A Celestial Swan

A Celestial Swan

This is M17, the “Swan Nebula”. Everyone seems to see something different in it! To me the whole thing looks like a swan seen from the side, but my family sees different birds within it. It’s like seeing shapes in clouds, which makes sense, as this is just a really, really big cloud of gas…

The Eagle Nebula, home of the “Pillars of Creation”

The Eagle Nebula, home of the “Pillars of Creation”

Perhaps the most famous Hubble image is the “Pillars of Creation,” towers of gas where new stars are being born within the Eagle Nebula (formally M16.) My backyard telescope under the thick Florida atmosphere can’t match the resolution of Hubble, but it can still capture this object. I’ve imaged this before, but this is the…

M92: A pretty, but overlooked globular cluster

M92: A pretty, but overlooked globular cluster

Had a few hours of clear skies last night, and captured a globular cluster I hadn’t imaged before: M92. It’s a pretty one, and I’m surprised it’s not more popular. It’s in the constellation Hercules, and I suspect it just gets overshadowed by its even more spectacular neighbor, M13. Globular clusters were enshrouded in mystery…

M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy – Another year, another try

M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy – Another year, another try

Every year I image the “Whirlpool Galaxy” (really a pair of galaxies interacting with each other,) and every year it gets a little bit better. This year it was shot from our new observatory, on a newly-tuned mount and with some more image processing experience under my belt. It’s also under slightly darker skies, which…

Thor’s Helmet

Thor’s Helmet

This week’s target was Thor’s Helmet (NGC 2359), an emission nebula in Canis Major a rather distant 12,000 light-years away. It’s formed by a Wolf-Rayet star in its center, which is a crazy-hot star whose immense stellar wind is bunching up and ionizing the gases around it in these complex patterns. It’ll probably go supernova…

Another year, another Bode’s Galaxy image

Another year, another Bode’s Galaxy image

Every year I try to take a better image of M81, Bode’s Galaxy. It’s located about 12 million light-years away, which is unfathomably far but close by galactic standards. Look closely, and you’ll see a faint splotchiness in the background. This is the Integrated Flux Nebula (IFN,) composed of gases that lie just outside of…

A Celestial Fox (and cone, and Christmas tree…)

A Celestial Fox (and cone, and Christmas tree…)

This image contains a few things! At the bottom is the Cone Nebula, at the upper-right is the “Fox Fur Nebula”, and in the middle is the “Christmas Tree” star cluster… you have to flip the image upside down to see that one. It’s a gorgeous region of active star formation in the constellation Monoceros….

The Monkey Head Nebula

The Monkey Head Nebula

The Monkey Head Nebula is located about 6400 light-years away, in the constellation Orion. It’s a gorgeous cloud of gas surrounding a cluster of young stars. I processed this data a couple of different ways; one using the “Hubble palette” and another using my own color scheme. The colors represent different kinds of ionized gases:…

Mars Fever

Mars Fever

The amateur astronomy community is pretty excited at Mars lately – it’s nearing its closest approach to Earth right now, and this one’s even closer than usual. That means some of the best viewing and imaging opportunities for the Red Planet you’ll ever get. When the skies clear and the atmosphere is still, it’s an…

Mars and Uranus

Mars and Uranus

As with any form of photography, getting a good shot is largely about being in the right place at the right time. When it comes to photographing the planets, sometimes that means getting up at a painful hour. Both Mars and Uranus are nearing “opposition” – the point where they are directly across from Earth…

Another Look at Jupiter and Saturn.

Another Look at Jupiter and Saturn.

Jupiter and Saturn both reached “opposition” over the summer, meaning they had their closest approach to Earth for the year. Florida’s summer weather conspired against photographing the planets at that time, but the skies finally cleared last night. They’re not at their closest, but… they’re close enough. I think this is my best Jupiter image…

Comet hunting!

Comet hunting!

There’s a comet in the sky! They don’t appear this bright very often, so don’t miss what could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a comet with your own eyes. It’s tough to spot here in suburbia with your eyes, but it’s easy to see with binoculars. Its official name is C/2020 F3 NEOWISE. Just…

A Supernova 50 million light-years away!

A Supernova 50 million light-years away!

Highlighted here is a recently discovered supernova in the galaxy M61, over 50 million light-years away! This exploding star outshines the entire core of its own galaxy, and many of the much closer stars seen within our Milky Way. The sheer power of this stellar explosion is unfathomable. It’s 50 million light-years away, which means…

The galaxy M106

The galaxy M106

The larger galaxy in this image goes only by the boring name “M106”, but it’s anything but boring. About 23 million light-years away, M106 is pretty similar to Andromeda in its size and brightness. But M106 is a lot weirder. In addition to its slightly warped shape, M106 is the home of a giant water-vapor…

The Coalsack, Imaged from Australia!

The Coalsack, Imaged from Australia!

It’s been really cloudy lately in Central Florida, so instead of imaging from my driveway, I’ve tried using remote observatories. This particular image was taken using a telescope in Australia, using a service called telescope.live. This is the “Coalsack nebula”, a dark cloud of gas obscuring the Milky Way in the Southern hemisphere. We’re looking…

The Jellyfish Nebula

The Jellyfish Nebula

The “Jellyfish Nebula” is a supernova remnant in the constellation Gemini, about 5,000 light-years away. It’s the gas blown off from a star that exploded, sometime between 3,000 and 30,000 years ago – we’re really not sure when it happened. But it makes for quite a spectacle! I was plagued with technical issues while capturing…

Will astrophotographers be replaced by robots?

Will astrophotographers be replaced by robots?

Deep-sky astrophotography is the ultimate hobby for nerds; it combines endless tinkering with highly specialized technology, exploration of the cosmos, and constant challenges, achievements, and learning. But, could this hobby be automated to the point where anyone can do it? Products such as Stellina and Unistellar promise to deliver an experience where you can plop…

Live Star Party! The Veil Nebula supernova remnant
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Live Star Party! The Veil Nebula supernova remnant

We’re back with our live viewing of the cosmos! Join us as we view the Veil Nebula via a camera attached to our telescope – it’s a supernova remnant from a massive star that exploded 8,000 years ago, and it’s gorgeous. We’ll also talk about tonight’s expected meteor storm as the Earth passes through a…

The Pelican Nebula

The 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)…