Of Comets, Planets, and Nebulae – Jupiter, M42 and Lovejoy

A new image of Comet Lovejoy came through my queue yesterday afternoon from the BRT so I decided it was a great time (since it was clear) to give my scope another chance.


I managed to finally get my new-to-me Meade LX-80 mount with 6" Meade Refractor (AR-6) to actually align properly. This resulted in a great observing session including Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, The Orion Nebula (M42) and the planet Jupiter. In addition to catching these great objects, I hooked up my Nikon D80 DSLR camera to it for some shots.

I've included a couple shots below and the full gallery link at the end of the post.

DSC_7862_lzn DSC_7864_lzn DSC_7889 DSC_7900

It was definitely a chilly night and the observing session ended when the scope was slewing to the Pinwheel Galaxy (so I could try a few shots there) and the power cord unplugged signaling a great time to call it a night.

In addition to the 3 main objects I managed to capture, the M42 shots include the surprise of several objects passing through the field of view. I suspect one of them is Japanese satellite AJISAI (EGS) but the others I wasn't able to identify before this post.

Catch the full gallery here: http://www.collegeastronomy.com/gallery/comet-q2-lovejoy-m42-jupiter/

The Leo Cluster – Abell 1367

I managed to use the BRT to snap a black and white deep sky picture of this group of galaxies. The Leo Cluster, otherwise designated as Abell 1367 is a part of the Coma Supercluster of galaxies and spans even more sky area than what I've captured here.  The cluster is around 330 million light years away and one of the closest clusters to our own. The cluster contains over 70 galaxies, not all of which are visible in this image. The expanse of the view field even contains some quasars, one of which is known to be over 10 billion light years away and due to expansion, traveling away from us at nearly a quarter of a million kilometers per second. Pretty amazing huh?

In the image, you should be able to see two spiral galaxies easily, one in the upper left which is edge on to us and another toward the upper right. Most of the other galaxies in the field are eliptical galaxies which appear as large fuzzy circular objects in the image, they represent the majority of the galaxies in this image field.

Below is a 300 by 300 thumbnail, click on the image for the full size version.


Comet Linear C/2012 X1

I finally got a chance to edit and post the shots I managed to get with the BRT of Comet Linear from late 2013, early 2014. As of this article, the comet is already on its way out of the solar system almost to Jupiters orbit and thus, not really visible or worth photographing anymore (for the casual astronomy person that is). Even so, I wanted to share what I did get of this one as it came through.

Below, you'll find 3 different pictures of the comet, make sure to click on the picture for the full version of the image. The first two are from November 20th and 21st 2013 (respectively) and were taken with a wide field camera, the equivalent of your mid-grade DSLR which is why the comet appears to be so small. In the two pictures where it is small, I've included a red arrow pointed at the nucleus of the comet.

Black and white version – November 20th, 2013


Color version – November 21st 2013


Black and white with galaxy camera – March 1st, 2014


The Blood Moon (Lunar Eclipse) of October 2014

Correction: My sincerest apologies to the month of October, I apparently was very tired when I made this post and claimed this happened in the future during the month of November.  This was not correct and have updated what I can to correct this mistake, the eclipse happened in October and all pictures are from then.

Early this morning in US time zones the early birds certainly got the worm if there were clear skies and they happened to look toward the Western setting Moon.  A lunar eclipse, this one known as the Blood Moon, began early this morning and is just finishing up as the Moon sets in the West.  I managed to make it outside for a little while this morning in the relatively nice fall morning weather to catch a few pictures of it. Unfortunately, there was some cloud cover and haze which made for some challenging photography. Even so, I did manage to get a few relatively good shots which I've now uploaded into the gallery (see link below image). I hope you enjoy the results as much as I enjoyed taking them.


October 21st Astrophotography Session

The planet Venus, the Ring Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy (and companion galaxy M32) and the Hercules Globular Cluster were all worth the crisp autumn air.  Much thanks to that air there was relatively good visibility for the Kansas City metro area.  As such, it was time to break out the 6" refractor once again and give my T-Ring to Nikon camera adapter a whirl.

You can see the fruits of that labor here:


In summary, the evening went well even though it was quite chilly.  After getting things up and going I started out by snagging a few, less than impressive, shots of Venus.  Then as it darkened up a bit I set my eyes on getting some better shots of what I could easily find around the night sky.  Especially for my first photography session ever using a DSLR.  I started with M57 the Ring Nebula which was a great site when it popped into view after a simple 4 second exposure!  Once I'd finished here I thought I'd try for something a little more elusive but still a sure thing if I could star hop to it.  Sure enough I was able to get M31 the Andromeda Galaxy as well as one of its companion galaxies (M32) in the frame.  I managed to capture several really good shots with most of them (before processing in some cases) showing the dust lines of the galaxy's spiral arms.  I did not expect to see this detail.  After these I headed for one last, easy to snag, object, M13 the Hercules Globular Cluster which my mount failed to properly find earlier in the night.  Once I star hopped to it I was able to snag some really great shots of it before calling it a night and comping back here to process and post the results.  Hopefully you guys can enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed taking them!