~ My Stardust Observatory at Leyburn ~
Keep looking up, because you never know what you’ll discover, day or night....
~ My Stardust Observatory at Leyburn ~
The beautiful Pleiades open star cluster (M45) is now at prime viewing in the evening sky in the constellation of Taurus. The nebulosity still surrounding these very hot blue young stars is just stunning!
The Pleiades star cluster is a group of hundreds of stars that were born from the same stellar nebula about 100 million years ago and is over 400 light years away from us.
The Pleiades get there name from Greek legend and are known as the ‘Seven Sisters’ stories of them are also found in many other cultures including the indigenous peoples here in Australia.
Have a look up in the sky and see if you can spot seven or more stars in the cluster with just your eyes, make sure it's a clear dark night and I’m sure you will see them all :-)
To find out more about this amazing star cluster please go to a couple of these website below:
The images were taken at my stardust observatory at Leyburn in QLD Australia with a Meade 80mm ED Triplet refractor telescope and a Canon 70D camera. There were 25x3 minute subs and 15x3 minute darks captured which were stacked in DSS and processed in PS CS4.
This very pretty planetary nebula is quite large and bright and can easily be found among the stars in the northern sky in Vulpecula.
About 4,000 years ago an elderly, bloated giant red star, gave its last gasp and shed off its outer skin exposing its still pulsating heart. What’s left now is an extremely hot white dwarf star that’s exciting the bubble of ionized gas that still surrounds it.
This was the first planetary nebula ever discovered by Charles Messier in 1764 while he was comet hunting in the night sky. Please see more details on (M27) on the SEDS website at:
The image above was taken at my Stardust Observatory on the 1st September 2019, with a Meade 80mm refractor and a Canon 70D camera, which was tracking on the larger 10inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. There were 15x3 minute images with 10x3 minute darks stacked in DSS and processed in CS4, ISO 2000 and image is cropped.
To find more star charts on the constellations please go to:
At this time of year here in the southern hemisphere, the Milky Way straddles each side of the zenith and over the night arc’s down into the western sky, so there is plenty of time to capture lots of deep sky objects in this area around the heart of our Milky Way galaxy.
So over the next couple of months on the dark new Moon weekend I’ll try and image as many of these beautiful deep sky objects as I can and share them with you from my Stardust observatory at Leyburn in Australia.
~ The Eagle Nebula M16 in Serpens ~
The Eagle nebula is a diffuse emission nebula and star cluster in the constellation of Serpens (Cauda), it’s a region of star formation with glowing hydrogen gas due to the excitation from ultraviolet radiation emitted by hot young stars embedded in the nebula. The star cluster associated with the nebula is called (NGC 6611).
There are two shapes you can see in this nebula, one is the overall shape that does look like an eagle with its spreading wings but the other shape is in the heart of the nebula where the Star Queen gets it’s name and where the Hubble Space telescope imaged the astounding ‘Pillars of Creation’ area in 1995.
It’s estimated that the distance to M16 is about 6000 light years and its diameter is 35 light years, the estimated age is 2-6 million years old.
The other two open star clusters close to M16 (in the top right) is called Trumpler 32 and the denser star cluster (in the bottom right corner) is called NGC 6605.
I took this image with a Meade 80mm refractor telescope and a Canon 70D camera that was being tracked on top of a larger Meade LX200 10inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope in my observatory.
I managed to capture only 7x3 minute images before the clouds came rolling in, I’ll try and capture this object again next month to obtain a lot more data and a smoother in-depth picture.
For more information about this wonderful area of sky please go to the links below:
NASA’s Hubble Messier Catalog at:
Wikipedia Messier Objects:
Eagle Nebula (M16)
SEDS (The Messier Catalog)
Constellation Maps to help you at IAU (International Astronomical Society)
Omega Centauri is a stunning globular star cluster made up of millions of stars, it’s approximately 16,000 light-years away from us and an amazing 150 light-years in diameter, it’s the largest globular cluster in our Milky Way galaxy and it’s on show now for you to enjoy high up in the southern sky.
It’s one of my favourites objects to observe at this time of the year :-)
This image was taken at my Stardust Observatory at Leyburn in April 2019 with a Meade 80mm refractor telescope and a Canon 70D camera. 15 images with exposures of 90 second and ISO 800, plus 5 dark frames were stacked in DSS, and processed in PS CS4.
Here in the southern hemisphere we know that winter is on its way when we see the Southern Cross (Crux) and other celestial wonders riding high up in the southern sky at midnight.
I have an observatory at a place in western Queensland where we have extremely dark skies and I'm able to capture the beauty of our night sky with just a camera and wide field lens on top of a tracking telescope.
This image shows the pointers to the cross known as Alpha and Beta Centauri, then the Southern Cross (Crux) in its entirety and then the pretty pink nebulous stellar area around the star called Eta Carinae known as the Eta Carina Nebula.
