Picture Gallery from The King's University Observatory

Picture of the Week - October 31, 2018

NGC 7380 or the "Wizard Nebula" is a rather faint emission nebula in the constellation Cepheus. This 6-hour long narrow-band image was taken on the evenings of October 22 and 23. The greenish glow is due to hydrogen gas that is energized by numerous newly formed stars. The background shows faint traces of hydrogen emission and clouds of dust. The "Wizard" can be seen in profile in the bright central part of the nebula (if you have a good imagination!). Click on image for full-screen view.

  • October 22,23 2018
  • Telescope: SV 70T, f4.8
  • ZWO-ASI 1600mm camera
    • Halpha 18 x 600 s
    • OIII 15 x 600 s
    • SII 15 x 600 s
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Pixinsight processing

 

Picture of the Week - October 24, 2018

The Andromeda Galaxy or M 31 is our nearest, large galactic neighbour. Visible to the naked eye, this massive spiral galaxy in the constellation Andromeda contains nearly a trillion stars and is located 2.2 million light years from us. Currently M31 is approaching our Milky Way galaxy at a velocity of 300 km/s. In about 2 billion years our two galaxies will collide. This LRGB image was taken through 4 separate filters on the evenings of October 17, 19. Click on the image for a full-screen view.

Image Details - October 17,19 - 2018

  • Telescope: SV 70T, f4.8
  • ZWO-ASI 1600mm camera
    • Luminance Filter 48 x 180 s
    • Red Filter 20 x 300 s
    • Green Filter 20 x 300 s
    • Blue Filter 20 x 300 s
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Pixinsight processing

 

Picture of the Week - October 16, 2018

NGC 1499 , also popularly known as the "California Nebula", is an emission nebula located high in the northern sky in the constellation Perseus. Like most gas clouds in the Milky way this is illuminated by numerous nearby bright young stars. In the case of NGC 1499 the illuminating star is the bright blue star Menkib located in the upper left corner of the image. This image was taken October 16, 2018 over a span of 6 hours through narrow band filters. Click on the image for a full screen view.

Image Details - October 16 - 2018

  • Telescope: SV 70T, f4.8
  • ZWO-ASI 1600mm camera
    • Halpha 20 x 600 s
    • OIII 12 x 600 s
    • SII 7 x 600 s
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Pixinsight processing

 

Picture of the Week - October 5, 2018

IC 1396 is the name given to the region pictured above. This is a cloud of gas and dust situated in the northern constellation Cepheus. At 2400 light years away and more than 100 light years across, the entire nebula is energized by the bright, multiple star system HD 206267 located in the center of the image. To the immediate left is a tongue of gas and dust commonly referred to as the "Elephant Trunk" nebula. (A magnified image of this was presented in the TKUO pic-of-the-week on September 15, 2016.) This is a site of active star formation. This image is the result of nearly 10 hours of data collected over 3 nights using narrow-band filters and rendered in the "Hubble Palette". Hydrogen gas is rendered green, Sulphur red and Oxygen blue. Click on the image for a full screen view.

Image Details - September 5, October 3,4 - 2018

  • Telescope: SV 70T, f4.8
  • ZWO-ASI 1600mm camera
    • Halpha 20 x 600 s
    • OIII 14 x 600 s
    • SII 18 x 600 s
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Pixinsight processing

 

Picture of the Week - August 21, 2018

 

I am like a slip of comet,
Scarce worth discovery, in some corner seen
Bridging the slender difference of two stars,
Come out of space, or suddenly engender'd
By heady elements, for no man knows;
But when she sights the sun she grows and sizes
And spins her skirts out, while her central star
Shakes its cocooning mists; and so she comes
To fields of light; millions of travelling rays
Pierce her; she hangs upon the flame-cased sun,
And sucks the light as full as Gideons's fleece:
But then her tether calls her; she falls off,
And as she dwindles shreds her smock of gold
Between the sistering planets, till she comes
To single Saturn, last and solitary;
And then she goes out into the cavernous dark.
So I go out: my little sweet is done:
I have drawn heat from this contagious sun:
To not ungentle death now forth I run

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1864

 

Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner imaged August 21, 2018. Every year dozens of minor comets pass us silently in their journeys around the Sun. Comets are the oldest bodies in the solar system, predating the formation of the Earth and each one a "travelling museum" of our Solar System's birth and early history. Comet Giacobini-Zinner is nearing closest approach tot he Sun later this fall, It will continue to brighten until mid September. At this time it will be visible through binoculars from a dark sky region. Click on image for a fullscreen view.

Image Details - August 21, 2018

  • Telescope: SV 70T, f4.8
  • Canon 7D MII camera, iso 3200
    • 30 x 60 s

 

Picture of the Week - August 13,14 2018

The Milky way from Writing on Stone Provincial Park in southern Alberta is truly humbling! These images were taken during the evenings of August 13, 14 at the tail end of the Perseid Meteor shower.

Image on the left: The faint streak in the top middle of the image on the left is not a meteor - rather a "pesky" satellite! The bright blob on the lower left is the planet Mars shining through a thin layer of smoke-haze. This is a single 10 s exposure, untracked. Click on the image for a full screen view.

Image on the right: A composite of 19, 30 s exposures revealing a stunning number of stars and the subtle colours of this spiral arm of our galaxy. Among the myriad of stars you can see three very bright ones - the Summer Triangle. Top left is Deneb, middle right is Vega and lower middle is Altair. If you look next to Deneb you can spot the North American nebula which was the TKUO pic of the week on July 15 and again July 27 this summer. Click on the image for a full screen view.

Image Details - August 13,14, 2018

  • Canon 7D MarkII, 16 mm Rokinon lens
  • Image on left:
    • 1 x 10 s
    • iso 6400
    • fixed tripod
  • Image on right:
    • 19 x 30 s
    • iso 3200
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Pixinsight processing

 

Picture of the Week - August 5, 2018
ngc6992

On the eastern edge of the summertime constellation Cygnus - The Swan - lies the faint remains of a long dead star. This object is commonly referred to as the Veil Nebula and is the central portion of the Cygnus Complex - a supernovae remant (SNR) thought to have been created by the explosion of a massive star located about 1500 light years from Earth sometime in the past 5000 to 8000 years. This 4-hour exposure was created by combining images made through Hydrogen and Oxygen filters. Click on the image for a full screen view.

Image Details - August 5, 2018

  • Telescope: SV 70T, f4.8
  • ZWO-ASI 1600mm camera
    • Halpha 12 x 600 s
    • OIII 12 x 600 s
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Pixinsight processing
Picture of the Week - July 27-29, 2018

Narrow band image of NGC 7000 (aka The North American Nebula) and IC 5070 (aka The Pelican Nebula) in the constellation Cygnus taken over three nights (July 27,28,29). This are large clouds of gas and dust located in a spiral arm of our galaxy and illuminated by bright stars. The image was taken through 3 separate filters with a total exposure time of 6 hours and shows the light emitted by Hydrogen, Oxygen and Sulphur atoms present in the galaxy. Click on the image for a full-screen view.

Image Details - July 27,28,29, 2018

  • Telescope: SV 70T, f4.8
  • ZWO-ASI 1600mm camera
    • Halpha 12 x 300s, 6 x 600 s
    • OIII 12 x 600 s
    • SII 12 x 600 s
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Pixinsight processing
Pictures of the Week - July 15,16 2018

NGC 7000 is also aptly known as "The North American Nebula" and is located about 2200 light years away in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan). This is just beneath the bright star Deneb and is within the Milky Way and thus the numerous background and foreground stars. The reddish glow is from hot hydrogen gas silhouetted against darker clouds of dust. Click on image for larger view.

Image Details - July 16, 2018

  • Telescope: SV 70T, f4.8
  • Canon 7D Mark II, 56 min exposure
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Pixinsight processing

 

A wonderful conjunction between the Moon and Venus as it appeared Sunday, July 15 2018. Click on the image for a bigger view. Does this remind you of the flag from a Middle-Eastern nation? Click on the image to get a bigger view.

Image Details - July 15, 2018

  • Canon 7D Mark II
 
Picture of the Week - May 28, 2018

Despite being at solar minimum our Sun is still an active place! Several small sunspots are currently visible as well as a few dramatic prominences. This image is a composite of two different image sets each consisting of several thousand frames collected as a "video stream" and then mathematically combined into a single image. Click on image for larger view.

Image Details - May 18, 2018

  • Telescope: Coronado SolarMaxII
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm , 3000 frames
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Registax 6, Photoshop CS5 and Autostakkert processing

 

Picture of the Week - May 22, 2018

Messier 92 is the "other" great globular cluster in Hercules. M 92 is located 26 700 light years away, contains about 200 000 stars and is one of the oldest known globular clusters. It could be as much as 2 billion years older than M13 pictured below. Click on image for bigger view.

Image Details -May 22, 2018

  • Telescope: RC10 f/8
  • ZWO-ASI 1600mm
    • R,G,B: 12 x 300 s
  • Paramount MX
  • Pixinsight processing

 

Picture of the Week - May 17, 2018

The return of warm spring evenings also marks the return of the great globular clusters! Pictured above is Messier 13 - the Great Globular in Hercules. This image was taken in May 2016 but just processed now! Globular clusters are very old objects that formed before the galaxy itself and orbit our galaxy at distances of thousands of light years. M13 is thought to be 11.65 billion years old and is located 25 thousand light years away. It contains about 300 000 stars and is 180 light years across. Even through a small telescope under a dark sky it is an amazing sight! Click on image for a larger view.

Image Details -May 13, 2016

  • Telescope: RC10 f/8
  • QSI 616
    • R,G,B: 6 x 500 s
  • Paramount MX
  • Pixinsight processing

 

Pictures of the Week - May 11, 2018

An aurora named STEVE (aka Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) makes an appearance in the southern sky over Edmonton Friday night! This still poorly understood auroral type was identified first by an Alberta group of aurora enthusiasts who suggested the name "Steve" in jest and the name stuck. Eventually space scientists came up with the rather tortured acronym Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement!

Image Details - May 11, 2018; 22:10 MDT

  • Canon 7D, 16mm f2.0, iso 3200, 20s exposure

 

A very quiet day on the sun! One tiny sunspot lingers in the lower left quadrant (can you find it?) while there is a faint prominence on the solar limb at the 2 o'clock position. This image is the sum of 2000 images captured in Hydrogen alpha light. Click on the image for a full screen view.

Image Details -May 11, 2018

  • Telescope: Coronado SolarMaxII
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm , 2000 frames
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Registax 6 and Autostakkert processing

Picture of the Week - May 6, 2018

A solar storm spawned a rather faint and short-lived display Sunday night over Alberta. The image shown above was taken at 10:16 pm and shows the characteristic greens of atmospheric oxygen as well as some purple emission from Nitrogen. Click on image for full-screen view.

Image Details - May 6, 2018

  • Canon 7D, 16mm f2.0, iso 3200, 4s exposure

 

Picture of the Week - April 23, 2018

The scarred face of our moon! If you inspect each image carefully you can begin to see a history of the moon reveal itself. Older, "submerged" craters are still visible through the smooth "lava-plains" that flowed several billion years ago on the lunar surface. Numerous tiny craters (as well as the dominant ones in each image) are more recent and remind us that asteroidal impact events still occur in the solar system. Small "rivulets" that were at one time lava-rivers are also visible. Rupes Recta (panel on the right) is a 100 km long escarpment. Click on each image for a larger view. The images were taken using "lucky-imaging" - several thousand frames from a video stream are combined with mathematical filtering techniques rejecting frames blurred by the atmosphere. Each of these images represents several thousand frames captured at roughly 50 frames per second over a continuous span of many minutes.

