Readers’ wildlife photos

We’re having a short RWP today as I have a larger post on Dobrzyn to follow soon. Today we have two special star photos from reader Don McCrady

After a streak of great clear weather in the Seattle area I (thus far) have two new astro-images for your site.  (More coming, I hope, if I can get some more clear skies and fix some technical issues I’m having.)  I’ll send them in separate e-mails to avoid confusion.

First, a nebula that I will dub “The Great Wall of Mexico“, a reference that — I promise — has nothing to do with Donald Trump!  This is the “Mexico” portion of the much  larger North America Nebula, and the bright ridge along its western “coastline” is known informally as the Great Wall.  The entire area is composed predominantly of ionized hydrogen and oxygen, but the inky dark spots and streaks are from the intervening clouds of dust that block the background glow.  The combination makes for a wonderfully complex and fascinating area of the sky.

This image was taken with a Stellarvue SVS130 telescope and an SBIG STL-4020M camera, and is a combination of Hydrogen-alpha and Oxygen-III.  The colours have been heavily manipulated to my aesthetic tastes, but generally the red areas correspond to Hydrogen and the blue/green areas to Oxygen.  The final image was upsampled 1.5x.

Even though this is the Mexico portion of NGC7000, and even though the bright ridge seen here is dubbed "The Great Wall", this post has absolutely nothing to do with "Donald the Lesser". Mexico is only the brightest portion of the North America Nebula; the entire nebula is the width of 4 full moons, and is even larger when you include the adjacent Pelican Nebula. The entire area is composed predominantly of ionized hydrogen and oxygen, but the inky dark spots and streaks are intervening clouds of dust. The combination makes for a wonderfully complex area of the sky. This image is a combination of Hydrogen-alpha and Oxygen-III, with the colours heavily manipulated to my aesthetic tastes, but generally the red areas correspond to Hydrogen and the blue/green areas to Oxygen. The final image was upsampled 1.5x.

Here’s the second astro photo I’ve been working on. This one is the aptly named Bubble Nebula, which really is a bubble in space.  The stellar wind of an extremely hot and energetic star at the center is carving out the surrounding molecular cloud of interstellar dust and gas.  The Bubble Nebula lies about 11000 light years distant in the constellation of Cassiopeia, and is nearby the beautiful open cluster M52.

This image was taken with a Stellarvue SVS130 telescope and an SBIG STL-4020M CCD camera.  Hydrogen-alpha was used as the red channel, while the blue and green channels are Oxygen-III.  The image was processed in MaximDL and Photoshop, and was upsampled 2x.

The Bubble Nebula really is a bubble within an expanding molecular cloud, carved out by the stellar wind of an extremely hot and energetic star. It lies about 11000 light years distant in the constellation of Cassiopeia, and is nearby the beautiful open cluster M52. This image was taken with a Stellarvue SVS130 telescope and an SBIG STL-4020M CCD camera. Hydrogen-alpha was used as the red channel, while the blue and green channels are Oxygen-III. The image was processed in MaximDL and Photoshop, and was upsampled 2x.

19 Comments

  1. Posted August 3, 2016 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Awesome. They seems so close.

  2. geckzilla
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Well, I have to thank Don for describing the North American Nebula to us. I thought this was the Maine / Great Lakes / Canadian area. Looking again, I can see how this is actually Mexico and Florida. I do processing of astronomical data from various professional archives and just had to completely rename and update the description of one of my works. Silly me. Not the first time I’ve misinterpreted an astronomical blob and I fear it is not the last.

    It’s a truly beautiful area of the sky and you really can’t see enough images of it. Love the Bubble too. Don’s work is lovely.

    • Don McCrady
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Thanks. Happy to help with the geography, and kudos to you for updating your image description.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    This is very interesting!

    I know I could sit all day on APOD or NASA but don’t. I like reading about the telescope and elements – literally -?- in the pic. A long-long term project of mine – get a telescope or binoculars+stand for this.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    These are totally awesome. I see on your Flickr page that you have a lot of other great pictures as well. I especially like the galaxy pictures.

    • Don McCrady
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Thanks, I appreciate it. My system is more tuned for nebulas than galaxies, but I love them too.

  5. rickflick
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    The Great Wall nebula is very dramatic. The dark streaky area reminds me of rain clouds seen from a distance, dropping their loads through windy skies. A further analogy is the bright red areas standing in for clouds illuminated by lightning.

  6. Posted August 3, 2016 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos! Nice work!

  7. Jeremy Tarone
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Beautiful pictures. It’s fantastic what amateur astronomers can do these days. Some pretty nice equipment you have. Do you do any serious work, like looking for asteroids or? I hate that word ‘serious’, the pictures you took are amazing, but I can’t think of a better word, I haven’t had my coffee yet.

    Seattle doesn’t seem like a great spot for astronomy. I live in Victoria, it seems more than half the time it’s cloudy with too much light pollution, or at least when I can get out to look. Seattle has similar weather probably even worse light pollution, it’s a much bigger city.

    I only use 25×50 binoculars. I usually fall asleep during the summer nights when I stay up, lying on my back in a lounging chair, looking for spots of interest, with my dog curled up on my lap for warmth, growling in his sleep every time I move.

    • Don McCrady
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Jeremy, no I don’t do pro-amateur collaboration, don’t look for comets or asteroids or supernovae. I know several people who do, but they have more permanent setups than mine, because as you’ve noted, Seattle (and Victoria) are terrible places to practice this hobby. Seattle in particular only has a few streaks of clear nights per year, and often none in the winter time. Perhaps one day I can retire and afford my own permanent observatory in New Mexico, but for now I just work with what I’ve got.

  8. Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Not just aesthetics, no? The colours allow for a sort of “map” of the contents.

    • Don McCrady
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that’s true. I initially put the H-alpha as the red channel (and 10% of the blue). The blue and green channels are both OIII. However, just leaving it at that would create a very different colour, so all I’m admitting is that I shifted the colours quite a bit during post processing (most notably, pushing the blues away from magenta, etc.).

  9. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I cannot resist noting that a few commentators have described Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall around Mexico as “nebulous”.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/04/05/donald_trump_unveils_his_plan_to_make_mexico_pay_for_a_border_wall.html

    • Don McCrady
      Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Good one!

    • Posted August 4, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Full of miscellaneous crud and gas? Yeah, I can get behind that description.

  10. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Really beautiful images and not the easiest to get!

  11. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Beautiful!

  12. keith cook + / -
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks you, nice work. I needed to get off this planet for a break I also visited your Starry Vista site.

  13. Ben
    Posted August 3, 2016 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    These are gorgeous images. Thank you for sharing.


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