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Ron Masters
September 20, 2020
post image

Contains: Deep sky object

Acquisition Details

Equipment card


This is a compilation of images acquired at Naperville Astronomical Association Dark Sky site 9-19-2020. Starmaster hybrid truss 14.5" f4.3 Zambuto mirror with Skycommander goto and tracking, ZWO ASI294 MC Pro camera at prime focus, 10C camera temperature setpoint, 6-second frames at gains from 300-500 in SharpCap pro, from 60-500 frames depending on object. Stephan's quintet was previously imaged from suburban Bortle 7 sky, but included in this compilation for comparison. Starting at the left is m31 at 2.5 million light years distance (Andromeda). Moving to the right: m33 at 2.7 million light years distance (Triangulum), then the Fireworks galaxy NGC6946 at 22.5 million light years distance visible at the boundary between Cepheus and Cygnus. Top right is Stephan's Quintet at 290 million light years distance in Pegasus, although the brighter/larger galaxy is not associated with the main group and is about 39 million light years distant. Bottom right is Abell 2218 cluster at about 2 Billion light years distance, lensing galaxies even further away. Careful study of the image reveals faint traces of gravitational lensing effects. Thanks to Bernard Hubl for his pioneering work with a 12" scope in Austria to show that this can be done from Earth with an amateur telescope. Without the actual Hubble Space Telescope image we might not realize some of the faint "crazy streaks" are galactic lensing, but comparison to the famous Hubble images shows that amateur scopes can capture this fantastic gravitational-optical effect using modern camera and software technology. Pulling back to the larger whole image, all are at the same scale, so one can see how small an area of the sky the entire Abell 2218 cluster occupies compared to the other galaxies, progressing from the closest to us, m31, to the farthest.