Friday, December 11, 2020

Al Ernst and Ron Gattie Combined Talents in Capturing The Saturn Nebula

This image of the Saturn Nebula was taken by friends and amateur astroimagers Al and Ron, using two C-14's. One scope is located at the St Joseph High School's observatory, where Ron used a Canon 50D to take 10x30 second subs, then Al combined them with 20 Oiii and Ha subs with his QSI583 that he took from his home observatory about ten miles apart. This shows what amateurs can achieve, even within the confines of a Bortle 6 sky.... using good equipment,skill and practice.

Thank Al and Ron


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Prepping for the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn

I took this shot of Jupiter and Saturn on 10 Dec 2020 to prepare for the conjunction at my imaging site at a local town park. Mount set and marked.... cameras loaded and ready... astronomy equipment set aside... Township Parks and Recreation officials notified and attending...  local astrophotographers confirmed... batteries charged... Laptop set to go...!

This part of Hillsborough Township in central New Jersey is out in the country about five to ten miles from any small villages and boasts a wonderful  Bortle 4 to 5 sky! 

Here in this shot, the two planets are moving closer each night and hopefully, I will have everything set up and ready to go before the sun sets on the 21st. Otherwise, I may need to wait for the next time that these two planets will be this extremely close together again! 

Praying ~ No Clouds, No Clouds... NO CLOUDS!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Al Ernst's Elephant's Trunk taken in hydrogen alpha

 After seeing Kah Wai Lin's recent image of IC 1396, Al says he was motivated to take a Hydrogen alpha image specifically of  the Elephants Trunk. The targeted area can be seen in the lower middle of Kah Wai's image.  This required stitching together an upper and lower frame, each consisting of one hour of five minute subs.

He used his C14; a .7 focal reducer and QSI583 with narrowband Ha filter.

I find it amazing what persistent people are doing in Bortle 5 and 6 New Jersey!



Monday, November 23, 2020

Kah Wai Lin is making good use of his new astro-camera and learning the use of new software


This image of the Elephant's Trunk and surrounding nebulosity is a reprocessed image using both PixInsight and Photoshop. He says he is sure he will reprocess it again as he is continuing to learn more with PixInsight... each time getting more out of the image.

The Elephant Trunk Nebula was captured using RedCat51 and ZWO ASI1600MM Pro on his Sky-Watcher Adventurer with auto-guiding. The image totals 4 hours (1 hour each in Luminance, Red, Green and Blue). His site in central New Jersey is Bortle5.

Thanks for sharing your progress.


This Tulip Nebula Image image was taken by long-time member Al Ernst

This is a mosaic image of the Tulip Nebula (Sharpless 101) taken from Al's backyard observatory in central New Jersey.
Sharpless 101 is a HII region emission nebula located in the constellation Cygnus and is about 6000ly from Earth.
He used a C14 telescope and a QSI-583 camera with a 6nm Ha narrow band filter. Due to the scope's limited field of view he stitched together two images using five minute subs for each.
Thank Al,

Monday, November 16, 2020

Kah Wai Lin's latest image of the North American Nebula

 I know Kah Wai has a new camera and he's been hard at work getting to learn how it handles. I believe this image was taken with his new ZWO ASI1600MM with a new LRGB filter wheel.

Nice results.


Monday, November 9, 2020

Kah Wai Lin's first attempt at LRGB ~ the Pleiades (M45)

 Kah Wai was imaging on the grounds of the observatory during yesterday's late-night hours, taking advantage of the darker skies. He was testing his new equipment and figured out the set up ~  below is his first attempt at LRGB imaging ~  Looks like everything is working pretty well! ~ Keith

Pleiades (M45)
Telescope: Willam Optics RedCat 51
Camera: ZWO ASI1600MM Pro
Mount: Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer
Imaaging and autoguiding: ZWO ASIair Pro
Total Exposure Time: 2.5 hours; 30 minutes each for LRGB channels (10x3min subs)
Post -processing: DeepSkyStacker, Photoshop, NIK Color Efex Pro, Noiseware

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Member Max Pike Imaged the Iris Nebula on Oct 17th, Nov 4th and Nov 5th

Located in the constellation Cepheus, the Iris Nebula (NGC 7023) is a reflection nebula, where a close bright star illuminates the gas and dust around it. It's about 1300ly from Earth.
Thanks for sharing Max.

