M37 M38 and Saturn. Click link above to go directly to the images.
The weather was beautiful last night - I hope you didn't miss out. By 9:00pm the wind had cut down and the sky was almost cloudless - I was still viewing from a light polluted area though. The temperature seemed rather warm - more so than expected, and I was out until 11:30pm imaging. After setting up my 10" Meade Schmidt Newtonian OTA on an LXD75 GoTo mount and letting it cool down I checked the collimation with my new laser collimator and found it to be accurate and unaffected by the car ride over (I had used the laser collimator to collimate the scope before heading out). A quick polar alignment and I was good to go. I planned on spending most of my time imaging so after a quick view of Orion through the eyepiece I removed the 1.25" focuser tube and replaced with my new T ring adapter for my camera - what a difference a collimated scope and imaging parfocal makes! I took some new shots of Orion that far exceeded anything I had taken previously - I don't mean to be over exposing the Orion Nebula (just kidding) but I'm using it as my baseline for learning astro-photography - and you should still check out these new images as they are that much superior to previous attempts. Then I turned my attention on a few star clusters - the Pleiades, M37, and M38. Saturn was sharp but small in the fast wide field optics of the SN - looks like a good 2" barlow is required for decent planetary pictures. I will be adding the images mentioned as I get them processed.
The first of many images to come are the Orion set:
Orion Nebula Feb. 25, 2006
Meade 10" Schmidt Newtonian
with Canon Digital Rebel XT mounted parfocal.
19 images x 15s @ ISO 1600, 4 images x 15s @ ISO 800
processed with Registax and Corel Photopaint 10
By Tim Harpur
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Trying to observe, last night, was a lot like trying to cross a busy street. Though the low level winds had subsided, the upper level continued to push through batches of clouds that had me swinging the scope all over the sky.
Despite that, the transparency over Grimsby was quite good and the sight of Saturn sitting adjacent to a pretty combination of stars and moons made the effort worthwhile.
The sucker holes also afforded me brief glimpses of Nebulae M42, M43, M78, NGC2071, and open clusters NGC2244, NGC2112, and NGC2232.
A nice comparison, right now, is Aldebaran and Mars. Exhibiting nearly the same colour and brightness, if you observe Aldebaran first, the roundness of Mars is a good example of what to look for when identifying Uranus and Neptune among their neighbouring stars.
I just had time for a quick visit with M81 and M82 before the "busy street" turned into a parking lot but it was nice to finally do some observing.
See these new astro-images of Orion and Saturn by Tim Harpur.
I have received an update to the recent outburst of RS Ophiuchi to naked eye levels (mag 4.8). This recurrent nova has not outburst to naked eye levels since 1985. If it dims according to past observations, it should lose about 0.1 magnitudes a day for about a month, returning to normal in about 110 days.
For those that may want to look the star up with planetarium software, Starry Night Pro does not list RS Oph in its variable database. However a similar star in the vicinity with the same J2000 co-ordinates is TYC5094-550-1.
According to the AAVSO ‘A’ level chart (1744-06A), RS Oph is almost midway on an imaginary line between the globular cluster M14 and M16, the Eagle Nebula. It should be possible to frame M14 with RS Oph in a pair of 7x35 binoculars!
The original Special Notice #6 concerning RS Oph is listed at this link:
The update was released as Alert Notice #335 and is available at this link:
Charts for this recurrent nova are available at this link:
Variable star observing is a fun and rewarding aspect of amateur astronomy and is one of the many ways that amateurs can contribute to real science. Unlike supernova hunts or astro-imaging, it does not require a great deal of hardware to start; a pair of binoculars or small telescope will do just fine.
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