Sunday, 30 November 2008


This is clearly not a photograph of the motorway that runs between London and Leeds. It is of the remnant from the supernova seen by the Chinese in 1054 as a star so bright it could easily be seen broad daylight. I want to see another. The very old star Betelgeuse in Orion is due to go supernova sometime in the next few tens of thousands of years and hopefully it will do it soon, during wintertime. That would be a truly awesome sight. A pinpoint of light much brighter than the full moon, turning the sky blue and casting sharp shadows when it rises at night. There is a slight risk of effects from the radiation, but we're just at a safe distance (no one knows exactly what this is, but it's about 600 light years away). Anyway this picture of M1 took 30 seconds on the 20" scope. This object is otherwise known as the Crab Nebula and it lives in Taurus, very close to the star ζ (zeta) Tauri.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Orion is back. Hail winter!

I had to test out the camera on the Great Orion Nebula. I knew it was very easy to saturate the centre of the nebula, so I took pictures of 30s, 6s and 1s. The individual frames looked lovely. I stacked the 3 pics in Registax after subtracting the light pollution and adjusting the brightness, contrast, gamma. The result is just an addition of the 3 different exposures, which isn't technically an accurate way of displaying it, but is necessary because of the large range of brightness.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

A Hallowe'en night moon.

The observatory scope has just been recollimated, which enabled me to visually spot Titania, a magnitude 14½ moon, 20 arc-seconds below the 6th magnitude planet Uranus, which appeared at 200x as a very clear bright green disk, wobbling around in the atmosphere. I thought I'd have another go at some pictures of the moons, and there were some surprising background stars right behind the planet. I saw 2 moons, stacked 6 5 second pictures and revealed a 3rd. So here are Titania, Umbriel and Oberon. We quite like the effect of the starburst cross on the planet, which is 3000 times brighter than the moons. Incidentally, we had a little bother identifying the moons using astronomy software, as it didn't allow for the almost 3 hour light time and they move significantly in this time!