M101 Supernova 2011fe and Comet C/2009 P1Garradd 4-9-11
So last nights attempt to capture remote images of the supernova in M101 and Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd proved completely abortive! GRAS in New Mexico was completely clouded out all night and so was Spain until early morning. Having stayed up until 3.30am to make sure I caught M101 before it got too low in the sky I figured I would switch to the Spanish telescopes where Stellarium was telling me that M101 was visible around 4am. This proved to be incorrect due to a glitch with the timezone settings in Stellarium and the telescopes could not find the object – so I had nothing to show for a sleepless night !
Tonight was an altogether different scenario. I double checked where I had gone wrong with Stellarium and corrected the error. It showed I had a narrow window of opportunity between 8.00 and 8.45pm where I could image M101 before it dipped below the critical 40 degrees in azimuth where the telescopes in Spain cannot image due to the height of the surrounding walls in the observatory. The observatory went live around 8.15 pm so I logged onto the GRAS 7 telescope which is a Planewave 17″ imaging with an FLI ProLine PL11002M camera and set up for 15 mins of Luminance, bin 1, in 300 and 600 second exposures. At the same time I logged onto GRAS 16 and imaged C/2009 P1 for 10 minutes using the Takahashi TOA 150mm refractor and SBIG STL11000M camera. The moon was up at the time, but I was imaging away from the main area of moonglow (GRAS recommend imaging objects at least 60 degrees away from the moon) so I guessed everything would be OK – and it was !
Considering these images are just 10 minutes exposure I was pretty blown away by the results !! There’s a nice tail extension on the comet and the supernova is clearly visible in M101 as a 10.5 magnitude (now 9.9 September 6th ! ) exploding star which is now easily rivalling the galactic core in brightness. I’m used to processing Jpeg and Tiff files from the DSLR for astro images so the FITS files that you download from the GRAS server were a bit of a mystery to me. I downloaded the FITS liberator software and read the manual then got stuck in with the initial processing and saved the results as Tiff files. I was totally amazed at the quality of the images when I opened them up in photoshop for a bit more tweaking – nice clean images with hardly any signal noise. OK so i’m now officially hooked on remote telescope imaging
Anyway – here are tonights images greatly reduced in size (and quality) from the Tiff originals
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy and Supernova 2011fe which is marked by the arrow
Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd