Thursday, December 26, 2019

Hello astronomers in countries outside the USA...and Happy New Year!
I see that a large amount of viewers to this Blog are from Europe and Russia, with Denmark having the highest amount of hits to the page, followed by Russia, Poland and Ukraine. 
Thank you all for taking the time to look at our blog and again, best wishes for the new year and clear skies to you.

The Hellix Nebula from light-polluted Bridgewater, New Jersey

Al Ernst took this cool shot of the Helix Nebula from his back yard in Bridgewater, New Jersey a few weeks ago.  
It was taken through an NP-127is and QSI-583 using Ha and OIII narrow band filters.  
Subs were 10 minutes long for a total of 160 minutes.
Thanks Al,

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Panstarrs C_2017

In late November Al Ernst imaged the Panstarrs C_2017 mentioning that the "comet was pretty easy to see on my QSI sensor and 5" f5.2 refractor.
5x2 minute subs from Bridgewater, NJ"

Saturday, December 7, 2019

November 30, 2019 NJAA Honorary Lifetime Event Dr Mitch

On November 30th 2019 NJAA celebrated a long-time member and coveted "Qualified Observer"  (QO), Dr. Mitchell Revalski, as he repeated his PhD dissertation to a near full house of members, and guests from a Princeton Cosmology Group as well as family and friends.
NJAA President, Jim Roselli, welcomed everyone; and lifetime member Teri Bellows, his high school teacher and Astronomy Club advisor, introduced Mitch to the audience. She led with a well coordinated slide show of Mitch in his youth, always helping teach others through his passion with astronomy; which began in the sixth grade after joining NJAA.
The club also will produce a professional-quality video of his talk about galaxy evolution, with a focus on analyzing the supermassive black holes (SMBH) at the center of many galaxies.
Dr. Revalski discussed his research, saying that some galaxies, appear to have SMBH consuming gas from the galaxy, growing in mass but also shining as luminous Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). These phenomena are caused by intense ionized radiation released as the SMBH consumes the gas. The radiation interacts with gas in the central bulge, causing it to be forced away in a powerful outflow of excited gas.
Mitch explained that he focused on analyzing data from the Hubble Space Telescope and computer models to study nearby galaxies with AGN to study the changes in the outflow and impacts on the galaxy as the gas travels through it.
He also discussed the various techniques for determining the mass of the excited gas that can be used and how these techniques impact the conclusion of studies. 
After concluding, Mitch then followed with a question and answer period that many members seemed to relish; requiring that we call a break, so people could eat the large layout of food that Tim and Diane graciously coordinated.
But before people left their seats Keith Marley asked everyone to remain seated, then he placed a covered item on the table in the front of the room. He explained how proud NJAA is for all that Mitch has contributed to the club  through the years and how much more he will contribute to astronomy in the future ~ then he removed the cover to display a beautiful plaque, and announced that Mitch will receive an Honorary Lifetime Membership to NJAA.
It was a wonderful event.
Member Teri Bellows and Mitch ~ his HS Teacher and Astronomy Club Advisor

Mitch and NJAA President, Jim Roselli

Mitch and Keith Marley                       

Mitch and his mom, Patricia Revalski 

Keith Marley

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Max Pike attended our last Astrophotography/Research Meeting at the observatory last Friday, November 8th, 2019. He showed us a number of excellent images he took earlier this year, which follows below.
Thanks for the submission Max. Looking forward to more of your work.

