Saturday, March 24, 2012

Supernova in Messier 95

Messier 95 is a barred spiral galaxy 38 million light years away in the constellation Leo. A supernova was discovered in the galaxy's outskirts on March 16, 2012. Despite its great distance, astronomers may have found the pre-nova star in a Hubble image that was made a few years ago. Here is an image of M95 that I made early in the morning on March 24, 2012:

Messier 95 with Supernova 2012aw; ST80 on Vixen SP; 12x120
Messier 95 is a member of the Messier 96 Group of galaxies. This group also includes galaxies Messier 105, NGC 3373 and NGC 3384.
Messier 96 Group in Leo; ST80 on Vixen SP; 12x120
With labels:

My astronomy pal, Polaris B, made a very nice image of M95: M95 & SN 2012aw

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More Sun

I'm experimenting with imaging prominences. Here are a few images that I captured this afternoon.

Each of the following two pictures is composed of a long-exposure image that was used to catch the prominences, and a short-exposure image for the Sun.

Here are a couple more shots, just for fun:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Venus/Jupiter Conjunction

Here are some shots of the March 12, 2012 Venus/Jupiter Conjunction. They were behind the trees from most of my yard. I thought they made the trees look a little spooky, like they were watching me...

A Little Sun

The Sun came out today! After several straight days of heavy rain and cloudy skies, I rushed outside after getting home from work and set up my telescope in record time. I only had about 15 to 20 minutes of imaging time before the Sun went behind some trees.

Here is a parting shot of infamous Active Region 1429, which has been hurling chunks of the Sun at us for the past week and half:

AR1429 (and sunspot 1430 above it)

The bright region below center is sunspot 1432.

The shadowy areas at top center and on the right of this image are tree limbs:
Sunspot region 1432 (top center) and sunspot 1433, below.
The Sun is going away, again, for a while. Hopefully it will come back out to play next week!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Sun

I think I've gotten most of the kinks worked out of my solar imaging setup. Now I'm starting to learn how to take pictures with the Coronado PST and Meade Deep Sky Imager (DSI). I mentioned in my previous article that there was a lost of dust in the optical path. It turned out that the majority of it was in the camera, so it was easy to clean up.

There was a lot to see on the Sun today. Sunspot AR1429, which emerged this past Friday, unleashed a massive X-class solar flare late on March 4th, local time. The sunspot is visible in this image in the upper-right. Sunspot region 1428 is in the lower-right.

AR1429, upper-right; Sunspot region 1428, lower-right
Below is a more detailed view of the sunspots in AR1429. This image was generated using a different setting on the PST's filter tuner. This setting seems to filter out a lot of the finer details that are normally seen in Ha.

AR1429, left; Sunspot region 1430, right

This image is a little further "down" from the two above, and shows a solar prominence in the lower-left. Solar prominences are clouds of gas that are suspended above the Sun's surface by magnetic fields.

Sunspot region 1428, upper-right; A solar prominence, lower-left
Sunspot region 1423 is visible on the right side of this image. The dark streaks across the surface are called filaments. Filaments are the same as prominences, only seen from above. Another, smaller, prominence is located in the upper-right.

Sunspot region 1423, middle-right; Prominence, upper-right; Solar filaments
I have a lot of things that I want to try, time and weather permitting, before the Venus Transit on June 5th.