Oct 5

A bunch of galaxies in Pegasus.

Deer Lick Galaxy Group and Stephan's Quintet

There are two different clusters of galaxies in this image – the large galaxy you see is NGC 7331, part of the “Deer Lick Galaxy Group.” The smaller galaxies you see surrounding it (sometimes called “The Fleas”) are actually about ten times further away than NGC 7331. In the corner, you’ll see “Stephan’s Quintet,” a […]

Sep 29

The Pelican Nebula

Pelican Nebula

Granted this is only a portion of it, but for the life of me I don’t see a pelican in this thing. But, it’s still pretty. I processed this object two ways: using the “Hubble palette” that maps red, green, and blue to Sulfur, Hydrogen, and Oxygen emissions (that results in the pretty blue one) […]

Sep 29

Polar ring galaxy NGC660

NGC660 polar ring galaxy

This galaxy is truly one of a kind, at least among that galaxies we have found. It’s a “polar ring galaxy,” probably the result of an unusual collision that left the core lenticular galaxy surrounded by the disk of another galaxy that it merged with. It’s a small, dim object, and just barely detectable from […]

Sep 25

The Ghost of Cassiopeia

Ghost of Cassiopeia

It doesn’t take much imagination to see a ghost leaving a trail of ectoplasm in this cloud of Hydrogen gas, lit up by the bright star Navi. To keep with a spooky and ethereal theme, I photographed this object in monochrome using only a Hydrogen-alpha filter.

Sep 23

Off to See the Wizard

Wizard Nebula

There are a lot of stars in this picture; the gases of the Wizard Nebula (formally SH2-142) are the birthplace of those stars, and more are being created even now. It’s located about 7,200 light-years away, and is extremely dim – it took over 9 hours of exposure time to capture this image. Your ability […]

Sep 7

The “Witch’s Broom”

"Witch's Broom" / Western Veil Nebula

As Halloween draws closer, this seems like an appropriate object to image: the “Witch’s Broom” nebula! Although to be honest, that bright star (Cygnus 56) looks more like an eye on some sort of fantastical, cosmic creature to me. In reality, it’s part of the larger Veil Nebula, which is a huge supernova remnant 1,400 […]

Aug 3

Summertime weather hiatus…

Yeah, it’s been a couple of months since we’ve done a live star party online, or posted any new pictures. That’s just summertime in Central Florida for you – it’s been too cloudy to do any imaging or observing. The skies should start clearing up more in a couple of months, and we have every […]

Jun 21

Live Star Party: The Pinwheel Galaxy

Last night, we aimed our telescope at the Pinwheel Galaxy, and it just got prettier and prettier over time. Together, we’ll look at a trillion stars 20 million light-years away – it’s mind-blowing stuff. Check it out! We also discussed the distant world Ultima Thule in Tori’s “Far Out Fact” segment. Learn more about this […]

Jun 15

Simplify and Automate your Astrophotography

If you’re serious about becoming a better astrophotographer, like with anything, it’s all about practice. With every image you produce, you’ll learn something that makes your next image a little better. But life has a habit of getting in the way. You’ve had a long, tiring day at work – do you really want to […]

Jun 4

A Tulip and a Supernova

Tulip Nebula (SH2-101)

In these short summer nights, I want to take advantage of every moment of darkness. Right now, the galaxy M100 is up in the hours before midnight, and the “Tulip Nebula” – formally SH2-101 – rises just as M100 sets. So for this past week, I’ve been imaging both objects. But no more clear skies […]

Jun 2

The Dumbbell Nebula

Dumbbell Nebula (M27)

The Dumbbell Nebula (M27) is what’s called a planetary nebula – but it has nothing to do with a planet. This shell of gas was blown out by a dying star; once it started to run out of Hydrogen to burn, it expanded and blew out the gases you see here. The star then collapsed […]

Jun 1

Boldly Going Webcast: Behind the Scenes

If you’re a fellow amateur astronomer, you might be curious as to how our “live star parties” on our Boldly Going YouTube Channel are produced. The more people doing this, the better! Here’s how it all works behind the scenes, which might give you some ideas on how to produce your own show. The Heart […]

May 25

Light pollution: dealing with it.

(Image credit: ddmitr, iStockPhoto.com) Every picture on this site was taken from a suburban driveway in a “red zone” on the light pollution map, literally underneath a streetlight. Every year more subdivisions and apartment buildings spring up in my city, and light pollution from the metro Orlando area just keeps getting worse. There are four […]

May 25

The Crescent Nebula

Crescent Nebula NGC 6888

Like the Bubble Nebula, and Thor’s Helmet, this is formed by the fast stellar wind of the extremely hot star at its heart – which interacts in complex ways from the wind left over from when this star was a red giant. This is roughly 5,000 light-years away. Imaged in narrowband

May 24

The Sunflower Galaxy

M63, The Sunflower Galaxy

Officially called M63, this spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away is part of the same group as the Whirlpool Galaxy.

May 23

Live Star Party: Globular Cluster M3

Our teaser for this one is “what are the oldest objects in the galaxy?” Well, globular clusters are among them for sure. In this episode, we’ll train our telescope on globular cluster M3, and share the views thanks to a camera attached to it. We’ll look at lots of pretty pictures of star clusters, of […]

May 22

Late-night planetary imaging.

