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                         Recent Images -- Last Updated 6/27/2017

     The images below will not show up on the other pages until they are replaced on this one.  You won't see any repeats when you go to one of the links on the left.  Basic information about the telescopes and cameras is at the bottom of this page.
 

   M106 (NGC 4258)

   Celestron CG 9 1/4, ST2000XM, 84/32/32/32

   Messier 106 is a big (18.6' x 7.2') SAB(s)bc galaxy located in Canes Venatici.  It was a "late" addition to Messier's catalog, having been added in 1947 based on research by Helen Hogg.  It was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1781.  But many of Mechain's discoveries were included in the catalog and it appears certain that Messier was aware of it.

106 has an active nucleus with a supermassive black hole, a short bar, complex arms, and a very large faint halo.  Above and to the right of 106 is NGC 4248, a peculiar irregular.

This image was acquired at the 2017 Texas Star Party.  I had expected a better result but was dealing with dewing and poor transparency on the night it was made.

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   M58 (NGC 4579)

   Celestron CG 9 1/4, ST2000XM, 120/32/32/32

   M58 is another of my images from the 2017 TSP.  Conditions were better than they were for M106, and the results were better.  M58 has a short bar, easily seen, and a central black hole.  It is 5.9' x 4.7', and is classified as SAB(rs)b.  The distance to M58 is about 62 million light years and it is the most distant Messier object.  It is surrounded by a large number of very tiny galaxies, many of which are undoubtedly satellites

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   M88 (NGC4501)

   Celestron CG 9 1/4, ST2000XM, 80/24/24/24

   M88 is inclined 30 degrees to our line of sight, giving it an elliptical appearance similar to the way we see M31, the Andromeda Galaxy.  The arms are very crisp and fairly tightly wound; they can be traced all the way to the core.  M88 is 7.0' x 3.7', and classified as SA(rs)b  

While there are numerous tiny galaxies in the field, the only one of any size is VCC 1400, below and slightly right of M88.

Also a 2017 TSP image.

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   NGC 4449

   Celestron CG 9 1/4, ST2000XM, 48
   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 80/28/28/28

   NGC 4449 is a fascinating object.  It is a very boxy irregular (IBm), similar to the Large Magellanic Cloud except that it is one of the most active starburst galaxies in our part of the universe.  For a thorough discussion of all its interesting aspects, see Kanipe and Webb, Annals of the Deep Sky, vol. 3.  I could not begin to fit all of it  on this page.

My original image was done at my observatory but sky conditions were not great during acquisition of the luminance, so I collected more at the 2017 TSP.  The 48 minute image there was much better than the earlier 80 minutes, so I merged the images 75/25, favoring the TSP shot.

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   NGC 3190 Group (Hickson 44, Arp 316)

   Celestron CG 9 1/4, ST2000XM, 140/48/48/48

   I don't usually attempt galaxies, particularly faint ones, from my home.  But I got started on this one just as a test and decided to finish it.  Even with the long exposure, the background is quite noisy.  A 45/15/15/15 image at my observatory would probably have been just as good.  The field was offset to find a guide star.

This is an interesting group.  The four brightest galaxies make up Hickson 44, while the three northernmost are identified as Arp 316.  NGC 3190, the brightest, is an edge-on spiral.  Its classification is SA(s)a pec sp.  The integral sign galaxy to the right is NGC 3187, while the E2 galaxy to the left is NGC 3193.  The ring galaxy in the lower right corner is NGC 3185.  It is included in the Hickson group but not in the Arp.  The classification is (R)SB(r)a.  The only other galaxy of any size (but less than an arc minute) is in the lower middle of the field.  NED lists the name as LSBC D500-05, but it is listed in a number of other catalogs.

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   M3 (NGC 5272)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 20/7/7/5

   I would normally use a longer total exposure for a globular cluster like this but I was doing a test for a talk I'll be giving to the local camera club.  This image uses 30-second individual exposures with no guiding.  I had to toss a few but the ones I kept produced a reasonably good result.  I wanted to show what a beginner might achieve without the complexity of guiding.

M3 is notable for having a large number of variable stars, especially RR Lyrae variables.  Also, Sandage first identified "blue stragglers' in this cluster in 1953.  These are massive stars that should have left the main sequence long ago but which, for some reason, have not or, more likely, have left and then returned.

 

  

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   NGC 1514

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 76/28/20/28

   NGC 1514 is a beautiful planetary nebula located in Taurus.  It was discovered by William Herschel in 1790.  It has a bright central star which produces diffraction spikes in my Newtonian telescope.  These a no more "real" than the diffraction spikes on the other bright stars in the field.  The denser central part of the nebula contains a number of overlapping bubbles which give it a lumpy appearance.  There is a fainter outer envelope.  Al Kelly reprocessed my original image to eliminate gradients and reduce the noise.  Thanks, Al.

The central part of 1514 is just a little larger than the equivalent part of M57, the Ring Nebula.  The Ring also has an outer envelope which is even larger but much fainter.

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   NGC 2327, IC 2177, and More

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 60/24/24/24

   NGC 2327 is the small bright nebula just above center.  IC 2177 is the nebulosity occupying the lower left two-thirds of the field.  This is a huge object, 150' x 60', with only a small portion visible here.  It includes numerous areas of dark nebulosity, a few of which can be seen in this image.  GN 07.01.4 sweeps to the right, away from the bright star in the lower right of the field.  It consists of a small bright area overlapping the star and a longer, but fainter, streamer looking very much like a comet.  It is also known as Magakian 241 and is classified as a cometary nebula, but is not a typical cometary in either appearance or location.  Finally, the cluster of bright stars just left and below GN 07.01.4 is the open cluster VdBergh 92.  It contains 12 stars within a 3' diameter.

