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NGC 206 up close and personal

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#1 Rick J

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 02:27 PM

NGC 206 is a large star cloud in M31 much like the much smaller M24 in our galaxy. Some time ago I did a high resolution image of C179, a much smaller star cluster with nebulosity. I got a lot of comments asking why I went with something no one had heard of when NGC 206 was there. The obvious answer is I prefer imaging what hasn't been a popular target for imagers and "everyone" does NGC 206. But then I was asked to do one for a possible publication so put it on the list. A year went by before seeing was decent enough. By then I was likely too late for the project that put it on the list. 2012 was a lousy year for imaging. I'd get one night where seeing was good for 10 minutes but not the 20 I want as a minimum for 0.5" reproduction. Over 5 months (August through December, 2012) I managed 8 10 minute frames with sufficient resolution for the luminance data. Color was another problem as transparency was hit and miss playing havoc with all my color data for 2012 and so far in 2013. I wanted 0.5" color data as well but that does need 40 minute subs for decent use and seeing for even 20 wasn't happening. I gave up and finally got 2 10 minute frames of each color under rather similar transparency. This image is the result of those 5 months of work on one object. While transparency wasn't as good as it was for C179 that cluster is visible to the upper left of NGG 206. It is bathed in H alpha pink.

Also note there are several distant galaxies visible through the disk of M31. The most obvious below NGC 206 and very slightly to the right. Other fuzz balls can be seen in the image that are also likely galaxies as they are not listed among the star clusters of M31. Nor does NED pick them up at all. Also there are other very blue star clouds to be seen as you scan around the image. Most toward the far right of my image. I processed the image to suppress the background galaxy to emphasize the stars in the galaxy itself. This caused the fainter parts of the galaxy to vanish nearly completely long before the true edge is reached. It feels rather odd to be scanning an image 4008 pixels across and stay within a small region of M31. When I got into DSO imaging 57 years ago now (1956) I never dreamed I'd ever take an image at this image scale. I was happy to see NGC 206 as an unresolved blob in M31.

One thing I learned is that NGC206 is home to several Cepheid and eclipsing binary stars. The DIRECT Project http://www.astronomy...nek/CfA/DIRECT/ has used these stars to determine the distance to the star cloud and a lot more in the galaxy and thus M31. I found nothing at the site saying what distance they found. APOD says they found a distance of 3 million light-years http://apod.nasa.gov...d/ap990402.html which is further than most estimates I've seen. Original Hipparcos data said 2.7 million light-years which seemed to get reduced to 2.5 million or increased to 2.9 million light-years for reasons I never did discover. Now this figure of 3 million light-years caught me by surprise. If right maybe we have another billion years before we collide with it.

14" LX200R @ f/10, L=8x10'x1 RGB=2x10x2, STL-11000XM, Paramount ME

Full image at 0.5" per pixel rather than my normal reduced 1" per pixel image (4008x2672 pixels and 2.75 megabytes)

My normal 1" per pixel image scale


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#2 dsnope


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Posted 18 May 2013 - 03:00 PM

That's fascinating info and a great image.

Do you have any info on the red emission area and tiny cluster in the upper left of your photo (left of GSC 2801:2057)?

#3 Rick J

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 03:06 PM

That's the C179 I mentioned in the text.


#4 Leonardo70



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Posted 18 May 2013 - 03:21 PM

Wonderful image Rick

All the best,

#5 Jim Thommes

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 03:38 PM

Fantastic image Rick. That long FL really does terrific work when the seeing is good.

#6 jaddbd



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Posted 18 May 2013 - 06:35 PM

Outstanding Rick.

John D

#7 Bill W.

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 10:39 PM

Very nice Rick!


#8 Mark72


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Posted 18 May 2013 - 11:53 PM

Great close up Rick,

Thanks for sharing.


#9 LazyLightning



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Posted 19 May 2013 - 02:12 AM

Nicely done!

#10 LarsZ


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Posted 19 May 2013 - 08:34 AM

Amazing detail. Unless I knew it's situated in Andromeda, I would have thought at first glance that it was a nearby star cluster in our own galaxy.


#11 Rick J

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 11:32 PM

Thanks for the comments. It's not what I was hoping for but resolution is the highest I've achieved from this location.

Unfortunately resolution like this is nearly impossible from northern Minnesota. I spent many "good" nights trying to get the luminance only to find it wasn't good enough. Many wasted hours for the 80 minutes used. I spent so much time on getting good data I didn't realize what little color data I had was taken under rather good seeing but horrid transparency making color data thin and noisy. I need to go back this fall and get new color data. It's rather discouraging to know the system has this high resolution capability but the atmosphere just doesn't allow it up here.


#12 zerro1


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Posted 20 May 2013 - 12:02 AM

Wow Rick, that full size image really puts it in perspective! Great work!

#13 bill w

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 12:28 PM

congrats on spectacular work rick
image looks great at full scale
great write up as usual

#14 Rick J

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 01:57 PM


If I had your steady skies and you had my dark skies (if the weather pattern of the last 15+ months ever changes) imagine what we could do. It wouldn't take me 5 months and a zillion hours of wasted photons to do this.


#15 JoseBorrero



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Posted 20 May 2013 - 01:59 PM

That's what a call a Surveillance! :waytogo: :cool:

#16 Tyler Allred

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 07:29 PM

Cool target... and impressive resolution as well. Nice!

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