Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pluto and Lyra, Cygnus, and Hercules deep sky images

This was a very unusual and exciting week. The space craft New Horizons finally sailed past Pluto and its five moons, Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra. Images taken by New Horizons showed massive mountains on Pluto that are over 10,000 feet high. Another surprise was the absence of craters on a large heart shaped area, Tombaugh Regio, named after the discoverer of Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh.

On the left is a beautiful image of Pluto taken a short time before the closest approach of New Horizon to Pluto. You may notice the whitish heart shaped area in the bottom central and right side.

Pictured to the left is Pluto's largest moon Charon. To me it looks similar to our moon without nearly as many craters. Note the large gashes in the left edge. It is estimated that this is a canyon 4 to 6 miles deep.

Here is a picture of the massive mountains discovered on Pluto. They are believed at this time to be made of water ice.

The above pictures and more may be found at

I was able to go outside on one outstanding evening this week, where the Milky way was clearly visible stretching across the sky overhead. Below are a few images taken on the evening of July 13 and the morning of the July 14, 2015.

This is the gorgeous Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra, another planetary nebula, created by an exploding old star. You can see the remnant star in the middle of the ring. Through an eyepiece it has the appearance of a small smoke ring.

Here is the amazing Globular Cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules, one of the best globular's to view through an eyepiece on a dark night.

Not far from M13, is an often overlooked globular M92. Because it is not quite as bright as M13, it doesn't get observed as often at star parties, but is nearly as impressive to look at as M13. M92 resides in the constellation Hercules.

Here is an impressive open cluster named NGC 6819 located in Cygnus. There are many of these congregations of stars in the Milky Way. Many of them eventually drift apart.

This image shows the remnant of material blown off of an old star that blew up. It is called the Crescent Nebula and is located in Cygnus.

Finally this is a good example of a Spiral Galaxy.  NGC 6946 is in the constellation of Cygnus and is similar to our own Milky way. Our Milky Way would look similar to  this if it were viewed from a position far above it. This galaxy is estimated to be only about 1/3 the size of our Milky way.Note the spiral arms. It is about 40,000 light years across. That's how long it would take a beam of light to cross from one end to the other.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pluto and Pegasus deep sky images

You may notice if you watch the news during the next several days that there will be a lot news about the New Horizon space craft that is due to pass Pluto on July 14, 2015. Here is a link to the NASA New Horizon site if you want to follow along:

Also NASA will be broadcasting on NASA TV for the next several days to inform the public of what is being discovered. Here is a link to  NASA TV. You can check the schedule for the broadcast regarding New Horizons;

Here is one of the latest images of Pluto and it's moon Charon. No one in the history of the human race has seen what Pluto and Charon look like until now. The pictures in the coming days will have much more detail, and far greater resolution.

This past week I have imaged several galaxies, globular clusters and Planetary nebula, mostly in the constellation Pegasus.  The first is a planetary nebula in Vulpecula. It represents a star that grew old, swelled up and blew off it's outer layers. What you see here is a remnant of that great explosion.

Next is an image of M15, a globular cluster, that is in orbit around our galaxy. It consists of thousands of suns rotating around a common center.

Below is spiral galaxy NGC7331 far outside of the Milky Way, and you may notice several other smaller galaxies nearby. A galaxy consists of billions of suns large and small rotating around a common center.

These two galaxies are NGC 7332 and NGC 7739. They form an interesting pair of galaxies, seen nearly edge on.

Finally we have a beautiful barred spiral galaxy NGC 7479. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Introduction to Blaine's Astro Blog

This is the first post of my new blog Blaine's Astro Blog. The purpose of this blog is to record and share my activities regarding my Astronomical interests. Also I will post about upcoming astronomical events that I plan on observe and the results of those observations.

Below is a picture of me observing from inside the comfort of my home. A video camera connected to my Meade LX200R telescope sends an image thru WiFi to a computer inside my home. This is how I do most of my observing.

Here  is an example of an image of M20, the Trifid Nebula, taken with my Mallincam Video Camera.