A rare opportunity...to image Eta Carina from the northern hemisphere. I have been to WSP on three occasions and finally had a night for the ages. The transparency on the night of February 11 was incredible. I typically don't hold out much hope for transparent skies down to the horizon where most of the time ocean haze and persistent low clouds tend to hang out. On this night after gathering some very good data on the Witch Head Nebula, we started to get excited about the possibilities of imaging Eta. Our group of imagers began monitoring the sky quality on the ocean horizon early in the evening and we were seeing stars lower and lower as time passed.
Eta climbs only a meager 8 degrees or so above the ocean from 24 degrees north latitude on Big Pine Key. We were easily seeing stars at this elevation and even lower, nearly all the way to the ocean horizon. After completing the data acquisition on the Witch Head nebula, I began to prep for imaging Eta.
Just to give you and idea about how low this object is, most of the time our telescopes are pointing nearly straight up into the darkness, but on this night they were pointed nearly horizontal toward one of the largest nebula in the Milky Way Galaxy.
My first glimpse of the camera LCD screen showed the incredible nebulosity complex and I began to get very excited about the opportunity this night was giving to us. A total of 100 minutes of usable data was acquired and here is the final presentation. I will have a future blog on the details around the acquisition of the image. I hope you enjoy the image and that you get a chance to take in the Eta Carinae nebula for yourself through a large telescope at some point in your life.
Please visit the Color Astronomical Gallery and click on the image for a larger presentation. You may also purchase a fine art print of Eta Carinae by either emailing me, phoning, or simply using the online purchase option.