Image Details - April 23, 2018

  • Telescope: Celestron C-14 @ f11 (4.0 m fl)
  • ZWO-ASI 224MC (UV/IR cut filter)
  • Custom mount

 

Picture of the Week - April 19, 2018

An unexpected bright aurora Thursday evening - just before the clouds rolled in! Click on image for full screen view.

Image Details - April19, 2018

  • Canon 7D, 16mm f2.0, iso 1600, 4s exposure

 

Picture of the Week - April 4, 2018

The magnificent "Whirlpool Galaxy" or Messier 51 (M 51) is seen interacting with its smaller companion NGC 5194. These galaxies are approxximately 23 million light years away and located the "Hunting Dogs" constellation or Canes Venatici - just below the handle of the Big Dipper. This is a classic example of a galactic collision and the spray of light around the galaxies is the debris of stellar systems ejected from the galaxies during the encounter. Numerous background galaxies are also visible in this image. Click on image for larger view.

Image Details - April4, 2018

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 12 x300 s
    • R: 12 x300 s
    • G: 12 x300 s
    • B: 8 x300 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Picture of the Week - March 12, 2018

Mercury and Venus make a rare appearance! For the next few nights you will be able to see Mercury quite high above the western horizon. What makes this conjunction unusual is how bright Mercury is - it is seldom this easy to see and indeed few people will have seen the inner most of the planets. Keep watching over the next few nights as the planets move closer together and Mercury fades - but don't wait too long! Mercury always sets (or rises) close to the sun. This image was taken at 8:32 pm. (Click on image for larger view)

Image Details - March 12, 2018

  • Canon 7D, 16mm f2.0, iso 1250

 

Picture of the Week - March 8, 2018

When you see the constellation Leo the Lion rising in the east at sunset you know spring is fast approaching! Leo is a region of the sky rich in galaxies and pictured above is a lovely trio - the Leo Triplet which comprises Messier 65, Messier 66 and NGC 3628 (from left-right and top-bottom). This cluster is about 35 million light years from earth and reminds us that galaxies are a gregarious lot and like to live in families! Messier 66 was featured as TKUO pic of the week April 18, 2012 while NGC 3628 was pic of the week for April 11, 2015. Click on the image to get a full screen view.

Image Details - February 22, March 7,8, 2018

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 40 x 120 s
    • R: 30 x 180 s
    • G: 30 x 180 s
    • B: 30 x 180 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Picture of the Week - March 1, 2018

NGC 2174 (or "The Monkey Head Nebula") is an emission nebula in the Orion star-forming region of the sky. (The "monkey" is seen in a 1/4 profile looking to the left with its head tipped slightly upward!). This image is taken through Hydrogen, Oxygen and Sulphur narrow-band filters and the predominantly green is due to hot Hydrogen gas (using the Hubble Palette). Click on this image for a full-screen view.

Image Details - February 22,26,28, 2018

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Halpha: 9 x 600 s
    • OIII: 12 x 600 s
    • SII: 12 x 600 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Picture of the Week - February 26, 2018

A brief burst of geomagnetic activity above the Edmonton region! This playful aurora appeared in the early evening of February 26 and just as quickly disappeared! (You can catch events like this with the aid of Spaceweather.com). Click on each image for a full-screen view.

Image Details - February 26, 2018

  • Rokinon 16 mm f2.0 lens on Canon T3 camera ("un-modded") @ ISO 800
  • Fixed mount
  • exposures - 4s

 

Picture of the Week - February 18, 2018

The beauty of a dark rural sky is sadly becoming a rare experience for most Canadians. This is an image of the winter-time favourite constellation Orion as seen from L'Amable Lake in the Kwartha Lakes region of central Ontario. Visible in this image is a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way known as the Orion Arm (which is the where we are located!). If you mouse over the image the major star and nebulae names will appear. Click on the image for a larger view. The Orion region is dominated by very hot young blue stars. The obvious exception is the distinctly reddish Betelgeuse. Faintly visible is a reddish arc surrounding the left side of Orion - evidence that this is a vast star forming region in our galaxy.

Image Details - February 18, 2018

  • Rokinon 16 mm f2.0 lens on Canon T3 camera ("un-modded") @ ISO 1600
  • Fixed mount
  • 4 exposures - 20s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Picture of the Week - February 12, 2018

The Rosette Nebula through "Alien Eyes"? Imagine if our eyes responded only to the light emitted by Sulphur, Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms. Then perhaps the Rosette nebula would look like the image on the left. This image was taken through filters that only pass a very small slice of the visible spectrum. The green areas are due to the emission of light from Hydrogen, the red areas from Sulphur and the blue areas from Oxygen. This form of presentation is called the Hubble Palette and is a common colour-coding used by the Hubble Space Telescope. Click on the left-hand image for a full screen view.

 

Image Details - February 11, 2018

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Halpha: 10 x 600 s (plus Jan 22 data)
    • OIII: 6 x 600 s
    • SII: 5 x 600 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing
Picture of the Week - February 6, 2018

The stunning Rosette Nebula (aka Caldwell 50) is a winter sky gem. Tucked away in the constellation Monoceros ("The Unicorn") at a distance of 5000 light years, the Rosette Nebula is a star forming region and part of the much larger Orion-star forming complex. In the centre of the nebula is the bright young cluster of stars - NGC 2244. The two objects are related - the gas and dust of the nebula has provided the stuff from which the stars were born. Click on the image for a full-screen view.

Image Details - January 22, February 3,5, 2018

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 18 x 300 s
    • R: 18 x 300 s
    • G: 18 x 300 s
    • B: 18 x 300 s
    • Halpha: 4 x 600 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Picture of the Week - January 22, 2018

The Open Cluster Messier 35 (middle of image) is a family of roughly 1000 stars located 2800 light years from Earth in the constellation Gemini. The cluster is relatively young having formed about 150 million years ago. Below and to the right is the much more distant cluster NGC 2158. At a distance of 11 000 light years, this object was once thought to be a globular cluster but now it is believed to be a very old open cluster (about 2 billion years old).

Image Details - January 22, 2018

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 12 x 120 s
    • R: 12 x 120 s
    • G: 12 x 120 s
    • B: 12 x 120 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Picture of the Week - January 19, 2018
m42

The Great Nebula in Orion (NGC 1976) is a marvelous sight in a small telescope and spectacular in a large one! Located in the Sword of Orion and visible to the unaided, M42 is an active star forming site located approximately 1300 light years away and is the closest star forming region. The intricate wisps and variety of colours tell us about the chemical composition and structure of the cloud. Beneath the nebula lies "The Running Man Nebula" (Sharpless 279) where the bright blue colour derives from scattering of starlight from fine dust grains in the nebula. Click on image for a full-screen view.

Image Details - January 4,5,11, 2018

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 12 x 10 s, 12 x 30 s, 12 x 120 s, 6 x 300 s
    • R: 12 x 10 s, 12 x 30 s, 12 x 120 s, 6 x 300 s
    • G: 12 x 10 s, 12 x 30 s, 12 x 120 s, 6 x 300 s
    • B: 12 x 10 s, 12 x 30 s, 12 x 120 s, 6 x 300 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Picture of the Week - January 15, 2018
m81_m82

A cosmic "pas des deux" as two nearby galaxies are locked in an orbital embrace. The top galaxy is the magnificent spiral M 81 (aka Bode's Galaxy - featured as January 20, 2017 TKUO pic of the week) while the bottom galaxy is M 82 (aka the "Cigar" featured April 20, 2015). These galaxies are located about 11 million light years away in the region of the sky above the bowl of the Big Dipper. M 82 is an enigmatic object - the red plumes radiating from the centre are evidence that this galaxy is undergoing "violent" star-formation and is classified as a "starburst galaxy". Click on the image for a full screen view.

Image Details - January 4,5,11, 2018

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 12 x 300 s
    • R: 12 x 300 s
    • G: 12 x 300 s
    • B: 12 x 300 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Pictures of the Week - December 20, 2017
ngc869

The "Double Cluster" (NGC 869 & NGC 884 or h & χ Persei) is a beautiful fall/winter object. Visible to the unaided eye it is located between the constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia at a distance of approximately 7600 light years. This lovely object is a collection of several thousand newly formed stars and at an age of 12 million years is one of the youngest star clusters in our sky. Click on the image for a full screen view.

Image Details - December 20, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 12 x 300 s
    • R: 12 x 300 s
    • G: 12 x 300 s
    • B: 6 x 300 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

The Andromeda Galaxy (aka "The Great Nebula in Andromeda" or Messier 31) is visible to the unaided eye as a grayish "smudge" in the constellation Andromeda. At a distance of 2.5 million light years it is the main member of our local group of galaxies and is approximately 60% larger than our own Milky Way galaxy. This image comprises more than 25 hours of data acquired in November of this year. Click on the image for a full screen view.

Image Details - November, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 80 x 300 s
    • R: 80 x 300 s
    • G: 80 x 300 s
    • B: 80 x 300 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing (mosaic of 3 image sets)

 

Picture of the Week - December 15, 2017
ic434

The Horsehead nebula (or more poetically called IC434!) is seen as a dark chimney of dust against a bright red background of hot hydrogen gas. The nebula is part of the vast Orion star forming region and is found just next to the brilliant star Alnitak (most easterly of Orion's belt stars). Click on the image for a full screen view.

Image Details - December 12,13, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 30 x 130 s
    • R: 30 x 120 s
    • G: 30 x 120 s
    • B: 30 x 120 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Picture of the Week - December 9, 2017

The star cluster Messier 37 (ngc 2099) is a beautiful winter sky object in the constellation Auriga. Seen with a small telescope or binoculars through a dark sky the cluster appears as a shimmering spray of mostly bluish hued stars. The cluster of more than 500 stars is about 400 million years old and 4500 light years away. Click on image for a full size view.

Image Details -December 9, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 30 x 120 s
    • R: 30 x 120 s
    • G: 30 x 120 s
    • B: 30 x 120 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Picture of the Week - November 10, 2017

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? 

Job 38; 31-33

The Pleiades (Messier 45) are arguably the most beautiful star cluster in the heavens! This family of stars formed about 100 million years ago and is located about 444 light years away in the constellation Taurus. As the image above shows the cluster is surrounded by dust which appears as the intricate web of blueish and reddish-brown wisps illuminated by the most luminous of the Pleiads. Interstellar space is not completely empty and M45 is "ploughing" through a dusty part of our galaxy. The image was produced over 3 nights and represents over 6 hours of exposure through 4 different filters. Click on the image to get a full screen view.

Image Details - October 27, November 8, 10, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 40 x 180 s
    • R: 20 x 180 s
    • G: 20 x 180 s
    • B: 40 x 180 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Picture of the Week - October 20, 2017
m33

This is the same object (M33) as shown below but this time in full colour! The image was created by combining 5.5 hours of data taken over of a series of nights in September and October. Subtle details in the core of the galaxy are visible through the use of HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing applied to the data. The spiral arms of the galaxy are traced by numerous bright blue stars that have recently formed. Also visible in the arms are bright reddish "blobs" - regions of active star formation. Click on the image to get a full screen view.

mage Details - September 29, October 3, 13,16, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 20 x 300 s
    • R: 20 x 300 s
    • G: 20 x 300 s
    • B: 20 x 300 s
    • Ha: 4 x 600 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing
Picture of the Week - October 4, 2017

The magnificent galaxy M33 located 2.7 million light years away in Triangulum rises in the early evening this time of year. This image is part of a senior thesis project currently being conducted by Benjamin Lien. Ben is attempting to measure the expansion rate of the universe (reproducing the epochal discovery of Edwin Hubble in 1929). This particular galaxy is part of the study and part of our local group of galaxies. M33 is moving towards us at about 180 km/s. Measuring this velocity with our small observatory telescope was a challenge - the galaxy has a low surface brightness. So - we measured the bright reddish areas that can be seen in the image. These are vast star forming regions that shine brightly in the light emitted by hot Hydrogen gas. Click on this image to get a much bigger view and then pan around in the galaxy to see many such regions.

