With good detail and nice dust clouds, Norman Hey wins the Photo of the Week for March 5, 2021, with his mosaic astrophoto of the Rosette Nebula, captured using a one-shot colour camera and a dual bandpass filter.
Also known as NGC 2237, the Rosette Nebula is located about 5,000 light-years away from Earth. The nebula is a Hydrogen II region in Monoceros, and is closely associated with the star cluster NGC 2244.
Shooting from his backyard in Sudbury, Ontario, on January 30, 2021, Hey used a QHY168c camera on a Astro-Physics 130mm StarfireEDF (f/6). He said he shot a two-panel mosaic: one panel had 37 frames at 240 seconds each; the other had 39 frames at 240 seconds each.
“The detail is very good with good stars all the way down,” noted one of the judges.
“The Rosette is big enough that I needed to create a mosaic to frame it the way I wanted to with the equipment that I have,” he said. “So I had to learn how to use my imaging software to create the mosaic panels, how to use PixInsight to process a mosaic and how to use it to create an HOO image from the data collected with a dual bandpass filter (L-eNhance). Given that the panels each only have about 2.5 hours of integration time each, using this filter, the resulting image is quite satisfying.”
Even so, Hey said there was room for improvement.
“I would like to add more data,” he said. “I also want to repeat the image completely when my objective lens is repaired by Astro-Physics; something has happened to it that degrades stellar images with a strange flare.”
Our honourable mention this week goes to Andrew Lesser for his astrophoto of the Pleiades.
Also known as Messier 45, the Seven Sisters and many other names in many cultures, the open cluster found in Taurus is a favourite among astrophotographers for its bright blue stars and wispy nebulae. The cluster contains over a thousand stars that are loosely bound together by gravity, it is an average distance of 445 light-years from Earth and it has been observed by people for millennia.
For his image, Lesser used a ZWO ASI2600MC Pro camera and a William Optics GT102 telescope (with a focal length of 563mm). He captured 21 hours and 48 minutes of data from Calgary, Alberta, around January 10, 2021.
“As a young child, I vividly remember looking up in the winter sky and wondering about this hazy set of stars, why were they there, where did they come from? I still get that feeling,” Lesser wrote. “Located in the constellation Taurus, the Pleiades star cluster shines bright through the vast interstellar dust creating this beautiful reflection nebula. We are star dust.”
We also wanted to give a special shoutout to 16-year-old Fiona Morris this week, for her image of the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae.
The Horsehead Nebula, also known as IC 434, is a bright emission nebula. The “horsehead,” Barnard 33, is a dark nebula in front of it. The Flame Nebula, or NGC 2024, is an emission nebula about 1,400 light years from Earth, lit up by Alnitak. These nebulae, along with Barnard’s Loop and Messier 42, are part of the Orion Molecular Cloud, located about 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Orion.
Morris used a ZWO ASI183MC Pro, a William Optics SpaceCat 51 (f/4.9), a Celestron AVX mount, a ZWO IR/UV Cut Filter and a ZWO ASI120MM Mini to acquire the data. She said she collected 40 120-second frames at 111 gain from River Philip, Nova Scotia, on February 8, 2021, and stacked them in Astro Pixel Processor and edited the image in Adobe Photoshop.
“I took this photo in my backyard after a snow storm,” she said. “I set up my equipment in -20C conditions and enjoyed the company from the stars for a few hours. I have only gotten two clear nights this winter, so I had to take advantage of the clear cold night. Sadly, I had to cut the night short as I had school the next morning.”
Prizes for the 2020-21 SkyNews Photo of the Week contest are sponsored by Sky-Watcher, Celestron, iOptron and The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Click here for more details on the prize packages that will be awarded to the best photos this year.