The Eta Carina Nebula from down-under

 Deep Sky, Remote Imaging  Comments Off on The Eta Carina Nebula from down-under
Jun 102013

I’ve posted before about my exploits in using remote telescopes on the Light Buckets system from France, but I have recently been using the iTelescope network of telescopes which have observatories in New Mexico USA, Spain and also down-under in Siding Spring, Australia. The Australian setup, which is in New South Wales, is located at a latitude of about 31 degrees South, and allows access to those magnificent objects in the Southern sky that I have dreamed of imaging for a long time.

The Eta Carina Nebula is a huge, bright nebula that is roughly 4 times the angular size of the Orion nebula, but is imaged much less due to its southerly latitude (also, the Orion Nebula is perhaps the most imaged object in the night sky). The nebula is some 7500 light-years from Earth and hosts some of the most massive and luminous stars in our Galaxy, including the double-star system Eta Carinae, which weighs in at over 100 times the mass of our Sun.

The particular telescope I used has a very wide field of view and the full Moon would fit across this image nearly 8 times. To see the full-sized 3960 x 2612 image click here:  Full Size Image


So, what about the odd colours? Well, this is a narrowband image, meaning that I used 3 narrowband filters; In this case Ha, OIII and SII and combined them to make a false colour RGB image. Here’s a cropped version showing the central region at higher resolution (or see the full size image and pan around the whole thing)  Full Size Image

 Posted by at 9:38 am

Meet The Spodies!

 General Astronomy  Comments Off on Meet The Spodies!
Jun 072013

Astronomers like to blame ‘Spode’ when skies are cloudy, or when things go wrong. I’d like to introduce characters called ‘The Spodies’ who are the brainchild of Roger Prout. Roger was one of the founding members of the South Down Astronomical Society (SDAS), based in the Chichester area of West Sussex. (The South of England).

Many years ago, as a teenager in the 1970’s I was assistant editor to John Mason, producing a magazine called ‘Supernova’. This was the magazine of the SDAS, and it was widely regarded as the best astro society magazine in the UK at that time (well we certainly thought so). Here’s what a typical cover of Supernova looked like (we even had photos on later editions which was very rare at the time!)


Here’s one of the cartoons. This one showing the Spodies craftily directing clouds. This shows the Selsey peninsula and the telescope in question will certainly have been one belonging to Patrick Moore! (Patrick being a good friend of the SDAS).


Two more are shown below (click on them to see full-size). One refers to the state of British astronomy and the discovery of  a nova in Cygnus by Japanese observer Minoru Honda (V1500 Cyg – Nova Cygni 1975). The other was topical at the time when Jupiter’s Great Red Spot all but disappeared.


Finally, meet the lovely Andromeda. Another of Roger’s creations, she graced the pages of Supernova from time to time. I always remember this particular cartoon, and I still chortle when I see it.

 Posted by at 12:07 pm