Monday, August 1, 2022

Jupiter Is Back! (so are the other planets, but that's another story)

 I recently received another email from member Al Ernst, saying;  Jupiter is again rising above the trees and becoming a visual and photographic target for those who stay up late (or get up early -Keith).  With a little help from me, the St. Joseph HS, Metuchen(New Jersey), Astronomy Club took this series of images of one of the double transits over several hours in late October 2021.  The students used the School's C14 telescope and ZWO ASI-120MC camera.  Five minutes of subs were accumulated for each image was processed in Fire Capture and then in Photoshop.

   With Jupiter, a bit higher above the horizon during this opposition, the steadier atmosphere should provide much incentive for planetary imagers.  
Al Ernst

Thanks again Al, they did a great job capturing these shadows as they zoomed across the planet's surface. You can easily determine which is the closer moon Io's shadow. It's great seeing this quality of work coming from high school students. I wish more US schools had this level of interest in astronomy, along with volunteers like you to guide their work.
We'll keep spreading the word...
Thank you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

An excellent shot of our favorite Humpback, which also displays Mike Franzyshen's processing ability using Maxim DL and Pixinsight

 Mike Franzyshen sent an image of the Whale Galaxy (NGC 4631) taken using's 17" Planewave CDK f/6.8 scope located in New Mexico. It uses a FLI-PL6303E CCD camera at -25° with just the Luminance filter then stacked 14x 10 minute subs and prcessed it in Maxim DL/Pxinsight during his downtime through the recent pandemic... April 2020!

Nice work, Mike. Thanks for sharing 


Howard Bird's First Two AP Images

 Wow, Howard, you're off the starting line in a FLASH!!

These are really impressive and a great example of your first work in astrophotography.

Howard is a relatively new member of NJAA but if this is an example of his grasp at collecting photons, his newfound dedication to the hobby will provide him (and us) with a lot of fun for quite a while.

He lives in Clinton Twp, New Jersey not far from NJAA's observatory so he is usually within a Bortle 7 night) sky.

For the Eastern Veil Nebula, he used his Celestron 8" Edge on a CGEM II mount with ASIAir Plus guiding and a 0.7 focal reducer to a Celestron OAG ASI290 Mini Guide Scope, a ZWO ASI2600MC camera. He used a Dual Band Antile filter (6.5 hours of 3-minute x 130 subs)  and an SVbony UHC filter (4.5 hours of 90 x 3-minute subs) from his driveway. 

Howard said he chose to image the Veil Nebula after talking to friends that he met at the Cherry Springs Star Party in Pennsylvania (Bortle 2) with consideration of his local field of view(FOV).

Processing was done in Pixinsight

Howard's very first astroImage was of M101! That's an excellent first go at imaging a difficult target. Impressive!!! 203 subs x 180 seconds each.

Here's his next image ~ the Eastern Veil Nebula as noted above:

And finally, Howard shared his Green Flash photo taken while on his trip to Florida this past spring.

I'm jealous... I've tried to see this phenomenon for years and years (and years)... without success. 

Great shot Howard.


Les Tilly's Amazing Work on Andromeds Galaxy and The Horsehead Nebula

 This is the best image that I've ever seen of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). I think the extra intensity of the cooler, red stars makes all of the difference (IMHO)!

Here is Les' Horsed Nebula (NGC 4631)  too;  Also great work!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Tycho Crater On A Clear Night

 I enjoy snapping a few shots of the moon every now and then... even if it does try to steal the show from my other fun objects. It's been just too cold to be outside, as my body seems to be unwilling to put up with the pain anymore. Those days are apparently rare now, so I can't wait for the seasonal change. 

Luna never seems to mind my snaps anytime though.


Saturday, December 11, 2021

Member Ron Gattie's First Astro Image to the Blog Is Impressive

 Ron took this image of the Blue Snow Ball Nebula using 24  20-second images at ISO 400

Great shot Ron, but please give us more details (equipment, software, location, etc.) so we can understand what you did to make this picture look as good as it does.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Al Ernst Imaged The Tough Sh2-53 Nebula In The Scutum Constellation

 Al Says, "We don't see Sh2-53 imaged very often from around here (the New Jersey area) but I thought I'd give it a try". 

I didn't recognize the image or the designation number so I looked it up. Sharpless 53 is not a bright nebula but it can be imaged with smaller scopes than Al's, although they will need significantly more exposure times. Also, there are also a few nearby Sharpless nebulae that aren't shown in his field of view but can be seen in a wider field scope.

An impressive "try", I'd add ~ nice job!

He used his C-14 scope, a QSI-583 camera, for 8x5 minutes through a narrowband Ha filter.  He then calibrated in Nebulosity and processed in Photoshop.

Thanks for bringing this to us.

Monday, August 16, 2021

A Huge Sunspot Group Was Recently Imaged As The Sun Swings Further Into the New Cycle 25

 I've been impatiently waiting a l-o-o-ong time for large sunspots to finally reappear since the last solar minimum. As the new 25th Cycle began in September 2020, the long trek to solar maximum has been producing very little activity on the surface. Solar Maximum is expected to be between 2023 through 2026, so hopefully, the Sun will decide to end this last, seemingly extra-long minimum period.

For more than a year, I've been checking my Solar App frequently and I was finally greeted with a huge sunspot group on June 30th, 2021 at 10:05 in the morning. Having been disappointed for so long, I immediately pulled out my Explore Scientific 102mm apo-refractor and put in my Herschel Wedge. I was amazed at the sight ~ the view was almost perfect! For the first time (since probably forever), the New Jersey sky was stable and steady - not causing my image to bounce all over the place as I tried to get images saved to my hard drive.

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality, the majority of thanks go in large part to Mother Nature.

Keith Marley

Solar Image Wide

                                                                        Solar Image Enlarged

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

After A Slow May, M1 Starts June Off With A Winner


Al Ernst was working during January and March's occasional cool, clear nights using his Celestron 14 inch at f8 to get this great shot of M1... the famous Crab Nebula. The Crab Nebula's supernova was first seen and recorded in China in 1054 CE. Since that time, it has grown, spreading out through space to an average diameter of about 11 light-years across. That would make it more than twice the distance from the Sun to our nearest Star system, Alph Centauri!  

He captured its details by accumulating a total of 7Ha and 7Oiii filtered subs, with each sub being 5 minutes long. He used a QSI-583 camera, which was cooled to -30°C below ambient, and processed the image using Nebulosity and Photoshop.

Nice work, as usual, AL. Thanks for sharing.


Monday, April 12, 2021

The Edge-On View Of Galaxy NGC 891

 Recently, Al Ernst was kind enough to send me his work on the "Silver Sliver Galaxy", a.k.a. NGC 891. It's an unbarred spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years from Earth with a diameter of about 60,000 light-years.  Compared to our closest galactic neighbor, the "Andromeda Galaxy" which is about 2.5 million light-years away and about 220,000 light-years in diameter, the Silver Sliver is much harder to see from his back yard observatory.

NGC 891's apparent magnitude is +10.8 is best seen through a medium-sized amateur telescope of about 8" in diameter or more, making Al's Celestron C14 main telescope ideal for working out its details as seen in his photo below. The dark dust lane surrounding the galaxy's disk is easily seen.

The image was recorded earlier this winter from his home observatory in Bridgewater, NJ using his C14 f8 and QSI 583 Camera with Green, Blue, and Ha filters on 5 and 10-minute subs and processed in Nebulosity and Photoshop. Thanks Al.