My first H-alpha test of the Horsehead and Flame nebulae

H-alpha image of the Horsehead (left) and Flame (right) nebulae in Orion obtained from my backyard, 15 km from Sydney’s city centre.

This image combines 24 frames I got during some few nights in early October using the ZWO ASI1600MM Pro and the H-alpha Baader 3.5nm ultra-narrow filter.

All frames had an exposition time of 900s (15 minutes), hence this image combines a total of 6 hours of telescope time!

Telescope: Skywatcher Black Diamond 80, f=600mm (f/7.5)

Equipment: I used the ZWO ASIAir to control the camera, the mount (Skywatcher AZ-EQ6) and the guiding system (ASI120MM + Orion 50mm finderscope). The H-alpha filter was in the ZWO filter drawer.

Processing: Data processed with Siril software. FITS converted on TIFF using NASA’s Fits Liberator considering a logarithmic function. Color / saturation / levels / contrast / smart sharpen with Photoshop.

For this image I decided to give some false colour instead of just the greyscale image, I used Photoshop to get the kind of “fire” aspect to the gas in the nebulae.

I was expecting to get more data to get the image deeper, unfortunately the weather, following “La Niña”, is not cooperating in Eastern Australia in late 2020.

Credit: Ángel R. López-Sánchez (AAO-MQ).

Full resolution image available in my Flickr.

Tweet compilations of the “BlueMUSE Workshop”

Last Monday and Tuesday (evening – night for me) I participated in the “BlueMUSE Science Workshop“, organised by Johan Richard (CRAL). It was a highly valuable, very interesting workshop discussing all the amazing science that the new BlueMUSE instrument can achieve.

BlueMUSE is an instrument selected by ESO for its VLT2030 instrumental plan, with a Phase A starting no later than 2022. It is an optical seeing-limited, blue-optimised, medium spectral resolution, panoramic integral-field-spectrograph, to be installed on one of the telescopes of the VLT on Cerro Paranal (Chile). The project is an evolution of the technology used on the very successful VLT / MUSE instrument, but with a new and distinct science case enabled by its main characteristics

  • A wavelength coverage 350 – 580 nm
  • An average spectral resolution R~4000
  • Minimum 1 arcmin2 and up to 2 arcmin2 field-of-view.

Due to its unique parameter space, BlueMUSE is foreseen to cover broad science cases, from solar system objects to high redshift galaxies. It has strong synergies with future facilities such as JWST, ELT, SKA and Athena, as highlighted in the BlueMUSE science white paper.

As usual, I’ve paid attention to all the talks and tweeted about them, compiling all the tweets in a thread. The first tweet is this one:

I also asked @threadreadapp to “unroll” the thread for getting all the information in a single post. The link is here.

This workshop was originally scheduled at early April but… you know what happened.

I’m organising the Australian version of the BlueMUSE Workshop on December 2nd, hoping to get the interest and attraction of the Australian researchers in blueMUSE.

Eventually I should talk more about my research here, as in the last times I’ve basically been posting nice astrophotographies and outreach content, when actually the 90% of my time during all these months have been working in the amazing Integral Field Spectroscopy (IFS) data I obtained with the KOALA+AAOmega instruments at the Anglo-Australian Telescope, the Python code I’m developing for processing the data (PyKOALA), and the preliminary results we are finding in some galaxies of the HI-KIDS (“The HI-KOALA IFS Dwarf galaxy Survey“) project. Stay tuned!

The Phases of the Moon

The phases of the Moon

Combination of 8 images taken during January and March 2019 showing different phases of the Moon.

These images, with many more not shown here, are part of a educational exercise conducted with my son, Luke, who was 6 years old then (Year 1), and who actually took all the photos.

Each image combines ~150 frames, all taken with my Skywatcher Black Diamond 80mm, f/7.5, using my CANON EOS 5D Mark III at primary focus, from Freshwater, Sydney.

The data were stacked using the free Lynkeos software, and then processed with Photoshop to increase the shadows/highlights, correct colour, smart sharpen for getting a better contrast of the craters, and luminosity.

One of these images has been used in the article published in ABC Science today discussing the discovery of water in the surface of the Moon by the SOFIA observatory.

Credit: Luke López Planells (Year 1, Manly West Primary School) & Ángel R. López-Sánchez (Australian Astronomical Optics, Macquarie University).

Full resolution image in my Flickr.

Wide field view around the Lagoon and the Trifid nebulae

2017_09_19_M20+M8_cboost_trim_small

The Trifid Nebula (M20), with its pink (left) and blue (right) colours, is at the center. The Lagoon Nebula (M 8) is at its left. Very close to M20 is the open cluster M21, almost in the very center of the image. The faint nebula IC 4685 is also seen over M 8. The open cluster M23 is located at the bottom right corner (this cluster has a similar size to the full moon in the sky). The diffuse nebula IC 1283 is located at the top right, in the middle of a dark cloud.

CANON EOS 5D Mark III with a Tamrom 200mm lens, 15 x 5 minutes exposure at f/2.8 and ISO 800.

Piggyback using my old mount, battery powered but very well polar-aligned, no autoguiding.

Full processed with Photoshop.

Siding Spring Observatory, Coonabarabran (NSW, Australia), 19 September 2017.

Full resolution image in my Flickr.

Credit: Ángel R. López-Sánchez (AAO-MQ).

Fire in the Cat’s Paw Nebula

Deep H-alpha image of the Cat’s Paw Nebula (NGC 6334) in Scorpius obtained from my backyard, 15 km from Sydney’s city centre.

This image combines 40 frames I got during some few nights during late September and early October 2020 using the ZWO ASI1600MM Pro and the H-alpha Baader 3.5nm ultra-narrow filter.

All frames had an exposition time of 900s (15 minutes), hence this image combines a total of 10 hours of telescope time!

Telescope: Skywatcher Black Diamond 80, f=600mm (f/7.5)

Equipment: I used the ZWO ASIAir to control the camera, the mount (Skywatcher AZ-EQ6) and the guiding system (ASI120MM + Orion 50mm finderscope). The H-alpha filter was in the ZWO filter drawer.

Processing: Data processed with Siril software. FITS converted on TIFF using NASA’s Fits Liberator considering a logarithmic function. Color / saturation / levels / contrast / smart sharpen with Photoshop.

For this image I decided to give some false colour instead of just the greyscale image, I used Photoshop to get the kind of “fire” aspect to the gas in the nebulae.

I would love to get some data in broad-band filters to get the colours, but I’m afraid this will have to wait till next year, as Scorpius is already a bit too low over the western horizon, and some palm tress block the view from my backyard.

Full resolution image in my Flickr.

Credit: Ángel R. López-Sánchez (AAO-MQ).