The image was constructed as a "two-tone" image by adding a Luminance or white light view with a deep red (Halpha) view. This helps bring out the presence of the hot, hydrogen regions in the galaxy.

Image Details - September 29, October 3, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 20 x 300 s
    • Ha: 4 x 600 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing
Picture of the Week - October 2, 2017

NGC 6820 is large emission nebula located 6000 light years away in the constellation Vulpecula (The Fox). In summer and early autumn this object lies in the heart of the milky way as it arches overhead in Alberta skies. In the centre of the image is a small cluster of very young stars that are providing the energy to make this region glow. The predominantly red colour is due to the presence of Hydrogen atoms in the surrounding space, the darker regions are signs of the dust from which these stars were born. This image was taken over a span of 4 nights and required more than 10 hours of exposure through 5 different filters. Click on image for a larger view.

Image Details - September 6,10,27,28 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 20 x 300 s
    • R: 20 x 300s
    • G: 30 x 300s
    • B: 32 x 300 s
    • Ha: 12 x 600 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing
Pictures of the Week - September 27, 2017
Magnificent aurora captured by King's astronomy student and professional photographer Chris Wood at the conclusion of an Astro 200 evening lab at the TKU Observatories on September 27, 2017. Click on each image for a full screen view.
Pictures of the Week - September 10, 2017

Stars are Born - in dust clouds such as this - NGC 6820 in the constellation Vulpeculae! Vulpeculae or The Fox is a faint constellation in the northern summer sky situated just above Altair, the bottom star in the summer Triangle. This is part of our Milky Way, about 6000 light years away and is a vast star forming region. This image represents "a work in progress". If skies permit, over the next several weeks more data on this image will be acquired and eventually a colour image of the region will be produced. The image shown above was taken through a broadband "L' filter on Sunday evening, September 10. Click on this image for a larger view.

Image Details - September 10, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 20 x 300 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing

 

Pictures of the Week - September 6, 2017

A spectacular group of sunspots is currently populating the solar surface. These are HUGE spots and can even be seen with the unaided eye and an appropriate filter. What makes these odd is the fact that the sun should be approaching solar minimum - a time in which we usually see very few sunspots. Often accompanying such large spots is increased flare activity and the potential for bright northern lights. This image was produced by taking roughly 1500 frames - each of 0.01 s duration and then summing them. Click on this image for a larger view.

The image on the right is a close-up of the major sunspot group. In this image you can see the dark area (umbra) surrounded by the lighter penumbra of the sunspots.

Image Details - September 6, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm (approximately 1500 frames added )
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Baader full aperture film
  • Auto Stakkert and Registax 6 processing
Pictures of the Week - August 21, 2017
The image shown above uses a technique known as HDR or High Dynamic Range imaging. This specific image of the eclipse was made by combining 11 different shots with exposure times ranging from 1/4000th of a second to 1 second. This enables one to see the subtle detail in the corona and clearly shows how the hot gases in the Solar corona follow the magnetic field lines of the sun - reminiscent of the way in which iron filings will trace out the field around a magnet. Click on the image for a larger view.

The Total Solar Eclipse 2017 as seen from Idaho Falls, Idaho on August 21, 2017. This spectacular event was only 1minute 41 seconds in duration but what a 1 minute and 41 seconds! Under nearly perfect skies the corona was exceptionally bright. The frames on the left and right show ingress and egress "Diamond Rings" (1/1000 s exposure) while the center frame (1/2 s exposure) shows streamers in the solar corona. Also visible in the image on the left are numerous solar prominences. Without the aid of a solar telescope and H-alpha filter (see last week's image for example) the only way to see prominences with the un-aided eye is to view them during an eclipse. Click on each image for a larger view.

Image Details - August 21, 2017

  • Telescope: Orion ED80
  • Canon 1100D; iso 200
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Photoshop processing
Picture of the Week - August 17, 2017

A very active sun! Two huge solar prominences and lots of smaller ones along the solar limb as well as an extended sunspot group on the solar surface. This is a composite image produced by stacking 2000+ images of the solar surface and limb details. Click on image for a larger view.

Image Details - August 17, 2017

  • Telescope: Coronado SolarMaxII
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • HEQ5 mount
  • Registax 6 and Autostakkert processing
Picture of the Week - July 29, 2017

The "jellyfish-like" object in the centre of the frame goes by a number of names: The Crescent Nebula, NGC 6888, Sharpless 105 or Caldwell 27. This is the end-stage in the life of a massive star destined to become a supernova - likely sometime in the next few thousand years! Just off centre in the nebula is the progenitor star WR136 or HD192163. This is a Wolf-Rayet star which is a rare class of stars (only about 150 are known in our galaxy) that is the inner core of a star that has blown much of its outer envelope into space. The large nebula is the result of rapidly moving material from the star colliding with an earlier episode of mass ejection in the star's recent past. This star has a mass of more than 20 times the sun's mass and is about 4.7 million years old. The image shown here was produced over two nights and is "bi-colour" - the result of combining an image of light emitted by Hydrogen atoms (reddish hues) and Oxygen atoms (bluish hues). Click on the image for a full-screen view.

Image Details - July 25,29, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Halpha: 12 x 60 s
    • OIII: 11 x 600 s
  • Pixinsight 1.8 processing
Picture of the Week - July 13, 2017

A very active sunspot group has formed on the Sun! This image was taken at 12:00 on July 13, 2017 and shows one of the largest sunspots in several years. Click on this to get a full screen view. You can see the classic "umbra-penumbra" structure in the spot. The umbra is the darkest area and is about 4000 K or roughly 2000 degrees cooler than the surrounding solar photosphere. Just off centre is another "swarm" of many tiny spots that are forming. This is a "white-light" image taken with a neutral density filter in front of the telescope.

Image Details - July 13, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 mm (approximately 1000 frames added )
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Baader full aperture film
  • Auto Stakkert and Registax 6 processing
Picture of the Week - July 7, 2017

Lovely solar prominences today (July 7)! The delicate brush-like structure at the "8o-clock" position is sometimes referred to as a hedgerow prominence. Above appears a small sunspot group and a brighter area known as a plage. The delicate swirling pattern delineates the strong magnetic fields that accompany sunspots. Click on this image for a larger view.

Image Details - July 7, 2017

  • Telescope: Coronado Solar MaxII - Double Stack H-alpha telescope, 2X Barlow lens
  • ZWO-ASI 224MC camera
  • AutoStakkert & Registax processing
Picture of the Week - July 5, 2017

During our lovely summer evenings the Milkyway arm of our galaxy bisects the night sky. The image shown above represents a total exposure time of 8 hours and was taken over two nights at King's Observatory #2. If you look up and find the summer triangle (an asterism marked by the bright stars Deneb, Vega and Altair) you will see a faint glowing band. The image shown here is a small portion of the Milkyway, replete with clouds of glowing gas, near Deneb. This image uses the Hubble Space Telescope colour palette - Hydrogen gas is shown in green, Sulfur in red and Oxygen in blue. Dark areas in the image are dusty regions full of "star stuff"!

Click on image a really big view!

Image Details - July 3,4, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/7
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 camera
    • Halpha 32 x 5 min; SII, OII; 24 x 5min each filter
  • Paramount MX
  • Pixinsight processing
Picture of the Week - June 25, 2017

Our Sun's ever changing face! This image was taken in Hydrogen-alpha light on the afternoon of June 25, 2017. Solar prominences are dynamic phenomena tracing the movement of hot, hydrogen gas threading along the magnetic field lines of the sun. These structures evolve over the span of just a few hours. This particular one is several times larger than Earth and has been visible for the past several days. Click on image for larger view.

Image Details - June 25, 2017

  • Telescope: Coronado Solar MaxII - Double Stack H-alpha telescope, 2X Barlow lens
  • ZWO-ASI 224MC camera
  • Registax processing
Picture of the Week - June 19, 2017

A solar inferno! This image was produced using a very special kind of telescope that focuses the red light emitted by Hydrogen atoms. This allows you to see delicate features not visible in white light (for example - compare this image to the TKUO pic of the week for March 29) . The mottled surface and twisting shapes show how the electrically charged plasma of the sun follows the tangled magnetic field lines that poke up through the solar surface and then back into it. At about the "one o'clock" position on the limb of the sun you can see a solar prominence. This is an arc of hot hydrogen gas leaping off the solar surface and following the magnetic field. The dark, long wisps (or filaments) on the solar surface are prominences seen from above and form a silhouette against the solar surface. To help give a bit more perspective - at the upper right corner is a tiny insert showing the size of the Earth in comparison to the features in this image. If you click on the image a full size pop-up will appear.

Image Details - June 19, 2017

  • Telescope: Coronado Solar MaxII - Double Stack H-alpha telescope
  • ZWO-ASI 224MC camera
  • Registax and Pixinsight processing
Picture of the Week - May 28, 2017

The early summer sky in the constellation Lyra is dominated by the bright star Vega. Close by is a remarkable sight - the "Smoke Ring" nebula or Messier 57. This is a classic example of a planetary nebula - one of the last phases in the evolution of a star like our sun. The nebula is located about 2000 light years away and is roughly 1 light year in diameter. Planetary nebulae are short-lived stages in stellar evolution lasting only about 10,000 years in this form before gently dissipating into interstellar space. Click on this image to get a close-up view of the Ring Nebula.

Image Details - May 28, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/7
  • ZWO-ASI 1600 camera
    • LRGB; 10 x 2min each filter
  • Paramount MX
  • Pixinsight processing
Picture of the Week - April 3, 2017

A bit of everything - a beautifully placed first quarter moon, an elusive comet and a nearby galaxy! Click on each image to get a larger pop-up view. The middle image is Comet 2015V2 Johnson - this solar system interloper has lived most of its life deep in the Oort Cloud at an average distance of about 60 000 AU (or 60 000 times the earth-sun distance). This small ball of water, carbon dioxide and other trace organics (as well as some dust) is one of the oldest objects in our solar system. The comet was discovered in 2015 (hence its name) - this will be the last time it will ever be seen. The comet is on a hyperbolic orbit which means that it will be ejected into inter-stellar space after its encounter with our Sun.

The last image is a wide-filed view of the "Whirlpool Galaxy" as it interacts with a smaller neighbor. For a closer view take a look at the April 1, 2016 image of the week.

Image Details - April 3, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • Atik 314L+
    • Moon (30 frames at 0.05 s), Baader 7 nm Ha
    • M51 (20 frames at 200 s), L filter
    • C2015V2 Johnson (12 frames at 200 s), L filter
  • Paramount MX
  • Pixinsight processing, Registax
Picture of the Week - March 29, 2017

Our Sun is a bit more active after several weeks of no-spots! A number of prominent sunspot groups are present. The dark region of the sunspot ("the umbra") is created by the effect that strong local magnetic fields have on the solar surface. The magnetic fields inhibit the flow of warm gases to the surface. Despite this the sunspot core is still very hot - about 4000 C degrees compared to the roughly 6000 C of the solar surface. This image was taken using a combination of neutral density filters and narrow-band hydrogen alpha filters. Click on image for larger scale pop-up.

