Category Archives: Open Clusters

Open Cluster Messier 39 (M39) or NGC 7092

Here is view of the open cluster M39 located in the northern section of the constellation Cygnus. There are about 30 members in this cluster and it is about 800 light years distant. Best viewed with a wide angle lens.

Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Canon 400mm + Canon 2x Extender III, piggy-back mounted on my main scope, guided using a Canon 100mm lens and ASI290MC camera. Celestron CGEM-DX mount, 8 x 60 seconds at ISO 1600. Software: Backyard EOS, DeepSkyStacker, Adobe Lightroom. Date: September 8, 2017. Location: The Dark Side Observatory, Weatherly, PA.

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Brocchi’s Cluster a Redux of 2014 Collected Data

I decided to pull out some data from way back in 2014, in this case, Brocchi’s Cluster. I wanted to apply some of what I learned over the years in processing techniques. This is only six minutes of data (6 x 60 seconds) using a Canon 6D, 400mm f/5.6 lens and my trusty iOptron ZEQ mount. This cluster is also known as the Coat Hanger asterism, as you can see why. You can also see the small open cluster to the right known as NGC 6802.

The top two stars are M and K class stars and have a noticeable orangish color to them.

Picture saved with settings embedded.


Sagittarius Teapot Over Seneca Rocks, WV

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few nights in the Seneca Rocks area of West Virginia. After 36-hours of non-stop rain, I was stunned by the crystal clear dark skies in this area! I think they rival the dark skies that I observed in Wyoming and Montana. The light wispy clouds add some depth to this image showing the teapot section of the constellation Sagittarius. Unfortunately, I was only equipped with a stationary tripod on this outing, but I’ll be back.

How many Messier objects can you find in this image? You can see the open clusters M6 and M7 just getting ready to go behind the trees in the lower right.

Tech Specs: Canon 6D, Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens, tripod mounted, 10 seconds, 70mm, ISO 3200, star filter added for some diffraction spikes. Location: Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. Date: July 30, 2017.

Hope you like it!


NGC 2158 – The Open Cluster Behind Messier 35

The open cluster NGC 2158 is one of those things that made me do a “double take” when I got back into astrophotography several years ago. Of course I knew about the open cluster Messier 35 (M35), but when I looked at my first DSLR photo of M35 and spotted that hazy little ball nearby, I thought I found something new, a comet perhaps….not the case.

NGC 2158 is located in the constellation Gemini, southwest of M35. While it looks like they are close together, NGC 2158 is actually around 9,000 light-years behind M35 (11,000 light-years from Earth). It has an apparent magnitude of 8.6.

Tech Specs: The close-up image is composed of 14 x 60 second images at ISO 3,200 with 5 x 15 second darks and 5 x 1/4000 second bias frames using a Meade LX90 12” telescope and Canon 6D camera mounted on a Celestron CGEM-DX mount. Imaging was done on February 26, 2017 from Weatherly, Pennsylvania. The wide-field inset view was taken in 2014 using a Canon 6D and 400mm lens.

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Pleiades Through Light Cloud Cover

I really like doing wide field astrophotography when there are thin, high level clouds, I think it adds a lot of character to photographs. Here is a view of the Pleiades star cluster taken on Christmas, 2016.

Tech Specs: Canon 6D with Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens mounted on an iOptron ZEQ25GT mount. Single 60 second exposure, ISO 1600, 70mm, f/2.8. Imaging was done on December 25, 2016 from Weatherly, Pennsylvania.


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