The Deep-Sky From Florida By Guest Host: Mario Motta

I was able to get my C-14 up and running in Naples, Florida, and the following are my images to-date, beginning in the winter of 2022.

The above image is my Naples, Florida setup. I work under a Bortle 6.1, which is not ideal and “almost” two magnitudes below my 4.5 skies in Gloucester, MA where my 32-inch scope is located.

I have an iOptron CEM 70g mount and pier-tripod, which has a level and a built in polar alignment scope. I find it invaluable for a quick polar alignment, when I set it down on a pre-marked location via a pad.

This mount is center-weighted, which is excellent for southern objects, and much better then a standard German equatorial, due to the weight of the scope “hanging off” the end of the polar axis at +26º North.

On this mount the polar axis is “centered” between two bearings…spreading the weight distribution well for southern locations, and It has excellent tracking.

As shown above:

My C-14 Edge has excellent optics, and I employ a focal reducer, so my work is at f/7 instead of f/11. 

I then have a filter wheel, with a Astrodon Light pollution L2P filter in place of standard Lum filter, which helps cut the LP down a bit. Then standard R,G,B astronomik filters, and finally astrodon 5 nm, Ha, S2 and O-III filters.

Finally, my standard camera is a ZWO ASI6200MM pro. I like this camera due to its very low dark current and excellent sensitivity, and wide field.

Piggybacked on this set-up is a Night Hawk 85mm f/6.5 refractor, which I primarily use in auto-guiding with a starlight express Ultrastar. On occasion I use this for a super-wide field image, such as the Vela supernova remnant image, as shown in the images below.

Finally…I have a Celestron dew control system, which is a necessity here in Florida. The humidity and dew-point can and most often is somewhat high.

After spending a night with a hairdryer removing dew every half hour, I recognized immediately that a dew-control system was not just a necessity, but a must!

Set-up time is about 50 minutes, with about 10 minutes to polar align after placing on the preset location.

A nice dark-sky would be great, but not…which indicates we need good light-pollution laws in every state.

In addition to my “Florida images” as posted by Roger Ivester, you can see a large set of my images (~700) at www.mariomottamd.com

So click on the top ribbon pane under astronomy to view my total images.

I plan on catching those deep south gems that are not available to me from my home, back in Massachusetts, and will be adding my latest and newest Florida images as following, as they occur.

If you can’t remember this link: Whatever search engine you are using, just type in “The Deep-Sky From Florida Mario Motta”

For the benefit of those that might want to follow Mario in his quest to observe deep-sky objects from Florida, I’ve included the following calculation for your use.

Or you might just want to determine the deep-south objects that are available to you, which you might not thought were possible, due to their southerly location.

Calculation for Naples, Florida as following:

Theoretical limiting southern horizon calculation from Naples Florida at ~ +26º North Latitude:

(90º-26º) = -64º limiting south latitude, which opens up a vast number of deep-sky objects not available in the NE!

From my (+35º 15′ ) in North Carolina, my theoretical south latitude 90º (-) 35º = ~ -55º. Of course the terrain and light pollution can most often be the limiting factor for many in their limiting theoretical southern latitude. I can see the star Canopus, at a south declination of (-52º 42′) but in a distant tree-line. However, it shines brightly! Roger Ivester

My images are as following: Hope you enjoy…Mario Motta

Sh2-280  is another Ha region in Monoceros, about 5500 LY away. Also a star forming Ha region. This is about 3 hours imaging, in Ha, S2, and O3 filters.

Last year I imaged Centaurus A (NGC 5128) but “just reprocessed” using BlurX. This is an amazing giant elliptical galaxy ramming through a spiral galaxy and devouring it. It’s also one of the loudest radio sources in the sky, and one of my favorite deep-sky objects. 

You can see even from my image what Centaurus A will look like in a few 10’s of millions of years from now, thus “comparative galactic evolution.”

