Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Double Cluster, Owl Cluster

Viewing conditions were almost perfect here in my part of East Texas the night of October 14, 2014. Despite the fact that I had to go to work the next day, I couldn't let a night like this go by without doing something astronomy-related, so I headed out to the observatory to dust off the Epsilon 200 and take some pictures.

I had some guiding issues with the mount (which isn't unusual), but overall the system performed well. Here are the images from the session:

Double Cluster in Perseus (NGC 884 on the left, NGC 869 on the right); Epsilon-200 on NJP mount; 23x60 at ISO-3200
Close-up of the Double Cluster centers

Owl Cluster (NGC 457) in Cassiopeia; Epsilon-200 on NJP mount; 10x60 at ISO-3200

Did you notice the cloudiness around the bright stars? It's especially noticeable in the close-up of the Double Cluster. I'm not certain, but I think that may be due in part to a dirty mirror. The primary mirror on the Epsilon is in desperate need of a bath. I've never cleaned a primary mirror before, and frankly I'm a little anxious about it since it is, for all intents and purposes, irreplaceable.


  1. Wow! Awesome! I've always wanted to take just this shot. Congrats on a fine image!


    1. Thanks! The Double Cluster is one of my favorite targets. I enjoy the subtle color differences among the stars. Even the red stars present in different shades!

      The Owl Cluster is a recent target of interest to me. While not always terribly impressive in a refractor, the diffraction spikes from a Newtonian have a nice effect for the "eyes."

      It's been a while since I've used the astrograph at the observatory. It's in desperate need of a mirror cleaning. And although it is not too apparent in these images, the collimation is off, too. That will be fixed after the mirror is cleaned, of course. I really hope to get out there more often this winter.

  2. Well, I hope to meet you there one of these months. I have my eye on a couple of targets too far south for me to catch well from here.

    You are right that open clusters deserve reflector spikes. I have tentatively decided not to shoot any more till I get my reflector back in working order. The spikes make the view aesthetically pleasing. The rich colors in the Owl and Double make them all the better. Great choice of targets!