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   NGC 2683

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 48/20/20/20

   NGC 2683 is believed to be a barred spiral, even though no bar can be seen in even the best available images.  It is nicknamed the UFO Galaxy because its appearance matches fairly closely a number of descriptions of various supposed UFOs.  The yellow to brownish color, especially near the core, is a result of dust in the galaxy halo.  There a many small background galaxies in the field.

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   Tombaugh 1

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 30/10/10/10

   Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto, identified five open clusters during his search of plates from the Lowell astrograph.  Later, one of them was found to be a duplicate discovery of IC 166.  The first two of his list are shown here, and below, and IC 166 was imaged earlier.  Tombaugh 1 includes 45 stars in a 5' diameter.owell astrograph

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   Tombaugh 2

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 30/10/10/10

   See Tombaugh 1 above.  Tombaugh 2 is considerably denser, with 50 stars in a 3.0' diameter.

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   Sharpless2-237 and NGC 1931

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 48/20/20/20

   Sharpless2-237 is the nebulosity overlapping the open cluster NGC 1931.  It is also known as the Fly Nebula, with IC 417, about 45' away, being the Spider.  It is a mix of emission and reflection nebulosity.

NGC 1931 is a very sparse cluster, consisting of 20 stars in a 6' diameter.  While both objects overlap, the center of 1931 is a little south (below) Sh2-237.  It is often misidentified as being the nebula.

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   M67 (NGC 2682)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 30/12/12/12

   I have previously made a wide-field image of M67 with my AT-66 refractor.  You can see that one here.  It is actually a prettier image but does not show as much detail.

M67 is a large, rich open cluster, containing about 500 stars in a diameter of 29'.  A little of that area extends beyond the boundaries of this field.  M67 is unusual in a number of ways, being one of the oldest open clusters known and being  located a large distance from the galactic plane.  Open clusters are generally located in the plane of the Milky Way.

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   NGC 2362

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 25/10/10/10

   NGC 2362 is an unusual open cluster.  I can not remember any with so many bright stars of similar brightness.  The brightest member is tau Canis Major, a multiple star consisting of at least 7 components.  The cluster is both young and massive.

It is generally described as consisting of about 60 stars, but recent studies have identified several hundred low mass stars within its boundary.  None of these show up in my image.

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   NGC 6553

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 30:11:11:11

   NGC 6553 is a very reddened globular cluster in Sagittarius.  It is one of the globulars located in the galactic (Milky Way) bulge.  Most of these clusters are so obscured that they cannot be studied at optical wavelengths.  Dark dust lanes are visible throughout this field and even the objects not completely obscured are dimmed and reddened.  The cluster is located just over a degree SE of the Lagoon Nebula, in a very rich part of the Milky Way.

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   NGC 6749

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 22/10/10/10

   NGC 6749 is fainter and more reddened than even 6553 above.  It, however, is a halo rather than a bulge cluster.  It was the first globular discovered by John Herschel.  This is a bit surprising because it is widely considered to be the most difficult NGC globular to observe visually.  There is an outstanding article available on the Cloudy Nights forum titled "NGC 6749 Aquila -- Tough Cookie, Soft Heart".  This article includes more detail on 6749 than any of the professional journals.

Just a personal observation -- in most globular images, the globular appears to be in front of, or among the field stars.  To me, 6749 definitely seems to be hiding behind them.

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     This site presents color CCD images of astronomical objects taken by the author.  Most have been taken with an SBIG ST2000XM camera and either a homebuilt 10-inch Newtonian, Astro-Tech AT66ED, or Meade 2045D telescope  There are a few other possible camera/telescope combinations described on the Equipment page but rarely used.  Images taken with the 10-inch will always be from my observatory at West Point, TX.  Those taken with the AT66ED will frequently be from my home in The Woodlands, TX, but it is portable and I take it to dark sky sites when possible.  The same applies to the Meade 2045D.  Except for images with the 10-inch, the location will be identified.  The most recent dozen or so images will be shown on this page and others can be found by selecting an object type from the buttons on the left.  All the images will be displayed as large thumbnails, accompanied by descriptions of the object, equipment used, exposure times, etc.  Under each thumbnail, you will generally have the option of linking to a full size or half size image.  Use your browser's Back button to return.  Experiment with each size a few times to see which you prefer.  The half-size images are usually more attractive but the full-size images obviously show more detail.  Occasionally, I might include a few monochrome images but not many.

     I began my color imaging in September, 2008  -- not counting a couple of years of CMY imaging with my Cookbook camera back in the previous century.  For those of you interested in the technical details of the images, the lengths of the luminosity, red, green, and blue exposures are listed as L:R:G:B minutes.  If the field size is something other than 21.7' x 28.9' (or 28.9' x 21.7'), the size will be listed.  Also, unless otherwise noted, the images are oriented North up and East to the left.  Details about the telescopes, cameras, filters, software, etc. can be found on the Equipment page.  In late 2009, I acquired a set of narrowband filters and am starting to take some NB images.  When those images are moved off this page, they will be collected on a new Narrowband page.  On that page, there is a short description of the palettes used to convert the exposure sets to color images

     Prior to September, 2008, I spent several years accumulating monochrome images of all 338 Arp Peculiar Galaxies.  These can be seen at my other web site, www.338arps.com.  This challenging project sharpened my general imaging skills but color is a new challenge.  The Arp Galaxies that I have imaged in color will appear on both sites.

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