Thursday, 11 January 2018

Capturing a Pinwheel and a Monkey in tonight's sky

Of course I will start this post with usual heading....

It's been quite some time since we've had any clear night skies to image under. Looking at my computer when starting up the observatory tonight (7 Jan 17) I noticed the last time I had used it appears to have been the 16th of November. Depressing.

Here's a screenshot from my favourite planetarium software - Starry Night Pro 7 - of what the sky above the observatory was populated with tonight.

Courtesy of Starry Night Pro 7

I tried to make the most of tonight by imaging two objects.

The first was the was a spiral galaxy in the constellation Triangulum called the Pinwheel Galaxy or referred to by it's Messier catalogue name - M33. The constellation can be seen in the shot above in the upper right.

I've always found this object difficult to image. Previously I'd attempted it with my one shot colour ccd camera - and frankly I got better results than my effort tonight :-) (see the deepsky gallery under astrophotography on my website @

However, I learned a bit more about LRGB imaging attempting this object tonight. I really didn't have enough time to capture the data I needed on it before it moved out of range of the observatory though so results are poor at best.

Messier 33 - the Pinwheel Galaxy in Trangulum

Although I considered getting another one shot colour ccd (namely the ASI1600 MC) I think it will be worth persevering with mono LRGB as better results can be obtained with patience.

Here's the capture profile for the image above

Disappointment over I moved on to the highlight of the evening. Narrow band imaging is always my favourite now as the detail that can be captured is amazing.

Tonight's object was NGC 2174 - the Monkey Head Nebula in Orion. I've never imaged this before so I was really looking forward to it.

Again - not really enough time on this to make it useful (see stats below) but it was fun capturing what I did and processing it afterwards - always an learning experience using Pixinsight - every time! :-)

As ever it's worth clicking on the image to see the full resolution results

Sii, Ha, Oiii (SHO or Hubble Palette)



H-Alpha and Oxygen iii

H-Alpha and Oxygen iii

I will of course image this monkey again and hopefully add to the data I've captured (always tricky to get it lined up the same way on multiple sessions)

I have an all sky camera that I use to keep an eye on the weather while I'm in the house. It captured this shot while I was imaging the monkey and it's full of interesting objects (if a little out of focus :-)