Image Details - March 2, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT @ f/5.6
  • Atik 314L+ (25 frames at 0.01 s)
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Baader full aperture film
    • Baader 7 nm Ha
  • Pixinsight processing
Picture of the Week - March 2, 2017

Our quiet Sun! In recent decades we have seen a significant decline in the number of sunspots. Today we are still 2 years away from the next solar minimum. The image above shows the Sun at noon MST on Thursday, March 2. A small chain of sunspots is visible in the center with another group on the western limb (on the right side of the image). At this rate we will have the smallest solar maximum in over a century! Despite this there are a number of interesting features to note in this image. Around the sunspots (and in a number of other places) you can see bright areas - these are called "plages" and are caused by the hot gas from the lower depths of the sun being forced (by the suns magnetic field) around the sunspots and to the surface. Also - if you look carefully (click on image for bigger view) you will see that the sun has an "orange-peel" complexion. This is the granulation pattern of the sun and is evidence of how energy is transported from the interior of the sun to the surface. It is by convection - just think about a pot of oatmeal or cream of wheat bubbling on the stove!

Image Details - March 2, 2017

  • Telescope: StellarVue 102RT
  • Canon 1100D (20 frames at 0.001 s)
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Baader full aperture film
  • Pixinsight processing

 

Picture of the Week - January 20, 2017

M81 or NGC 3031 (aka Bode's Nebula) is a magnificent spiral galaxy located 11.7 million light years away in Ursa Major (above the bowl of the Big Dipper) and is the largest member of the M81 group of galaxies. Image was taken on the night of January 20/21, 2017. Click on image for a larger view.

image Details:

January 20/21 - 2017

  • Telescope: RC10 f/8
  • QSI516 camera with Lodestar autoguider
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • L: 25 x 600 s
    • R: 6 x 600 s
    • G: 6 x 600 s
    • B: 12 x 600 s
  • Pixinsight processing
Picture of the Week - October 19, 2016
ngc7635

Cosmic Bubbles! The faint nebula NGC 7635 appears as a spherical "bubble" in this image taken in the light emitted by Hydrogen, Oxygen and Sulphur atoms. NGC 7635 is located about 8000 light years away in the "W" - Cassiopeia and measures about 6 light years across. The bubble is produced by gas flowing outward from a very hot central star. The star in question is SAO 20575 - about 44 times the mass of our sun. Such massive stars (known as Wolf-Rayet stars) have very short life-spans (only about 1 million years - our sun has a life span of 10 billion years!) and, at the end of their lives produce fierce stellar winds sweeping out into interstellar space.

image Details:

October 19- 2016

  • Telescope: RC10 f/8
  • QSI516 camera with Lodestar autoguider
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Halpha: 9 x 900 s
    • SII: 9 x 900 s
    • OIII: 6 x 900 s
  • Pixinsight processing
Picture of the Week - September 15, 2016

A very rich portion of our galaxy - this is IC 1396 as imaged in the light produced by atoms of Hydrogen (coded green), Oxygen (blue) and Sulphur (red) to produce a surreal glimpse of an active star forming region. IC1396 is located about 2400 light years away in the constellation Cepheus. This image is of the central part (called IC 1396A) and is dominated by a 6 light year long chimney of dust that is back-lit by the glow of recently formed stars.

mage details:

September 12,14,15 - 2016

  • Telescope: RC10 f/8
  • QSI516 camera with Lodestar autoguider
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Halpha: 18 x 900 s
    • SII: 12 x 900 s
    • OIII: 12 x 900 s
  • Pixinsight processing
Picture of the Week - September 6, 2016

A final version of the star forming region IC 5070 captured August 25,28,29 and September 6, 2016. The image is a combination of separate images taken with filters that allowed viewing the full spectrum ("L" filter) as well as the light emitted by Hydrogen, Oxygen and Sulphur atoms. The Hubble Space Telescope palette was used where hydrogen light is coded green, light from sulphur red and oxygen is coded blue. Click on image for full-screen view.

Image details:

August 25,28,29, September 6 - 2016

  • Telescope: RC10 f/8
  • QSI516 camera with Lodestar autoguider
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Halpha: 12 x 900 s
    • SII: 6 x 900 s
    • Luminance: 20 x 300 s
    • OIII: 11 x 900 s
  • Pixinsight processing
Pictures of the Week - August 25 - 30, 2016
IC5070_Halpha

A zoomed-in view of the star forming region IC 5070 which hangs overhead in late August evenings in Cygnus the Swan. This image was taken at TKUO #2 using the RC10 telescope and in light emitted by predominantly hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur atoms. The dark plume of dust in the upper right of the image is, fittingly dubbed the "Elephant Trunk". IC 5070 is a large region in the Milky Way just below and west of the bright star Deneb. This very dusty region is illuminated by numerous newly formed stars.

Image details:

August 25,28,29 - 2016

  • Telescope: RC10 f/8
  • QSI516 camera with Lodestar autoguider
  • Paramount MX
  • filters
    • Halpha: 12 x 900 s
    • SII: 6 x 900 s
    • Luminance: 20 x 300 s
  • Pixinsight processing

 

Picture of the Week - August 5, 2016

Messier 27 (NGC 6853) or The Dumbbell Nebula is a nearby planetary nebula. The term planetary nebula, coined in the early 18th century , has nothing to do with planets! These objects are actually the end stages of the evolution of stars like our sun. This particular nebula is located in the constellation Vulpecula about 1200 light years away. The image was taken over several nights using a combination of filters through the RC10 telescope at TKUO#2. Click on image for larger view,

Image details:

  • July 23,26, Aug 4, 2016
  • Telescope: RC10 f/8
  • QSI516 camera with Lodestar autoguider
  • Paramount MX
  • LRGB+Ha filters
    • Halpha: 10 x 600 s
    • Red: 20 x 300 s
    • Green: 20 x 300 s
    • Blue: 18 x 300 s
    • Luminance: 22 x 150 s
  • Pixinsight processing

 

Picture of the Week - May 11, 2016
The lunar surface is always a fascinating sight! This image is the sum of 30 frames (each 0.005s duration) taken in rapid succession to mitigate the effects of turbulence in the atmosphere and then combined to produce a higher resolution image. By moving your mouse over the image you can see a number of the major features in this image. Click on the image to load a bigger view. Theophilus Crater is a major impact crater and was likely formed during the era of intense bombardment in the early solar system (1.3 - 3.2 billion years ago). Note the location of the Apollo 11 landing site in the Sea of Tranquility. This image was taken at TKUO #1 using the C14 f/8 telescope and Atik314L+ camera on the evening of May 12, 2016.
Picture of the Week - May 2, 2016

Messier 100 is a text-book example of a Grand Design Spiral galaxy. Although in the constellation Coma Berenices (The Northern Crown) M100 is part of the Virgo cluster of galaxies. It is about 55 million light years from Earth and measures a bit more than 100 thousand light years across. This image is a 11.3 hour exposure taken on nights from April 13 - May 3, 2016 at King's Observatory #2. (click on image for larger view)

Image details: L: 14 x 500s, R: 14 x 600 s, G: 21 x 600 s, B: 20 x 600 s. RC10 @f/8 (2000 mm fl), QSI 616 camera, PMX mount.

Picture of the Week - April 20, 2016
A star is born! This is actually data that was taken January 28, 2016 but just processed now and shows the great nebula of Orion or M 42. Located about 1500 light years away this is an active stellar nursery. The swirls of gas and dust with the bright glow in the centre of evidence of this. The image was taken at TKUO #2 with the RC10 f/8. Image was produced by combining images through red, green and blue ('RGB') filters. See the January 8 image of the day for a lower magnification view.ing object. Click on the image for larger view.
Picture of the Week - April 10, 2016

Messier 63 or NGC 5055 (also known as the Sunflower Galaxy) is part of the same group of galaxies that contains M51 (below). The galaxy is also in the constellation Canes Venatici and is about 37 million light years away. This image was produced from 12.6 hours of data taken on the evenings of April 7, 9 and 10, 2016.

Image details:

  • 250 mm f/8 RC telescope on Paramount MX
  • QSI 616 camera
  • 33 x 500 s L filter
  • 24 x 600 s R filter
  • 12 x 600 s G filter
  • 12 x 600 s B filter
  • total exposure 12.6 hours
  • image processed using PixInsight
Picture of the Week - April 1, 2016
The great "Whirlpool Galaxy" or Messier 51 in Canes Venatici (the "hunting dogs") is a spectacular spring-sky galaxy. It is located just under the handle of the big dipper and is about 23 million light years away. The galaxy is colliding with and cannibalizing a companion galaxy. The faint spray of light that extends outward from the two galaxies consists of gas and dust ejected from both galaxies. The image is a combination of images taken through L,R,G,B colour filters taken on the nights of March 5, 2016 and April 1, 2016. (Image details: L:2h, RGB 1.75 h, QSI616 camera, 10" RC f/8 on Paramount MX)
Picture of the Week - March 18, 2016
The crater Copernicus is one of the most dramatic sights on the lunar surface. Pictured here, the crater is 93 km across and nearly 4 km deep. The crater is thought to be about 800 million years old and formed as the result of the impact of an asteroidal body and the moon. Image was taken at dusk on March 18 using TKUO#1 C14 at a fl of 4000 mm. The smallest features visible in this image are about 2 km across. The image was made by combining 2500 video frames captured at 60 frames/second.
Picture of the Week - January 21, 2016
A winter treat - a graceful aurora, bright moon and lovely hoar frost! A few minutes earlier (as I fumbled with the camera) the aurora was brilliant with bright pink hues. Despite fading it still was a glorious sight! Image with Canon 1100D at 8 s, ISO 800. Click on image for full screen view.
Picture of the Week - January 5, 2016

Next time it's clear look carefully at the sword of Orion (the path of stars dangling below Alnilam - the middle of the belt stars). You will notice a fuzzy patch. This is the great nebula of Orion or M 42. Located about 1500 light years away this is an active stellar nursery. The swirls of gas and dust with the bright glow in the centre of evidence of this. The image was taken using the 80 mm ED f/7.5 telescope and a Canon 1100D camera. Unfortunately this camera has low sensitivity in the red end of the spectrum where a great deal of the light produced by hydrogen gas in the nebula is emitted. Despite that it still reveals a fascinating object. Click on the image for larger view.

(Image details: 20 x 120s sub-frames, 80mmEDf/7.5 telescope, un-modded Canon 1100D, Paramount MX)

Pictures of the Week - December 19, 2015

An evening stroll on a cold winter's night was made special with a wonderful display of northern lights! A Coronal Mass Ejection (or CME) earlier this week is the culprit here! As Earth sweeps through the CME - which is a large blob of hydrogen gas ejected from the Sun's surface, the high speed particles from the sun excite Nitrogen and Oxygen atoms 100 km above the Earth's surface. The result is a lovely dance of colours as the solar particles race along the Earth's magnetic field lines and interact with the upper atmosphere. Click on each image to get a larger view. Images taken December 19 with a Canon 1100D - exposures ranged from 5s to 15s.

Picture of the Week - December 5, and December 15, 2015

December 15: The Cone Nebula (NGC 2264) in colour created by combining images taken in Hydrogen Alpha light (coded red) and the same region through green and blue filters. The Hydrogen Alpha image is shown on the left (in monochrome). The image on the right captures the dramatic colour of this star forming region. Of particular note are the many, small orange stars. This is created by the heavy layer of dust surrounding the nebula (stuff stars are formed from) scattering the light of background stars as they shine through the nebula. The effect is very similar to what causes red sunsets on earth. Click on either image for larger view. Green and Blue Images were taken with TKUO #2 RC10 on the morning of December 15, 2015.

