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Astronomical Observatory: Cool Images

Astr112 Photography Projects, Spring 2003

Students in Astr112: Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe worked in teams of 2-3 students to take photographs with our new Optical Guidance Systems telescope. Each team visited the Observatory and worked with the Observatory staff to photograph their object and take the necessary calibration images ("darks" and "flats"). The teams then performed all the calibration steps to make their final image, and wrote a brief caption. Here are their (slightly edited) results:

Photo by Chris Adema, Anastasia Barnett, and Michelle Lassa

M1: Crab Nebula
We made this image by going up to the observatory and took the picture using the new telescope. We then used these pictures and combined them with dark and flat pictures taken on the same night with the same exposure for the dark (300 seconds). We took out the hot pixels so the picture would look better. We aligned the pictures so that we would have more acurate data. We changed the brightness and contrast of this picture so that the unimportant light would fade out. The Crab Nebula is 6,000 light years away. This is a supernova remnant. We took the picture on the 14 of April in 2003.
Caption by Jill Walters, Wendy VanderZwaage, and John Sleek

M51: Whirlpool Galaxy
We observed the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, which is a Spiral Galaxy. The distance to the object is 37000 kly, and it was observed on the 23rd of April, 2003. We had one exposure per 60 seconds. The processing we applied to the data was: 1)subtracted the dark image in the flat image 2) removed the hot pixels. 3) adjusted the contrast. Interesting structures visible in our photograph is that there is a collision that is about to occur with a smaller galaxy. M51 is sometimes referenced as Rosse's Galaxy or Lord Rosse's "Question Mark.
Photo and caption by Kevin Ha, Jon Jerdan, and John Park

Photo by Dan Park, Hannah Old and Gabe Michelson

M81: Bode's Nebula
Bode's Nebula, also known as galaxy M81, along with its near-twin M82, is one of the brightest of the nearby galaxies, dominating the Northern Hemisphere. At 6.8 magnitudes, it is bright enough to have been reportedly seen with the naked eye. Spiral arms and nearby star clusters are in clear evidence. This picture of it, taken twice over exposures of 5 minutes, has been cleared of light contamination due to exposure, dirt on the lenses, and hot pixels. The galaxy itself is elliptical type Sb, and the picture was taken on April 23, 2003.
Caption by Gabe Michelson

Photo and caption by Brad Peterson, Joe Rice, and Dickson Siu
M82: Peculiar Galaxy
This is an image of the irregular galaxy M82 (NGC 3034), type Ir-II which is located in Ursa Major. The galaxy is 12 million light-years away from Earth and was observed on April 9th 2003. Our group took two images with a telescope. Next we subtracted the flat frames and the dark frames as well as the flat frames for the dark frames and then aligned the images. After setting the brightness and contrast, we combined them together and created one final image. Lastly we adjusted the brightness and contrast of the final image. An interesting observation is there is a vein of dust visible crossing the core of the galaxy and makes the bright spot in the core darker. The galaxy is nicknamed “The Cigar Galaxy” because of its irregular shape.

Photo and caption by James Keating, Ben Hendrikse, and Matt Pasma
 M88: Spiral Galaxy
Distance-60,000 kly
Date of Observation- 4/23/03
Data- 2 exposures, 300s each
First we located our data and calibration files, then recorded the data on a table, then we organized our data into directories, defined a data reduction group, reduced the data, examined the data, removed hot pixels, aligned the images, set the brightness and contrast for all images, averaged them, set the contrast on the final image, and then we printed it. Some interesting things in the photo are the long sprial arms of the galaxy, also the fact that we are seeing the disk at somewhat of an angle which makes viewing extremely pleasurable.
  M91: Spiral Galaxy
This galaxy was observed on
April 23rd at 10:40pm. We took two exposures, the first at 300 seconds and the second at 60 seconds. We reduced the background movement by negating darks and flats, then adjusting the photo with the histogram. There are several other stars in the photo of this spiral galaxy.
Photo and caption by Amanda Dykema and Annie Mas
  M96: Spiral Galaxy
Our image is the spiral galaxy M96. Its magnititude is 9.9. We observed M96 on May 6, '03. We took 2 light images and 2 dark images to find out our information.
Photo and caption by Jim Blaauw and Matt Koning

 M100: Spiral Galaxy
This is a grand design spiral. It was observed on April 22 2003. This galaxy is 56 million light years away from Earth. It is located in the spring consolation of Coma Berenices. An interesting structure is the spiral arms. The photos were taken at a 5 minute exposures. In this lab we took flats and darks and cleaned up the clutter from the photos.
Photo and caption by Andy Maxwell and Greg Collins

Photo and caption by Nate Maguire and Kayla Placencio
 M104: El Sombrero Galaxy
This picture was taken at Calvin Observatory and edited in Science Building 177 on May 8, 2003. We took two exposures each at 90 seconds. We subtracted dark images as well as flat images form our raw data. We then averaged our two pictures ogether to get our final product. There is a dust lane surrounding the galaxy, which is very very interesting. William Herschel found this object independently on May 9, 1784.
  M106: Spiral Galaxy
This is an image of M106, an Sb spiral galaxy. It is 21-25 million light years away and moving away at a rate of 537 km/sec (21-25 million light years ago). The image was observed and photographed on April 9, 2003. Two five minute exposures where taken and then an average of 5 darks and 6 flats were subtracted from the two five minute exposures. The resulting images were then aligned using the centroid method and combined together. One of the spiral arms is clearly visible on the top part of the galaxy, another spiral arm is faintly visible on the bottom part of the galaxy.
Photo and caption by Noah Pauw and Nate Van Denend
  Stars in the Rosette Nebula
The source name is the rosette Nebula. Actually, our image is a cluster of stars that are part of this nebula; they are the new bright stars
that have formed in that open star cluster. We observed the cluster on the 10th of April. We had taken two pictures, both five minutes. One image was out of focus, and the other had stray light (possibly from the street) enter the telescope. To get the final image, we added dark, flat, and dark for the flat. We did have one slight problem when the file sizes did not match, but that was soon remedied. The image that we have is of the young stars in that cluster.
Photo and caption by Dana Hardin, Hilary Kempkers, and Elise Elzinga





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