Crescent Nebula,  20x10',  Ha,  Oiii,  6h 40m Total

 East Veil Nebula - 20x10',  Ha,  Oiii,  6h 40m Total

 Elephant Trunk Nebula,  20x10',  Ha,  Oiii,  Sii, 10h Total

                                     Ghost Nebula,  20x10',  Ha & 20x3' R,G,B  6h 20m Total

                                North American Nebula & Cygnus Wall,  20x10' Ha,  Oiii,  Sii,  10h Total

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Tim Schott's Image of the Fiddle Head Galaxy

The Fiddle Head Galaxy - NGC 772
A Unbarred Spiral Galaxy in the Constellation Aries
10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss
Losmandy G11
Nikon D810a
Easton, PA. USA
October 25, 2019

Tim Schott's Image of the Double Star Albireo (the Cub Scout Star)

Tim Schott's image of the Phantom Galaxy

The Phantom Galaxy - M74
A Grand Design Galaxy in the Constellation Pisces
10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss
Losmandy G11
Nikon D810a
Easton, PA, USA
October 24, 2019

Tim Schott's Image of the Barbell Nebula

The Barbell Nebula - NGC 650/651
In the Constellation Perseus
10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss
Losmandy G11
Nikon D810a
Easton, PA, USA
October 18, 2019

Tim Schott's Image of M33

The Triangulum Galaxy - M33 / NGC598
The Triangulum Galaxy - M33 / NGC598
A spiral Galaxy in the Constellation Triangulum
10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss
Losmandy G11
Nikon D810a
Eaaston, PA, USA
September 5, 2019

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Isbel G takes a quick shot through the 26inch Cassegrain Reflector at Robinson Observatory

Member Isbel G. took this picture of the planetary nebula M57 (Ring Nebula) in Lira, using the 26" reflecting telescope of the NJAA observatory in High Bridge, NJ in Bortle Class 5 sky. 

The shots and the processing were quite simple and the results too, but he was happy because it is amoung the first photos of a deep sky object that he's taken since he arrived in this country, almost 4 years ago. 

Reflector, 26", Nikon D3000, combination of 3, 1 minutes photos, ISO 3200, stacked and processed with Photoshop.


Metuchen, New Jersey had a good turn out for their star party....

... and there were many young adults that hung with us throughout the cloudy hours. Metuchen  is a suburb of New York City and it's Bortle Class is 8... that's next to highest light pollution on the Bortle scale which goes from 1 to 9.
However, Jupiter, the half-Moon and Saturn were the first things to look at and they looked great under a good seeing sky. There was a six inch and an eight inch Dobsonian that got the kid's attention right away with their awesome views but it was my little 4.5 inch Star Blast from Orion that really impressed them! I love bringing it to star parties because it's a great contrast to the larger more expensive scopes.
They were surprised to see the quality of the optics and also tended to compare it to the two larger scopes on their own.
The older kids kept coming back to my little scope and finally asked how much it cost... it's reasonable price was one more reason they said they liked it.
Of course, I collimated the scope just before everyone showed up.... to make sure it stood up to the scrutiny. That took all of about two minutes!
Then I put my wide field eyepiece in place and they saw the half-Moon and Saturn together in one view!
Deal closed!!!
The older kids stuck around for almost two hours waiting for the clouds to break and every now and then they'd get to see a double star before the clouds filled in again. Earlier, they also saw the International Space Station fly-by and that garnered many wow's too! Considering it's been soaring overhead for more than twenty years, it still never get's old.

Considering that the night sky was mostly cloudy, I'd say mission accomplished!

       L-R: Wayne Petko, Ethan Catalanello, Sarah Terracinoa, Dave Nelson, Keith Marley

A good tool for getting a site's Bortle Class  number for it's light pollution rating, download "Clear Outside" app by First Light Optics to your phone. The device's GPS will give you the Bortle Class number based on your location and you can save several sites to it. As you can see in the photo below, other helpful information is also provided.

 How to find your Bortle Scale class

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Africano Comet C/2018W2

Al Ernst writes "It has not been as hot a year for comets but this was easily seen on my sensor for a week.  Finally imaged it on the morning of September 28th.  
15 x 2 minute subs
QSI583 and green filter.  
Estimated magnitude was 9.
Thanks for the image, Al.