This star is in the end throes of its stellar life and it’s pumping out astronomical amounts of gas (excuse the pun J) as it fights its gravitational battle, many astronomers worldwide are keeping a close eye on this star as its one that will eventually go Supernova!
At the bottom of the image is an unusual dark streak known as the Doodad nebula, I was very happy to have captured this funny named object too :-)
This image was taken at my Stardust Observatory on the 10th March 2019 with a Canon 70D camera and a 18-400mm Tamron lens set at 23mm and F4.5 (the image is slightly cropped).
There were 12 x 3 minutes images stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and ISO1600. The camera was being tracked on top of a larger telescope set up in the observatory.
I used my Meade LX200 10inch to track the camera piggybacked on top of the telescope which was at a very difficult angle (upside down) so it was a bit of back breaking work to focus the camera.
But it was worth it as I got the pictures :-)
The sky was perfectly clear last month at Leyburn at my Stardust Observatory to capture these pretty galaxies in the constellation of Leo.
This group of large spiral galaxies are about 35 million light-years away and are well seen even in quite a small telescope. You can find them by running a line of sight between the stars Regulus to Denebola, and closer to Denebola the galaxies are located between the stars Cherton, Theta Leonis and Iota Leonis.
If you would like to find out more about these galaxies in Leo please go to this excellent website
for Messier objects at:
The images were taken with a Meade 80mm refractor telescope and a Canon 70D camera, which was tracking on top of a Meade 10inch LX 200 telescope, 15x4 minute subs and 5x4 minute darks were captured
and stacked in DSS and processed in PS CS4 :-)
I’m at my Stardust Observatory at Leyburn this weekend taking images of the night sky. I was just about ready to go to bed when I looked out at the dawn sky and saw this magnificent view of the planets all aligned up the eastern horizon at 4.20am with the gorgeous colour of daylight.
It was still dark enough to see many stars including the constellation of Scorpius with the stars from the Milky Way just starting to fade, it was very beautiful to see and very tranquil after a whole night up taking pictures of galaxies :-)
I took the image with a Canon 70D camera and a Tokina 11-16mm wide lens @12mm on a camera tripod, ISO 800 with a 13-second exposure.
(Pictures of the Leo Triplet of galaxies coming soon when they are processed)
I only just managed to capture the occultation of Ganymede at the edge of Jupiter before it disappeared on the evening of the 11th August; another moon called Europa was also fast approaching the planet for another disappearing act…Jupiter is always such a surprise to observe as you never know what your going to see!
Jupiter’s four Galilean moons are always doing a moon dance around its parent planet, so there will be nights when you will see all four of the moons strung out along Jupiter’s ecliptic in more or less a straight line. Sometimes, you will see a moon just pop into view or disappear like my photo above when it goes behind Jupiter. And sometimes you will see a dark shadow crossing the surface of the planet when a moon is transiting or crossing in front of the surface of the planet…it’s the Suns light, which causes the shadow of the moon to fall on the surface of Jupiter’s.
If you want to keep track of where Jupiter moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) are when observing the planet then you’ll find this information in a couple of places.
The first in written form in the Australian publication called Astronomy 2018, which is an astronomer’s bible for the night sky and you can buy it at any astronomy shop or bookstore. The next is in your country’s current astronomy and space magazine.
But my favourite place, if you have a smart phone or iPad is a FREE App called Gas Giants, which shows you in the field exactly what’s happening with the Galilean system while viewing the planet through your telescope, it can be found in the App store at:
My image was taken on the 11th August 2018 with a Meade 10inch LX200 telescope and a ZWO ASI 120 MC-S colour CCD camera with a 3x Barlow attached. Its just one AVI movie file (2500 frames) stacked in RegiStax6 and processed in PS CS4.
I’m so excited because one of my beautiful aurora images titled ‘The Northern Lights in the Arctic Night’ has been chosen as a finalist in this years CWAS David Malin Awards astrophoto competition in the Nightscapes section, Wow, that's amazing :-)
What happens now is during the CWAS astrofest conference on the weekend of the 14th & 15th July, David Malin will introduce us all and our images and an overall winner will be announced in each section, to win a monetary voucher kindly donated by Canon Australia, along with lovely plaques and certificates.
But the most exciting thing about the whole competition is that all of our beautiful images will be professionally printed and framed to be display at the visitors centre at CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescopes in NSW for a whole year.
Then, another set of the images will tour the country and go to other observatories and museums, so many many people will see our images and wonder at the beauty of the night sky…how very exciting is all that!
Please go to the links below to see my Aurora image and also all the other finalist chosen this year, I’ll let you know soon how I went…. Noeleen :-)
I just love being under the heavens, come on a journey with me and I’ll share some of the amazing wonders of the Universe with you. Noeleen :-)