Imaging the planets requires completely different techniques and equipment than deep-sky stuff, and it’s something I’m not really good at yet. What matters the most is the seeing conditions – how stable the atmosphere is. A big part of taking good planetary images is just having the perseverance to get out there whenever the seeing […]

May 21

Beating light pollution with a new synthetic RGB algorithm

Imaging deep sky objects from a suburban driveway forces one to find ways to deal with light pollution. Light pollution is the enemy of astronomers – but in reality, there are ways around it. Some of the most beautiful objects in the cosmos are called emission nebula. They are clouds of gas, often where new […]

May 18

Globular Cluster M3

M3 Globular Cluster

You’re looking at about 500,000 stars, balled up just outside of our galaxy. They are ancient; about 8 billion years old.

May 16

Live Star Party: The Moon through our Telescope

There’s a whole alien world right above our heads! Join us as we explore the surface of the moon, live with our telescope – and revisit some amazing NASA imagery from the Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter and the Apollo program.

May 8

Globular Cluster M13

Globular Cluster M13

M13, the great globular cluster in Hercules. You can see some of its interesting neighbors, including the galaxy NGC 6207 in the lower-left. While M13 itself is 25,000 light-years away just above our galactic plane, NGC 6207 is 37 million light-years distant. About halfway between the two, the galaxy IC 4617 is also visible – […]

May 1

Globular Cluster M5

Globular Cluster M5

One of the largest and oldest (13 billion years) globular cluster of stars near our galaxy – there are hundreds of thousands of stars in there. There are some interesting theories that globular clusters such as this are what remains of smaller galaxies that our Milky Way has consumed – this is just what’s left […]

Apr 30

A really messed-up galaxy.

NGC 3718

That twisted-up galaxy at the top is NGC 3718. We don’t actually know if it’s a spiral or a lenticular galaxy, because the galaxy below it, NGC 3729, appears to have warped it beyond recognition when it passed by it. Also look for the cluster of five more distant galaxies just to the right of […]

Apr 28

Markarian’s Chain

Markarian's Chain of Galaxies

This is actually only a portion of a string of galaxies that make up the Virgo supercluster of galaxies, around 50-60 million light-years away.

Apr 27

Sombrero Galaxy

Sombrero Galaxy (M104)

M104 is known as the “Sombrero Galaxy” due to its visual appearance – but a deep, long-exposure image reveals its true structure. It’s a lenticular galaxy about 30 million light-years away, about 30% the size of our own Milky Way galaxy.

Apr 23

The Whale and the Hockey Stick

It’s not the title of a children’s story – it’s a pair of galaxies 30 million light-years away that look like, well, a whale and a hockey stick. Officially their names are NGC 4631 and NGC 4656.

Apr 22

The Needle Galaxy

Needle Galaxy

A spiral galaxy almost 40 million light-years away, viewed edge-on. The dust lane in the center of its disk, and central bulge are clearly visible. A couple of its smaller, satellite galaxies can also be seen here.

Mar 31

Coma Berenices Galaxy Cluster

Abell 1656 in Coma Berenices

AKA Abell 1656. There are tens of thousands of galaxies in this portion of the sky; almost everything in this image is an entire galaxy filled with hundreds of millions of stars. Whoah. And they’re hundreds of millions of light-years away. Click and zoom in to explore them all.

Mar 26

The “Leo Trio” of galaxies

"Leo Triplet" of galaxies

Three nearby galaxies: M65, M66, and NGC 3628. All three are spiral galaxies, viewed from different angles. You can guess which one is called the “Hamburger Galaxy” đŸ™‚

Mar 15

Cone Nebula

Narrowband image of the cone-shaped absorption nebula in front of the brighter emission nebula in this interesting region of the Christmas Tree Cluster, about 2,700 light-years away.

Mar 7

Bode’s Galaxies (M81 & M82)

Bode's Galaxies (M81 and M82)

Johan Bode discovered both Bode’s Galaxy (M81, on the left) and the Cigar Galaxy (M82, on the right.) Look closely and you’ll see many other, more distant galaxies in the background as well.

Jan 22

Flaming Star Nebula

Flaming Star Nebula

Imaged in narrowband filters from my suburban driveway. This object lives up to its name with the right color mappings!

Jan 21

Lunar Eclipse Jan 2019

2019 Lunar Eclipse

A progression of photos taken at 15-minute intervals from 10:30 PM to 12:15 AM on the evening of Jan 20-21, 2019. Click to zoom in – there’s a lot of detail!

Jan 7

Triangulum Galaxy

Triangulum Galaxy

Part of our Local Group of galaxies, the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) is about 3 million light years away and the most distant object visible to the naked eye under dark skies.

Dec 17

Melotte 15

Melotte 15 / Heart Nebula

This young star cluster inside the Heart Nebula is lighting up the clouds of gas from which it formed. 3 hours of narrowband exposure from my suburban driveway.

Dec 6

The Bubble Nebula

The Bubble Nebula

11 light years away, the “bubble” itself is formed from the solar wind of the large, hot star inside of it. Imaged with narrowband filters.

Oct 30

The Pinwheel Galaxy

Pinwheel Galaxy

Hope to revisit this under better conditions in the future; but this came out OK considering a bright moon was out the night it was taken. The Pinwheel Galaxy (M101) is near the end of the handle of the Big Dipper in the sky, although physically it is tens of millions of light-years more distant.

Oct 30

The Whirlpool Galaxy

The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) appears to be sucking the life out of its companion, NGC 5195. While these galaxies are interacting, they’re not actually connected right now – it just looks that way.

Oct 29

A Spooky Knot in the Veil Nebula

Veil Nebula

Taken just prior to Halloween in 2018, the southeastern knot of the Eastern Veil Nebula takes on a ghostly appearance when imaged in the Hubble palette with narrowband filters.