Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Colorful Nebulae around the Antares and Ophiuchus Region

Click on Image for Larger View

This is one of the most colorful regions in the Milky Way.  Visually, even with the largest telescope, you won't see it anything like this.  It takes long exposure photographs to bring out the beautiful colors, and is why I like to take pictures of the night sky.
Known as the Rho-Ophiuchus Nebula Complex, it consists of blue reflection nebulae, red emission nebulae, dusty, dark nebulae and a rare yellow-orange reflection nebula surrounding the Red Giant star Antares at the lower-left of the image.  The triple star Rho and the blue reflection nebula surrounding it is located in the middle-lower section of the image.  The colors of these nebulae are fascinating, but what is really amazing to me are the "Dark Nebulae".  These filaments of dark-brown regions consist of light years of dust.  So much dust they block the Milky Way starlight in the background.  Dark Nebulae were discovered by the pioneering astrophotographer Edward E. Barnard in the late 1800s.  He created a catalog of 349 dark nebulae.  Each has a number with the letter B in front of it.
Other objects in the image include Globular Clusters.  M4 is largest and easiest to see.  It is the big ball of stars located below Antares.  Very much smaller is NGC6144, just to the right and a little below Antares.  Three others, even smaller globulars are in the image, but look like large stars (To see where they are, take a look at the annotated image below).

Technical Data:
  • Date Taken: 06-04-2011
  • Location: ASKC Dark Sky Site
  • Lens: Canon 28-200mm f/2.8 L IS (set to 100mm at f/4)
  • Camera:  Q453 CCD, 3032(h) x 2016(v) ~ 6.11M pixels
  •  Field of View: 13.6 degrees X 9.0 degrees
  •  Calibration Exposures: 20 Bias, 0 Flats, 1 Dark used to make a "Bad Pixel Map"
  •  Exposure:  2 hours (consisting of 8 - 15 minute shots)
  •  Calibration Exposures: 20 Bias, 0 Flats, 1 Dark used to make a "Bad Pixel Map"
  •  AutoGuider: Q-Guider with 50mm finder
  •  Mount: Parallax Instruments HD 150C
  •  Capture Softwar: Nebulosity
  • Calibration Software: DeepSkyStacker
  • Final Processing Software: Photoshop CS3

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ISS Passing Overhead

Last evening I set up my Canon XTi with a new 10-22mm f/3.5 lens to capture the International Space Station as it crossed almost directly overhead here in the Kansas City area.  The Moon was shining brightly and it was not quite dark, so there was quite a bit of nice blue color in the sky as well as some fast moving clouds.  Here it is on YouTube: