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Now in the Sky

Mars 11th-23rd of September 2020

Surface features of Mars during five nigths. The South polar cap is well visible. It is now small and has released large amounts of vater wapor to atmosphere. As consequence the large dark areas cover now larger area of southern Mars. About the nature of the dark areas you can read from my Mars study Life on Mars - Visual Investigation and implications to Planetary Protection chapter Blueberries.

Mars, Uranus and Moon 11th of September 2020

Mars in now well visible in Finland after midnigth. Here is a set of images during 2 hours. During that time Mars has rotated 29 degrees. Images are videostacks stakked with Autostakkert software. Distance to Mars was 70 million kilometers and the visual size was 20 arch seconds.

Also planet Uranus is well visible after midnigth. Distance 2.8 billion kilometers. Angular size 3.7 arch seconds.
Also Moon and its Copernikus crater were nice targets.

Barnard's star 2017-2020

The movement of the Barnard's star during 4 years as a animater GIF image. Barnard's star is a red dwarf in constellation of Ophiuchus. It is the second closest star to us after Alpha Centauri triple star. The mass is 14% of the Sun mass and diameter 20% of Sun. The surface temperature is 3100 degrees and its luminosity is 0.0004 times the brightness of the Sun. Barnardís star is moving in the sky fast, 10 arch seconds each year. It is moving 142 km/s relative to Sun and it will be closest to us year 11800. Then distance will be 3.75 light years. But even then it is so faint that it cannot be seen with naked eye. The age is 10 billion years, over twice the age of our Sun. Barnard's star has a planet with 3 times the mass of the Earth and the orbit time is 233 days. Year 1998 there was a bright flare eruption in Barnardís star.



Opening astrophotography season, August 2020

The nigth skies has got dark enough after summer and astrophotography season can be started. As test objects I used Fireworks galaxy NGC 6946, distance 25 million ligth years. Globular star cluster Messier 13 in Hercules, distance 25000 ligth years. Planetary nebula Messier 57 in Lyra. Distance 2300 ligth years.

Often brigth stars are used just to align the telescope for astrophotography session. But now the stars are in focus. It is interesting to compare the colors of the stars when they are set side by side. The color reflects the surface temperature. Cool stars are red. Hot stars are white. The comparison image was extended with stars Dened, Vega and Arcturus.

Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and Comet Neowise C/2020 F3, July 2020

Saturn and Jupiter and their moons, low in the south horizon in Finland. Also Mars spotted.

Comet Neowise C/2020 F3 is difficult object in ligth summertime sky of Finland. Only the nucleus can be imaged.

Sunspot, June 2020

After a long time there is a sunspot in the Sun, AR2764. There the magnetic field is so strong that it slows down the movement of gas and makes it cooler. The temperature in the surface of sun is 6000 degrees Celsius and in the sunspot it is 5000 degrees.

Venus, spring 2020

Planet Venus on evening sky. The phases of Venus change as it closes to us. Venus has a thick atmosphere consisting of mainly carbon dioxide. Surface temperature is +460 degrees Celsius.The surface is covered with volcanos and lava flows. Part of the volcanos may be active even today. Images are stacks of one minute videos, with 30% of frames selected. Images on 13 of April, 12th and 26th of May are taken from daytime sky. On May 26th I imaged also Mercury on daytime sky.

Hyginus Rille, April 2020

Volcanic formations in Hyginus Rille area during two subsequent nigths. Mosaics are composed of 1 minute videostacks, with 30% of frames in Autostakkert. Telescope Celestron 8 and camera Canon Eos60Da. I used 20mm ocular magnification.

Comet Atlas and NGC 4490, 16th of April 2020

Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4. The nucleus of Atlas has broken into pieces and the comet has dimmed. YouTube video of the movement: Comet Atlas

At same I took images of objects: Globular cluster Messier 3, distance 33900 ligth years. Sunflower galaxy Messier 63, distance 29 million ligth years. Galaxy NGC 4490, Arp 269, where smaller galaxy has done close passby of the larger galaxy. Distance 25 million ligth years.

The Moon, April 2020

Details of the Moon. Crater Archimedes in Mare Imbrium, Rupes Recta and Maginus. Composed of 1 minute videostacks, with 30% of frames in Autostakkert. Telescope Celestron 8 and camera Canon Eos60Da. I used 20mm ocular magnification.

