August 21, 2015

Messier 11 Visual Observation

This was almost after 2 years that I was observing this beautiful cluster located in Scutum. M11, The Wild Duck Cluster is one of the most densely packed open clusters. In binoculars it appears as a fuzzy patch, mostly like a Globular Cluster. In telescopes with magnification more than 50x it starts to resolve into stars.

I made my observation on the night of 17th August 2015. The sky was very transparent and I could barely see the Sagittarius Milky Way which is almost impossible to glimpse from my city! The sky was very clear after a rainfall and I decided to observe few deep sky objects using my 10-inch telescope. I rarely do visual observations since I have learned astrophotography. After my purchase of the 10-inch telescope I have spent most of my time in comet hunting than making careful observations of the deep sky objects. 

Messier 11 taken during May 2013 Star Pary

After setting up my telescope I first pointed it to M11. At 48x magnification, the cluster looks beautiful with its surrounding star field. A bright pair of 6th and 8th magnitude stars appears on the edge of the field of view. The central red star in the cluster stands out easily at this magnification but the other star are hardly resolvable. At 120x I could see hundreds of pin point stars resolved. The view was so nice that I could only say 'WOW' seeing this celestial beauty. The brighter members of the cluster form a V-shaped triangle that could be said to resemble a flock of ducks when observed. 

M11 is estimated to be 220 million years of age and is nearly 6200 light years from earth.

-Rahul Zota

February 23, 2015

Venus-Mars Conjunction, February 2015

Venus and Mars are less than 0.5 degree apart! The pair looked beautiful in the western sky after sunset on February 22nd 2015. Venus and Mars won't couple up that close until October 2017.

I took this shot using my Canon 60D with Tamron 70-300 VC USD mounted on a EQ5-Single Axis Motor.

-Rahul Zota
 KAAC, Bhuj, India

December 18, 2014

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy

Here's my image of the Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy which is currently the brightest comet in the sky.

For this image I used my Canon EOS 60D and the Tamron 70-300 VC lens...
Expsoure 70 seconds, Total Frames 39, ISO 800, F-stop: 5.6 and 14 Darks.

The comet is rapidly getting brighter and can be easily spotted in binoculars..

October 17, 2014


Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is approaching Mars. This comet will undoubtedly be the great comet for Mars as it will swing within only 1,39,500 kms of the Red Planet on October 19th. That's about 10 times closer than any known comet flyby of planet Earth, and nearly one third the Earth-Moon distance.  The comet will pass Mars at a relative velocity of 56km/sec. It is predicted that the comet will shine with magnitude -6 from Mars.

The comet will be 10th magnitude from Earth. It would be difficult to observe the comet being so close to Mars low in the evening sky but you can follow a webcast provided by the Virtual Telescope Project.

Other Useful Links:

-Rahul Zota
Bhuj, India

August 28, 2014

Comet C/2014 Jacques

Captured yesterday using my Canon DSLR and a 50mm Prime Lens. This is the cropped frame and a record shot only. The comet was around 7.5 mag bright. I wish to capture it again if weather permits using my tracking mount and a telephoto zoom lens!

-Rahul Zota
 Bhuj, India

April 23, 2014

View Two Bright Asteroids Together !

An interesting event is going on in the sky. Two bright asteroids Ceres and Vesta can be seen together in a same FOV of a telescope or a binocular these days. The separation between them is just 2.5 degrees and it will decrease down to just 9 arc minutes during July 4th and 5th. I don't know this is rare event or not but it is really excited for an amateur astronomer to view two bright asteroids in a same field of view. Ceres is the largest asteroid and Vesta is the third largest, second most massive and the brightest asteroid. Most probably the sky in July will be cloudy so hope for a clear sky during 4th July!!

Rahul Zota