The Deep-Sky From Florida: Volume 2: 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-datebeginning in the winter of 2022, and continues as following into 2023.

The following is the second in the series: Volume 2

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.

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: Volume 2″ 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.

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:

M83 is one of my favorite galaxies, but too far south, making it difficult to get up north.

I did have a very good night a few years ago with my 32-inch, and got a nicely detailed image. But, just not high enough in the sky to do multiple channels for color and hydrogen alpha. And the poor spring weather in Massachusetts, caused me to miss opportunities to get full scale color.

So…a few nights ago I tried to obtain M83 from Naples: Four hours of imaging over two nights to obtain R/G/B and Ha, and Lum channels, it came out reasonably well. However, the detail can not match what my 32-inch scope is capable of. A “nice result” for a C-14 but I’m spoiled by my 32-inch image of this galaxy.

Then I got the idea to use RGB and Ha from my C-14 and instead of the C-14 lum, combine it with my older 32  Lum image. Using a program in PixInsight called dynamic alignment, I was able to accomplish, and came out very nice.  (See the following image.)

M83 is 15 MLY away in Hydra on the border with Centaurus, a spectacular barred spiral. 

This image shows RGB, Lum, and Hydrogen alpha detail…

RCW 38, a star forming region in Vela: (Note: images follow the identification and text) Telescope: C-14

RCW 36, a star forming region in Vela (Telescope: C-14)

RCW 19, a star forming nebula in Puppis (C-14 Telescope)

NGC 2177 known as “The Seagull” Nebula, as following was taken with a 6-inch RC f/9 reduced to f/6. Optalong L extreme filter and ZWO ASI 071 camera, about 90 minutes of imaging.

I used my 80mm scope last night (February 22nd 2023) to get these wide-fields.

1. Simeis 147 (also known as SH2-240, or the Spaghetti nebula), is in Auriga and Taurus. I used the 80mm scope, with a field compressor working at f/5 with an optalong L extreme filter (allows Ha and O3), despite my wide field I needed to mosaic it, this is 3 sections overlapped, about 5×6 degree field in all. with light pollution some overlap lines are seen. This is a huge supernova remnant, very dim, a total of about 4 hours imaging 5 min subs. 

2. At the other end of the sky is the Vela SN remnant (also known as Gum 16, which is far below the Massachusetts horizon) and is a similar SN remnant, Vela.

This is a single image frame, about 2 hours total imaging, I re-imaged this from last year using the wider field this time. Same set up as above. 

Vela Supernova also known as Gum 16:

Gum 15 in Vela: Located at -41º south declination, and is a large glowing nebula from a central double star, HD 74804. The image was taken with my C-14 and Ha and O3 filters…about 2 hours imaging.

NGC 1851: Globular star cluster in Columba, taken with C-14, 1 hour of Lum filter at -40º south declination.

NGC 3201

Deep-sky galactic cluster, the hydra cluster, about 200 MLY away, many galaxies. I labeled the brightest and largest in the group, many more….about 90 minutes imaging located at -27º south declination.

Sh2 294, “The Octopus” not very far south at -9º south declination, taken with Ha/O3/and S2 NB filters, about 2 hours imaging.

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