Archive | April 2009

More Observing at Wast Hills

Last Sat, like the other week (see [here]), took Birmingham Astronomical Society out to the University of Birmingham Observatory. It was again a lovely clear night – far from what was predicted earlier in the week. We were able to learn from the observing of earlier in the month and I’m rather pleased with the images we produced (again, I’m sure we can do much better but this is a definite increase in quality).
Let start with an image that we observed last time (you can really see the increase in quality from the last one, [here]) – M51 – the Whirlpool Galaxy (10×30 secs in r,g 10 x 1min b):
m51_final
The next image was actually the last we observed on the night, as it didn’t rise above the horizon limit of the telescope early (actually it was around 2am), the Eagle Nebula (M16) – with this one I feel longer exposures are definitely needed (and maybe a H-alpha image) but not a bad start (10×30 secs in r,g 10 x 1min b) with the pillars of creation clearly visible :
m16_proc
Going back to the galaxies we had a look at the sombrero galaxy (M104) with a much clearer view than last time (10×30 secs in r,g 10 x 1min b) with the dust lane nicely visible (this includes a cosmic ray removal routine):
m104_zap
The barred spiral M106 in the constellation Canes Venatici. (5 x 30 sec in rg, 5 x 1min b):
m106_final
M109 (also known as NGC 3992) is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 46 million light-years (30s in r,g,b):
m109_final
M108 (also known as NGC 3556) is an edge-on spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major (30s in r,g,b):
m108
The quasar (arrow points it out) 3C273 (1min exposure bg20 filter), it is the optically-brightest quasar in our sky (m ~ 12.9), and one of the closest with a redshift, z, of 0.158:
3c273_marked
M105 (also known as M105 and NGC 3379) is an elliptical galaxy in the constellation Leo (30s bg20):
m105_bg20
M 87 (also known as M87, Virgo A or NGC 4486) is a giant elliptical galaxy and brightest galaxy within the Virgo cluster, located some 55 million light years away (image is 30s bg20) – our image clearly shows other galaxies in the cluster:
m87
Away from the galaxies we took images of a couple of globular clusters. M92 is a globular cluster in the constellation Hercules (5 x 30s in rg, 5 x 1min b):
m92_rfinal
M13 (NGC 6205, sometimes called the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules) is a globular cluster in the constellation of Hercules (5 x 30s in rg, 5 x 1min b):
m13_final
We started the evening with a quick image of M1 – the Crab Nebula which is a supernova remnant in the constellation of Taurus (10 x 30 rg, 1min b):
m1_final
To show some science we had a quick play with the spectrograph and we managed to take a low resolution image of Saturn (30s exposure with central wavelength of H-alpha), with the planet in the centre of the spectrum (looking down vertical axis) with the rings outside (clearly less bright):
saturn_spectralowdisp
For pointing purposes we also aimed the spectrograph at Mizar, getting:
mizar_spectra
It was an absolutely excellent night of astronomy, lets hope the next one is so clear!

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Observing at Wast Hills

The other week I took Birmingham Astronomical Society out to the University of Birmingham Observatory. It was a lovely clear night and the first chance I’ve had in a number of years for a good session of observing. Its the first time I’ve tried successfully to use the new Meade telescope for astronomical imaging. We have a pretty nice setup and these are just the first images, I expect we can get much better once we get used to the telescopes characteristics and the filters. Anyway, here are a few images:
m104
M104 – Sombrero_Galaxy
m82
M82 – the Cigar Galaxy
m51
M51 – Whirlpool Galaxy
saturn_3
Saturn