Category Archives: published work

Collinder 399 – The Coathanger

Collinder 399 - The Coathanger and nearby dark nebulaeWithin the constellation of Vulpecula is an asterism catalogued as Collinder 399 (Cr 399, from a catalogue of open clusters published by Swedish astronomer Per Collinder). More commonly, this asterism is called the Coathanger, owing to its appearance  Brocchi’s Cluster, or Al Sufi’s Cluster. 

Despite being considered as a true open cluster for much of the 20th century, this is in fact a random grouping of stars – data on parallaxes and proper motions from Hipparcos (…340..402B) shows these stars to be a chance alignment rather than any kind of bound cluster. 

To the north (and partly encompassing the Coathanger itself) is a reflection nebula with designation LBN130, while further to the north, located with a background of a larger dark nebula (LDN 767) are another two patches of reflection nebula VdB126/LBN134 and LBN 133. Surrounding the whole area are many members of the LDN (Lynds Catalog of Dark Nebulae) catalogue that block the light from the myriad background stars in the plane of the milky way – these are marked in the associated annotated image. 

Image was taken from Sainte-Nathalène, Perigord, France on evenings of 10th/11th Aug 2018. Camera was QHY163M running at -15C on a Canon 200mm f2.8/L II lens (@f3.85).  Mount was a Losmandy GM8, guided with a 160mm guidescope and ZWO ASI120MM.

Exposure was LRGB using Baader 36mm LRGB filters. Exposures were L=166 (1min sub-exposures); RGB=98:90:88 (2min subs) – totalling 7h22m. All taken at gain 75, offset 27. Image capture using Sequence Generator Pro; processing using Pixinsight. 

Field centred at:
RA: 19h 25m 37s
Dec: +21° 42′ 27″
Up is 358 degrees E of N, field size: 3.98 x 5.3 deg

This image was published in the Gallery section of Astronomy Now, October 2018. 

Total Lunar Eclipse – Sept 28th 2015

A way overdue gallery post, as I have finally managed to sort and post my images of the September 2015 Total Lunar Eclipse. The weather was excellent in Oxfordshire for this event which started at 01:11UT and finished at 06:22UT.

This eclipse occurred with the moon close to perigee, and appeared very dark to the naked eye. Our daughter (aged 5) even got up in the middle of the night to have a look through Daddy’s telescope at the moon and did this amazing drawing the next morning all by herself!

Abi's Amazing Lunar Eclipse Drawing

My image around maximum eclipse was used on the Oxford Mail website as the header image for the article on the event. The gallery below is a selection of images from all the ones I took – these were all taken using a Nikon D70s through a William Optics 110FLT. Exposures range from fractions of seconds for the partial phases, right up to 10 seconds for the images at maximum, which shows the range of brightness across the whole eclipse. My imaging finished at about 6am when the moon was occulted by the garden fence so I didn’t quite get the last stages of the eclipse (though I got an hour or so back in bed before work)!

Transit of Mercury, 9th May 2016

On 9th May 2016, Mercury transited the sun as viewed from Earth for the first time since November 2006. The transit was well timed for observation from The UK and Europe, starting at 11:12UT and ending at 18:42UTSolar Imaging Setup. I attempted to view and to photograph the transit using both my WO FLT110 with a Herschel Wedge from Lacerta, as well as visual work through the Takahashi FC60.

To image the eclipse, I used a combination of the WO FLT110 working at native f7 using the Herschel Wedge, with ND3.0, IR/UV blocking and Wratten #57 filters. Situated behind this combination was the ASI120MM camera – the plan being to take video captures of the event, processing into images later with Auostakkert/Registax.

However, British weather being itself, I only had a very short window of clear sky at the beginning of the transit during which I could grab one decent shot showing Mercury (bottom left), AR12542 (top) and AR12543 (lower), and with AR12544 developing at the top left. This image made it onto the Meridian (West) news at 6pm that evening, and is on Simon Parkin’s Mercury Transit blog post as well.

Transit of Mercury, 2016-05-09 1250 UT

After this 10 minute spell of clear(ish) sky, I had very little opportunity to see the transit again – there was a short period here and there where I was able to visually observe Mercury and the sunspots on the disc, but by 3pm I was completely clouded out, with rain following later in the evening….

Clouded out for the Transit of Mercury...

M31 (NGC 224) – The Andromeda Galaxy

RA: 00h 42m 44.3s, Dec: +41°16′ 9″m31_20060921.jpg
The Andromeda Galaxy is a naked eye object from a dark site, appearing as a small smudge in the sky. Long exposures reveal it’s true extent (over three degrees in size!) as well as two smaller elliptical companion galaxies (M32 – top, and M110 – bottom edge partially off frame). It is a member of the Local Group of galaxies, and is actually moving towards us at a rate of about 300km/s. Taken from Abingdon, UK on the evening of September 21st, 2006.

This picture was chosen as Anacortes Telescope & Wild Bird picture of the day on 6th Nov 2006.

Additionally, it was chosen as Sky at Night Magazine Hotshots Picture of the Month, Feb 2007 and subsequently it was chosen as Sky at Night Magazine Hotshot of the Year, 2007. (Sky at Night Magazine). As part of the Sky at Night Hotshots competition, I won a 5x Astro Engineering barlow lens for the photo of the month, and a DMK41AF02.AS camera from The Imaging Source.

I’m very happy with this one – if anything, it needs a bit more data – especially in the colour channels – I’m tempted to have another go at this, maybe as a mosaic at a later date 🙂