Neptune – The 8th Planet From the Sun

By |October 29th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Planet Neptune is the eighth and farthest-known Solar planet from the Sun.
In the Solar System, Neptune is the third-most-massive planet, and the densest giant planet.

Named for the Roman god of the Sea!

It is 17 times the mass of Earth, slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus.
Compared to Earth’s 365 days to make one orbit, Neptune takes a really long time..Neptune takes 165 years to orbit the Sun!

Neptune is 2.8 billion miles(4.5 billion kilometers) from the Sun.

As a giant planet, Neptune’s atmosphere is made of hydrogen, helium, and methane. These components, specifically methane, are what give the planet its blue color. This is because methane’s gaseous composition absorbs red light and reflects blue
light outward.

Most (80 percent or more) of the planet’s mass is made up of a hot dense fluid of “icy” materials—water, methane and ammonia—above a small, rocky core. Of the giant planets, Neptune is the densest.

It has a 16 hour day, so it spins a little faster than Earth and Neptune also has the highest wind speeds of any planet in the solar system.

This image was taken from my backyard observatory in Dayton, Ohio, it may not look like much because it is so very far away, and it is really a tough target to make out details from Earth.  Even with good seeing, as Earth’s Atmosphere is constantly
blurring fine details.

I have not looked at Neptune in the last few years…as Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and Venus often steal the spotlight, but I’m really glad I got to see and image it again. Yes, it can be seen Visually through a telescope shining at 7.8 magnitude and with a little magnification say 50x to 100x you can definitely tell its not a star because of the tiny soft Blue planetary disk.

Capture Details:
Target = Neptune, Date: 10-25-2020, Time: 023106 UT, Mag: 7.84, Dia: 2.29 arc sec, Res: 0.03 arc sec, Az: 176.99, Alt: 44.65,
Phase: 1.00, CM: , Camera: QHY5III290M, LRGB, Bisque MYT mount, Scope: C-11 SCT telescope, 3X barlow, FL: 23700mm, F-ratio: 84,
Observer: John Chumack, Location: Dayton, Ohio, Seeing: average, clouds killed the imaging session after my first two full LRGB data sets.

Best Regards,

John Chumack

M8 & M20 The Lagoon & Trifid Nebula Complex

By |October 26th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

M20 The Trifid Nebula(Top) (catalogued as Messier 20 or M20 and as NGC 6514) is an H II region located in Sagittarius.
It was discovered by Charles Messier on June 5, 1764. Its name means ‘divided into three lobes’.
The object is an unusual combination of an open cluster of stars; an emission nebula (the lower, red portion),
a reflection nebula (the upper, blue portion) and a dark nebula (the apparent ‘gaps’ within the emission nebula
that cause the trisected appearance; these dark bands is also designated Barnard 85). This is a very beautiful example of an
Emission & Reflection Nebulae combination.

The bright orange nebulae near the bottom in this image is M8 The Lagoon Nebulae Complex.
Easily visible to the naked eye from a dark location.
Looks great in Binoculars or any small telescope, with the Most apparent or easily visible is the bright star cluster
and nebulae center.
The Lagoon Nebula (catalogued as Messier 8 or M8, NGC 6523, Sharpless 25, RCW 146, and Gum 72) is a giant interstellar cloud
in the constellation Sagittarius. It is classified as an emission nebula and as an H II region.

The Lagoon Nebula was discovered by Giovanni Hodierna before 1654 and is one of only two star-forming nebulae faintly visible
to the eye from mid-northern latitudes. Seen with binoculars, it appears as a distinct oval cloud like patch with a definite core.
Within the nebula is the open cluster NGC 6530.

The Lagoon Nebula is estimated to be about 4,100 light-years away from the Earth. In the sky of Earth, it spans 90′ by 40′,
which translates to an actual dimension of 110 by 50 light years. Like many nebulae, it appears pink in time-exposure color photos
but is gray to the eye peering through binoculars or a telescope, human vision having poor color sensitivity at low light levels.
The nebula contains a number of Bok globules (dark, collapsing clouds of proto-stellar material), the most prominent of which have
been catalogued by E. E. Barnard as B88, B89 and B296. It also includes a funnel-like or tornado-like structure caused by a
hot O-type star that emanates ultraviolet light, heating and ionizing gases on the surface of the nebula. The Lagoon Nebula also
contains at its center a structure known as the Hourglass Nebula.

Although it is a pretty bright nebula, and can be glimpsed near urban areas as a faint fuzzy patch of light,
to really appreciate & enjoy it at its best try to look at it under nice dark skies away from cities or towns!
Want to see more then your eye shows you??? Try binoculars or a small telescope, or even better yet try to photograph it,
as long exposures photos will always show you more then the human eye can see.

This was a quick 32 minute test exposure taken back in on September 20th 2020.
Bisque Paramount ME, & Explore Scientific Carbon Fiber 102mm Triplet APO refractor telescope, Field flattener, and
Stock(unmodified) Canon 6D DSLR, ISO 3200, no auto-guiding, just standard tracking with Sky X pro-track, 16 x 2 minute subs stacked.

Best Regards,

John Chumack


The Planet Mars on 10-05-2020 Close approach to Earth

By |October 12th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Mars close approach and was looking great though my telescopes.

Wow…One of my most detailed yet this season,….Mars was giving up some of that finer detail the last two nights and it is closest to the Earth right now 10-06-2020…showing some nice fine details with Terra Meridiani, the Arabia Peninsula Region front and center. A lot of Blue Limb Clouds and the blue North Polar hood looking good, as well as the southern ice cap that is shrinking in size. Target=Mars, Date: 10-05-2020, Time: 06:41:40 UT, Mag: -2.55, Dia: 22.55, Res: 0.07, Az: 193.12, Alt: 55.59, Phase: 0.99, CM: CM=349.2°, Camera: QHY5III290M, Scope: C-11, FL: 8000mm, F-ratio: 28, Observer: John Chumack, Location: Dayton, Ohio, Seeing was about 7/10, that is well above average for me in Dayton. #marsopposition #mars2020 #Mars #johnchumack

Mars is heading toward opposition , which will occur on 10-13-2020.  Get out and take a look at Mars while its at its brightest and largest, even small telescopes can get you a nice view. Its the brightest orange planet in the East after dark, and will be almost straight over head by midnight and low in the west by dawn.

Best Regards,

John Chumack


“Subaru” M45 The Pleiades or “The Seven Sisters”

By |October 10th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , |

M45 Pleiades “The Seven Sisters” Star Cluster in Taurus, Mel22, Cr42, also known as Subaru…note the Automobile Logo. M45 is a young hot blue Star cluster located 444 light years from Earth, it spans 17 light years across. You can see these hot stars easily with the unaided eye, even better in Binoculars, the Star are actually moving through this Large reflection Nebula region in the Constellation Taurus.
I captured M45 with an Explore Scientific Carbon Fiber 102mm F7 Triplet APO Refractor, Field flattener & Canon 6D DSLR for a 28 minute exposure at ISO 3200, on a Bisque ME Mount. Another quick test from back on September 20, 2020.
Best Regards,
John Chumack

The Planet Uranus on 10-06-2020

By |October 8th, 2020|Tags: , , , |

Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun.   Read the Very interesting details about this Planet!

Its name is a reference to the Greek god of the sky(heavens), Uranus, who, according to Greek mythology, was the grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter) and father of Cronus (Saturn). It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System.

Discovered by William Herschel on the 13th of March 1781.


Why is it called Uranus?

Herschel did not name the planet Uranus, he called it “the Georgium Sidus” (the Georgian Planet) in honor of King George III of England.