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The New Jersey Astronomical Association is having an Open House/Flea Market Sep 21 10am to 4pm

NJAA's 3rd annual open house and flea market is about to happen.... there's less than ten days left and there are still some sales spaces left!
So grab your old astro gear that you want to sell and bring it to the observatory a half hour before it starts ~ be there by 9:30am.... but first:
You must REGISTER by contacting Michael Franzyshen ( ) as space is limited.

See the flier at:

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Al Ernst took this great shot of the Milky Way while at the Golden State Star Party near Mount Lassen, California during the early days of July.
Al used a Canon 6D with a Canon 35mm lens and a STC Duoband Filter at ISO 1600 making 20x2min subs on an IOptron Tracker.
His SQM was 21.95

I don't think I've ever seen so many stars in one shot... and this is only a small portion of the Milky Way!
Thanks Al.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Because it was such a beautiful evening last night, I decided to take out my 102mm, f7, 714mm fl Explore Scientific and with my ZWO ASI120MM camera, try to get something of the moon and Jupiter. I took quite a few shots of both as it was so pleasant outside. Here is Jupiter with Ganymede's shadow on it using Registax6 and Photoshop CS5. I'll look at the moon images later to see how they came out.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Result of using a Duo Band Ha-Oiii filter

Al Ernst writes:  
Club members might be interested in this experiment.

I recently purchased a duo-band Ha-Oiii filter. It was installed on a STL4020cm one shot color camera and used with the telescope at St Joseph HS observatory in Metuchen, NJ where the light pollution yields an SQM of 18.3.

Thus, a worse case scenario.

Images were tried of a star cluster, a galaxy and a planetary nebula ~ M97.
Only the latter came out well.

Club members with DSLRs or OSC cameras might want to give this approach a try.

C-14 f7 at St Joseph HS Observatory in Metuchen, NJ
SBIG STL4020cm with duo-band Ha-Oiii filter
23x5 minutes
1x1 bin
Processed in Nebulosity and Photoshop by Al Ernst and Rick Kelly

Thanks for the heads up Al.
I also read in the current Sky & Telescope that Lumicon has released their "new and  improved" Generation-3 Oiii filter.... and the price seems right too ~ $100 for the 1.25" version and $200 for the 2 inch! Here's Al's image using the impressive duo-band Ha-Oiii filter.   - Keith

Friday, May 24, 2019

Images taken with the 5inch Takahashi in Luna 1 Observatory

Vlad Alexandrov uses the Luna 1 observatory frequently and offered these three images for the blog.

The first image is of the beautiful spiral, the Triangulum galaxy(M33), about 3mil lys away he used over three hours of Luminosity and 80 min Red, 80 min of Green and 80 min of Blue light taken in October 2017. He stacked the images in Pixnsight then processed in Pixnsight and Photoshop.

The next shot is of the Horsehead Nebula, also known as Barnard 33, which is much closer at about 15lys away from Earth and very difficult to see visually, especially here in New Jersey! 
He use 4 hours of narrow band Ha light over many nights due to various weather conditions during November and December 2017. Vlad also used darks and flats as well, stacking it all together using Pixnsight and then processing it in Pixnsight and Photoshop. 

And last but not least; he took this great shot of the even further away Coma Galaxy Cluster, at a mean distance of about 325 mil lys from Earth on January 26th, 2018. He using 3 hours of Luminosity staking with Pixnsight and processing with both Pixnsight and Photoshop.

This is impressive work Vlad, thank you for sharing!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The California nebula with a surprise!

Al Ernst took this image of the central area of the California nebula with asteroid Semiramis entering at the lower left.  Semiramis shows as a small streak in the lower left quadrant (at the left end of my red line).
Al tells us further that: "Semiramis was the much revered queen of Assyria who may have built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon".  
The image was taken with NP127is, QSI camera, and H alpha filter from Bridgewater, NJ.