December 5: NGC 2264 (or the Cone Nebula) was first observed by Sir William Herschel in 1784 and is now understood to be an active star forming region. This nebula is 2700 light years away and located in the constellation Monoceros - just above and slightly east of Orion. This image was taken in the light emitted by Hydrogen atoms in the red part of the spectrum ("H-alpha") and is the sum of 6, 1200s exposures. The brighter areas in the image are produced by hot, glowing Hydrogen gas and the darker "blotches" reveal rich clouds of dust that are giving birth to new stars. The central cone is illuminated by numerous bright, new stars situated within this nebula. Please click on the image for a full-screen view. Image was taken with TKUO #2 RC10 on the morning of December 5, 2015.

Picture of the Week - November 25, 2015
m81
M81 - sometimes called Bode's Galaxy - is a relatively "nearby" galactic neighbor at only 12 million light years from us. This beautiful spiral galaxy is located in Ursa Major (above the bowl of the "Big Dipper") and harbours a 70 million solar mass black hole in its centre! Click on image for full view. (Image details: 2 h exposure through L filter using QSI 616 camera and RC-10 telescope at TKUO#2, image processing using PixInsight)
Pictures of the Week - November 18, 2015
The first quarter moon under very good seeing conditions reveals an amazing amount of detail. Dark shadows cast by crater rims and lace-like rilles (ancient lava flow channels) etched in the lunar surface make this a fascinating moonscape. Monochrome Images taken through a blue filter using the QSI616 camera (0.02s) attached to the TKU Observatory #2 RC10 telescope. Click on each image to get a full screen view.
Picture of the Week - October 26, 2015

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

Job 38; 31-33

The Pleiades or the Seven Sisters is a marvelous sight rising on a crisp November evening. This image was taken on Oct 16, 2015 using a Canon 1100D and ED80 f/7.5 telescope at King's Observatory #2. Mouse-over the image to see the names of the principal stars of the Pleiades. Click on the image to get a much bigger view. The Pleiades are a group of young stars - technically a galactic cluster - that formed about 60 million years ago. The bluish glow is caused by light scattering off fine dust particles that engulf the cluster - likely a dusty region that the cluster is traveling through as it orbits the galaxy.

Pictures of the Week - October 20, 2015
ngc7479

The "Propeller Galaxy" or NGC 7479 is an intriguing spiral galaxy in the constellation Pegasus. The galaxy is about 105 million light years away. It has the peculiar distinction that the outer regions of the galaxy seem to be rotating in the opposite direction than the inner part of the galaxy - perhaps the result of a "recent" merger with another galaxy. Image was constructed from multi-filter images taken from Oct 12, 2015 - Oct 20, 2015.
(Image details: TKUO#2 RC10, QSI616, PMX mount. LRGB: L = 4h, R = 4h, G = 2h, B = 2h)

Great student pics of the first quarter moon! Both images were taken by eyepiece projection using smart phones on October 20, 2015 during an Astronomy 200 lab. The image on the left was taken by Julia Borden, the image on the right by Paul Den Oudsten - both member of the Astronomy 200 class at King's. Click on each image to getter a bigger view.
Picture of the Week - October 9, 2015
Stunning early morning sky today! If you were up early this morning your reward was a beautiful conjunction between (from bottom to top) Jupiter, Mars and Venus forming a gentle arc above the thin crescent moon. Visible above Venus is the bright star Regulus in Leo, the Lion. There was light cloud - note the haze around the moon as well as the "earthshine" - the reflected light from Earth illuminating the darker part of the lunar phase.
Pictures of the Week - October 5, 2015
The "nearby" galaxy NGC 7331 is located about 40 million light years away in the constellation Pegasus. In the background fainter and more distant galaxies (about 300 million light years away) are visible. This is an image taken over several nights beginning in mid September and is the combination of images taken through red, green, blue and clear (L-band) filters.
Image details: TKUO #2, RC10 telescope (f8/2000mm): QSI 616 camera, LRGB image (L:60 min, R:60min,G:60 min,B:60min) Image dates: Sept 11, 2015 - Sept 30, 2015
The glorious Milkyway hangs over head in the early Fall sky. In this wide-angle image the Crescent Nebula (see the September 11, 2015 TKUO image for comparison) is in the lower right corner while the center-top is marked by the distinctly orange-yellow pulsating star RS Cygni. Middle image shows our nearest large galactic neighbor - the Andromeda Galaxy. At a "mere" 2.2 million light years away it can be seen as a fuzzy smudge in the constellation Andromeda. This is a galaxy very similar to our own and contains at least 200 billion stars! Image on the right is the beautiful Double-Cluster in Perseus. This is a pair or stellar families in our galaxy. Click on each image for a bigger view.
(Image details: Canon 1100D, 6 x 300s, ED80 f7.5 doublet)
Pictures of the Week - October 2, 2015
A lovely morning conjunction on October 2, 2015 showing from top to bottom: Venus, Regulus, Mars and Jupiter. (Image taken 6:30 am Canon 1100D, 1s) On the right are two images of the King's Observatories showing the small roll-away observing shed (TKUO3) that houses a large visual-use telescope and TKUO2 and TKUO1 behind that house the robotic telescopes used for imaging as well as photometry and spectroscopy. Click on the images for larger views.
Picture of the Week - September 27, 2015

Eclipse of the Super Moon! Click on each of the above images to get a bigger view of the September 27, 2015 eclipse. It is called a Super Moon because the moon is at its closest approach to the Earth and hence its biggest apparent size. You will need to wait one Saros - 18 years, 11 days and 8 hours for these conditions to re-occur. Plan now! One thing to notice is the profusion of faint stars around the moon - they would normally be completely lost in the glare of a full moon.

Images taken at TKUO #2 using the 800 mm ED80 refractor and Canon DSLR with exposure of 15s at mid eclipse.

Picture of the Week - September 12, 2015
 
Picture of the Week - September 11, 2015

Wolf-Rayet stars are massive and very energetic stars reaching the end of their normal lives. In this phase the star is shedding mass via a very powerful stellar wind and in the process producing a beautiful nebula. This image shows the Wolf-Rayet star WR 136 and the "Crescent Nebula". Roll over the image to see the location of the progenitor star WR 136. This object is high overhead in the late summer sky, roughly in the centre of Cygnus the swan.

Image details: TKUO #2, RC10 telescope (f8/2000mm): QSI 616 camera, RGB image (R:50min,G:50 min,B:50min) Image dates: Aug 16, 2015, Sept 11, 2015

Picture of the Week - May 20, 2015
The "Draco Triplet" - from left to right: NGC 5985 (face on spiral galaxy), NGC 5982 (elliptical galaxy) and NGC 5981 (edge-on spiral) are a trio of galaxies about 100 million light years away in the constellation Draco. Faint galaxies in the background are easy to spot and these are more than 1 billion light years away! This is a 9.4 hour exposure through 4 filters (L: 3h, R: 2.6h, G 2.6h and B: 1h) taken with the TKUO #2 RC10 May 14 - 19, 2015
Picture of the Week - May 14, 2015
The King of the Northern Sky globular clusters is M 13 (NGC 6205) located 22 000 light years away in the constellation Hercules. M 13 is a very old object at approximately 11.7 billion years. This is an impressive sight even in a small telescope. This image was taken on the evening of May 14, 2015 using TKUO #2 RC10 through R (80 minutes), G (40 minutes) and B(40 minutes) filters and Paramount MX.
Picture of the Week - May 13, 2015
The great globular cluster M3 is in Canes Venatici. This ball of several hundred thousand stars orbits our galaxy (one of about 200 such objects) and is about 34 000 light years away. This LRGB filter image taken using TKUO #2 RC10 and QSI 616 camera L: 60 minutes, RGB: 50 minutes each.
Picture of the Week - May 12, 2015
Galaxies are cannibals! Shown here is the spiral galaxy M51 or the Whirlpool Galaxy located in the constellation Canes Venatici - just below the handle of the Big Dipper. This classic spiral galaxy is caught in the act of devouring the smaller galaxy (NGC 5195) beneath it. The faint glow beneath the galaxies is created by stars and dust clouds that have been ejected from the system during the interaction. This movable feast is taking place about 23 Million light years away. Sad to say but our own Milky Way galaxy is - as we speak - cannibalizing a number of smaller satellite galaxies. Galactic collisions and mergers are an important part of the evolution of large galaxies. This image was taken at TKUO #2 through the 250 mm Ritchey-Chretien telescope at a focal length of 2000 mm on the nights of May 8, 11 2015. This is a 4-filter LRGB image: 60 minutes through each filter.
Picture of the Week - April 20 , 2015
The enigmatic galaxy NGC 3034 or Messier 82 (sometimes also called the Cigar Galaxy) has long been a puzzle. The bright red central filaments projecting above and below the plane of the galaxy suggest that a violent event has occurred in the core of the galaxy. It is now commonly believed that the centre of the galaxy is scene to intense star-formation and hence NGC 3034 is classified as a Starburst Galaxy. The galaxy is located a relatively close 11 million light years away in the constellation Ursa Major. This image is the composite of images taken April 19 and 25, 2015 through L, R,G, B (60 minutes each) and Halpha (120 minutes) filters using the King's University Observatory #2 C14/f8 and QSI616 camera
Picture of the Week - April 11 , 2015

The edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 3628 (aka - the Hamburger!) is located about 35 million light year away in the constellation Leo. The galaxy is part of a trio of galaxies that are gravitationally interacting and distorting each other's shapes. The disk of this galaxy is about 300 000 light years long and is being warped by the tugs exerted by the other two galaxies - not visible in this image.,

This image was taken on the nights April 8, 10 and 11, 2015 with the King's Observatory #2 C14/f8 through L, R, G and B filters with the QSI 616 camera. (L:60 min binned 1x1, RGB: 60 minutes binned 2x2)

Pictures of the Week - February 20, 2015

Left: A wonderful conjunction of the moon, Venus (brighter of the two planets shown) and Mars taken on a very cold February 20 night from Toronto! I was fortunate to be in Toronto visiting my daughter and son-in-law at the time as this event was clouded out in Edmonton. Earthshine (reflected light from Earth filling the dark portion of the lunar phase) is also evident. Photo taken with a Lumix Digital Camera courtesy Leopold Kowolik/B. Martin. (Click to enlarge)

Right: The dark nebula IC 434, better known as the Horsehead Nebula is a cloud of dust silhouetted against a hot, glowing expanse of hydrogen gas. This image was obtained on the evening of February 21, 2015 with the King's Observatory C14 through a Hydrogen alpha filter (4 x 600 s exposures). (Click to enlarge)

Picture of the Week - January 20, 2015
The Crab Nebula and its central pulsar are shown in this image. The crab nebula is the remnant of a star that exploded roughly 1000 years ago and was visible as a new star (super nova) in the night sky (and the daytime sky as well for a short period) for more than a year. If you mouse over the image the location of this star is revealed by a tiny, rapidly spinning neutron star or PULSAR that is all that remains of the original and once massive star. This tiny star is the mass of our sun but only the size of Edmonton! It is spinning rapidly - about 30 times per second and the interaction between its intense magnetic fields and the surrounding nebula is what causes the Crab Nebula to glow as brightly as it does. Compare this with the image from December 15, 2014. That is a narrow band image which shows the structure of the shock fronts being whipped up by the pulsar.
Image details: January 20, 2015, C14/f8 and QSI616 camera, L,R,G,B: 60 minutes
Pictures of the Week - January 12, 2015
Comet 2014Q2 otherwise known as Comet Lovejoy 2014 is making a rare appearance in our early evening skies this month - but you will need a pair of binoculars to see it. The comet is just below and west of the Pleiades. The animated image above shows the comet drifting during a 40 minute span relative to the background stars. In this image - taken with the King's Observatory #2 C14 telescope - the comet is moving through the solar system at about 37 km/s and was about 74 million km from Earth. If you miss it this time you will need to wait another 14 000 years (about when the Oilers will post a winning season!)
A rare glimpse of Venus (brighter - left of centre) and Mercury together. Over the next week the two planets will be visible at sunset - a treat to see Mercury this easily - it is usually difficult to spot in the glare of the sun.
 
