. We set up around 2:30, and the transit started at around 3pm. Shown here are some images obtained using some video I took early into the transit. I was hoping to see some atmospheric effect (such as sunlight refracting around the back side of Venus) but it seems the resolution and seeing were not nearly good enough to see this. (The dark smudge at the top right of the frame is due to some debris on the video camera, not a sunspot).





Mars

Pointing digital camera into eyepiece 2/14/10 Palo Alto, CA


These were taken a couple of weeks after the 2010 Mars opposition. This was not one of the better oppositions, and the apparent diameter on this day was expected to be only ~13.5 arcsec based on a table in the RASC Observer's Handbook. Nevertheless some features could be seen including a polar cap (near edge of circle at 10 o'clock) and some surface shading. The images here were taken by pointing a digital camera into the eyepiece (7mm eyepiece + 3X Barlow, camera zoomed in) with various exposure lengths. This was a frustrating way to take pictures since it is difficult to find the correct angle for pointing the camera, but the results shown here are somewhat representative of how Mars actually looked. During moments of clarity, somewhat sharper details could sometimes be seen.





Mars

Philips SPC 900NC Webcam 3/8/12 Palo Alto, CA


These were taken one evening near the 2012 Mars opposition. This is my first experiment with the Philips webcam, using the f/9 Dobsonian reflector I've had since high school, and the 3X Barlow lens. The lack of tracking made it quite difficult to keep Mars in the field of view at this magnification. The images shown here were obtained by summing the "best" frames from each set, as determined from a limb sharpness estimation procedure. The first row shows the "raw" images obtained by summing, and the second row shows the same images with the contrast enhanced (at the expense of chopping off pixels with brightness below a minimum threshold). For these images, the focus was adjusted in between sets, and also the exposure time was shortened for the last set. The color doesn't look quite right for any of the images - visually, Mars has an orange appearance.





Ceres

Imax=2000 Imax=200 Imax=20000 Imax=2000

Starshoot DSCI, 549 exposures, 1s each 6/5/10 Palo Alto, CA


Ceres is the largest object of the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Diameter = 957 km (RASC Observer's Handbook), or 0.075 Earth diameters. In the two images on the left, the 1s exposures were taken over a period of 23 minutes and combined such that the background stars are fixed. Ceres (the bright object in the middle) appears as a streak due to the relative motion between Earch and Ceres. This was taken close to opposition (Ceres is in the opposite direction as the Sun) so Earth (which orbits the Sun faster) is overtaking Ceres. The third image used 0.2 sec exposures, combined so that Ceres is fixed. It appears only as a point since the imaging resolution here is not adequate to resolve its disk, estimated to be 0.75 arcseconds. The last image was obtained be combining only the first and last images of the 1s exposures, taken 23 minutes apart. With the background stars fixed, Ceres appears as two spots. By measuring the distance between these spots, assuming circular orbits and assuming we are at opposition, I was able to estimate the radius of Ceres's orbit to be 2.86 a.u. (2.86 times the Earth-Sun distance) which is quite close to the actual mean distance of 2.77 a.u. given in the RASC Observer's Handbook. For an explanation of this calculation, click here..





Jupiter

0.02s+moon 0.1s

Starshoot DSCI, Short exposures 5/31/08 Sunnyvale, CA


These were my first attempts at Jupiter. It saturates even for the shortest possible exposures, so I used a "moon" filter for the 0.02s exposure which unfortunately also messes up the color (it adds a greenish tint). The longer exposure (without the "moon" filter shows the 4 moons of Jupiter.





Jupiter, 3X

try 1 try 2 try 3

Starshoot DSCI, 60 exposures, 0.02s each 7/13/08 Sunnyvale, CA


These are the first Jupiter attempts using a 3X Barlow lens. In each set, 60 separate images were combined using a somewhat different method from the one used on all of the deep sky images above. Although the resolution is not great, the red spot is obviously there.





Jupiter, 3X, deconvolved

try 1 try 2 try 3

Starshoot DSCI, 60 exposures, 0.02s each 7/13/08 Sunnyvale, CA


Attempted deconvolution of the above images using a Richardson-Lucy routine implemented in Matlab.





Jupiter, 3X

#1: 60x0.02s #2: 60x0.02s #3: 60x0.05s #5: 10x1s #1, deconvolved

Starshoot DSCI, 8/8/23 Sunnyvale, CA


Another attempt on Jupiter. Seeing was OK, but clouds moved in after 20 minutes. In image #5, there were already fairly thick clouds covering Jupiter. The colorful little artifacts are not parachuting aliens, but rather are due to hot pixels. Normally these would be removed, but no dark subtraction or bad pixel removal was done for this sequence.





