Deep Sky Globular Cluster

Two clusters for the price of one

NGC104 (47 Tucanae) is the second brightest globular cluster in the sky after Omega Centauri. Globular clusters are massive concentrations of ancient stars that are some 12 billion years old. This cluster contains over a million stars within a diameter of 120 light years with a very compact core and is 13,400 light years distant.

Also captured within the image is NGC121 although it’s a little difficult to see in this compressed web image. It’s at the bottom of the frame, just to the right of centre, (click for the larger image and it looks like a slightly larger star). It’s a lot further away as it’s not associated with our galaxy but the Small Magellanic Cloud. Subsequently it’s very faint at magnitude 10.6.

The telescope used is GRAS-10; a Tec 140 f/7 refractor with an SBIG STL-11000M-ABG, 11 mega-pixel camera and is a single 5 minute exposure.

A half size TIFF copy of the original is available here:

Deep Sky Nebula

The Ring Nebula (M57)

After a pretty fruitless evening trying to image Venus with the webcam on the club Celestron 9.25″ I fitted the Canon 350D instead and took this picture of the Ring Nebula in Lyra.

Not a good image as it’s out of focus and the stars have trailed slightly, but it’s still an amazing sight. This is the result of a single 60 second exposure.

M57 has a white dwarf star at the centre which has shed it’s outer layers towards the end of it’s life, forming a Planetary Nebula. Despite the name, these have nothing to do with planets, the term was coined by William Herschel in 1785 as in his telescopes they looked like small faint disks of light.

Deep Sky Nebula

The Tarantula Nebula

The Tarantula Nebula is a region of star formation in the Large Magellanic Cloud, 900 light years across. At the centre is a group of hot young stars, the stellar winds from which have shaped the nebula.

This is a single 5 minute exposure using the one shot colour camera on the GRAS G-13 telescope.

Deep Sky Galaxy

NGC 253

Also known as the Silver Coin galaxy this is a fine spiral galaxy, presented almost edge on at a distance of 10 million light years. It is visible from the UK but never rises very high above the horizon. This picture is a stack of 6 one minute exposures taken with the GRAS G-15 telescope and processed with Maxim DL.

Deep Sky Galaxy Nebula

More pictures from Southern Skies

As promised, and in no particular order, here are the remaining pictures from my rent-a-scope trial:

Deep Sky

The Milky Way

This is the result of my first attempt at deep-sky photography. It shows the area around Cygnus (the bright star in the centre is Deneb) and a small portion of the Milky Way.

The photograph consists of five 2 minute exposures (and 3 dark frames) taken with a Canon 350D and the ‘kit’ 18-55 lens piggy-backed on an LXD75 mount. The images have been combined using Iris, a freeware image processing program.