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Astronomical Observatory: Cool Images

Astr112 Photography Projects Spring 2004

Students in Astr112: Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe were among the first to do photography projects on the new Calvin-Rehoboth Robotic Telescope in New Mexico. Each student made an observing plan, requesting four images of their target. Once the data were taken, they performed all the calibration steps to make their final image, and wrote a brief caption. Here are their results (slightly edited):

Owl Nebula: The Owl Nebula, or M97 is an irregular planetary nebula. It is located approximately 2,600 light-years away, and is probably about 6,000 years old. The nebula’s magnitude is only 11.2, and it is 3.4x3.3 arc minutes in size. The Owl Nebula is located in the constellation Ursa Major in between the starts Merak, and Phecda. The picture was taken using a red, blue, visual, and an open filter all with exposures of 300 seconds. The image was cleaned up by getting rid of all unwanted dust and debris by adjusting the dark, flat, and removing the hot pixels. Jon Shipe

The Crab Nebula
. Matt Zwiep

1) Owl Nebula
2) Planetary Nebula
3) 2.6 kly away
4) Observed on April 25 and 28, 2004
5) I t has a rather circular structure with an extremely bright blue star in the center.
6) It is also an irregular planetary nebula.
Vijay Bangalore

The Christmas Tree Nebula is a nebula. The nebula was observed on April 14 2004. There was a mistake when sending over the times in which the nebula would be best observed. Unfortunately I was only capable of marrying the visual and red image together. After I had chosen this image I worked very hard for many hours with the exposure times, temperatures, darks, flats, ghosts, histograms and finally some color work. I feel that I was fairly successful, and created a nice picture of the Christmas Tree Nebula. The red filter made the image even more amazing in true color. Mike Williams

I took a picture of the Owl Nebula (NGC3587) for this project. The pictures were taken in four different filters (red, blue, visual, and open) for 5 minutes apiece on March 24 and 27, 2004. I could leave the shutter open for so long because the magnitude of the nebula is only 11.2, which is pretty dim. To get my final image I had to remove stuff “artifacts” from the image that were made by the telescope. I then aligned the images, adjusted the grayscale, combined the photos, then adjusted the colors until it looked realistic. An interesting thing to notice in this picture is the blue star in the middle of the nebula. Blue stars are hot and put out a lot of light, so it is illuminating this nebula for us quite nicely. John Beauchamp

The star cluster M92 occurs 26,400 light years from earth. This object was observed using the Calvin telescope located in Rehoboth New Mexico, on 4/25/04 and 4/27/04. Messier 92 was observed through the red, blue, visual and open filters of the telescope. The exposure time was 60 sec. and had a binning of 2. The data was reduced using a process that subtracted the dark image from the raw data, as well as applied a flat field of correction. Also the ghost image was subtracted and the hot pixels were reduced. The final image a shows a vast array of white dwarfs in a cluster very appealing to look at. Since the blue filter was blurred using this telescope the images do not appear as they normally are. M92 can be seen in the sky between the knee and left leg of Hercules the constellation. Brad Flikkema

The Owl Nebula, or M97, was first discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1781, but it was not given its name until 1844 by Lord Rosse, an English astronomer who had constructed the largest telescope at that time. It is a complex planetary nebula, its name indicative of to its cylindrical shape corresponding to an owl’s eyes. This image reveals that in the background of this nebula, there are several small nebulous objects, most probably very distant galaxies. The Owl Nebula’s distance to earth is uncertain, estimated anywhere from 1,300 to 12,000 light years away. This image was taken April 25th, 2004 with blue, red, and visible light filters, and on April 28th with an open filter. The blue filter image was taken with an exposure time of 300 seconds, and the other images were taken with an exposure time of 60 seconds. The images were filtered for excess noise, aligned properly, their brightness and colors adjusted, and finally they were all combined together to produce this image. Aileen May

The object I chose to photograph was the globular cluster M3. M3 is one of the most outstanding globular clusters, containing an estimated half million stars. At a distance of about 33,900 light years, it is further away than the center of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, but still shines at magnitude 6.2, corresponding to a luminosity of about 300,000 times that of our sun. M3 is thus visible to the naked eye under very good conditions. M3 was observed on April 28, 2004 from the Calvin Observatory in Rehoboth, New Mexico. I requested 4 photos of the cluster in an open filter under 10 second intervals. To process these images, I removed all the Darks (CCD noise) as well as any dust particles on the mirror or filter on the telescope. After I had my final 4 images, I combined them and using the mosaic function, I pasted them together to make one final image. Globular cluster M3 is extremely rich in variable stars, more than in every other globular cluster in our Milky Way galaxy. M3 contains a relatively large number of so-called Blue Stragglers, blue main-sequence stars which appear to be rather young, much younger than the rest of the globular's stellar population would suggest. Rachel Kloostra

Now presenting.. .the Owl Nebula! This photograph is the final color image of the notorious nebula. It is not a mere picture snap, but a result of much work that this image has been achieved. To start, four pictures were taken of this area, each using a different filter (Blue, Red, Visual, and Open); I then calibrated these images through a number of steps. I began by subtracting any artifacts that are not actually present in space but appear in the photograph through subtracting a dark image, applying a flat field correction, subtracting the ghost image, and removing any hot pixels that were still present. I then aligned the images so that the same star appeared in the same spot in each of the photographs. Next I set the brightness scale, this ensures that bright structures are not overexposed while the faint ones are still evident. The final step was to combine these four images. I did so by toggling with the ratios of each mixing option (Red, Green, Blue, and Luminance transparency); until the objects in the photograph appeared most similar as they do to the naked eye. There you have it, a photograph; not a simple snapshot but a final work, reached through much technique and process. Jeff Beld