Picture of the Week - December 15, 2014

The supernova remnant known as the "Crab Nebula" is shown above and represents the first image of the newly acquired Quantum Scientific Imaging (QSI616) camera. THe image is created by combining 3 separate images of the nebula taken in the light emitted by sulfur atoms (red), hydrogen atoms (green) and oxygen atoms (blue) - this is called the Hubble Palette since it is the same system used by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The new camera, combined with the Paramount MX robotic telescope mount installed this September in the new King's Observatory #2 represents a significant improvement in the capacity of our observatory. For example, compare this image with one of the TKUO images of the week for March 1, 2012. Image details:

SII filter: 11 x 600s subframes; Halpha filter: 11 x 600s subframes; OIII filter 10 x 300 s subframes

Celestron C14 at 3000 mm fl; QSI 616 camera and Paramount MX mounting

Picture of the Week - October 13, 2014
&
The shards of an exploded star! This narrow band image of NGC 6960 - part of the Veil Nebula in the constellation Cygnus the Swan shows the remains of a star that exploded sometime between 5000 and 8000 years ago and is 1480 light years away. This would have been a truly awesome sight from earth - at its peak the supernova that produced this remnant would have shone with the brightness of the full moon and been easily visible during the day. It would have remained a brilliant object in the sky for several years. The remnant is a shock wave produced by material ejected by the supernova and traveling out into interstellar space. (3 hour exposure through Halpha, SII and OIII narrowband filters, C14/Paramount MX)
Picture of the Week - October 6, 2014
Narrow-band image of the Planetary Nebula M27 in the light emitted by three elements - Hydrogen , Oxygen and Sulfur. This image was taken over 2 nights - Oct 2 and Oct 6, 2014 at The King's University Observatory. THe "Hubble Palette" is used here - in this case light emitted by Hydrogen atoms is rendered green, light from Sulfur is red and light from Oxygen is rendered blue. Fainter detail and stars are added with a luminance layer - an image taken through a broad-band filter. Image details: 4 hour exposure (1 hour in each filter), C14-Paramount MX. Image scale 1.34"/px
Picture of the Week - Septemeber 15, 2014

Living on the edge! Both objects pictured here (Neptune on the left, M92 on the right) have something in common - each object "lives on the edge".

Neptune is the most distant planet and lives on the edge of our solar system. This image was taken September 13, 2014 at The King's University Observatory. At that time Neptune was a "mere" 4 billion, 329 million km away! The tiny "star" just above and to the left of the planet is Neptune's major moon Triton.

Messier 92 (M 92) is one of the late summer sky's most magnificent globular clusters and lives at the "edge" of our galaxy 26 700 light years away! This is an ancient object - approximately 13 billion years old and likely older than our galaxy - around which it orbits! Globular clusters are typically "balls" of hundreds of thousands of old stars, each with a mass comparable to that of our sun. This image was taken in the early morning, September 15, 2014 at TKUO.

Each of these objects was imaged withTKUO's C14 @ f/7 and through LRGB filter sets with a Paramount MX mount.

Picture of the Week - September 1, 2014
The planetary nebula Messier 27 (M27) is a late summer classic. The nebula is the outer remnant of a dying sun-like star - slowly shedding its surface layers into inter-stellar space. This image was captured as part of a test of a new guiding system at The King;s University Observatory #1. The image is made by combining light of separate images taken through clear (L), Red, Green and Blue filters to produce an LRGB composite. This gives a very faithful rendering of the colour of the object. Images were sets of 3 minute exposures: L 10 x 3 min, R: 3 x 3 min, G: 8 x 3 min, B 8 x 3 min. Images taken with the Atik314L+ camera on the C14 at f/7.
Picture of the Week - August 28, 2014
A gentle auroral arc engulfs the Pleiades or Seven Sisters! Image was an 8s exposure taken late on the evening of August 28, 2014. Fall evenings bring earlier dark skies and more opportunities to catch a glimpse of the northern lights. Click on the image to have it open in a larger pop-up window.
Picture of the Week - June 18, 2014
A wonderful display of noctilucent clouds (or polar mesospheric clouds) . These are the highest altitude type of clouds and are formed by water crystals at an altitude of about 80 km. This means that these clouds form well above the troposphere. This image was taken shortly after midnight on June 18, 2014. Such displays are uncommon and usually restricted to the northern latitudes between 50 and 70 degrees latitude. The sun is below the northern horizon and is illuminating the clouds producing this startling "ghostly" appearance. The bright star in the middle and above the cloud mass is Capella. Click on image for a full screen view.
Pictures of the Week - January 26, 2014
Supernova in a nearby galaxy! This is an image of a supernova ( an exploding star) in the "nearby" galaxy M82 that was first detected January 22, 2014. M82 is about 8 million light year away and is an enigmatic galaxy in its own right - It is an example of a starbust galaxy - an episode of intense star formation - likely caused by an interaction with a neighboring galaxy is causing large amounts of material to be ejected from the core of the galaxy. This gives the galaxy a turbulent appearance. Roll your mouse over the image to see the location of Supernova SN2014J. Image taken on the evening of January 26, 2014 using the C14 at f/7 - unfiltered.
Pictures of the Week - November 6, 2013
A trio of fall -sky "classics" taken by Astronomy 200 students at an evening Lab (Nov 6, 2013). From left to right they are: M15 - globular cluster in Pegasus, M27 planetary nebula in Vulpeculae and M57, planetary nebula in Lyra.
Pictures of the Week - October 11, 2013
The Double-Cluster in Persei (NGC 869 and NGC 884) is a pair of open clusters located about 7500 light years away in the Perseus arm of our Milky Way galaxy. These are families of newly formed stars - most of the stars formed about 12 million years ago making them much younger clusters than the Pleiades shown below. Image was taken Monday, October 14 using a Canon T3 attached to the ED80 mm f/7.5. Click on the image for a bigger view.

"Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt?" (Job 38:31). The central part of the Pleiades cluster (Messier 45) showing the bright blue reflection nebula of dust surrounding the brighter Pleiads. The Pleiades are about 400 light years away and formed about 100 million years ago. This is a 2 hour exposure taken through a combination of Red, Green, Blue and Luminance filters using a 600 mm f7.5 lens. The coloured bands around the very brightest stars are created by internal reflection in the camera and filters. Image was taken on the night of Friday, Oct 11, 2013. Click on the image for a full-sized view.

Pictures of the Week - September 9, 2013
This is an image of the lovely "Dumbbell Nebula" taken on the evening of September 9, 2013 using the f7.5/80 mm wide angle telescope attached to the main instrument at TKUCO. The Dumbbell is an example of a planetary nebula - the highly evolved remains of a sun-like star. This image was constructed by combining images of the nebula produced by the light emitted by Sulphur, Oxygen and Hydrogen atoms present in the nebula. To compare this with a "natural light" image of the same object scroll down to the August 21, 2011 TKUCO pictures of the week.
Image details: Sii, Oiii and H-Alpha each 1000 s (10x100), Luminance filter L 2000 s (20x100); Atik 314L+ and Orion f/7.5 80mm
Pictures of the Week - September 1, 2013
A Cosmic Epiphany - lifting the veil on the "Veil Nebula". The Veil Nebula (or NGC 6960) is the ancient remnant of a star that exploded approximately 8000 years ago in Cygnus the swan. Cygnus is a beautiful summer constellation that passes directly overhead in the late evening and through which the Milky Way winds gracefully. We think that the star that exploded to produce this nebula was about 1500 light years away and hence would have been a very bright "new star". This image reveals that indeed we are "star stuff". Why are we "star stuff"? Supernovae produce the heavy elements that make life possible. This image was taken on the evening of September 1, 2013 through a series filters that show light emitted by sulphur, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. If you move your mouse over the image it will "invert" to give a negative view. This is a common technique used in astronomy to help pick out faint detail. In this case you can see the veil more clearly which is part of the remains of the star expanding outward into the galaxy and seeding new star forming regions with heavier elements.
Pictures of the Week - August 21-22, 2013

Nova Delphini 2013!!

There is a new star in the sky! On August 14, 2013 a normally very faint star in the constellation Delphinus (the dolphin) dramatically brightened by about 25 000 times to become one of the 35 brightest novae in history and one of the first visible to the unaided eye in decades. A nova is an explosive episode in the life of a white dwarf star that is orbiting and gradually sucking mass from a nearby companion star. The material it receives is mostly hydrogen and eventually it accumulates enough hydrogen to experience a thermonuclear explosion across the entire surface of the star which is why it brightens so dramatically.

For science geeks, the images on the right top show the spectrum of the nova and a remarkable set of emission features (including most of the Balmer lines). By way of comparison a "normal star" (Altair) has a very different spectrum shown in the bottom two images. Here you see only absorption lines. Click on the thumbnails for full views.

Images and spectra taken at the King's Observatory on the evenings of August 21,22 - 2013.

 
 
 
Pictures of the Week - May 17, 2013
It has been a long time since I have posted images of the northern lights! On Friday evening, May 17 a lovely display danced overhead. The green is caused by Oxygen molecules, the purple-rose by nitrogen molecules excited by high energy particles from the sun. Recent solar flares have contributed to creating this "geomagnetic storm". The images were taken with a Canon 1100D and 15s exposures. Click on the images to get a bigger view.
Pictures of the Week - February 22, 2013
The Moon in colour! The image on the left is a monochromatic image taken through a green filter. The image on the right is a composite of lunar images taken through Red, Green and Blue filters. The composite image reveals subtle hues on the lunar surface - especially in the darker lunar "seas". The prominent crater just off centre is Copernicus, the major crater at the top is Tycho. Images taken on February 22, 2013 using the ATIK 314L+ camera and 80mm f7.5 telescope.
Pictures of the Week - January 3, 2013
The "Pinwheel Galaxy" or Messier 33 is a nearby galaxy (2.7 million light years away) in the small constellation Triangulum. This is a classic spiral galaxy, the bright blue arms are the product of "recent" star formation triggered by a slowly moving spiral density wave that creates the pinwheel shape of the galaxy. This image was taken on January 3, 2013 through a series of Red, Green, Blue and neutral filters using the Atik 314L+ camera and 80mm f/7.5 lens. Total exposure was about 2 hours.