Max's Image is 25x5min L, 20x3min R,G,B
Explore Scientific ED102
Stellarvue .8x reducer/flattener
Moonlite Focuser w/autofocus
Baader LRGB filters
ZWO ASI1600MM Pro Mono Camera
AWO 290.. Mini &OAG
Skywatcher NEQ6-Pro Mount

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Wide Field Imaging In a Local Park In NJ

 Hillsborouugh Township. NJ is very supportive towards our use of the parks for astronomy and imaging. They let us use them after dark and in the past, I've had star parties with sometimes with as many as 120 members of the public showing up.

Recently, I used the darker skies with NJAA members Kah-Wai Lin and Len Cacciator to practice setting up our new equipment... I'll post images as they are taken.

Below: Kah-Wai is setting up his new Williams Optics 51mm and guide scope to his Sony Z6 for a shot.

Below: Len Cacciatore is polar aligning his AVX mount to his new Canon.


Sunday, October 11, 2020

New member and professional photographer, Kah-Wai Lin's first attempt at imaging Mars

 Kah-Wai and I spent the early morning hours of 10 October 2020 in NJAA's Luna 2 observatory imaging Mars. Here's his Mars Portrait using the club's 14" Edge.

Thanks for sharing Kah-Wai.


Another attempt at getting better omages of Mars

 Taking good planetary images is much more difficult than I thought....

Here's my 6 October 2020 attempt and the post I put on my Facebook page. Not great but possibly better than my previous tries.


Saturday, October 3, 2020

 Friday night, Oct 2nd, I got my camera out for a very close Lunar/Mars conjunction ~ only about 1.5° separation. I took these shots only 26 minutes before the actual conjunction.

Also, the moon is 98.52% illuminated, so it's just past it's full moon stage and on Saturday the 3rd, at about 2pm EDT, it will be at it's furthest distance from Earth in it's slightly elliptical orbit, at 406,282km or 252,451.9 miles.


Monday, September 21, 2020

NJAA Tonight - "Astrophysicist In The Making : A 17 Year old's plan for...

As a follower of this blog, you probably remember that NJAA hosted a party last year for Life Member Mitch Revoalski after he achieved his Doctorate in Astrophysics....  Now NJAA is proud to have student Athena York Basu discuss her love for astronomy and her future plans in astrophysics in a video streamed from the NJAA website on September 26 at 8:30pm   (NOTE: this is scheduled for Saturday the 26th of September NOT today as indicated in the link)

Saturday, September 19, 2020

 Kah-Wai Lin saw an opportunity during last night's clear sky to test his new iOptron mount with his Sony A6 and Canon zoom lens. It looks like everything worked fine! I think the Pleiades (M45) image was taken at 300 or 400mm focal length using 30 second subs, while the North America Nebula (NGC7000) was taken at 150mm focal length using 40 minutes of 1 minute subs. Although he took a set of darks he said he didn't use them in post processing.

Excellent images Kah-Wai, especially considering these are your first try at "deep sky" imaging.

Thanks for sharing,


Pleiades (M45)

North America Nebula (NGC7000)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

New Member Kah-Wai Lin's First Deep Sky "Test" Shot

 Welcome to new NJAA member Kah-Wai Lin. A biologist PhD with research experience at Princeton University, he shifted gears and began a career as a professional photographer/lecturer. Travelling to over 60 countries over the years, recently Kah-Wai purchased a new iOptron Sky Watcher Sky Tracker and while testing it out during partly cloudy NJ skies, he took the image below using his Sony A6 camera and Canon  400mm lens.

I wish my first try at deep sky looked this good!  We can look forward to many more of his images here....  Thanks,


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Another great Tim Schott shot...!

 Tim took this great shot of the Cosmic Rosebud Nebula (NGC7129), a reflection nebula in the constellation Cepheus on the night of August 19, 2020

This was taken from his home observatory in Easton, PA, USA
using his 10"Third Planet Optics RC Truss scope on a Losmandy G11 mount with a Nikon D810a camera.

Nice job, Tim...


This is the same shot sent from Tim as he did some more post processing.... I'm leaving the original shot in the post so you can see the difference that post processing can make in astro imaging.
The last image shows that the nebula is actually much more extensive and colored.
Thanks for the extra work, Tim.