In searching for deep sky objects not seen from New England I came across NGC 1316, a giant elliptical…that from the Hubble images seems to be similar but further along in devouring the spiral it’s colliding with. NGC 1316 is much further away, but I took a chance and obtained it, and from my image you can see some debris left over in front of the elliptical galaxy. (For more detail) Google NGC 1316 and look at the Hubble image, but sorry I can’t match that one!

NGC 1360, a large faint planetary nebula in Fornax. 

Taken with Ha/O3/S2, but.. essentially nothing in S2, very strong in O3, fairly good Ha as well.

The O3 dominates, thus a very blue object, in fact known as the “Robin Egg ” nebula. Just as blue as the Blue snowball above Pegasus, but much larger. Two hours imaging with C-14 Edge, with ZWO ASI6200 camera, processed PixInsight. (2023)

NGC 2467 in Puppis, known as the “Skull and Crossbones nebula.” This was in NB imaging 2.5 hours (clouds moved in before the 3 hours was complete.)

Also with C-14 and ZWO6200 camera, and Pixinsight. (2023)

NGC 55, far south galaxy in Sculptor, 6.5 MLY away. Large galaxy, but not well known to northern observers, due to the southerly position.

This was taken with my C-14 Edge with field reducer to f/7, with ZWO ASI6200 camera in Lum filter only, 90 minutes. (2023)

SH2 284 in Monoceros. Taken with C-14 edge, at f/7, with ZWO 6200 camera, with Ha/O3/S2 filters. Not as far south, but much higher in in Florida. (2023)

SH2-284 an H2 region in Monoceros, 15,000 light years away. star forming region of gas forming an open star cluster. Frequently overlooked because of the nearby Rosette nebula.

Note: This is a revised or re-do from my previous posted image of SH2-284.

NGC 1365, obtained from Florida, I have previously taken from Massachusetts, but poor definition as so low in sky. Here higher in sky, and better sharpness, obtained in color, over 2 nights, Lum, R/G/B filters, about 3 hours total.

But did not do flats, so.. had trouble processing, will not make that mistake again! So some processing artifacts, but the galaxy itself looks good with nice detail.

In Fornax, and known as the “great barred spiral”if you look closely has 2 bars, one horizontal, and another smaller at right angles, a beautiful example. (2023)

Vela supernova with 90mm f/5.5 scope, use this scope only for piggyback guiding. ASI 071MC pro camera, and with optalon L-extreme filter. Two hours of 5 min subs, this is low in the sky, but with the filter able to image nearly to the horizon.

NGC 1097, in Fornax, 45 MLY away…a beautiful barred spiral

NGC 2467, in Puppis, the “skull and crossbones nebula.” This is NB imaging, mostly H alpha

NGC 4536, barred spiral in Virgo

NGC 5068, open spiral in Virgo

SH2-302 nebula, the “snowman nebula in Puppis. This is all H-alpha

Faint section of the Vela nebula…a supernova remnant

NGC 1365: Known as the Great Barred Spiral in the constellation of Fornax (Feb. 2022)

NGC 2736: The Pencil Nebula (a supernova remnant) in the constellation of Vela (Feb. 2022)

Sh2-301, a small diffuse nebula in Canis Major, can be imaged from Gloucester, but easier from down south. (Feb. 2022)

Globular Cluster NGC 1851 in the constellation of Columba (February 2022)

The Famous Globular Cluster…Omega Centauri (March 2022)

Galaxy NGC 2997 in Antilla (March 2022)

Globular Cluster NGC 3201 in Vela (February 2022)

Galaxy NGC 4945 in Centaurus (March 2022)

NGC 6357 in Scorpio, an H alpha region of intense star formation. Taken with the C-14, and the ZWO ASI6200 camera, with H alpha, O3, and S2 filters, combined in PixInsight and processed. The star cluster embedded within the nebula contains some very massive stars, 10-100 solar masses among them. This nebula is also nicknamed the “lobster nebula” (Posted April 26th 2022)

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