Pictures of the Week - December 14, 2012

A lovely crescent moon in the early evening sky of December 18. Image (sum of 20, 0.005s exposures) taken with the Atik 314L+ camera and 80 mm F/7.5 lens.
m45
"Can you bind the chains of Pleiades or loosen the cords of Orion?" Job 38:31. This is a part of the lovely Pleiades star cluster (also known as Messier 45, the Seven Sisters or the Subaru). This cluster is a young group of several hundred stars and hangs in the eastern sky in the early December evenings. It looks like a tiny dipper but is really a small family of stars that formed about 60 million years ago. Most of the stars are bluish in colour and the blue haze seen around the brighter stars is scattering due to dust in the cluster. This image is a composite of images taken through Red, Green and Blue filters using an 80 mm f.7.5 telescope attached to the TKUCO C14. Total exposure time was 75 minutes.
Pictures of the Week - November 10, 2012
What's not to LOVE about winter! While clearing the driveway (again!) early Saturday morning, November 10 one of my rewards was a beautiful display of sundogs. Most unusual however was the view overhead! Image on the right shows a nearly complete parhelic arc. Myriads of tiny ice crystals in the air create these lovely displays. Click on images to enlarge.
Pictures of the Week - August 29, 2012
Not quite a Harvest Moon - but still lovely! This image, taken on the evening of August 29 is a sum of 20 frames each 0.001 s in duration and taken using a Hydrogen Alpha filter to help reduce the effect of atmosphere turbulence on the image. A new, 600 mm focal length f/7.5 lens was used for this picture. Prominent in this image are the lunar "rays" emanating from the major craters. These are paths of ejected material created when the craters formed via interplanetary bombardment with asteroids and other bodies in the early history of the solar system. Click on the image to get an enlarged view.
Pictures of the Week - June 5, 2012
The rare 2012 transit of Venus - first contact. This is an image taken by colleague Dr. Martin Connors of Athabasca University. The image was taken near Vegreville, Alberta through a tiny (and the only!) pocket of clear sky. The first image shows Venus (upper right) just crossing the solar disk. Within a few minutes cloud moved in (hence the reddish tint) and transit observations were over for most people in this region! Oh well - there's still the 2117 transit coming! While transits of the Sun are very rare events the Kepler space craft is designed to look for such events around other stars and to date more than 1000 transits of exo-planets around distant stars have been observed. Exo-planet transits is the most productive method astronomers have to detect planets around other stars. The very tiny drop in light created by the transiting planet is the tell-tale sign of the planet's presence.
Pictures of the Week - May 28, 2012
Worlds apart! Image on the left is the famous whirlpool galaxy (M51) in the constellation Canes Venatici. This image is a combination of a white-light image with an image taken in Hydrogen Alpha (red) light overlaid. The Hydrogen-Alpha image highlights the star forming regions of the spiral arms in the galaxy. Image taken on the evening of May 20, 2012. Image on the right is a May 27 white light image of the moon in the Sea of Serenity region. Both images are taken with the C14 at f/7. Click on the moon image for a full screen view.
Picture of the Week - April 18, 2012
The spiral galaxy Messier 66 in Leo. This is relatively nearby - a "mere" 36 million light years away! Image taken on the evening of April 17-18, 2012 using the C14 at f/7.
Picture of the Week - April 1, 2012
Copernicus crater (upper middle) dominates this scene. Image taken under fair conditions with the C14 at f/7 and the Atik 314L+ camera. Click on image for larger view.
Picture of the Week - March 30, 2012
The Apennine Mountains with craters Archimedes (centre) and Plato (lower left). Careful inspection of the images reveals a lot! See if you can spot some old and submerged craters. Image taken on the evening of March 30, 2012 with the King's C14 at f/7 using the Atik 314L+ camera. Click on image of a larger view (pop-ups must be enabled.)
Pictures of the Week - March 1, 2012
The "Horsehead Nebula" or IC 434 is part of the Orion star forming region. This is an elusive object and is really a vast cloud of interstellar dust that stands in relief against a bright, glowing region that harbours newly formed and forming stars. The Horsehead is located just below Alnitak - the left-most of the belt stars in Orion. This image, made under less than ideal conditions is a composite of images taken in Hydrogen Alpha light (15 minutes) and light emitted by OIII and SII (each 10 minutes). Image taken March 1, 2012 using the King's C14.
The Apennine Mountains and crater Eratosthenes in these lunar portraits taken March 1, 2012 using the King's C14 and ATIK 314L+. Click on this and other images for a larger view.
The Sulphur, Hydrogen and Oxygen images are combined with the white light image shown below to produced this multi-filter colour image of the supernova remnant M1 or the Crab Nebula. In this image , SII is coded red, H-alpha is coded green and OIII is blue. Image taken with the King's C14 at f/7 and Atik 314L+ camera.
The Crab Nebula imaged in the light produced by Sulphur atoms. SII image is a composite, 30 minute total exposure. The Crab Nebula imaged in the light produced by Hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen-Alpha image is a composite, 30 minute total exposure. The Crab Nebula imaged in the light produced by Oxygen atoms. OIII image is a composite, 30 minute total exposure.
Pictures of the Week - February 9, 2012

"I believe that a leaf of grass
is no less than the journey work of the stars"

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855)

 

The Crab Nebula is the last dying gasp of a star that exploded (a supernova) almost 1000 years ago. The image was taken on a cold February evening and shows the remnants of an exploded star racing outward into inter-stellar space. Supernovae explosions are among the most violent events in the universe but are also essential to life! It is in the exploding cores of supernovae that all of the heavy elements including Oxygen, Carbon, Nitrogen and Iron are formed. This image was taken with the Atik 314L+ camera and C14 at f/7.
Pictures of the Week - February 4, 2012
Test shots for the new ATIK 314L camera! These lovely views of the moon show regions near Tycho crater (left) and Kepler crater (right). Studying these images tells us a lot about both lunar and solar system history. The moon is a museum of "cosmic catastrophes" revealing an intense era of asteroidal bombardment in the early solar system. The gray areas are the lunar seas - once vast flood plains of lava. Each image is a composite of rough 30 images taken with the King's C14 at f/7. Click on each image to see a (much) larger view.
Good sky conditions on the evening of Saturday, February 4, 2012 yielded this lovely image of Jupiter and 3 of its "Galilean" moons. Also prominent on the planet is the great red spot - just slightly below centre iin this image. The image was taken using the King's C14 at f/7. Rollover the image to see the names of the Galilean moons.
Picture of the Week - January 16, 2012
Ice crystals and -20C produce magnificent "sun dogs" or parhelia. Small ice crystals are suspended in air to produce an effect not unlike the rainbows created by crystals hanging in a window. These parhelia were observed on Sunday morning, January 15, 2012. Click on the image for a larger view.
Pictures of the Week - November 27, 2011
Venus will soon become our evening star and also our "Christmas Star" this year. Over the next weeks Venus will climb higher in the south western sky at sunset and become a glorious object. Here Venus is in conjunction with a newly emerging moon. Image was taken on the evening os Saturday, November 26. Venus was 219 million km from Earth at the time and very low in the south western sky. Click on the image to get a larger scale view.
Pictures of the Week - November 4, 2011
Left: Copernicus crater under more direct illumination Right: multi-filter image of Jupiter. Images taken on the evening of November 5, 2011 - temp -15C. Click on images for bigger view.
Three prominent lunar craters Left-right: Eratosthenes, Copernicus and Archimedes. The above images were taken with the King's C14 at f/11. Click on images for bigger view.

Picture of the Week - October 24, 2011

Just after sunset on Monday, October 24 a brilliant aurora lit up the sky. Vivid green hues were also accompanied by reds, mauves and pinks. The above image was a 15 second exposure.

Pictures of the Week - October 17, 2011

Clear skies early on the morning of October 15, 2011 yielded some lovely views of Jupiter and the Moon. Click on each image to load a larger view. The lunar image shows the craters Aristoteles (top, 87 km across) and Eudoxus (bottom, 67 km across). Both images taken with TKUCO C14 at f/11.
Picture of the Week - October 14, 2011
sunspots

Our Sun is finally emerging from Solar Minimum (about 3 years late!) and sunspots are beginning to re-appear. These sunspots are "typical" - the dark inner region is called the umbra; the lighter outer region is the penumbra. The slightly "feathered" appearance is a hint of what creates sunspots. The spots are regions on the Sun where the Sun's magnetic field lines are converging and creating enough of a magnetic force to prevent hot gases from beneath to well up to the surface. The surface temperature of the Sun is about 6000 degrees C but only about 4500 C at the centre of the spots. To see the size of the spots roll-over the image with your mouse! You will see that Earth could easily fit inside these spots!!

Increased sunspot activity also means that we should expect to see more aurora and possibly major solar storms over the next few years. This image was taken about 13:30 pm MDT, October 14, 2011 using the TKUCO C14 and a solar blocking filter.

Pictures of the Week - September 28, 2011

Jupiter - 3:00 am September 29. The famous "Great Red Spot" is visible just below centre in the image. The moon Ganymede is visible in the upper right. Image produced using the TKUCO C14 at f/11 and by combining 6000 frames through Red, Green and Blue filters.
A glorious greenish glow and slender ray form part of this image of auroral activity on the night of September 27-28. Centred in the image are the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. Beneath them are the Hyades - the V-shaped cluster with Aldebaran shining brightly. Just visible in the upper right corner presides Jupiter. The characteristic green colour is produced by Oxygen atoms at a height of about 100 km. (For science nerds it is the forbidden transition at 5577 Angstroms!) Recent increased solar activity means auroral activity will increase in the coming months - keep looking up! (Click on image for enlarged view)

Picture of the Week - September 9, 2011

Jupiter and two of its moons. This is a 4-filter (LRGB) image. The moon immediately to the left is Io with Europa farther left. In the space of about 10 minutes between the images the planet and moons move enough affect registration of the image (hence Europa is a bit distorted). Images were taken using the TKUCO C14 at f/11.

Picture of the Week - August 26, 2011

The famous "Smoke-ring Nebula" in Lyra is one of the treats of the summer sky. It is located about 2300 ly from us. Similar to M27 (below) this is a planetary nebula. The progenitor star is visible in the centre of the ring. This 4-filter composite image was taken with the TKUCO C-14 operating at f/7. Image taken August 28, 2011.

Pictures of the Week - August 21, 2011

This is Messier 15 - a bright globular cluster that graces the late summer and fall sky. It is an ancient object. Current estimates place its age at 13.2 billion years which is certainly older than our galaxy and makes M15 one of the oldest known star clusters. Globular clusters are literally "balls of stars" - in this case more than 100 000 stars. Along with several hundred other similar objects M15 orbits our galaxy at a distance of about 33 000 light years from us. The cluster measures about 175 light years in diameter.
 
L Filter image shows broad spectrum image. This is a composite of 40, 60s exposures.
R Filter image shows features emitting in the red part of the spectrum. This is a composite of 30, 60 s exposures.
G Filter image shows features emitting in the green part of the spectrum. This is a composite of 30, 60 s exposures. B Filter image shows features emitting in the blue part of the spectrum. This is a composite of 30, 60 s exposures.
Messier 27 (M27) is a beautiful example of a planetary nebula - a phase at the end of the life of a solar-type star. At the end of our Sun's life it will expand and gently expel its outer 1/3 into space. The result, for a short period of time (about 10 000 years) will be a glorious ball of gases illuminated by the hot stellar remnant left behind. This object is in the small constellation Vulpecula (southern part of the Milky Way as seen from Edmonton on a warm August evening) and is about 1300 light years away. The colour image shown here was created by adding together 4 separate sets of images taken in different spectral regions. The four composite images are shown above. When colour coded and added the result is a realistic rendering of the light coming from this object. The Heavens truly are telling God's glory!

Picture of the Week - May 1, 2011

Colour images of two beautiful spring-sky objects. On the left is the magnificent globular cluster M3 (Messier 3) and on the right is a "textbook" example of a barred spiral galaxy M109. If you look carefully at the image of M3 you will see many little distinctly bluish stars called "blue stragglers". These have long been a "mystery" but are no doubt related to how stars evolve in very crowded environs such as those of a globular cluster. M3 is about 34 000 light years from us and is at the outer edge of our galaxy. M109 is nearly 80 million light years away! The images are 4-filter (LRGB) composites taken with the King's C14 at f/7. Click on each image for a larger view.

Picture of the Week - April 20, 2011

The magnificent spiral galaxy M51 (L,C) and the bright spiral M65 in Leo imaged with the C14 at TKUCO. The image on the left is taken through a luminance "L" filter while the center and right ones are composite colour images taken through LRG and B filters. M51 is located 37 million light years away and is located under the handle of the Big Dipper. M65 is about 35 million light years away and is close to the bright star Denebola.

