Welcome to my Astrophotography Blog!

This is a journal of my adventures in astrophotography -- taking images of distant celestial objects. Please look around and feel free to add your comments, questions, and critique to any of the entries by clicking the "comments" button on the bottom of each entry -- or just say "howdy!

And don't forget to click on the images for a larger view!

So choose either the Red pill or the Blue pill and follow me down the wormhole....


Comanche Springs Star Party

Comanche Springs Star Party
Doin' my thang at the Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (where I often become a "red ghost")

Dallas Sky

Rancho Venado Sky

Atoka Sky

Camanche Springs Sky

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Veil Addiction!

Sorry, I just can't leave this object alone -- it fascinates me! I really think it is beautiful.

I re-processed the data and tried some new techniques (and software). I am very pleased at the color and level of detail I extracted this time. This image is a 100% crop of a much larger original frame. Again, I'm happy the detail really seems to hold up well (and with very little noise) at this 1:1 scale.

Be sure to click on the image for a closer look!

Okay, I promise next time I will post a new object : )

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Return of the Western Veil

Hello astro fans! You may recall that I imaged the Western Veil a couple of months ago. At that time, I was still using my noisy Nikon camera and was unable to autoguide (for longer exposures).

Well, here is my second attempt at this target. This time I was armed with my QHY8 camera and autoguiding was in full effect. I shot 18 x 10min exposures (3 hours) worth of data.

I also framed differently to include the faint nebulosity just under the main Veil at top. You will notice a subtle "triangle" shape in the lower left nebulosity -- this is called Pickering's Triangle. I never knew it until somebody complimented me for resolving it so well (I just thanked him and acted like I knew what I was doing).

Pickering's Triangle was discovered in 1904 by Williamina Fleming of the Harvard Observatory while examining photographic plates of the region. The object was named in honor of her boss, astronomer Edward Charles Pickering. I think that was overly nice of her. I think it should have been called Williamina's Triangle. I mean come on! Williamina found the damn thing!

Who knows, maybe she was bucking for a raise.

Anyway, it is a very cool big ol' supernova remnant in the Cygnus area.
Here again was my first attempt for comparison...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Helix

This is NGC 7293, otherwise known as the Helix Nebula.

The Helix is a planetary nebula. No, it has nothing to do with planets but it is called that because of its round and "planetary" shape. These types of nebulae are created as stars die and release material as they collapse. Look closely and you can see the star in the center (the creator of this nebula).

I shot this image from my last Atoka trip on August 2. It is about 3 hours of exposure. I've still got a couple more images in the works, so keep watching!

I'm playing "catch-up" since Kim and I have been out of town for the past week. We went to Colorado (I'll also have a couple of shots from that trip soon). Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Elephants in Space!

This is IC 1396, otherwise known as the Elephant Trunk Nebula. It is a very wide field image of the region, but you can see the "trunk" just to the left of center (it is pointing up). C'mon, use your imagination!

This is another image I took from my recent session at Ranch Venado last week. About half the data was taken through high thin clouds, but I am still pleased. This was about a 2 hour exposure.

IC 1396 is one of the largest emission nebula in the night sky (I've just framed the central region). It is about 1500 light years away in the Cepheus constellation.

I had quite a busy week last week! I also went back to Atoka last Saturday night and have a couple more images in the works -- check back soon!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Gamma Cygni Nebulosity

Gamma Cygni Nebulosity -- that's just fun to say!

Well, guess what I've been doing? Yep, the moon is taking its leave so out to the dark skies I go! I went back to Ranch Venado for a couple of great nights Monday and Tuesday. I tried to go down Sunday, but my new truck took a dump (the on board computer fried) about 70 miles from home in 106 degree heat (loaded with all my gear), and I had to get a pricey tow truck ride back to Dallas -- bummer.

But I am nothing if not stubborn, so I borrowed my folks truck and reloaded and headed back the next day. And it was worth it!

My astro buddy max was working at Fort Hood (about 40 miles away), so he came out both nights. We stayed up until sunshine both nights, taking advantage of the good skies.

While max focused on the Cocoon Nebula, I aimed at the Gamma Cygni Nebula and the Elephant Trunk (coming soon).

Anyway, here is my Gamma Cygni. It is approximately 7000 light years away. The brightest star (Sadr) is not actually part of the nebula, but resides in the foreground about half way between us and the nebula.

This was the first trip I was actually able to use autoguiding (using a second scope and camera attached to the main scope that tracks a "guide star" and allows for VERY precise tracking and longer exposure times). This image is the result 18 x 10 min exposures... 3 hours total.