Comet Atlas, 29th of March 2020

New video on YouTube of the movement of Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4: Comet Atlas

Comet Atlas, 26th of March 2020

Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4 imaged at Kirkkonummi Finland 26th of March 2020. Here we see the movement of the comet in the sky during 1.5 hours. The comet is now crossing Mars planet's orbit, 150 million kilometers from Earth, 225 million kilometers from the Sun. It is moving towards the Sun 33 kilometers per second. As it gets brigther during the spring it will be visible with naked eyes. It is closest to the Sun 31st of May 2020.One orbit around the Sun takes 5520 years, so last time it visited the inner solar system year 3500 B.C. Images are stacks of 3-6 image exposures of 60 seconds, ISO1600. Telescope Helios Skyliner 200/1000 and camera Canon Eos 60Da. YouTube video of the movement: Comet Atlas

Galaxies and Intergalactic Wanderer, March 2020

NGC 2403, Caldwell 7 is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Camelopardalis. It is an outlying member of the M81 distance 8 million light-years. Apparent size in sky 22 x 12 archminutes. Exposures 11x60 seconds, ISO1600. Helios Skyliner 200/1000, Canon Eos 60Da.

NGC 3628 is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Leo, distance 35 million light-years. Apparent size in sky 15 x 4 archminutes.Exposures 4x60 seconds, ISO1600. Helios Skyliner 200/1000, Canon Eos 60Da.

NGC 2419, Caldwell 25 is a distant globular cluster of the Milky Way galaxy in the constellation Lynx. Distance 300000 light years from the solar system and at the same distance from the galactic center. Nickname is "the Intergalactic Wanderer". Apparent size in sky 6 archminutes, magnitude 9.Exposures 9x60 seconds, ISO1600. Helios Skyliner 200/1000, Canon Eos 60Da.

Coma cluster, 14th of March 2020

Coma galaxy cluster Abell 1656. Distance 321 million light years. Exposures 8 x 60 seconds .

Autostakkert, March 2020

I learned to use Autostakkert software for stacking images on Moon and planets. Autostackerts gives easily much better results than Registax. Below are few examples of stacking one minute videos of Moon.

The Moon , February 2020

The Moon 27th and 28th of February. Images taken with Celestron 8 telescope, with ocular magnification, And then combined. Mare Crisium details are video stacks with Autostakkert. Caychy Rille is 120 km long. Apollo 11 landed on Mare Tranquillitatis 20th of July 1969.

Galaxies M81 and M82 and Crab nebula , February 2020

Images taken on my own backyard 24th of February 2020. Telescope Helios Skyliner 200/1000 with mount HEQ5.

Spiral Galaxy M81 in constellation of Big Dipper. Distance 12 million light years. Exposures 14x90s, ISO1600. Galaxy M82 in constellation of Big Dipper. Distance 12 million light years. This galaxy has something special. It is very bright and it contains a lot of young stars. Exposures 18x90s, ISO1600

Supernova remnant Messier 1, Crab nebula, in constellation of Taurus. Distance 6300 light years. Angular size in sky 6 arch minutes (one fifth of angular size of Moon). Real size is 11 light years. This exploded as supernova year 1054. The extremely bright star was written to history books by Arabs, Chinese and Japanese. Visually it was four times brighter than Venus-planet and it could be easily seen even during the daytime. In the core of Crab nebula there is now a neutron star, spinning around its axis 30 times per second. It is strong X and gamma ray source. Exposures were 11 x 90 seconds, ISO 1600.

Oskillation in HEQ5 tracking , february 2020

It is typical to have all kinds of problems when doing astrophotography. Here is solution to a oskillation problem in R.A axis of HEQ5 mount which was just 6 months old. Apparently in the factory the bolts holding the motor and the gears were not set tigth enough in the factory. They were loose and the gaps between gears had grown too large, causing a large oscillation movement in R.A axis.

In image below rigth, there is 3 gears A, B and C for R.A axis. They are tightened like this:
(1) Loosen the 3 bolts marked with letter T. Push down the metallic plate so that gears B and C are tigthly together. Then tighten the T bolts.
(2) Loosen the 3 bolts marked with letter M. Press at same time the 3 M bolts downwards so that gears A and B are tigthly together. Then tighten the M bolts.

