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The Stunning Double Cluster in Perseus

|Star Clusters|3 Comments

The Double Cluster in Perseus The Double Cluster in Perseus (NGC 869 and NGC 884) are two open clusters in the constellation Perseus. Also named Caldwell 14 or simply "The Double Cluster", both star clusters are very similar to each other in size, magnitude, and age. This pair of open clusters lie about 7,000 light-years away from Earth. They are an easy binocular target, and an impressive sight through a small telescope. The magnitude 3.7-3.8 star clusters are bright enough to be spotted with the naked eye under the right conditions. Each of the clusters contains more than 300 blue/whi…

Photographing the Lobster Claw Nebula

|Nebulae|3 Comments

The Lobster Claw Nebula (Sharpless 157) is a bright emission nebula. It lies near the edge of the northern constellation Cassiopeia, bordering on Cepheus. As you'll soon see in my long-exposure image, this bright HII region is surrounded by many more interesting deep-sky objects. It sits very close in the sky to another popular emission nebula for amateur astrophotography, the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635). Although I have photographed the Bubble Nebula several times, it wasn't until this year that I focused my attention on the neighboring Lobster Claw Nebula.  The Location of the Lobste…

Mars Opposition 2020

Mars Opposition 2020: Best Time to See the Red Planet

|Planets|6 Comments

You may have started to notice a bright "star" in the night sky in the east. Today, my sister asked me "what is that bright red star I see every night? Is it a planet? It sure is, it's the red planet Mars. The reason it is so bright is that is nearing its closest approach to Earth, or, opposition.  In the video below, I photograph the planet Mars using an 11" telescope from my backyard: For the next few weeks, Mars will get bigger and brighter, making this an ideal time to take a series of photos over many nights to record the changes. It will remain visible for the next 12+ month…

Wizard Nebula

I Captured My Most Detailed Portrait of the Wizard Nebula Yet

|Nebulae|6 Comments

Last week, I photographed the Wizard Nebula with my camera and telescope in the backyard. The final image includes 24 individual exposures of 4-minutes each, for a grand total of 1.5 hours. Despite a bright moon interfering, it is by far my best image of the Wizard Nebula to date. In this post, I'll explain how I captured the Wizard Nebula, and what to expect if you're new to the world of deep-sky astrophotography.  You don't need the latest and greatest gear to capture this nebula, although I'll admit, it helps. Along with a few best practices, I'll share a few ways that you can ac…

Optolong L-eXtreme Filter

Optolong L-eXtreme Filter Review

|Nebulae|20 Comments

The Optolong L-eXtreme filter is now being used in backyards across the globe, which is great news for those that take astrophotography images in heavy light pollution. This astrophotography filter features even narrower bandpasses than last year's L-eNhance, making it perfect for nebula photography from the city. The Optolong L-eXtreme filter isolates the H-alpha (Ha), and Oxygen III (OIII) at 7nm exclusively. Unlike the previous L-eNhance, the eXtreme does not include a bandpass for H-Beta (Hb). The more selective bandpass transmissions are more suitable for fast optical systems…