M46 & M48 – wide field images

Again taking the opportunity of a half-hour imaging session, here is M46 in Puppis from the window-sill. Since it is a wide field view, the included planetary nebula, NGC 2438, (a line-of-sight effect, it isn’t in the cluster) appears pretty small, but after a bit of processing you can see it just above centre and slightly to the left. For those of you trying to see it visually, here is a quote from Stephen James O’Meara’s splendid book “The Messier Objects”:

“There is yet another illusion with M46. It appears to contain a tiny planetary nebula. NGC 2438 – – –  But the cluster and nebula are not physically associated because the cluster is 5.300 light years distant, whereas the nebula is 6,250 light years away. Positioned just a few arc minutes north of the cluster’s centre, this 11th magnitude planetary measures only about 1’ in diameter. I suspected it at 23X but 72X shows it clearly as a ghostly mote among the multitude”

(I see from my notes that I observed it visually and sketched it at 01:10 UT on 23/12/2001 with my 8″ SCT at X266)

Since there was no moon, I had another go at M48, showing a few more stars than the last one I posted.

For completeness with the Messiers in that region I have also included the recent wide-field image of M47

Wider angle view of M47

Managed a 10-minute observing session from the window-sill before the clouds rolled in. M47 is quite large so this time, in order to get a good context, I used a focal reducer. Using a reducer on an f/5 refractor is not optically very good – and it was rather hazy, so the image is not brilliant. You can compare it with the one without the reducer at

M48 at full moon – – – 28/02/2018

Having posted an image of M46 and M47 recently, the other Messier object nearby that I hadn’t yet imaged was M48. I hadn’t managed to locate this object from the window-sill, probably due to its extended size. So, tonight, I installed the focal reducer on the ST80 and went on an M48 hunt. It is full moon (another “Blue Moon”), so it was hardly ideal for DSO hunting!

Still, this time I found it. So here it is after a bit of processing with GIMP.


Shock!! Face discovered on Sun! – – – 26/02/2018

Remember the “Face on Mars”? (

Well, here is one on the Sun!

Didn’t have chance to do anything but the briefest of imaging this morning, so we have ended up with a bit of a mosaic, but at least there is a surface feature!

Maybe I should report it to the “Sun” newspaper! Seems appropriate!