The name “Uranus” was first proposed by German astronomer Johann Elert Bode in order for it to be in conformity with the other planetary names – which are from classical mythology. Uranus is the ancient Greek deity of the Heavens, the earliest supreme god. This name did not achieve common use until 1850.


Astronomy is very old science – with at least 4,000 years of history.

Many of the names of objects that have been known for a long time are historic in nature. The planets and their moons were given names which came from Greek or Roman mythology. This seemed sensible long ago when the objects were named. These days, so many objects are known that names tend to come from the satellite or observatory which discovered (and catalogued) them and a series of numbers which tell astronomers something about where they are located in the sky.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is officially in charge of assigning astronomical names.

Uranus orbits the Sun once every 84 years, taking an average of seven years to pass through each constellation of the zodiac. In 2033, the planet will have made its third complete orbit around the Sun since being discovered in 1781.

The planet has returned to the point of its discovery northeast of Zeta Tauri twice since then, in 1862 and 1943, one day later each time as the precession of the equinoxes has shifted it 1° west every 72 years. Uranus will return to this location again in 2030-31.

Its average distance from the Sun is roughly 20 AU (3 billion km; or 2 billion miles).


The Planets Axial tilt/ the Poles actually faces us, so it is tilted on its side compared to the other planets.  Each pole gets around 42 years of continuous sunlight, followed by 42 years of darkness.


I captured this image of Uranus on 10-06-2020 from my backyard in Dayton, Ohio with my C-11 SCT Telescope/Bisque MYT Mount, Celestron C-Max 3x barlow, and QHY290M camera and 400 RGB frames stacked.

Even at high power Uranus is still a whopping 2 billion miles out from the Sun, so appears just a greenish blue round featureless planet, but you definitely know it is not a star when you first observe it through a telescope due to its color and very small soft looking disk.


Capture Details:

Target=Uranus, Date: 061020, Time: 064309 UT, Mag: 5.67, Diameter: 3.71″, Res: 0.05″, Az: 168.17, Alt: 64.11, Phase: 1.00,

Camera: QHY5III290M, LRGB, Scope: C-11, FL: 11750mm, F-ratio: 41(increased via chip/barlow separation), Observer: John Chumack,

Location: Backyard Observatory in Dayton, Ohio.

Best Regards,

John Chumack


Mars & Valles Marineris on 09-27-2020

By |October 2nd, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Planet Mars on 09-27-2020 is getting closer to Opposition and growing larger and brighter. Incredible details are visible in this image, also Valles Marineris, the largest “Grand Canyon” in the Solar System. Margaritifer Terra, Sinai Planum, Solis Planum, Chryse Planitia, , Lunae Planum, Terra Meridiani, Blue North Polar Hood, and Some scattered blue clouds on the western limb around the Arabia Terra. Martian Southern Polar Ice Cap.

Captured with my C-11 Telescope & QHY290M Cmos Camera, 6,000 SER video frames stacked.

Best Regards,

John Chumack


M31 The Great Andromeda Spiral Galaxy

By |October 1st, 2020|Tags: , , , , |

It certainly is not my best shot of the Andromeda Spiral Galaxy, I had very poor seeing that night,  but it was just a test exposure to see how my newly installed mount & pier system is for tracking/polar alignment. Although my old mount worked great for 30 years, the old seriously weathered system needed an upgrade, so I retired my old 16 inch scope mount (weighed in over 300 lbs.)


On my new system I did not employ the auto-guider/dithering during this test, as I was limited on the number of USB ports on my older test laptop and didn’t have a hub with me to run an auto-guider and all  other accessories,. I was waiting on my final Desktop PC to arrive that will eventually run this observatory wide field system or to run my 16 inch scope optics which are being remounted into a carbon fiber tube system. For the test I brought out my old “Explore Scientific” Carbon Fiber 102mm F7 APO Triplet Refractor sitting on a Software Bisque ME Robotic mount.  I did sub exposures of 2 minutes, to minimize Light pollution or sky glow effects, no auto guiding just standard tracking with pro-track enabled, and 2 minute subs with my old stock Canon 6D to limit background sky glow light pollution, @3200 ISO  stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, processed in Maxim-DL, Pixinsight, and Adobe CC, Captured on 09-20-2020.  I’m happy with the tracking and Polar alignment and overall mount modeling.  So looking forward to putting my old 16” diameter scope back into action on the new mount.


