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Ok so I talk a lot of smack to the Northern Hemisphere and to a lesser extent galaxy people in general (I'm team nebula, all the way), but I really have to hold my tongue when it comes to this monster of a galaxy, M31 Andromeda.

This beast is heading towards us and will "crash" into our galaxy, The Milky Way, ultimately merging after some disruption into a super galaxy. "Milkdromeda" is a suggested name, but "The Milk Shake" is also puntastic. Interestingly, unless our central black holes merge in the event when the two galaxies crash into each other, they may not necessarily physically touch. The hundreds of billions of solar systems (stars) are all mostly separated by great voids of space, so while a large gravitational dance will ensue, actual physical contact between any of our stars is mathematically unlikely.

It's barely able to be photographed from down here in Australia. At this time of the year for a few short months it briefly rises to a few degrees above the horizon. Being fairly north within Australia itself, it gets up to about 19 degrees from my location, but that's only for some minutes really. So this photo is taken, quickly, over two nights as it rotates from about 16 degrees-19 degrees. One small advantage I have is the super fast Celestron F2 RASA so this is made from a total of about 80 minutes worth of 1 minute exposures. Also using the CGX with a good polar alignment, I didn't need to guide at all. I'm super impressed with the setup and result and it's a big improvement on last year. Zoomed in I can see the dust lanes of M32 (The smaller galaxy on the right), and several red speckled nebulae on the lower edges. As you can tell, the whole thing is also too big to fit into this focal length!
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Still my favourite target in the night sky, the weird area around Caldwell 68 still gives me pause. Unlike the showy, energetic nebulae that typically glow in pinks and reds, this dark nebula hangs in space like a shroud trying to hide it’s binary stellar infants. Globular cluster NGC6723 also floats nearby but off into the distance, and the haze cloaks the stars behind giving a real sense of depth and perspective. I gave it a good crack this year, but this time with the Celestron RASA using 82 x 30s mono broadband exposures and 37 x 30s RGB for a total of just under 1 hour… which in astro imaging time is very very little, though it took me 2 nights to collect the data between my tiny window of the sky fenceline and my roofline! #celestronrocks #astrophotography
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Cutting through the full moon and local light pollution with narrowband filters I captured M8 (Lagoon) nebula over 2 nights with oxygen mapped to blue and hydrogen to green (Hubble palette) and processed as HaHST so it really looks like it's common namesake - a deep, serene, cavernous lagoon stretching into space. Ha 39x30s, SII 20x30s, OIII 68 x 60s - Celestron RASA, QHY9M CCD, Celestron CGX #celestronrocks #astrophotography
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Here's a 2-night LRGB broadband image of M8 Lagoon Nebula I just finished off. A little drift unfortunately means my stars are less than perfect, but the overall image is fairly nice and naturally coloured. I used the bits of wool trick on the dew shield to make the bright star clusters diffraction spikes more even and prominent. Controversial I know! Again, more art than science, but a nice wallpaper none-the-less! Celestron 9.25" Edge HD / f6.3 / 30 x 1m RGB QHY12 CCD / 48 x 1m Mono QHY9 CCD #astrophotography
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Ok so this image is more art than science. It's difficult to photograph a bright star because of numerous optical distortions, including the large diffraction spikes and the huge plate halo that comes from using a reflector style telescope, but I've never tried it before so thought I'd dispense with the pleasantries and embrace the sci-fi look of a huge insane lens flare. Remember, stars are perfect spheres, all this glow and halo are optical aberrations and artefacts of the photographic process.

This is Alpha Centauri A, the brightest star of the Alpha Centauri system which is the closest system to us. It's very much like our own sun in size, and spectral type and not too far from Proxima Centauri which has a confirmed exoplanet in the Goldilocks Zone (not too hot, not too cold - just right) though life is highly unlikely because of many other factors. In any case, if humans ever achieve interstellar travel this is where we go first. If there is life elsewhere, which is likely, if not inevitable, the Alpha Centauri system is probably the place we'll detect it outside our solar system first, simply because it's close.

I actually used wool stretched in an X across the front of the telescope to accentuate the diffraction spikes, though you can see the star isn't dead centre so the plate reflection and cross don't appear completely symmetrically. It's a nice effect though for photographing a single, bright star. Celestron 9.25" Edge HD, f6.3 Reducer, QHY12 CCD (RGB). 30 x 120s stacked. #astrophotography
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The next biggest prawn in my life besides the iconic Ballina roadside icon (now a Bunnings), IC 4628 is captured here in it’s natural red/pink prawn palette. Using the hydrogen as the main luminance, or detail layer, you can see how far much of the dust and gas go – right to the edges of the frame. A cluster of newborn stars float out of the chaos in the middle where gravitational forces churn the material into these hot, bright new members of the system.
32 x 30s RGB (QHY12 CCD) +
46 x 60s Hydrogen Alpha (QHY9 CCD)
Celestron RASA F2.2
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It was clear and moonless for long enough tonight to get the 40 or so minutes of REAL colour photographed for this NGC6188 .. not false colour narrowband this time! You may be able to see 2 creatures fighting which is why it's called "The Fighting Dragons of Ara". I like to think of it as "The Creation of Adam" .. or maybe "Atoms" would be more appropriate. Taken with 11" Celestron RASA and Qhy12 cooled colour CCD. #celestron #starstuff #startalk #celestronrocks #visitnsw #byronbay #nsw #australia #astronomy #astrophotography #astro #ig_astrophotography #abcopen #abcmyphoto #photographingspace #celestronrocks
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Another narrowband image taken under the bright moon, using filters to cut through and catch the photons I need, to see IC 4628 - The Prawn Nebula! Where I live in Australia we have an iconic giant prawn roadside attraction so I feel like this is our local nebula :) Rich in Hydrogen (Blue) and Sulphur (Green) but fairly weak in Oxygen (Red), mapping this way as HaRGB shows a beautiful etherial cloud. Total 100 minutes using Celestron 11" RASA, CGX and QHY9m. #astrophotography
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Same as last post (Fighting Dragons of Ara - NGC6188) but I swapped scopes for a closer look at the core emission which is rather pretty! #astrophotography
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The Fighting Dragons of Ara (NGC 6188) is a beautiful, large emission nebula currently above us in the Southern Hemisphere in the early evening. Photographed last night in narrowband, the oxygen is seen as blue and the hydrogen as green. The long tendrils of dust and gas stretch and swirl into core where bright new stars are birthed into existence, each with their own solar systems, planets and moons. 42x1m Ha + 20x1m Oiii + 30x1m Sii (Celestron RASA, CGX& QHY9M) #astrophotography #celestronrocks
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