Archive | May 2009

Is Shedir Variable?

Before the age of modern photographic and CCD observations α Cassiopeiae was labelled as a variable star, though this variability has not been seen with modern instrumentation. We present an analysis of 3 years of high precision space-based photometric measurements of the suspected variable star α Cassiopeiae, obtained by the broad band Solar Mass Ejection Imager (SMEI) instrument on board the Coriolis satellite. Over the 3 years of observations the star appears to not show any significant variability. Also, data from the Hipparcos epoch photometry annex shows no significant variability.
For more see [].

Galaxies and Nebulae…

.. another imaging session at Wast Hills. We have been rather lucky with the weather as of late (3 planned observing nights in a row have been rather clear!) and we managed to do some imaging again last Saturday and here are the results…
M101 that fantastic Pinwheel Galaxy (10x30s exposures in u,v,r):
m101 - Pinwheel Galaxy
M16 the Eagle Nebula (10x30s exposures in u,v,r ; I think this is a considerable step up from the last image I took with more nebulosity seen, to compare see [here]):
m16 - eagle_nebula
M17 the Omega Nebula (this object is between 5,000 and 6,000 light-years from Earth and it spans some 15 light-years in diameter; 10x30s exposures in u,v,r). This was probably my favourite image of the whole night:
Another view of M51 – the Whirlpool galaxy, I think I prefer the earlier image I made (see here) of this but this highlight the gas features (20x30s exposures in u,v,r):
m51 - the whirlpool galaxy
M64 – the Blackeye Galaxy – slightly disappointing, still you can see the feature for which it has its name. This needs us to take off the focal reducer and do far deeper imaging. (5x30s exposures in u,v,r):
m64 - blackeye galaxy
The colourful Ring Nebula – M57 (5x30s exposures in u,v,r) – this is one of the smallest objects we can see with the current setup. I’m very pleased with the colours and it has come out much better than I had expected.
M57 - Ring Nebula
M82 – the Cigar Galaxy (5x30s exposures in u,v,r), I think we can see more features this time but the colours aren’t as clear as the earlier image I took.
m82 - Cigar Galaxy

I’m a doctor of Astrophysics!

I think the title says most of this, well I’m slightly lying since I really shouldn’t call myself a Dr until I have made the minor corrections to my thesis / done the awards ceremony… but effectively I’m a doctor of astrophysics after passing my viva on my thesis entitled “From planets to galaxies; the low frequency radio sky”…. more in the future…

Astrosoc: Meade DSI Pro II first light

A while back now (6th December 2008) Astrosoc (well me, Rich and Joe) went observing on the Poynting roof to try out the Meade DSI Pro II in combination with the 10″ Newtonian reflector that Astrosoc own. In short the observing conditions were fantastic but we had quite a few problems setting up the camera. We got a few shots but came to the conclusion that we really need to use a smaller telescope (or focal reducer) – more to come on this over the next few week hopefully now we have a smaller GOTO telescope. Anyway we managed to get a quick and out of focus shot of the Moon but its a start:
Whilst on the roof we had a bit of fun taking shots of ourselves observing, I particularly like this one I took of Joe whilst he aligns the telescope with a green laser on Orion:
Joe and Orion
Speaking of Joe and green lasers:
and here all three of us are looking dazzled by the bright flash (oh and yes that is a shopping trolley, we are students after all!):
Observing on the roof
Earlier that day I managed to take this shot of the Moon over the University campus:
Moon over campus
It was such a clear day, shame we didn’t manage to get any better shots – there is always next time I guess.

Even more images from Wast Hills

I’ve finally gotten around to finish off the processing of the less interesting observations we took at Wast Hills back on the 4th April. Most of the images here aren’t colour but some are quite striking and we will eventually go back and take colour images of them. If you haven’t already read – the first post relating to these images can be found [here] and the more recent, better, observations can be found [here]
Well lets start of with a nice colour image of the open star cluster M36 (30s in bgr):
Staying with the star cluster theme (30s in bgr), NGC869:
Going a bit fainter, and the detail is hard to see in this one, we have the Owl Nebula (30s bg20):
Next we have the striking spirals of M65 and M66 (30s bg20):
M105 is the is the brightest elliptical galaxy in the Leo I or M96 group of galaxies and it can clearly be seen at the centre of this image (30s bg20):
The grand spiral galaxy, M101 (30s bg20):
and the fainter but also a spiral, M99:
M102 lenticular galaxy in Draco (30s bg20):
M64 the famous Black Eye galaxy (30s bg20):
M42, the Orion nebula, firstly to see the detail at the centre (bg20 30s):
and then to see the glorious extended gas cloud (r 30s):
M84, M86 and NGC4387 – looking into the Virgo cluster of galaxies (bg20 30s):