The Carina Nebula by Leslie Rose: 02 December 2015.

The Carina Nebula is about 7500 light-years away in the direction of the Carina constellation. Carina was originally part of a very large constellation Argo Nevis but Nicolas de Lacaille divided it into three new constellations in 1763, Carina (the keel), Puppis (the poop deck) and Vela (the ship’s sails). It is also known as NGC 3372 and was discovered in 1751 by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille while observing from the Cape of Good Hope. It is a colossal emission nebula about 300 light-years wide that contains extensive star-forming regions. A very interesting object in the Carina Nebula is the Homunculus Nebula which is a planetary nebula that is being ejected by a luminous blue variable star, Eta Carinae (shorthand ? Carinae or ? Car). This star is one of the most massive stars known and has reached the theoretical upper limit for the mass of a star and is therefore unstable. The instability results in periodic outbursts during which it brightens and then fades again. During one such outburst between the 11th and the 14th of March 1843, it became the second brightest star in the sky but then faded away. Around 1940 it began to brighten again, eventually peaking in 2014 but not achieving nearly the levels of brightness seen in 1843.

This chart shows the location of the Carina Nebula within the constellation of Carina (The Keel). The map shows most of the stars visible to the unaided eye under good conditions and the nebula itself is marked as a green square in a red circle at the left (labelled 3372 for NGC 3372).
This chart shows the location of the Carina Nebula within the constellation of Carina (The Keel). The map shows most of the stars visible to the unaided eye under good conditions and the nebula itself is marked as a green square in a red circle at the left (labeled 3372 for NGC 3372).

This nebula is very bright and can be seen well in small telescopes, and faintly without a telescope at all. The original of this chart may be viewed here.

Leslie Rose is one of the regulars who attend the Southern Star Party and the photograph featured here, was taken by Leslie. The first SSP he attended was in March 2011 when Leslie had neither telescope nor camera!

For this image of the Eta Carina Nebula Leslie employed a narrow band filter with the Hubble pallet and an Atik 383l mono CCD camera. The image was taken through a Celestron Nexstar 8SE tube on a Celestron CGEM equatorial mount. The total exposure time was 10.7 hours and it was shot from a suburban environment in Durbanville, Western Cape, South Africa.
For this image of the Eta Carina Nebula Leslie employed a narrow band filter with the Hubble pallet and an Atik 383l mono CCD camera. The image was taken through a Celestron Nexstar 8SE tube on a Celestron CGEM equatorial mount. The total exposure time was 10.7 hours and it was shot from a suburban environment in Durbanville, Western Cape, South Africa.

This photograph was the winner of Celestron Telescopes South Africa’s November Nights competition. Celestron commented that the quality of the pictures they received was amazing and really showcased the beauty of the South African Night Skies. Go here to view Celestron’s Facebook page or, if you wish to visit the Celestron webpage, click here.

Leslie’s prize was a pair of Celestron UpClose G2 10×50 Binoculars. Congratulations Leslie and thank you Celestron for running competitions like this to encourage astrophotographers.

NOCTUARY – February 2013 Edition

The latest edition (February 2013) of NOCTURAY is available.  To wet your appetites here is the table of contents and if you wish to read the full articles go here.

Gallery: Comet Lemmon . . . . . . . . . . . . . … . . . 02
A selection of photographs of the lovely Comet Lemmon that
graced the deep southern skies during January and February.

From the Archimedes Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . 03
Interesting bits and pieces to pique the astronomically curious.

Deep-sky Highlight: The Blue Planetary . . . . 06
A deep-sky gem hiding in Centaurus.

Dark Emu Rising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 07
The spectacular dark nebula complex known to some as the Dark
Emu rises, in pursuit of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

Astrophotography tutorial (Part 2) . . . . . . .  . . 09
The second installment of Brett du Preez’s astrophotography
tutorial takes a personal detour.

Jargon Jambalaya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Some astrojargon explained.

The Tale of Hydra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
A convoluted story surrounds the largest, and one of the most
ancient, constellations.

A South African Champion . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . 24
The nearest star to the solar system has been seen by few people.
Use this finder chart to catapult yourself amongst the elite.

Noise vs. ISO in Astrophotography . . . . . . . . . 25
What’s the best ISO setting to use on your DSLR when taking
astrophotos? Here’s one way of finding out.

Briefly Noted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  27
Some housekeeping announcements and other stuff that didn’t
fit in elsewhere: Lacaille’s Sky – On the Cover – Noctuary
downloads – About Noctuary

Next-Generation Adaptive Optics Brings Remarkable Details To Light In Stellar Nursery

Gemini Observatory Press/Image Release

Researchers Peter Pessev & Benoit Neichel of the Gemini Observatory, La Serena, Chile claimed they had the best New Year’s Celebrations possible when they obtained this incredibly detailed data from the observatory’s adaptive optics (AO) system. The photo shown here features an area on the outskirts of the well known Orion Nebula and show cases the instrument’s very significant technological advances over the previous generation of AO instruments.

Gemini_AO_Image_Orion_Nebula
Gemini South presnts us with a view of a portion of the Orion nebula as never seen before. Image Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA

The system combines the use of five laser guide stars with multiple deformable mirrors enabling it to go far beyond what has previously been possible using adaptive optics in astronomy,  Benoit Neichel, currently leading the AO program for Gemini, says that years of dedicated work have gone into the project culminating in this magnificent image. This image, he claims, is only a glimpse of the system’s enormous scientific potential. The Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System (GeMS) is installed on the Gemini South telescope in Chile. This is the most advanced adaptive optics system available and will enable astronomers to study the universe with an unprecedented level of clarity and detail by removing distortions due to the Earth’s atmosphere.