SN 2011fe Supernova in the Pinwheel Galaxy M101 - 21:30hrs 17/09/2011

Not the best photo I've ever taken but it was just a quick attempt at finding the Supernova in the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101) before it fades. Shining at around Mag 10, it stands out easily against the dim spiral arms and is even brighter than the central region of the galaxy.
This is a Type Ia Supernova, which is an explosion of a white-dwarf star in a binary system. The Pinwheel Galaxy lies at a distance of about 23 million light years.
The image is a stack of only 3 frames (with the usual equipment) as the clouds rolled in on-cue and covered it up! Being low in the North West is also bad for me since this is the direction of Pontefract and all the sky glow that goes with it. I will return to photograph M101, minus supernova (unless there's another one!), in the Spring when it will be in a much darker area of the sky.

Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) - 21:00hrs, 17/09/2011

Comet Garradd is now moving from the Coathanger towards Hercules, here it is in 'no man's land' between the two. It seems to have developed a slightly more promenant tail since I last photographed it.
The image is a stack of 15 30sec exposures with a Canon EOS550D and Skywatcher 200p. A coma corrector and light pollution filter were also used.

Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) - 23:00hrs, 01/09/2011

After passing M71 in Sagitta, Comet Garradd is now moving past Brocchi's Cluster (the Coathanger) in Vulpecula.

This is a stack of 15 jpegs straight from my camera, taken through a 70mm Televue Pronto refractor. The Coathanger is too big to fit in the field of view of my Skywatcher 200P! It's the first time I've used a refractor for astrophotography and the resulting image is by no means perfect, I seem to have blue halos around the bright stars. The frames were stacked based on the stars which means I've got slight trailing on the comet itself and shows just how fast it's moving. The total equivalent exposure time is 21 minutes.

Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) - 23:00hrs, 27/08/2011

This is an image of Comet Garradd passing M71 in the constellation of Sagitta. Being in the middle of the MilkyWay, the backdrop of stars really enhances the shot. M71 is the 'loose' Globular cluster in the upper left corner of the image, while the star Zeta Sge lies in the bottom right.

Taken, from my back garden, with a Canon EOS550D on a Skywatcher 200P using a coma corrector (essential for star fields like this!) and light pollution filter. It's a stack of 18 30sec frames with darks and flats, processed with DeepSkyStacker and the Gimp.

Another good photo opportunity is coming up during the first few days of September when this comet passes Brocchi's cluster, better known as the Coathanger. Stay tuned!

The Moon - 23:00 BST 14/08/2011

It may be the sworn enemy of the deep sky astronomer (me), but the Moon still makes a nice photograph!
Taken with a Canon EOS550d and Skywatcher 200P, the exposure is 1/1000sec at ISO100.
Even with no enhancement it's possible to see the different colours in the Mare, indicating different compositions of basalt. The bright rays from the crater Tycho (lower centre) show up really well when the phase is near full.

M29 - Open Cluster in Cygnus

This is M29 (also NGC 6913) in the middle of Cygnus, a nice little Open Cluster with a good background of Milky Way stars. Taken on 14th August 2011, the image is a stack of 13 30sec exposures using a Canon EOS550d on a Skywatcher 200P, a coma corrector was also used. I didn't bother with a light pollution filter as there was an almost full Moon in the sky drowning out all other sky glow! It's my first image using my newly aquired Vixen GPDX mount which is a great improvement over my other EQ5 in terms of tracking and stability. Even though it was a slightly breezy night I only had to throw away 5 shots due to non-round stars and one of those was due to a pesky satellite. The images were processed using Canon Digital Photo Professional, Deep Sky Stacker and then finished off with the Gimp.

The Leo Triplet

The Leo triplet is a group of galaxies about 35 million light years away. NGC 3628 is at the top, M66 bottom left and M65 bottom center.
This image, taken on 27th April 2011, is a stack of around 20 30sec exposures using a Canon EOS550d and my Skywatcher 200P, dark and flat frames were also taken. I had to over-process the image quite a bit to bring out some of the detail in the galaxies and this has highlighted uneven illumination in the background which I can't remove, 30 second exposures aren't really long enough for this subject but my mount won't track precisely enough for any longer.

Saturn - 27th April 2011

I used Registax to produce this image from a video taken using a Canon EOS550d Digital SLR. It's a first attempt at this kind of thing for me, so plenty of room for improvement, but the image clearly shows the Cassini division in the rings, the cloud bands, and maybe, just maybe, some of those white storms in the northern cloud belt.
The video output from the camera is .mov format, which Registax doesn't like, so it's a bit of a faff to convert them to uncompressed .avi, but, in true Yorkshireman fashion, I found some free software on t'internet to do the job.
I'll try and do a better job on Jupiter when it comes around in the Autumn.

M42 - The Great Orion Nebula

This image is a stack of 22 30sec. frames taken on the 8th of January 2011 using my Canon EOS550D and Skywatcher 200P, unguided. It was quite a windy evening so I had to discard about 30-40 shots due to camera shake! The RAW files from the camera were enhanced slightly and converted to 16bit TIFFs using the Canon supplied software - Digital Photo Professional. From here they were stacked using DeepSkyStacker, together with Darks and Flats and then finished off using the GIMP. I used this convoluted method because DeepSkyStacker doesn't seem to work too well with the RAW images from my camera (maybe I'm doing something wrong?) but it works very nicely with TIFFs.
The center of the nebula is a bit over-exposed but all in all, quite a pleasing result....

Jupiter and Uranus - 08Jan2011

Not a spectacular image but it isn't often that you can fit six prominent Solar System objects into a field of view smaller than the Pleiades! On the left is Jupiter with the four Galilean moons, closest to Jupiter is Io followed by Europa, Callisto and Ganymede. On the right of the image is Uranus.
Taken with a Canon EOS 550d sat on my Skywatcher 200p. It was a 1 second exposure at ISO800.

Moon - The Southern Highlands. 14thJan2011

I took this image of the southern highland region using the WYAS 14" and my Canon EOS 550d. The seeing was quite bad but I managed to get a fairly sharp shot with a fast shutter speed. The craters Tycho (centre) and Clavius (with the arc of craters on the floor) are nicely illuminated. No processing has been done on the image other than cropping out the poorly lit RHS.