Jupiter (with Io shadow)

Imax=450000 deconvolved Imax=450000 deconvolved labeled

Starshoot DSCI, 31 exposures, 0.02s each 9/17/09 Lake San Antonio, CA


When we turned the telescope to Jupiter we were fortunate to see Io's shadow crossing the planet. Io itself could also barely be made out. The seeing was good (compared with what we are used to around our apartment), and for much of the time we could see much more detail in Jupiter's clouds than appears in these images. The shadow of Io was also more distinct, quite black in the center. The degradation in the image is probably caused partly by the Barlow lens and partly by readout issues with the camera. Over the course of ~1 hour, we watched as first Io emerged from the left side of Jupiter, and then the shadow completed its transit.





Saturn

1 x 0.02s 60 x 0.02s

Starshoot DSCI, 0.02s exposures 6/1/08 Sunnyvale, CA


These are my first and only attempts at Saturn, before I had the Barlow lens.





Saturn

Philips SPC 900NC Webcam 6/14/12 Monte Bello, CA


Here are some attempts at Saturn using the webcam and the 3X Antares barlow. A complicated procedure was used to find the best frames to combine from the video (first choose the frames with the sharpest ring edges, combine these into a first combined image, then go back and choose the frames with the best 1st derivative overlap with the combined image). Nevertheless, it doesn't seem that the features in these combined frames are as crisp as what could be seen visually. Some adjustment to the color balance was also necessary (I rescaled R,G,B to force the rings to be white).





Uranus

Imax=75 Imax=8000, 3X Imax=15000, 3X

Starshoot DSCI, 10 exposures, 10s each 7/10/10 Adin, CA


The first image is with a relatively long exposure in an attempt to see the moons. Uranus has four moons of magnitude ~14: Ariel, Umbriel, Titania and Oberon. Their maximum angular separations from Uranus are 13.8, 19.2, 31.5, and 42.1 arc seconds, respectively (RASC Observer's Handbook). Only the speck closest to the planet has an angular separation small enough that it could be a moon. Near this speck is also a suspicious bump that may just be a diffraction artifact. The other two images are made from very short exposures and using a 3X Barlow lens. There was a lot of wind and turbulence, and only the best frames were kept.





Neptune

Imax=1000 Imax=50

Starshoot DSCI, 283 exposures, 1s each 10/8/10 Lake San Antonio, CA


Neptune's apparent diameter is approximately 2.3 arc seconds, which is on the edge of what can be resolved here. The faint object at 9:30 could be Triton, but I'm not sure.





Pluto

Imax=50

Starshoot DSCI, 13 frames, 10 minute intervals 7/4/10 San Jose, CA


Click the image above to view an animated GIF movie of Pluto. This animation shows Pluto (slightly above center) appearing to move relative to the background stars in the dark nebula B92. There are 13 frames with approximately 10-minute intervals between them. Each frame was generated from many 10s exposures, combined in the ususal way. There is also some field rotation, suggesting bad polar alignment of the equatorial mount. Since Pluto was close to opposition (Pluto is in the opposite direction as the Sun), the apparent motion is mainly a parallax effect due to Earth's motion (Pluto's orbital period is ~248 years, but its actual velocity relative to the Sun is ~1/6 that of Earth's). By measuring the apparent motion of Pluto relative to the background stars, I estimated the radius of Pluto's orbit to be 34 astronomical units (34 times the Earth-Sun distance). Pluto's actual orbit is rather elliptical, but its distance from the Sun in 2010 is approximately 31.85 a.u. (RASC Observer's Handbook). For an explanation of this calculation, click here..





Comet Hyakutake

30s 120s 60s, with Little Dipper through telescope
150s 300s 20s, from house 640s, from house

Pentax 35mm camera, March 1996, Arizona


I was fortunate to be at home in Arizona on spring break when comet Hyakutake passed by. The top four photos were taken with fast color film (Kodak Royal Gold 1000), and the bottom four with slower (ASA 200) film. Because the comet was near the north celestial pole, it was possible to take fairly long exposures without tracking and still get decent results. The first six images were taken at a semi-dark sky location somewhere south of Phoenix, I believe, while the last two were taken from our house. The image at upper right (aiming the camera through the telescope) is blurred because there was no tracking. Tracking would have been difficult, since the comet was moving quickly relative to the background stars; in the long exposure at lower right it is clearly moving in a different direction from the star trails.





Comet Hale-Bopp

Scottsdale East End East End East End East End

Pentax 35mm camera, April 1997, Arizona


The first picture was taken at our house in Scottsdale. The others were taken near East End in the McDowell Mountains. Unfortunately, the prints from this set had color problems, for unknown reasons. I adjusted the color somewhat in the scanned images to make the sky less red.





Comet Holmes

5s, direct (zoomed) 1s, telescope 2s, telescope 4s, telescope

Canon Powershot G3, 11/4/07, Sunnyvale, CA


The picture on the left was taken by aiming the camera directly at the comet, while the others were taken by pointing the camera throught the telescope eyepiece.