International Space Station , 3rf of February 2020

International Space Station ISS, 3rd of February 2020 16:00 UTC. Imaged in Kirkkonummi, Finland, 18:00 local time. The brigth star is planet Venus and ISS is the line crossing the sky in this 6 second exposure. Camera Canon Eos550D, ISO1600. ISS orbits the Eart in 408km altitude and one orbit takes 92 minutes. Speed is 7,7 kilometers per second. The crew in current Expedition 61 Mission is Andrew Morgan (NASA), Alexander Skvortsov (Roscosmos), Luca Parmitano (ESA), Oleg Skripochka (Roscosmos), Jessica Meir (NASA) andChristina Koch (NASA).

Galaxy cluster Abell 426, January 2020

Images taken on my own backyard 16th of January 2020. Telescope Helios Skyliner 200/1000 with mount HEQ5.

Galaxy cluster Abell-426 in constellation of Perseus. Distance is 273 million light years, so the light started its journey to us when the dinosaurs began their era in Earth. In picture below the distant galaxies look hazy compared to sharp edge star of our own galaxy. Because of expansion of the universe, this galaxy cluster is moving away from us at speed of 5300 kilometers per second.

Rosette, Horsehead and Betelgeuze, december 30th 2019

There came excellent weather conditions for imaging session. No moon and very clear and dark sky.

Below left is NGC2237 Rosette nebula in constellation of Monoceros. Distance 5200 light years. Angular size in the sky is 1.3 degrees. Mass 10000 times mass of the Sun. The bright stars in the middle have born from this nebula.
On the rigth is Horsehead nebula Barnard 33 and Flame nebula NGC 2024 in the constellation of Orion. Distance to Horsehead nebula is 1500 light years. Distance to Flame nebula is 1200 light years. Picture taken with 400mm telezoom objective 30.12.2019 in 340mm focus. Pictures are stacks of 6 x 3 minutes exposures, ISO3200 and stacked with Deep Sky Stacker software.

Below red giant star Betelgeuze. Lately it has dimmed a lot. It is a candidate for a supernova explosion. Distance 643 ligth years.

Testing HEQ5 mount, December 2019

I bought new SkyWatcher HEQ5 Goto mount from Finnish Astronomical Association URSA. The 10 years old Celestron CG-5 had performance problems for last 2 years. Below are targets M31, M81, M82, Horsehead nebula and M45. Telescope SkyWatcher 80/600 ED and Canon EF100-400 tele objective set to 300 mm. Exposures 2-3 minutes, stacks of 5-7 images, ISO 3200.

Barnard's star 2017-2019

The movement of the Barnard's star during 2 years as a animater GIF image. Barnard's star is a red dwarf in constellation of Ophiuchus. It is the second closest star to us after Alpha Centauri triple star. The mass is 14% of the Sun mass and diameter 20% of Sun. The surface temperature is 3100 degrees and its luminosity is 0.0004 times the brightness of the Sun. Barnardís star is moving in the sky fast, 10 arch seconds each year. It is moving 142 km/s relative to Sun and it will be closest to us year 11800. Then distance will be 3.75 light years. But even then it is so faint that it cannot be seen with naked eye. The age is 10 billion years, over twice the age of our Sun. Barnard's star has a planet with 3 times the mass of the Earth and the orbit time is 233 days. Year 1998 there was a bright flare eruption in Barnardís star.

Details of the Moon, May 2019

Closeups of features on the Moon, with video stacking method, using Registax software. The size of each image is 103 arch seconds, which is 183 kilometers on surface of the Moon. I use F10 focus in Celestron 8 telescope, with 20mm ocular. In Canon Eos 60Da camera the video-more with 640x480 pixels crop video more is selected. A 30-60 seconds video is taken. The resulting mpeg4 video is converted to AVI with Pinnacle studio software. The AVI vide file is processed with Registax to produce final image.