Picture of the Week - April 4, 2011

You are looking at something 2.4 billion light years away! This little dot is the quasar 3C273. First identified in 1963 this object is actually a galaxy that is rapidly receding from us at more than 45000 km/s! The image was taken at The King's Observatory on the morning of April 5, 2011. The long streaks are spectra produced by a diffraction grating in the light path. If you mouse over to the negative image you will see two spectral lines produced by hydrogen gas in the galaxy. These are what we used to determine the redshift of the quasar and from that its distance from us.

Picture of the Week - March 1, 2011

Even at -35C the morning sky can be awesome! Here a thin, waning crescent moon rises with Venus. Venus is disappearing as our beautiful morning star - a role it has joyfully played all winter. It is now approaching its own (full) phase and will soon, for a few weeks, be lost in the glare of the Sun.

Picture of the Week - December 5, 2010

Under good sky conditions this multi-filter image of Jupiter was obtained. The moon in the lower right is Ganymede. Image taken with the TKUCO C14 and LRGB filters. This image has a more natural colour balance than the November 8 image.

Picture of the Week - November 8, 2010

Jupiter and one of its moons (Europa to the left) as imaged on the evening of Novemebr 8, 2010. Sky conditions were good and the image was created with the TKUCO C-14 at f/11 by combining four separate images taken through Red, Green, Blue and Clear colour filters.

Picture of the Week - October 4, 2010

Jupiter - King of the planets - is the brilliant "star" seen rising in the east during the month of October. This image - a composite of 2000 images taken in a 30 second span helps to remove atmospheric blurring and reveals some of the subtle cloud features on the planet - including the "great Red Spot". Unfortunately the atmospheric conditions were only marginal on this evening and colour (filtered) imagery was not possible. If the image looks "squished" a bit - it's because it is! Jupiter rotates so fast that it is actually flattened by about 7%. Picture taken Saturday morning, October 2, 2010 with the king's C14 at f/11 using the DMK 21AU04.AS imager.

Pictures of the Week - May 10, 2010

Two spring sky classics M3 the great globular cluster and M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy - both in Canes Venatici. M3 is a ball of about 50 thousand stars and is about 30 thousand light years from us. It orbits around the centre of our galaxy. M51 on the other hand is an "island universe" - a separate galaxy of 100 billion stars (or so) about 37 million light years away! At the top of the image is a smaller galaxy (NGC 5195) which is in collision with and being "cannibalized" by M51. Both images taken with the King's Observatory C14 at f/7. (The M51 image is actually a mosaic of 4 sets of images stitched together to provide a larger field of view.)

Pictures of the Week - April 5, 2010

The" evening star" or Venus has a companion - the planet Mercury! This image was taken Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010. During this week keep an eye on these two. Best time to view is around 9:00 pm with a clear view of the western horizon. This is a rare event - seldom will you see Mercury and Venus together like this. Few people ever see Mercury - it is usually lost in the glare of the setting or rising sun. Click on either image to get a bigger view.

Picture of the Week - February 1, 2010

Rupes Recta - Do you have a crack in your sidewalk or garage pad? The moon does too! Pictured above is Rupes Recta or the Straight Wall. This is a lunar rille which is a region on the lunar surface that collapsed (sank) as the lava-flooded sea cooled. Rupes Recta is an abrupt 200 m drop and measures about 100 km long. This image is a result of 2000 images frames taken with the King's C14. THe frames were stacked, combined and image processed to produce this view.

Picture of the Week - January 18, 2010

Mars approaches! On January 29, 2010 Mars will make its closest approach in the past two years. While by no means one of its best oppositions, Mars is getting very bright and you may have noticed it rising just after sunset. It is currently one of the brightest objects in the sky and a very deep orange-red. The image shown above was taken on the evening of January 16, 2010 under fair conditions. At this time Mars was 101 million km from Earth. The picture is a composite of 4 images taken through colour filters and combined to produce this shot. The northern polar cap is prominent in this picture. Image taken with the King's C14 @ f11.

Picture of the Week - December 26, 2009

Lunar images from The King's C14 @f11. Click for enlarged view. Left: Prominent crater bottom left is Capuanus. Centre: Large crater Clavius. Right: Crater Longomontanus.

Picture of the Week - November 30, 2009

Lunar crater Gassendi take with the King's Celestron C14 @ f/11 under fair atmospheric conditions. Gassendi is a large crater (about 110 km across) with a rim reaching almost 3 km above the crater floor in places! Click on image to see a larger version .

Picture of the Week - November 19, 2009

The "edge-on" galaxy NGC 891. This galaxy is 30 million light years away in the constellation Andromeda. The dark line bisecting the galaxy is dust - a common part of all spiral galaxies. Image taken using TKUCO C14 @ f/7

Picture of the Week - October 16, 2009

Conjunction of the Moon and Venus on the morning of October 16, 2009. Earthshine (glow in the dark area of the moon) is caused by light reflecting from the Earth back to the moon. Venus is near full phase while the moon is a thin, waning crescent. Click on image to see bigger version

Pictures of the Week - September 28, 2009

Test image using the new Celestron - 14 telescope at The King's University Observatory. This is an image of the Globular Cluster M15 in the constellation Pegasus and is a ball of more than 200 000 stars that orbits our galaxy at a distance about 33 000 light years from us. The object measures about 88 light years across.

Pictures of the Week - November 5, 2007

The subtly changing appearance of Comet Holmes. Left image is an update on Comet Holmes taken November 4/5, 2007. Note the brightening in the central region and slight elongation of the shell. Middle image is from the evening of November 7, 2007. The image on the right shows Comet Holmes on the night of November 8, 2007. The shell continues to elongate and a hint of the tail can be seen. It is still extremely bright.
A beautiful start to the week! This morning we were treated to a glorious conjunction of Venus and the late 3rd quarter moon. click images to enlarge in separate window

Picture of the Week - October 28, 2007

comet17p
click image to enlarge in separate window
Comet Holmes (AKA Comet 17P) was actually discovered in 1892 by British astronomer Edwin Holmes. The comet usually slips through the northern sky every 6.9 years as a silent and very faint ghost. On October 25 Comet Holmes underwent a remarkable brightening by over 400 000 times! This was due to the sudden "outgassing" of a mixture of water, carbon dioxide and dust. The spherical shell created during the outburst now measures more than 1 million kilometers across or about 70% the size of the sun! We don't see a pronounced tail becuase of the orientation of the comet. From our vantage point the tail is pointing almost directly away from us.
Comet Holmes is now the brightest comet since Hale-Bopp and is easily visible to the naked eye in the constellation Perseus. The telescope image shown above was taken on the evening of November 2, 2007. An even better view can be had with a simple pair of 10 X 50 binoculars. To learn more about how to find Comet Holmes follow this link.

Pictures of the Week -September 26, 2007

Shine on Harvest Moon! The full moon closest to the fall equinox is called the Harvest Moon (the next one will be the Hunter's Moon) and when it comes up it looks huge! Last night we had a wonderful moonrise but, sadly, though it looks big it is in fact no larger than when seen over head later at night. This famous effect is called the moon illusion. The photo on the right was taken 4 hours later and if you measure you will see that the images are the same size. Despite this, it is still a wondrous sight and always gets your attention! Click on the images to enlarge them!

Pictures of the Week -September 15, 2007

m15m27m57
Three galactic delights in the fall sky! While testing the drive system at King's Observatory on a wonderful September 15/16 evening these images of M15, M27 and M57 were taken. M15 is a globular cluster - a ball of about 100 000 stars orbiting our galaxy at a distance of about 33 000 light years from us. The middle and right hand images are examples of planetary nebulae - the recently shed cocoons of dying stars. M27 is located in the constellation Vulpecula (just beneath Cygnus the swan) and is about 1000 light years away. M57 is about 2300 light years from us and is in the constellation Lyra. Each image is a 15 minute exposure. Click on the images to see enlarged views. Click on the images to enalarge them to full screen.

Picture of the Week - August 28, 2007

Lunar eclipse August 28, 2007. This was an interesting eclipse - the duration of totality was unusually long - about 90 minutes. The copper red colour occurs because during eclipse the moon is still illuminated by light that passes through earth's atmosphere. Thus, the moon is bathed in "sunset" colours. Click on image to enlarge (you need pop-up windows enabled for this).

Pictures of the Week - June 26, 2006

Ephemeral summertime visitors - Noctilucent ("night - shining") clouds form high in the earth's atmosphere (85 km) at altitudes placing them in the mesosphere - the region that separates the lower atmosphere from the transition of the atmosphere into interplanetary space. The origin of these clouds, predominantly ice crystals, is still uncertain but their increased frequency since 1885 has led some to speculate that they may be related to climate change and human impact on the atmosphere. These rare clouds are occasionally visible in northern latitudes from late May to early July.

Pictures of the Week - April 28, 2006

Even though we are close to the Solar Minimum - brilliant aurora can still happen. Early, Friday morning this lovely aurora danced over head! Click on images for larger versions

Picture of the Week - February 2, 2006

Quickcam image of moon taken at The King's Observatory on the evening of February 2, 2006. Click to enlarge in separate frame (if you don't see anything then you have pop-up frame blocking enabled on your computer. Click here to open image in a new window)

Picture of the Week - December 11, 2005

A stunning sunrise on the morning of Saturday, December 10. These brilliant shades are due to scattering of light by molecules and tiny particles of dust suspended in Earrth's atmosphere. Click to enlarge.

Picture of the Week - December 4, 2005

Venus is a glorious "Christmas Star" this year. Venus and moon in conjunction on the evening of Sunday, December 4, 2005. Venus is the brilliant star currently visible at sunset, low in the southwest. (click to enlarge)

Picture of the Week - September 28, 2005

Galaxy NGC7331 in Pegasus. This galaxy is 46 million light years away. The smaller "smudges" are background galaxies more than 300 million light years away! Picture taken at Astronomy 200 lab at the King;s Observatory.

Picture of the Week - September 29, 2004

Supernova 2004et in the spiral galaxy NGC 6946. The parent galaxy and supernova are located about 18 million light years away in the direction of the constellation Cepheus. Image was taken on the night of September 29, 2004 at the King's University College Observatory. The image on the right is a pre-supernova image. Supernova are among the most violent of events in the universe. A star literally explodes and in so doing creates all of the heavy elements that make life (you and me) possible.

Picture of the Week - April 9, 2004

The magnificent Whirlpool Nebula or Messier 51. A nearby spiral galaxy colliding with (cannibalizing?) a companion. Composite of 20, 60 s exposures. Click to enlarge image.

Pictures of the Week - March 22, 2004

Conjunction of Venus, Moon and Mercury on the evening of March 23, 2004 (click to enlarge)
WebCam image of the moon taken at prime focus of the TKUC 0.32 m. Prominent crater group at top of frame is Walther, Regiomontanus and Purbach. (click to enlarge)

Pictures of the Week - March 8, 2004

WebCam image of the moon through a 90 mm Meade SCT
WebCam image of Saturn taken at prime focus of 0.32 m f/4.5. Poor sky conditions.

Picture of the Week - February 23, 2004

Beautiful conjunction of moon and Venus, February 23, 2004. click to enlarge
Orion in the late winter sky - February 2004. Canon G3, 15" exposure, F2.0 click to enlarge

 

 

Recent Aurora

November 2003
(click on thumbnails)
February 2004
     
   
   
   

Some Galaxies

M 51
M 66
M 74
M 99
M 100
M 101
M 109
 
NGC 7331
NGC 205
NGC 891
NGC 3147
NGC 4501
SN-NGC 6951
NGC 7814

Some Clusters

M 3
M 13
M 15
M 92
M 37
M 38
NGC 869
 

Some Nebulae

M 1
M 27
M 57
M 42
NGC 6962
IC 434
M 97
   

Solar System Objects