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Zooming in on Abell 2218

Abell 2218 – A Monster of a Cluster!

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Roll back nearly ten years ago and you’d find the most distant galaxy ever detected by humans in the constellation Draco, Abell 2218. This huge cluster of over 10,000 galaxies is heavily shifted into the red by it’s recessional velocity. A galaxy behind it is nearly 13 billion years back (note this cluster is actually around 2 billion years away.) This compared with my previous distance record of 7.8 billion years with the Double Quasar, QSO 0957+561. Aside from it’s massive distance, More >

Messier 101, The Pinwheel Galaxy

Messier 101: Pretty Pinwheels

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Messier 101, The Pinwheel Galaxy

Located nearly 25 million light years away, Messier 101 is favorite amateur imaging target. It’s big, bright, and beautiful! Most of today was spent fiddling around with trying to bring out the finer details on the fringes here – and learning more CS5 tricks – thanks Tony Hallas ) Be sure to click on the image for the full scale detail…

In May of last year, I imaged M101 through the four-inch Televue NP 101is with super shallow 60 second frames. Given the More >

Saturn, f/8 AT10RCF, StarShoot Pro v2!

Royal Wedding Rings… From Space!

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With all of the recent excitement around the Royal Wedding for Catherine and William, it seems some far-out gifts are in order. Hundreds of years ago, the kings and queens of the land would provide funding for astronomers, hoping to have the name of the next exciting object named in their honor. Today of course, they mostly beg for funding, as recently seen with the SETI shutdown.

Back on April 23, the last clear sky day we had (though tonight is looking great!), I picked up a few additional More >

NGC 4490, 4485, Cocoon Galaxy

NGC 4490 – The Cocoon Galaxy

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NGC 4490 (and NGC 4485) make a highly distorted pair of galaxies. Located in Canes Ventacti, this pair of galaxies is similar to M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy in that is shows two interacting galaxies. However, unlike M51, these two galaxies have already crossed paths and may not come to meet again. In 2008, a supernova was observed in NGC 4490, the larger of the two. At magnitudes 9.8 and 12.5, respectively, these two galaxies are relatively bright amongst galaxies – but also have a very small More >

Messier Object 13, The Great Cluster in Hercules

More Messier 13

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After a very long bout of rain and clouds, we finally were blessed with a very nice night here in Woodinville. I started out going after several deep sky objects while the moon was below the horizon, but as it came up, I switched over to some brighter objects. An old favorite, M13 of course came to mind. I’ve imaged M13 many times over, but for whatever reason I never feel like they are come out as well as they ought to. Others imagers seem to find much more vibrant, colorful images — while More >

Atmospheric Depression!

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Well, it’s been a month and a half. I’ve eagerly watched the forecast. I’ve waited. I’ve prayed. Still clouds and rain. Okay, I get it, I live in a cloudy, rainy place. But really, Mom Nature, is this necessary? I’m sure I’m vitamin D deficient, but to taunt me with forecasts of clear skies, only to give hazy cloudiness is really rude! Sure, I can get nibbles of satisfaction from APOD, CloudyNights.com, and Astronomy magazine. I fear the only solution at this time is haiku.

Cloudy More >

The Leo Triplets

The Leo Triplets

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M65, M66, and NGC 3628 form a beautiful and easy to pluck target from the constellation Leo. Often called the Leo Triplets, Arp classified these as “peculiar galaxies” and noted them as Arp 16. There is some indication these galaxies may have interacted at some point in the past. At about 35 million light years distant, these galaxies are relatively nearby and therefore bright, popular amateur targets. All around magnitude 10, and several arc minutes in apparent length, they are very easy More >

Mizar A and B, Alcor

CGE Pro Returned – AT10RCF Back in Service!

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Back in November I picked up an AstroTech AT10RCF – and a hefty mount to hold it aloft, the Celestron CGE Pro. After a brief test and review, the mount promptly killed itself. Perhaps it was a combination of excessively low temperatures — in the teens — or perhaps it was an extension of the ‘new gear astronomy curse.’ Either way, I sent it back to Celestron for warranty repair work. Celestron was very friendly during this whole process, including several calls to update me on status. While More >

M63, The Sunflower Galaxy

Galaxy Season in Full Effect

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M63, The Sunflower Galaxy

Right about this time of year, a spectacular menagerie of galaxies crawls from the Eastern sky. Pretty much every kind of galaxy you could imagine – spirals, barred, ellipticals, starburst, and irregular curiosities. From Leo to Virgo and Coma Berenices, all the way over the Ursa Major, millions of galaxies pass overhead. Some are far away and clumped together, while others are a bit closer, larger, and of course magnificient to image. I went after a few of the More >

NGC 3079 and Quasar QSO 0957+561

Going Deep… 7.8 Billion Years Deep!

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Gravitational lensing occurs when light bends through space due to the gravity of another body. In the first verified case of gravitational lensing (nearly 30 years ago), a mega distant quasar is lensed by an entire galaxy sitting virtually “in line of site” with us. The light from this quasar is bent as it passes the galaxy and is split into two distinct, separate images. Known as the Double Quasar, or Twin Quasar, QSO 0957+561 is located in Ursa Major where it shines near magnitude 17 – More >

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