Moon 15th of April 2019

Moon and it's details. The small images are stacks of 60 videoframes with Registax software.Copernikus crater has diameter of 93 kilometers and depth 3.8 kilometers. Tycho crater has diameter of 85 kilometers and depth 4.6 kilometers. It is young crater, 108 million years. We can still see the materia rays on surface of moon from the impact. Cassendi crater has diameter of 110 kilometers and depth 1.9 kilometers.

Galaxy M87 and the black hole with EHT

Some retrospective combined with new image with a black hole. Galaxy Messier 87 is a gigantic elliptical galaxy in constellation of Virgo, in the center of Virgo galaxy cluster. Distance 55 million light years. It has a supermassive black hole in its center. In this picture you can see a jet in one a clock direction, coming from the black hole. When stars and matter fall in to black hole they are first going to a rotating disk round the black hole. On the poles of this system jets of matter are rushing into space. In the embedded images you see the jet also by Hubble Space Telescope and the black hole by Event Horizon Telescope. The mass of this gigantic black hole is 6.5 billion times the mas of the Sun. This black hole eats matter the amount of 90 Earths per day. The size is 40 billion kilometers, which is 266 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth. The event horizon, is the boundary where nothing can escape, not even the ligth. Picture taken 2nd of March 2013 with Celestron 8 F6.3 optics. Exposures 5 x 32 seconds and stacked with DSS.

Eclipse of the Moon 21st of January 2019

Total eclipse of the Moon at Kirkkonummi, Finland. Temperature was -19 C. The red color is caused by red end sun ligth which gets trough and bends in earth atmosphere, hitting the moon. Telescope SkyWatcher 80/600 ED and camera Canon Eos 60Da.

Moon moving to Earth shadow. First touch to full shadow at 05:37. In full shadow 06:42. Deepest 07:13. First images are with 1/1600 second exposures. Last images are with 1000 times longer exposures, 1-2 seconds. Camera sensitivity set to ISO 1600.

Barnard's star 10th of October 2018

Barnard's star is a red dwarf in constellation of Ophiuchus. It is the second closest star to us after Alpha Centauri triple star. Barnardís star is moving in the sky fast, 10 arch seconds each year. In image below we see Barnard's star moving during 13 months.

Eclipse of the Moon 28th of July 2018

Total eclipse of the Moon at Kirkkonummi, Finland.

Nigth clouds at Ruisrock 8th of July 2018

Ruisrock music festival, Turku Finland. While Marshmello was performing there was beautiful nigth clouds in the sky.

IC 1318 - 24th of September 2017

Butterfly nebula IC 1318 in Cygnus. Distance 3700 light years.

Updated image of Cygnus X-1 and Tulip nebula. In constellation of Cygnus, near star eta Cygni, there is a strong X-ray Cygnus X-1 . It is a black hole orbiting the blue giant star HDE 226868.

Milky Way 17th of September and 28th of August 2017

Below is composite picture of our Milky Way Galaxy in constellations Cygnus and Aquila. Pictures of 10x4 degree parts of sky are combined to one. Picture taken with EF100-400L tele zoom lens set to 100mm focus. You can examine larger version of the picture by clicking here.


Images taken in Finland combined with images taken in Gran Canaria 2013. Link to large version.

Moon 11th of August 2017

Moon in the morning sky.

Opening autumn season 24.8.2017

Milky way with 100mm teleobjective. Image width 20 degrees. Constellations Scutum, Serpens and Sagittarius. Exposures 4x 1min, ISO3200.

Moon in May 2017

Phases of the Moon in 3 subsequent nights and development of scenery around Theophilus crater when the Sun is rising higher on the sky of the Moon. The diameter of the Moon is 3 474 kilometers, but its mass is only 1.2% of the Earth mass. Daytime temperature on Moon is +123 C and on nigth -233 C. Moon goes around Earth in 27,3 days, so the day on Moon is 13,6 Earth days.

The diameter of Tycho crater is 85 kilometers and it is 4.6 kilometers deep. It is young, only 108 million years old. There goes rays from the Tycho crater around the moon, even to 1500 kilometers distance. The crater is named according to astronomer Tycho Brahe. The diameter of Clavius crater is 225 kilometers and it is 3.5 kilometers deep. It was born 4 billion years ago. The diameter of Copernicus crater is 96 kilometers and it is 3.8 kilometers deep. It was born 800 million years ago. The crater is named according to astronomer Nikolaus Kopernikus.