This is a picture of a globular cluster called M53, taken on April 27, 2004. This picture was taken in open filters, four times for sixty seconds each. I used darks and flats of the 4 individual pictures, and subtracted the darks from one picture so that the picture would have less bright speckles. A few isolated bright pixels were removed by repairing from CCDsoft program. This was done by applying calibrations. By using the darks, I removed CCD noise. After aligning, I set the brightness scale so that objects that were faint would appear brighter and the bright objects would not be overexposed. Finally, I obtained this final image so that the stars within the cluster could be seen and the stars lying around the cluster could be seen as well. M53 is about 60,000 light years away from the galactic center. It has a linear diameter of roughly 220 light years. It was found in 1775 by Johann Bode. Marie DeHaan

This is a grouping of new stars found in a section of the Coddington Nebula. The Coddington Nebula is actually a open star cluster. This picture was made from a larger series of pictures taken at the Rehoboth Observatory on April 27, 2004. The observatory took four images of my object with an open filter and exposure time of 300 seconds. Because of “noise” found in the images, I reduced them by subtracting the darks (noise created by pixels in cameras computer chip and the temperature of the chip) and the flats (dust particles on mirror and/or certain pixels being more susceptible to light than others). I also removed a “ghost” image from my photos. After reducing the images, I aligned all of the images and combined them together. Following the combination, I adjusted the black and white levels in the image to better view my focus image. After this step, I cropped the image to focus only on the most interesting aspects. In the image, you can see some beautiful nebulosity and new star formations. The uncropped image also had a few visible galaxies in it. The nebulosity of the Coddington Nebula is certainly a beautiful piece of the sky. Jon Schnell

The Lost Galaxy (NGC4526) is a fairly bright lenticular galaxy located between a pair of bright seventh magnatude stars. The observations used in this image were made on April 24, 2004 and April 27, 2004, respectively and it was combined from 300 hundred second exposures in Blue, Red, Visible, and Open filters. In order to make this image, I subtracted all unwanted static, ghosts, and artifacts from the images, aligned them to each other, set the brightness scales, and then combined the finished color filter images. Cody Shaffer

The name of the object my photography project depicts is the Bode’s Galaxy, also known as M81. The Bode’s Galaxy is 12 million light years away. The picture was taken on April 27, 2004 in Rehobeth, New Mexico. The project was a mosaic and five original pictures were taken, refined down to three and then combined into one final photograph. It’s interesting to note the obvious spiral structure of the galaxy and the sheer immensity of the arms themselves. Also note, there are two bright dots to the south west of the galaxy center. Although the more northern one is in fact a star, the more southern one is the remnants of a supernova explosion which went off in 1993, aptly named Supernova 1993J. Jason Schuurman

The galaxy of observation here is M100, a spiral arm galaxy. This picture was taken in several filters on the dates of April 24, 2004, and April 27, 2004. The filters used were the B,R,V, and Open filters. To create this picture, I had to subtract darks, flats, and ghosts from each of the individual filters, align each photo, then combine them into one picture. Once this was complete the next step was to distribute the colors in such a way that the true nature of the galaxy was brought out. Interesting features of this picture are the beautiful spiral arms and the brilliant center. Another interesting feature of this galaxy is the makeup of it. I would classify it as a spiral b class. Jordan Northrup

T he name of my object is M61. It is a spiral galaxy. I originally observed this object on March 1, 2004. I took the pictures on April 24 and April 27, using an exposure time of sixty seconds and dark, flat, and ghost filters. In Lab 20,1 conducted a mosaic project with my photos. First, I needed to select calibration images, after which I applied the calibration. Next, I aligned the images. After this, I was able to mosaic the images together. In this process, I combined the images in an attempt to create one final image. I also needed to set the brightness scale in this step. Finally, I made my final image. In my photo, the galaxy is clearly visible and looks very good. There are a number of stars visible in the photograph, some of them being quite large in size. The size of the M61 spiral galaxy is 6.5' x 5.8'. Mark Plaisier

This is a photo of the galaxy M65 taken on April 27, 2004. The exposure time is 300.00 seconds and the filters used were open to achieve a deep photo. M65 is 35 million light years away from Earth and this galaxy is part of the Leo Galaxy Triplet. For this photo, I used a dark, flat, and ghost filter on four photos of the same image, and then aligned the four images. I averaged the open filter images and then set the brightness scale and finally cropped the final photo. Lisa Money

Spiral Galaxy NGC3344. This is a Sb galaxy that is about 25 million lightyears from Earth. The Red, Green, and Blue Filters were taken on April 3, 2004. The open Filter was taken on April 27, 2004. Each of pictures had a exposure time of 300 seconds. Darks, Flats, and Ghosts images were subtracted from all of the filters. In this photograph you can see the blue spiral arms and a very bright center. This Galaxy can be seen with amateur telescopes. It is found in the Leo Minor Constellation. This Galaxy is almost half the size of our very own Milky Way Galax. David Geldersma

M105. M105 is a bright, considerably large elliptical galaxy that sits just north of (using galactic coordenants) the ecliptic at about 10h 48m. It is the brightest object in the image. It is neighbored my NGC3389 and NGC3384. NGC3384 is a large lenticular galaxy and appears as a the second brightes object in the imaage just to the right of M105. NCG 3389 is a faint spiral galaxy extended east to west that appers in the lower left corner of the image. The picture is the combination of three images taken in mid April. A red, green, and blue filters were used on the three images that went into the final image. Tom Richards





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