Have you ever wondered what lies beyond the stars? If you have a telescope, you might want to point it at the constellation of Sagittarius, where you can find one of the most beautiful and fascinating objects in the sky: the Trifid Nebula.
The Trifid Nebula, also known as Messier 20 or M20, is a combination of three types of nebulae: an emission nebula, a reflection nebula, and a dark nebula. Its name means “three-lobe”, because it appears to be divided into three parts by dark lanes of dust. The nebula is also a star-forming region, where new stars are born from the gas and dust clouds.
The nebula is about 21 light-years across, and contains about 3,100 young stars. The most massive star that has formed in this region is HD 164492A, an O7.5III star with a mass more than 20 times the mass of the Sun. This star is responsible for the bright red glow of the emission nebula, which is caused by ionized hydrogen gas. The blue part of the nebula is a reflection nebula, which scatters the light from nearby stars. The dark nebula, also known as Barnard 85, blocks some of the light from behind, creating the trifurcated appearance.
A Cosmic Wonder
The Trifid Nebula is a cosmic wonder that showcases the beauty and diversity of nebulae in our galaxy. It is also a laboratory for studying how stars form and evolve in different environments. By observing this nebula, we can learn more about our own origins and place in the universe.
If you want to see more images and videos of the Trifid Nebula, you can visit these links:
If you are interested in buying a telescope, you might have come across two types of mounts: the altitude azimuth mount (also known as alt-az or AZ) and the equatorial mount (also known as EQ). These mounts are the parts that support the optical tube of the telescope and allow it to move and point at different objects in the sky. But what are the differences between these two mounts, and which one is better for your needs? In this blog post, we will compare the altitude azimuth mount and the equatorial mount in terms of their design, advantages, disadvantages, uses and coordinate systems. By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of these mounts and be able to make an informed decision.
What is an Altitude Azimuth Mount?
An altitude azimuth mount is a simple and intuitive type of mount that allows the telescope to move in two directions: up and down (altitude) and left and right (azimuth). The azimuth axis is perpendicular to the ground, while the altitude axis is parallel to the ground. This type of mount mimics how we perceive the world around us, as we use compass points (azimuth) and angles above the horizon (altitude) to locate objects.
An altitude azimuth mount can be manual or motorized, depending on whether you want to control the movement of the telescope by hand or by a remote controller. Some altitude azimuth mounts are also computerized, meaning that they have a built-in database of celestial objects and can automatically point the telescope at them with a push of a button.
Some common types of altitude azimuth mounts are:
Fork mount: This mount has two arms that hold the optical tube on both sides. It is usually used for catadioptric telescopes, such as Schmidt-Cassegrains or Maksutov-Cassegrains.
Yoke mount: This mount has a single arm that holds the optical tube on one side. It is usually used for small refractors or reflectors.
Dobsonian mount: This mount is a special type of altitude azimuth mount that consists of a wooden box with a rotating base and a cradle for the optical tube. It is usually used for large Newtonian reflectors.
What is an Equatorial Mount?
An equatorial mount is a more complex and sophisticated type of mount that allows the telescope to move in two directions: right ascension (RA) and declination (DEC). The RA axis is aligned with the Earth’s rotational axis, while the DEC axis is perpendicular to it. This type of mount follows how celestial objects move across the sky, as they appear to rotate around the celestial poles due to the Earth’s rotation.
An equatorial mount can be manual or motorized, depending on whether you want to control the movement of the telescope by hand or by a remote controller. Some equatorial mounts are also computerized, meaning that they have a built-in database of celestial objects and can automatically point the telescope at them with a push of a button.
Some common types of equatorial mounts are:
German equatorial mount: This mount has a counterweight on one end of the RA axis and the optical tube on the other end. It is usually used for refractors or small reflectors.
Fork equatorial mount: This mount has two arms that hold the optical tube on both sides, but unlike the fork alt-az mount, it has an additional wedge that tilts the whole assembly to align with the Earth’s rotational axis. It is usually used for catadioptric telescopes.
Horseshoe equatorial mount: This mount has a U-shaped structure that holds the optical tube on one side and allows it to move freely around the RA axis. It is usually used for large reflectors.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Altitude Azimuth Mounts
Altitude azimuth mounts have some advantages and disadvantages compared to equatorial mounts. Here are some of them:
They are easy to set up and use, as they do not require polar alignment or balancing.
