Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Orion Nebula is a diffuse nebula in the constellation Orion. It is in the lower portion of Orion south of his belt. This object can be seen with the naked eye. It is part of Orion's sword and looks very fuzzy with the naked eye. Located 1500 light years away, the stars have formed from collapsing clouds of interstellar gas within the last million years.

2-min exposure. Total exposure time was 40 minutes.

Imaged at Zodiac Ranch near Fort Davis, TX in the early morning hours of October 30, 2011.

The Orion constellation is a dominant constellation during the winter season.

Monday, October 31, 2011

M81 Group

M81 group is a group of galaxies in the constellation Ursa Major (Big Dipper area) that includes both M81 and M82. M81 is on the right and M82 is the smaller one to the left. Approximately 12 million light years away. NGC 3077 is a smaller fainer galaxy in the lower right hand corner.

Imaged on October 30, 2011 from the Zodiac Ranch near Fort Davis, TX.

2-min exposure. Total exposure time, 22 minutes.

Messier 74

Messier 74 is a face on spiral galaxy located in the constellation Pisces. Approximately 30 million light years away.

Imaged at Zodiac Ranch near Fort Davis, TX on October 30, 2011. 2-min exposure. Total exposure time was 44 min.

Captured using a QHY8 CCD color camera and autoguided using an Orion Star Shoot autoguider piggybacked on a Celestron 11" SCT.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Our largest planet in the solar system is very close to Earth this time of year and is about to be at opposition. This is the brightest object in the sky other than the moon (for the time being anyway).

This image was aquired with a Phillips TouCam webcam. It was taken at 10 frames per second for 3 minutes. That's a total of 1800 frames. Frames were stacked using software for the final result.

On some nights, you can see it's four main moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto) cast a shadow on the planet as they orbit the planet with an 8" or larger telescope.

Image was taken around midnight on September 30, 2011 from my back yard in Midland, TX. Clear skies with excellent seeing and transparent skies. Some light pollution. Used without filters and guided.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mars in the Beehive Cluster

Two images at once! The planet Mars entered into the Beehive Cluster (M44). Although M44 is 580 light years away, Mars is a mere 168 million miles (approximately).

M44 is an open cluster in the constellation of Cancer (the Crab)

Monday, September 26, 2011

NGC 253 Sculptor Galaxy

Sculptor Galaxy is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Sculptor. It is a mere 10 million light years away and spans about 70 thousand lights year. NGC 253 was discovered by Caroline Herschel in the 1783.

Imaged at Zodiac Ranch, Fort Davis, TX on September 24, 2011 under excellent seeing conditions with an 11" Celestron HD (hyperstar)

5 min exposure X 15 images (total time of 75min exposure time). Captured using Nebulosity software and stacked with darks for the final result.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

M45, Pleiades cluster

The Pleiades. The cluster is also called The Seven Sisters, where the sisters are seven of the brightest stars in the cluster. The two bright stars to the left in the cluster are the parents, Atlas and Pleione, hence also the more common name Pleiades (the children of Pleione). The seven sisters are Alcyone, Merope, Electra, Maia, Celaeno, Taygeta and Asterope (

Several Pleiads appear surrounded by intricate blue filaments of light. This nebulosity is the result of starlight scattering (reflecting) off minute grains of interstellar dust in the vicinity. The dust particles are inside a cloud of mostly hydrogen gas that the cluster seems to be plowing into (Steven Gibson,

This was a 20 minute exposure, guided and captured in the early morning of September 25, 2011 from Zodiac Ranch in Fort Davis, TX.

The sky was perfectly still with excellent transparency and great seeing.

Monday, August 29, 2011

NGC 7293, Helix Nebula (Eye of God)

NGC 7293 is commonly called the "Eye of God" do to it's distinctive shape. The Helix Nebula is a planetary nebula located in the constellation Aquarius and discovered in the early 1800's. About 700 light years away. This image was taken near Fort Davis, TX on August 28, 2011 around 2am. It is a 5 min exposure. Total capture time was 125 minutes using a Celestron C11 HD and autoguided.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

M33, Triangulum Galaxy

3 million light years away, the Triangulum galaxy lies in the constellation Triangulum. This image was taken in Fort Davis, TX in the early morning hours on August 28, 2011. 5-min exposure, exposed for over two hours duration.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Messier (M27) is a planetary nebula. Also commonly called the dumbbell nebula since it has the shape of a dumbbell. It is in the constellation Velpecula and is approximately 1300 light years away. It is a favorite summer time image since it lies in the summer triangle ( made up of three stars named Altair, Deneb, and Vega).
This image was taken in the early morning around 1am in my backyard in Midland, TX on July 29th, 2011. I used a light pollution filter and this image is at F2 with a QHY8 CCD camera and a Hyperstar. I used my 11" Celestron HD as my imaging platform.
A 5min exposure stacked with 10 images for the final result.
Click on the image for zooming.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Whirlpool Galaxy

This is my favorite object to image. I spend a lot of time trying to make this image better and better every time.

M51, designated the Whirlpool galaxy is 37 million light years from Earth.

Taken at Zodiac Ranch, June 2, 2011.

