Oct 13

A Star Cloud in Another Galaxy


NGC206 is an unusual object. It’s a cluster of stars, which in itself is not unusual at all… but it’s in ANOTHER GALAXY. The Andromeda Galaxy, to be precise. The fact that we can see it so clearly, two and a half million light-years away, boggles the mind. It’s that cluster of blue stars near […]

Sep 27

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 […]

Sep 26

The Moon is Ready for its Close-Up

Last night I set out to image Jupiter and Saturn, but both are pretty far away at this point, and the atmospheric conditions weren’t great. So I tried for the Moon instead. We take our nearest celestial neighbor for granted – there’s a whole world right next to us, waiting for us to explore it! […]

Sep 19

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 […]

Sep 4

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 […]

Aug 7

Our first online course! Process galaxies with PixInsight

I’ve launched my first online video course on astrophotography! If you’d like to learn my secrets for processing galaxy images using PixInsight, check out “Processing Galaxies with PixInsight” over at Sundog Education. It’s also available on Udemy. Please give it a look!

Jul 21

The Elephant’s Trunk

Formally IC1396, this cloud of interstellar gas and dust is thought to be an active site of new star formation. And with a little imagination, it kind of looks like an elephant’s trunk. There’s more to it than you see here, but I tried to get an interesting framing. From this angle we see a […]

Jul 21

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 […]

May 21

A “ring galaxy” 600 MILLION light-years away

Hoag's Object

Hoag’s Object is the weirdest galaxy I know of; it is a “ring galaxy” – a very rare galaxy type that’s just a galactic core of stars, surrounded by a ring of stars that’s seemingly disconnected from its core. This galaxy has always captured my imagination. Just look at this image from the Hubble Space […]

May 14

A Supernova 50 million light-years away!

M61 with supernova

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 […]

May 5

Early-morning planetary imaging

We recently obtained a new telescope for observing the planets, and we had our first good conditions for planetary imaging this morning! This is the best image of Jupiter I’ve ever gotten, and I’m hopeful that it will be even better once it gets closer to Earth in a couple of Months. Saturn’s not looking […]

Apr 28

Globular cluster M92


Globular clusters are mysterious objects – they are dense clusters of stars, some containing hundreds of thousands of them. And they’re not within the plane of the Milky Way galaxy; they are scattered around it. How they formed is a bit of a mystery. Did they form with our galaxy, or are they the cores […]

Apr 3

The Hickson 44 Galaxy Group

Hickson 44 Galaxy Group

This is a weird little cluster of galaxies – there are four in all, and each one is completely different. There’s a weird, S-shaped one that must have been messed up by its neighbors in the past, a somewhat normal-looking spiral galaxy, and elliptical, and another one that’s viewed edge-on. Galaxies that have interacted with […]

Apr 3

Another glob.


Here we have another globular cluster: M53. You don’t see this one imaged too often, but it’s still quite pretty. I’ve never met a globular cluster I didn’t like. It’s one of the more distant globular clusters in our galaxy, about 60,000 light-years away.

Mar 19

The galaxy M106


This galaxy 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 “megamaser.” Think a galaxy-sized […]

Mar 10

The Coalsack, Imaged from Australia!

Coalsack nebula

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 […]

Feb 5

The Horsehead and the Flame

Horsehead and Flame Nebulas

I trained my telescope at this pair of nebulas in Orion for a total of 10 hours. On the right is the iconic Horsehead nebula – actually a dark cloud of gas in front of the illuminated nebula behind it. To the left is the Flame Nebula. In between, in the upper-left, is the bright […]

Jan 22

Bode’s Galaxies (Again)

M81 and M82

Seems I revisit this pair of galaxies, 12 million light-years distant, every year. Although they are close and bright as galaxies go, they are challenging targets for imaging – especially if you are trying to pull out the faint jets spewing out of the Cigar Galaxy on the right. This image represents over 25 hours […]

Jan 14

The Fox Fur Nebula (and more!)

Cone and Fox Fur Nebulas

I’ve wanted to image the “Fox Fur Nebula” for awhile now – it’s pretty obvious where it is in this image! Within the same field of view is the Cone Nebula (near the bottom.) It’s all an area of gas within the Christmas Tree Cluster, which is an open cluster of stars that kind of […]

Jan 7

The Jellyfish Nebula

Jellyfish Nebula (IC 443)

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 […]

Dec 4

The Baby’s Bottom

Baby Nebula (Soul Nebula) - Portion

This is a small part of a larger nebula called the “Baby Nebula” (also known as the Soul Nebula) in the constellation Cassiopeia. If you see a baby in the larger nebula this is part of, this image would be of the baby’s bottom đŸ™‚ There is a ton of star formation going on in […]

Nov 30

The Nebula with No Name

This dim nebula in the constellation Perseus has no name, apart from its catalog numbers NGC 1491 and LBN 704. I think it deserves one. It reminds me of the Bubble nebula – if you look closely, you’ll see a “bubble” at center being created from the stellar wind of the hot star that is […]

Nov 27

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 […]

Nov 26

The “Silver Sliver” Galaxy

Try saying that three times fast! Fortunately, the “Silver Sliver Galaxy” has a formal name that’s easier to pronounce: NGC 891. It’s about 30 million light-years away, and is thought to be very similar to what our own Milky Way galaxy would look like when viewed edge-on. Explore the wider-field image; click on it for […]

Nov 21

The “Fish-Head Nebula”

Fish-Head Nebula

It’s really just a small portion of the Heart Nebula… that kinda looks like a fish. Maybe not the prettiest object in the cosmos, but it reflects a few technical accomplishments for me. About 20 hours of exposure time in total on this. Below I’m presenting it in a false-color “Hubble Palette”, as well as […]

Oct 22

The “Pac-Man” Nebula?

Pac-Man Nebula

This gorgeous nebula, formally known as NGC281 in the constellation Cassiopeia, goes by the informal name of “The Pac-Man Nebula.” I don’t see a Pac-Man. I think it’s a case where if you look at it through a telescope with your eyes, you only see the brightest parts – and then, maybe it looks a […]

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 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

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. These images were taken over the span […]

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 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 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.