Rupes Recta is 110 kilometers long straigth wall. Hight 240-300 meters and 2-3 kilometers wide.

Hyginus crater and Hyginus Rille is probably a volcanic formation.

The diameter of Theophilus crater is 100 kilometers and the depth is 3,2 kilometers.

The diameter of Posidonius crater is 95 kilometers and it is 2,3 kilometers deep.

Jupiter 26th of April 2017

Jupiter and its moons Io, Europa, Ganymedes ja Callisto.

Halos 17th of April 2017

Halos at Kirkkonummi 17th of April 2017. Outside temperature was +1 degrees Celsius. In the image below there is haloform: 22 degrees arch.

Cor Caroli 27.3.2017

Some stars are double stars which orbit each other. Below are two such cases. Albireo in constellation of Cygnus and Cor Caroli in contellation of Canes Venatici. Distance to Albireo is 430 light years and the visual separation between the componen stars is 35 arch seconds. The stars orbit each other in 100000 years. The brighter star of Albireo has 5 times the mass of the Sun and it is 1200 times brighter than the Sun. Distance to Cor Caroli is 110 light years and the visual separation between the componen stars is 20 arch seconds. The stars orbit each other in 7900 years.

Venus on daytime 24.3.2017

On left below is Venus imaged on the middle of the day when Sun is shining. Venus is closest to Earth and angular distance from sun was 8 degrees. In the January image Venus was at distance of 115 million kilometers and angular size was 22 arch seconds. On 24th of March image distance is 42 million kilometers and angular size 59 arch seconds. Images were stacked with Registax.

Owl nebula, 6th of March 2017

M97 owl nebula, galaxies M108, M104 andM64. Globular clusters M5 and M4. The M4 is difficult to image from Finland. It was only 1 degree above horizon.

The Moon 8th of February 2017

The Moon 8th and 6th of February 2017. Celestron 8 F10. Exposures 1/800s, ISO1600, Canon Eos 60Da. Stacked 30 images with RegiStax software.

Virgo galaxy cluster 20.1.2017

Virgo Galaxy cluster distance 54 million light years. There is about 1000-2000 galaxies in this cluster. In sky they are in area of several angular degrees. This is the closest cluster to us and actually our Milky Way galaxy and nearby galaxies belong to the Virgo super cluster. Picture was taken 20.1.2017 with 400mm teleobjective. Exposures were 5 x 60 seconds, ISO 3200 and stacked with DSS.

Venus and Mars 4.1.2017 and 6.2.2017

Moon and planets Venus, Mars, Uranus and Neptune in the evening sky.

Quasar CTA102, 28th of December 2016

Quasar CTA102 in contellation of Pegasus. Distance 8 billion light years. Not so far from 'border' of observable universe. Usually this quasar is very dim. But now there is big eruption and it has brightened. Quasar is a gigantic black hole eating surrounding matter. Last time CT102 erupted year 2012. In picture there is also galaxy NGC7305 with distance of 358 million light years.

M16, M17 and M13, 5th of September 2016

Below are two southern sky objects, places where stars are born, M16 and M17. In Finland these are difficult to photograph since they are close to horizon. Photographs were taken with Celestron 8 F6.3 focus. Exposures 9 times 40 seconds, ISO6400. M16 Eagle nebula is in constellation of Snake. Distance 7000 light years. Hubble space telescope took of M16 the famous picture Pillars of Creation. M17 Omega nebula is in constellation of Sagittarius. Distance is 5000 light years.

Below is globular star cluster Messier 13 in constellation of Hercules. Distance is 25000 light years. This cluster has one million stars. Our galaxy has about 100-200 these kind of globular clusters. These clusters are very old. They were born at same time as our galaxy, about 10 billion years ago. Photograph was taken with Celestron 8 F6.3 focus. Exposures 9 times 30 seconds, ISO6400.

Supernova SN2014J in galaxy M82

Below is new supernova 29.1.2014. In this image the supernova is about 1 week after first observation. Supernova is a heavy star which came to end of its life. You can read more of the reason of the explosion in section 'Life of a star'.

Copyright (c) for pictures, 2020 Harry Rabb. All rights reserved.

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