Archive: » 2016 » November

Welcome Insight Observatory!

  • November 12, 2016

SkyPi Online Observatory would like to welcome Insight Observatory!

Insight Observatory will house a  16″ Astrograph imaging telescope , named the Astronomical Telescope for Educational Outreach (ATEO), at SkyPi Online Observatory. “Go live is planned for the Spring of 2017. The telescope will be accessible remotely via the internet from classrooms for students as well as the general public to conduct astronomical research projects for science education or just deep-sky imaging.”

We are excited to welcome Insight Observatory and very proud to be affiliated with an organization as active in public education as Insight Observatory.

If you would like to help sponsor the ATEO Project just copy the link in your URL.

AstroImage- NGC 6992, The Rest of the Veil Story – Bob Rieger

  • November 11, 2016
“The last astro image I recently sent was NGC 6960, the Western Veil Nebula.  As you may remember, it is a remnant of a supernova explosion that occurred to a nameless star in the constellation of Cygnus some 3,000 to 6,000 years ago.  The shock waves of gas from the explosion formed a spherical shell moving outwards from the dying star.  While most of the shock wave is invisible to us, several of it’s brighter arcs are detectable by the eye using special filters.  Photographically, the shock waves of oxygen, hydrogen and sulfur are readily detectible.
I mentioned in my last email my next image would be of NGC 6992, the Eastern Veil Nebula.  That image is attached, and while it is similar to NGC 6960, you can see differences in the amount of oxygen (blue) and hydrogen (red).  It is believed the shock waves are relatively thin.  This is what causes the appearance of filaments of gas, since they are only visible when they line up along our line of sight.  The twisting of the filaments are actually undulations in the surface of the spherical shock wave that is moving outwards.
In order to provide a bit of perspective, here is a small graphic from the internet which shows the entire nebula in infrared light, with the major structures indicated.  The approximate center is where the original star explosion occurred:
Now, when you examine my attached image, you can get a sense of the overall size as compared to the relatively small area I am imaging.  The entire nebula is believed to be some 70 light years in diameter, at a distance of almost 1500 light years.  This nebula resides in the next closest arm of our Milky Way Galaxy.
By the way, when you look at the internet photo, and the names of the nebula, you will note a rather curious thing.  It is not a mistake, but can you see it?
Do you see the designations of East and West confused?  Well, they are not- it’s just a matter of reference.  On the surface of the Earth, East and West are defined by meridians of longitude running left or right from the prime meridian.  In the sky, the reference point is is not from the surface of the Earth, but rather an imaginary vantage point infinitely far away where the observer is looking DOWN upon the Earth.  Now you can see the familiar orientation of West and East being left and right, respectively!
Hope you enjoy my image of NGC 6992, the Eastern Veil.”
Bob Rieger

AstroImage- NGC 6960, A Celestial Wedding – Bob Rieger

  • November 11, 2016

ngc-6960“Our home observatory in Tucson was dismantled, and the telescope equipment was moved to a very dark sky location in Pie Town, New Mexico.  Our friends, John and Janet Evelan, own SkyPi Remote Observatory, and the equipment is set up and operational in one of their pod observatory buildings.  I now operate the telescope completely by remote control over the internet from my home in Rhode Island!  The technology is amazing, and with the help of John and Jan I can conduct great imaging under extremely clear and dark skies at an elevation of about 7900 feet.

So, the telescope has now seen first light, and I have captured and processed my first image at SkyPi Observatory.  The attached image is NGC 6960, the Bridal Veil Nebula.  It is a section of the much larger Veil Nebula, located in the direction of the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan.  The Milky Way runs right through Cygnus, and therefore this part of the sky is very rich in celestial wonders.
But let’s examine NGC 6960.  It is part of a supernova remnant.  About 15,000 years ago, an unknown star died in Cygnus.  It had exhausted it’s nuclear fuel, and after successively fusing elements up to Lead, it could no longer exert outward pressure against the ultimate force of gravity.  In a matter of seconds the star, which was about 8 times the mass of our own sun, detonated in an inconceivably monstrous explosion.  This explosion produced more light than a billion stars.  In fact, if our Cro-Magnon distant ancestors were looking at the night sky, they would have witnessed a new star visible even in daylight for a few months.
The shock wave of that star has been moving outward for the past 15,000 years at velocities of several million miles per hour.  Today, the spherical bubble of that exploding shell is about 80 light years across.  While it is extremely faint, several arcs of the shell are brighter, and can be imaged in visible light.  NGC 6960, the Bridal Veil, is one of 3 major bright arcs.  I don’t think the nickname of “Bridal Veil” needs much explanation- it is beautifully lacy and delicate.
When you examine the Bridal Veil closely, you can see a fantastic array of gas streamers twisting and turning.  The ferocious winds of the explosion pushed out the star’s matter, and as it slammed into other dense gas in the vacuum of space, mixing turbulence created the wonderful shapes we see today.  The various colors are created by ionized hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur.
The extremely bright star, 52 Cygni, is not part of the Veil Nebula.  The nebula lies at an estimated distance of 1470 light years from us.  52 Cygni is only 201 light years away, close enough for astronomers to have measured an accurate parallex distance.  52 Cygni is interesting in it’s own right.  Spectroscopic measurements indicate it really is a triple star system, although the star components are too close together to be imaged visually.  The primary component is about 8 times the diameter of our sun and some 80 times brighter.
NGC 6960 is also referred to as the Western Veil.  I am presently imaging NGC 6962, the Eastern Veil.  That will be the subject of the next astroimage.”
Bob Rieger