Tuesday, 29 May 2012

El Sol, le soleil, die Sonne, the sun, yr haul.

On a sunny saturday afternoon Andy SMSed me about doing a bit of solar astronomy. We got down the observatory and I got the 20" on Venus and the Coronado SolarMAX onto the bright object you see above. With DSLRs we adjusted the focus, filter tilt, and exposure to get several pics that were subsequently stacked using Registax. I've put the earth to scale, which reminds me there's the Venus transit at dawn on the 6th of June... of course Venus will be closer than the Sun so appears as an almost arc minute sized disc. Venus is now rapidly approaching the sun in our skies and I wait in anticipation, hoping for clear skies.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Black Hole Jet

For the first time, I've imaged a jet from a supermassive black hole. This one lies at the centre of the elliptical galaxy M87 in Virgo. It is an active galactic nucleus, which means the black hole is swallowing stuff. Big stuff, like vast clouds of interstellar gas, dust and whole stars! The black hole spits the material out again as jets that shoot out of the galaxy for thousands of light years. This one is tens of millions of light years away from us. I heard a recent talk at our society by a guy who was into quasars, and it made me wonder if I could get a picture of this relatively close by jet. I was told to use short exposures to avoid over exposing the bright core of the galaxy, so I used 10 seconds at f/3 on the 20 inch with my good old Canon 350D. I used the best 26 pics and used 40 darks. In hindsight I could have upped the exposure a little. I applied some old flat fields later and tweaked it a little. The pic at the top shows a close up of the nucleus and jet, which in true astronomical fashion, appear as little fuzzy blobs. At least this fuzzy blob is more of a fuzzy streak, but it's such an amazing thing to visualise it from such a distance. I've also uploaded the original size field where you can see a few more small members of the Virgo cluster.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Integral sign

The so called Integral sign galaxy (UGC 3697) is actually a mirror image of one. All the same, it is a beautiful thing to photograph as it is so thin and has a patch of distortion presumably caused by the nearby 'little' elliptical galaxy. I used the Atik 383L+ on the 20" to get this image. This is a deep sky challenge for visual observers, located in the northern constellation of Camelopardalis (the giraffe) - at the time it was due left of Polaris. I wonder what other mathematical symbols lie out there in the cosmos?