M31 The Great Andromeda Spiral Galaxy, is visible to the unaided eye from a dark location or in binocular from your backyard.  It is a Sister galaxy to our Milky Way located about 2.2 million light years distance…all the star in the Image are in our galaxy, we look through our galaxy stars to see an entire island of stars The Andromeda galaxy sitting  way off in the background. The two round / elliptical  fuzzy patches are M32, and M110 two small elliptical galaxies that are gravitationally bound to the larger M31 The Andromeda Spiral Galaxy.  M31 The Great Andromeda Spiral Galaxy will collide with the Milky Way in about 6 billion years from now…to form one larger massive galaxy.


Best Regards,

John Chumack

Clavius – Lunar Impact Crater – an extreme close-up 09-09-2020

By |September 25th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Clavius – Lunar Impact Crater – an extreme close-up view.


Clavius is one of the largest crater formations on the Moon, and it is the second largest crater on the visible near side.

Clavius crater is 144.4 miles(231km) across, and 2.18 miles(3.5km) deep.

The floor of the crater forms a convex plain that is marked by some interesting crater impacts.

The most notable of these is a curving chain of craters that begin with Rutherfurd in the south,

then arc across the floor in a counterclockwise direction forming a sequence of ever diminishing diameters.

From largest to smallest, these craters are designated Clavius D, C, N, J, and JA.


I captured this extreme close-up from my backyard observatory in Dayton, Ohio on 09-09-2020

C-11 SCT telescope, 3x barlow,(F29), QHY290M Cmos camera, 700 frames stacked.

Best Regards,

John Chumack



The Moon, Venus, & M44 The Beehive Cluster

By |September 23rd, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Sometimes Simplicity is Truly Beautiful!
The Moon, Venus, & M44.
I captured this wonderful gathering the morning of 14 September 2020 at 05:55am,
no telescope this time, just a Camera/lens on a Tripod. A lesson in “Depth of Field”: They may look close together, but remember space is very deep!!!
Current Distances in my photo = 150 feet to the Neighborhood Pine Tree, The Waning Crescent Moon sitting at 238,900 miles, The Planet Venus at 89.12 million miles, and M44 (Praesepe) The Beehive Star Cluster in Cancer is 577 light years away from Earth! (1 light year = 5.8 trillion miles)
I captured this with my Canon 6D DSLR & Canon 24-105mm lens Set to 105mm, F5.6, ISO 1250, 4 second exp., Camera on a Bogen tripod from my front yard in East Dayton.
Best Regards,
John Chumack

Mars on 09-10-2020 Martian Surface details abound

By |September 13th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Mars on 09-10-2020 Here is another one of my shots of Mars with lots of wonderful regional details visible.
Syrtis Major, Isidis Planitia, Tyrrhena Terra, Hellas Planitia, Hesperia Planum, Promethei Terra, Elysium Planitia, Herschel Crater, South Polar Ice Cap, blue Limb haze.
Capture Details:
Mars, Date: 10-09-2020, Time: 10:09:00 UT, Mag: -2.04,
Diameter: 20.28, Res: 0.08 arcsec, Phase: 0.94%, CM: CM=263.1°,
Camera: QHY5III290M, Scope: C-11 SCT Telescope & 3x barlow, FL: 7900mm, F-ratio: 28, LRGB, ME Mount, Observer: John Chumack, Location: Chumack Observatory, Dayton, Ohio.
Captured with Fire-Capture, LRGB Stacked & processed in Autostakkert, Registax6, Maxim_DL, Adobe CC.

Best Regards,

John Chumack