They are cheaper than equatorial mounts, as they have fewer parts and less precision.
They can handle heavier telescopes, especially Dobsonian mounts, which are very stable and sturdy.
They are sufficient for planetary and lunar observation and imaging, as these objects do not move very fast across the sky.
They are not suitable for deep-sky observation and imaging, as these objects move faster across the sky and require constant adjustment in both axes, which can be tedious and inaccurate.
They suffer from field rotation, which means that the image of the object rotates in the eyepiece or camera as the telescope tracks it. This can be a problem for long-exposure photography, as it can cause star trails or distorted shapes.
They do not use the equatorial coordinate system, which is the standard system for locating celestial objects. This can make it harder to find and identify objects in the sky.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Equatorial Mounts
Equatorial mounts have some advantages and disadvantages compared to altitude azimuth mounts. Here are some of them:
They are suitable for deep-sky observation and imaging, as they can smoothly track objects across the sky by moving only in one axis (RA). This eliminates the need for constant adjustment and field rotation.
They use the equatorial coordinate system, which is the standard system for locating celestial objects. This can make it easier to find and identify objects in the sky, especially with computerized mounts that can automatically point at them.
They can be used for astrophotography, as they can accurately follow the apparent motion of the stars and keep them in focus. They can also be equipped with guiding systems that can correct for any errors in tracking.
They are harder to set up and use, as they require polar alignment and balancing. Polar alignment is the process of aligning the RA axis with the Earth’s rotational axis, which can be done by using a polar scope, a smartphone app or a star alignment method. Balancing is the process of adjusting the weight distribution of the optical tube and the counterweight to prevent any strain on the mount’s motors or gears.
They are more expensive than altitude azimuth mounts, as they have more parts and more precision. They also require more accessories, such as a polar scope, a wedge or a guiding system.
They are heavier and bulkier than altitude azimuth mounts, especially German equatorial mounts, which have a long counterweight shaft. This can make them harder to store and transport.
Coordinate Systems for Altitude Azimuth Mounts and Equatorial Mounts
As mentioned before, altitude azimuth mounts and equatorial mounts use different coordinate systems to locate objects in the sky. These coordinate systems are based on different reference points and axes.
The coordinate system for altitude azimuth mounts is called AltAz or horizontal. It uses two coordinates: altitude (alt) and azimuth (az). Altitude is the angle of an object above the horizon, measured from 0° (horizon) to 90° (zenith). Azimuth is the angle of an object along the horizon, measured from 0° (north) to 360° (clockwise). For example, an object with an altitude of 45° and an azimuth of 180° would be halfway up in the southern sky.
The coordinate system for equatorial mounts is called equatorial or celestial. It uses two coordinates: right ascension (RA) and declination (DEC). Right ascension is the angle of an object along the celestial equator, measured from 0h (vernal equinox) to 24h (counterclockwise). Declination is the angle of an object above or below the celestial equator, measured from -90° (south celestial pole) to +90° (north celestial pole). For example, an object with a right ascension of 12h and a declination of +30° would be halfway up in the northern sky at noon.
Altitude azimuth mounts and equatorial mounts are two types of mounts that support telescopes and allow them to move and point at different objects in the sky. They have different designs, advantages, disadvantages, uses and coordinate systems.
Altitude azimuth mounts are simple and intuitive mounts that move in up/down (altitude) and left/right (azimuth) directions. They are easy to set up and use, cheaper than equatorial mounts, can handle heavier telescopes and are sufficient for planetary and lunar observation and imaging. However, they are not suitable for deep-sky observation and imaging, as they require constant adjustment in both axes, suffer from field rotation and do not use the equatorial coordinate system.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to witness a star exploding? Well, now you have a chance to see it for yourself, thanks to a new supernova that has appeared in the Pinwheel Galaxy, also known as Messier 101 or M101. This is the closest supernova to Earth in a decade, and it’s visible with a small telescope or even binoculars.
What is a supernova? A supernova is a powerful explosion that occurs when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses under its own gravity. The core of the star implodes, creating a shock wave that blasts the outer layers of the star into space. The resulting explosion can outshine an entire galaxy for a brief period of time, releasing enormous amounts of energy and radiation.