Celestron 11" HD w/ hyperstar, QHY8 CCD camera. 8-min exposure.

I actually had to cut the number of exposures do to some clouds that spoiled my last 5 images.

Leo Trio

The Leo Trio is a group of galaxies approximately 30 million light years from Earth. They lie in the constellation Leo the Lion. Their strong gravitational pull from one another distorts their shapes. This trio makes a great photograph. This image is an 8-min exposure.

Celestron 11" HD w/hyperstar and a QHY8 CCD camera. Captured with Nebulosity with a total of 12 images stacked for a final result.

Taken at Zodiac Ranch, Fort Davis, TX on June 1, 2011.

Monday, May 30, 2011

M101 with neighbors

M101, Pinwheel Galaxy and neighboring galaxies. To the left of M101, we have NGC 5474. Notice other smaller fainter galaxies in the field of view. This image is a 5min exposure. Total exposure time is 50 minutes. Processed with stacking software. No flats, but stacked with darks to get rid of some hot pixels. Need to try some flats to get rid of some vignetting. This image was taken on May 29, 2011 at around 3am at Zodiac Ranch, Fort Davis, Texas. M101 is found in the constellation Ursa Major. Check out my previous posts of another image of this object.

Monday, April 4, 2011

NGC 4298 / 4203

A pairing of spiral galaxies about 60 million light years away. Both NGC 4298 and NGC 4203 are located in the constellation Coma Berenices. This image was taken in Fort Davis, TX and is a 5-min exposure for a total of two hours total exposure time.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Pinwheel Galaxy is a face on spiral galaxy about 25 million light years away. The objects light took 25 million years to reach my telescope. Impressive to say the least. The Pinwheel Galaxy, designated Messier 101 is in the constellation Ursa Major. M101 has a diameter of 170,000 light years and is larger than our own Milky Way Galaxy. This image is a 5-min exposure exposed for 100 minutes. Used 20 images and stacked and processed them to come up with a final result.

This image was taken in Fort Davis on April 1, 2011 at Zodiac Ranch where a friend of mine has his private observatory under the dark skies of southwest Texas.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Owl Nebula (M97)

This is a back yard image from my home in Midland, TX. This was taken on March 27, 2011. It is a 4 min exposure with a total of 30 exposures. Exposed for two hours with the images stacked and processed to get the greatest images. I used a light pollution filter (no surprise here) and the sky was clear with a hazy sky with some dust in the air. Seeing was average and transparency was good over all.

M97 or the Owl Nebula is a planetary nebula around 2600 light years from Earth. It is located in the constellation Ursa Major (or near the Big Dipper). Not surprisingly, the Owl Nebula gets its name for it's round shape and dark areas making it appear like the face of an Owl. To see the two dark areas in the object, you will need at least an 8" telescope.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NGC 2841 is in the constellation Ursa Major (Big Dipper). It is an amazing 46 million light years away.

The image is a 5-min exposure for 150 minutes. A total of 30 exposures stacked and processed.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brody and the scope

My four-year old son Brody loves the stars. We go to Fort Davis a lot and he loves being out doors. This is a picture taken in February in my back yard in Midland, TX.


This was a 5-min exposure with a number of 30 exposures totaling 150-minutes total time exposed. I used a program called Nebulosity to capture, stack, and process 30 frames including 30 dark frames. This is a guided image using a Celestron 11" HD and CGE Pro Mount, piggybacking with a Orion 80 refractor using an Orion autoguider.
You see some detail in the galaxy, but I'm still a novice and post processing with different programs like Photoshop. Seeing conditions, transparency, and other variables affect the image including other atmospheric conditions (I'm not in space, I have to look through the Earth's atmosphere). There are several galaxies in the same location as M98. M98 is in the constellation Coma Berenecies and is a spiral galaxy about 60 million light years away.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New scope.....11" Edge HD by Celestron

After debating, which seemed like an eternity on what scope to decide to get, I finally made my decision which will cost me more, but fullfill my wants and needs. I placed an order on a brand new Meade 12" LX200ACF with Meades rebate package of a free solor scope. It sounded great and I thought I made my decision. But I wanted to do more with astrophotography, and I was limited on the capabilities of the Meade SCT. I didn't like the wedge anymore, and I wanted a German Equatorial Mount (GEM). Also I was weighing in on the manufacturer warranty. Meade had a one year warranty. Anyway, I decided to go with Celestron on its high definition scope series called the Edge HD. I broke down after doing a lot of research and found the 11" Edge HD with the CGE Pro mount. It has a two-year warranty and the high tech GEM with HD optics suited well for astrophotography (so it says right). I made the purchase after looking at the high cost and I knew what I wanted. Why spend so much on it? It's a deserving gift to myself and it's not a purchase I make very often. I knew I could afford it right? I finally received it on January 10, 2011 and set it up in my living room in awe. I couldn't believe how massive and heavy this thing was. It's built like a tank and the go-to motors are in working condition. Things are a little different with my Celestron. I am so used to being a Meade person. Time to get used to being a Celestron person. It will be different, but it should be fun. Looking forward to buying extra accessories like the Hyperstar 3 for fast exposures.