About the nebula; it is about 3,300ly  from Earth and is lit by a young open cluster of more than 130 stars. It's apparent magnitude is 11.7, so you would need a telescope to see it. The rosy-pinkish and gray color is probably "from hydrocarbon rich molecular material" while "three very young stars near the center of the nebula are sending jets of supersonic gas into the cloud. The collision of these jets heats carbon monoxide molecules in the nebula."

The quotes are from Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Comet C/2020 NEOWISE image shows movement over the night sky

Rick Kelly (a NJAA member during the 1970's) and member Al Ernst cooperated on this shot of Comet NEOWISE C/2020, showing it's motion over 2¾ hours. 

Al took the comet's image on the right through a blue/green filter on July 28th at 2:30UTC from his home observatory in Bridgewater, New Jersey while Rick took the unfiltered image on the left from Castro Valley, California at 5:15UTC.

It's a great comparison showing this great comet's movement over the sky during such a short period of time.

Thanks for sharing Al and Rick.


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Comet Neowise C/2020 image improved by stacking.

Al Ernst improved his image of Comet C/2020 (NEOWISE) by stacking it in Nebulosity. Taken in Martinsville, NJ, USA with a Canon 6D, ISO 1600 using 12x 15 seconds.
Awesome close up Al, thanks.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

N16/NGC 6611 "Eagle Nebula" looks great in NJAA's local area

M16/NGC 6611 - The Eagle Nebula is a star forming region in the constellation Serpens. The gas and dust clouds at the center of the nebula is known as "The Pillars of Creation" as seen by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope's images.
Tim Schott used his 10" Third Planet Optics RC Truss scope with a Nikon D850a on a Losmandy G11 from Easton, Pennsylvania. 
Well done, Tim, looking to see more of your work.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Comet C2020 (NEOWISE) viewed from a Somerst County Park

I took these images from the parking lot of a local park in central NJ... the important feature there is a view all the way down to the western - northern  horizon. Some small bushes block a little view but I think that adds to the photo! I used a Nikon DSLR with a 28 - 300mm lens at 28mm and 105mm. Exposure was ISO 1000, 10" at f5.6 on a tripod and the self-timer.
Keith Marley

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Pandemic Has A Bright Side

The Covid 19 Pandemic has had a effect on us all, but Tim Schott shows there is still some beauty in the world with this image of the NEOWISE C/2020 Comet. No details of how he got the shot, but its awesome!
Thanks Tim,

The COVID 19 Pandemic Allows Time For Al Ernst To Get Great Images From His Home

Al Ernst took this image of M63 from his home in suburban Bridgewater, NJ. It's composed of a total of three hours accumulation of photos using Blue, Green and Ha filters with a C-14 and QSI 583 camera. It's amazing that filtered imaging can do in heavily light polluted areas.
Thanks Al

Monday, May 18, 2020

Thor's Helmet, NGC 2359

Al Ernst took this amazing image from the light-polluted suburban skies of Bridgewater, New Jersey. Being a long-time member of NJAA, Al knew exactly how to beat that problem.... by using Ha and Oiii filters he would block out much of that unwanted glare.
He took four hours of 10 minute subs to build up enough photons to produce this amazing image. Al's equipment for the job was his QSI-583 camera and his NP127is scope.
Thanks Al,

Thors Helmet, (NGC 2359 by Al Ernst

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The new phenomenon; watch the "Skytrain" pass by your neighborhood...

With more countries and companies launching satellites to get on the new gravy-train, having a peaceful night with your telescopes, watching the stars, will mean frequent intrusions by skytrains sailing past your dark sky.
Here is a video of Starlink in the evening sky taken by member Tim Schott from his eastern PA observatory. You'll need to make the video full screen on a laptop or a larger monitor to see.  The stream is above the trees and below the small star near the center. If you don't see it , try again looking just above the tree line.
Thanks for sharing Tim.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Coronavirus has everyone being very cautious

The NJAA Board Of Governors has decided to postpone any immediate meetings at the observatory. Our one March lecture has been officially postponed and the club's website will reflect the changes and our regularly scheduled summer public Saturday and Sunday tours are still posted as being open. Duty QO's have been (or will be soon) instructed to only let groups of less than 12 people into any of the buildings at one time, favoring loose gatherings.
Obviously time will determine further action. We are optimistic that the onset of warm weather will minimize the effects this virus will have and allow us to return to business as usual.
Thanks for your understanding,