 Thanks Al,

Monday, May 6, 2019

Threading The Needle (Galaxy)

At 10:40pm EDT on April 28, 2019, long-time member Perry Arts was imaging in his backyard in Branchburg, New Jersey. He was taking a series of pictures of the "Needle Galaxy"/ NGC4565 when an airplane tried to improve his view!
Here's the result:

The plane's presence kept Perry from trying to post process the image further, but he thought that "sometimes the fates align", so he presented it at the club's Astrophotography/Research meeting last week and everyone loved it!
After all, he said, "what are the chances that he would capture a fast moving plane precisely at that very a small part of the sky and be perfectly aligned with the galaxy"?
We all couldn't agree more, so here it is....
Hopefully Perry will send the finished image of the Needle so I can post it here with his artsy photo.
(PS ~ we think the two red "things" are the twin jet engines lit by the flashing red light.Unless, of course, it's the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D entering warp!)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Al Ernst sent this image of Comet Wamoto using his NP127is Scope and QSI camera  Taken on Sunday morning February 10th at 1:45AM
Thanks for submitting, Al.

Monday, January 21, 2019

2019 Lunar Eclipse of the Super Blood Wolf Moon

The January 20-21, 2019 Lunar Eclipse of the Super Blood Wolf Moon occurred almost at the zenith from my house in New Jersey. It also was a bitterly cold night of 13°F and wind chill of 3°F!
My goal was to get shots through the eclipse but my poor hands made me rethink that!
Here's the series of shots and exposures taken until my fingers warned me that if they fall off they will shatter, ending any further plans I may have of ever using them again in the future.
So I stopped at 23:50 20 Jan 2019.

This is an excellent shot (below) taken by Al Ernst of the same eclipse from his backyard using a 400mm Takumar lens and Canon 6d camera.

Thanks Al,
Another Tim Schott image. Well Done! I'm looking forward to more images taken from your new home observatory....

M82 - The Cigar Galaxy   10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss - Nikon d810a - Losmandy g11 - 
Easton, Pennsylvania USA - January 14, 2019
Here's another image by Tim Schott, also using Backyard Nikon
NGC 2841 - Tiger's Eye Galaxy  10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss - Nikon d810a - Losmandy g11 - Easton, Pennsylvania USA - January 05, 2019

Tim Schott's Image of the Crab Nebula (M1)

Tim Schott has been racing to get his favorite astro-objects imaged and here are a few taken over the last month or so. This a beautiful image taken with Backyard Nikon.

m1 - Crab Nebula  10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss - Nikon d810a - Losmandy g11 - 
Easton, Pennsylvania USA - December 04, 2018

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Sunil's Andromeda First Image

I see Sunil Abrol has begun his astrophotography endeavor. Last Nov 3rd 2018 he took this image of Andromeda using a Nikon5300 and a 300mm lens at f5.6 on a Celestron. But he was having a lot of computer issues which caused his delay in sending the image to us.
Apparently he had to change some equipment to get the processing speed he needed, so he added memory 4 gigs more to his MacBook Pro, giving him 8 Gigs total. However that wasn't enough so he replaced his HD with a 500Gb SSD.  Then he got started again on the image and sent it to us.
He thanks Max Pike and the Research Group for helping him get started and Vlad Alexandrov for mentoring him through the scope-guidance process.
It's a big step for everyone to get their first image under their belt ~ nice photo Sunil, we're looking forward to some more clear skies so you can add to your skills.

M42 Using an Atik Color Camera

Mathew Ray and his father were at the observatory in New Year's night getting in some beginning-of-the-the-year astrophotography.
He got this beautiful shot of M42 "right as the clouds rolled in" on him, he said.
He used an Atik Horizon color camera with a IDAS LPS-P2 48mm filter on his 8" EdgeHD with Hyperstar.
He did 19x60sec lights, then processed them with Astro Pixel Procesor and PixInsight.
He said it gives him 2.0 arcsec/pixel image scale and that he's just starting to experiment with dithering + drizzle.

Nice job Mathew, we're looking forward to seeing more of your work as you progress.