Supernovae are rare events in our galaxy, occurring only once every few centuries. However, they are more common in other galaxies, especially those that have a lot of young and massive stars. The Pinwheel Galaxy is one such galaxy, located about 21 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Ursa Major. It is a spiral galaxy with four prominent arms that resemble a pinwheel.
How was the supernova discovered? The new supernova in the Pinwheel Galaxy was discovered on May 19, 2023 by Koichi Itagaki, an amateur astronomer from Japan. He noticed a bright spot of light near the end of one of the galaxy’s arms that was not there before. He reported his observation to the Transient Name Server (TNS), an online database that collects and verifies reports of new astronomical phenomena.
The supernova was soon confirmed by other astronomers around the world, who named it SN 2023ixf. According to Andy Howell, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Barbara, SN 2023ixf is most likely a type II supernova, which means that it resulted from the core collapse of a massive star at the end of its life. The star that exploded was probably about 10 times more massive than our sun.
How can you see the supernova? SN 2023ixf is currently visible in the night sky, and it should continue to brighten for a few days before fading away over the next few months. To see it, you will need a telescope or binoculars with at least 50x magnification. You will also need a clear and dark sky, away from city lights and pollution.
To find the Pinwheel Galaxy, you can use the Big Dipper as a guide. The Big Dipper is part of Ursa Major, one of the most recognizable constellations in the northern hemisphere. It looks like a large ladle with four stars forming the bowl and three stars forming the handle. The Pinwheel Galaxy is located about halfway between the two stars at the end of the handle, Mizar and Alkaid. You can use your fist held at arm’s length to measure about 10 degrees of sky between these two stars.
Once you have located the Pinwheel Galaxy, you can look for SN 2023ixf near the end of one of its spiral arms. It should appear as a bright point of light that stands out from the rest of the galaxy. You can compare your view with images taken by professional and amateur astronomers online to make sure you are looking at the right spot.
Why is this supernova important? SN 2023ixf is not only a spectacular sight for skywatchers, but also a valuable source of information for scientists. Supernovae are important for understanding how stars evolve and die, how galaxies form and change over time, and how elements are created and distributed throughout the universe.
By observing SN 2023ixf, astronomers can learn more about its progenitor star, such as its mass, composition, age, and environment. They can also measure how fast and how far the supernova expands, how much energy and radiation it emits, and what kind of remnants it leaves behind. These data can help them test and refine their theories and models of stellar evolution and explosion.
Moreover, SN 2023ixf can provide clues about the history and structure of the Pinwheel Galaxy itself. By comparing its brightness and distance with other supernovae in other galaxies, astronomers can estimate how far away M101 is from us more accurately. They can also use SN 2023ixf as a probe to study how dust and gas affect its light as it travels through different regions of M101.
Don’t miss this opportunity! SN 2023ixf is a rare and exciting event that you don’t want to miss. Grab your telescope or binoculars and head outside to witness a star exploding in another galaxy. You will be amazed by what you see!
Here are some of the first images I have ever taken when I started astrophotography. These images are of Messier 103. I hope you enjoy them. I took them with my Makustov Cassegrain 7″ and a Cannon 60D camera.
Here are some pictures of the Whirlpool Galaxy that I took. These are with a Celestron C11, hyperstar, ASI mcpro camera, and guide scope. I tried to use a filter with the hyperstar to reduce the light pollution, but it blocked some colors from coming through. I still think it is a pretty awesome result though. The next time I do this target, I’ll try to get all the color.
I took this picture a couple years ago around when I first started astrophotography. When I processed all of the data for this picture I was amazed at the result being that this is all unguided 30 second exposures. I used a 7″ MakCass and a Cannon 60D
It’s a little green but I think it’s pretty good for just starting off.
These are pictures of Bodes Nebulae M81 that were taken with a Celestron C11 with a hyperstar, guide scope, asimcpro camera, PHD2 for tracking, Siril stacking, and gimp post processing. My gimp skills aren’t that great yet, but improving.
This is the best post processed one I currently have.
So with the hyperstar, I was only able to do around 15-30 second subs. I think because the Focal ratio is reduced so much that the amount of light it is gathering washes out the exposure quicker. If you have any advice on how I can improve, please leave a comment. Thank you.