Wow ! That's a pretty amazing capture if its a super nova.
On the other hand, could it be the moon through the wrong end of a telescope ?
I'm sure that you're enquiring into it John, its certainly a very interesting capture.
It looks like a well defined spherical body lit from a side rather than a source of energy or light itself.
Well, if you are able to get some informed opinions about the mysterious object please keep us informed. There must be a lot of us who'd like to know more.
I see no reference stars to know where in the sky it was and when the shot was taken is critically important too.
What is the angular size of the field of view ? That too would be helpful information.
Interesting capture, no doubt!
Below is a screen shot taken from my Stellarium program. I set it to show the night sky in
a W-NW direction exactly as it would appear at midnight on 9/12/11, and from NY City, NY.
Anything look familiar?
There was a full Moon that night, also, so that plus the light pollution from the city would
probably pretty much wipe out any chances of your imaging anything but the brightest objects.
It does have an appearance like that of Mars, but Mars had risen in the East, and was
sitting under two fairly bright stars (Castor and Pollux).
There is also a complete absence of any background stars, which tends to lead me into
thinking you caught some suspended object that was not too distant from the lens. Definitely
a bit of a mystery object, no doubt!
Nah. Too tidy and neat around the edges for a Super Nova. Could it be a related type of Nova? Maybe it could be blamed on the Bossa Nova?
According to the EXIF data, this photo was taken with FL 300mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec @ ISO 1600. In short, this is a fairly bright object with a resolved image (not a point source). Since it's not Mars, it's definitely atmospheric... and since it appears to be spherical, it's almost certainly a balloon. I have seen balloons something like this, and the appearance can be misleading. Many balloons have internal light sources and panel patterns (for aviation safety, of course), which would explain the brightness and light pattern. Given the location, I'm suspect this one was almost surely tethered, and probably not terribly far away (~20 miles??? Just a wild guess, but impossible to say with the crop).
FWIW, a supernova this bright would have made headlines... and not just in Astronomy journals and magazines.
I grew up in the New York metropolitan area and despite the very significant light pollution, the sky was never an absolute pure black. First, I would expect any night shot of the New York area sky would have been fogged by the light from the ground. If you look at the mystery image, it's a pure uniform black.
Also, the New York sky has stars. There aren't many, but the sky has a sufficient number of bright start to be visible and allow recognition of constellations - nothing.
For any digital camera, I would expect that there would have been a level of noise, again - nothing.
I would really love to get a copy of the actual RAW file from the camera, lacking any PP, cropping, and potential noise reduction. Then I'd say there would be a chance and solving this mystery.
Actually there was a supernova discovered last month that was brightest between September 9th and September 12th, named "PTF 11kly". It is in the Pinwheel galaxy. It's brighter now than all the stars in the galaxy, and super close (only 20 million light years away, whereas most are about one to four billion light years away). They were saying that it could be viewed with a good pair of binoculars, so I'm sure your camera did the trick.
Using the Stellarium picture from Dizzy, it would be on the far right-hand side (probably just off the image), about a 3/4 of the way up. It's just off the last two stars in the big dipper (if you take those two stars and make an equilateral triangle with the point headed North and it's right there at the point of the equilateral triangle). However, NPR was interviewing the researcher who discovered it & I thought I remembered them saying it would look like a fuzzy spot or little cloud...
Last edited by LoveYosemite; 16th September 2011 at 03:49 AM.
Steaphany - 100% agreed. No ground light is in the image, and at full size the background
does show some dots, but I am not sure if they are simply noise, or could be a star
background. This almost looks like one of Jupiter's moons.
Yosemite: That would be the newly found Supernova in M101, which sits triangulated
with Mizar and Alkaid: (click thumbnail)
They said it could be found with a decent pair of bino's, but there's more than a few of us
that gave it a serious try and came up empty. I found M101 (and also M51, much tougher
bino target), but could not define a SN. In 10x50 binoculars, most galaxies and distant DSO
will appear as an undefined, small fuzzy spot in bino's, and even in most smaller aperture
scopes. Some of the more defined clusters (M13, M44, NGC 869) are superb bino targets,
but I could not imagine this level of definition on any SN in bino's, ever. They just don't look
FWIW, Sky and Telescope magazine says that the Supernova in M101 is holding at a Mag 10.
That's SN is not what we're seeing.
Snarkbyte said it best:
ISO 1600 and 1/30s might capture the Moon OK, but there's not even a sliver of a chanceAccording to the EXIF data, this photo was taken with FL 300mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec
@ ISO 1600. In short, this is a fairly bright object with a resolved image (not a point source).
that 1/30s at that speed would grab a DSO, especially at that level of resolution. Also, the
EXIF shows the image was taken at 19:42 (7:45PM).
John, if your serious (and only with your approval) I would be glad to share the image with
the hardcore astrophotographers over on my astronomy site. We're proud to say some of the
best in the world are members there, and if anyone can ultimately sort out what this object
is, it will be that lot.
Last edited by Dizzy; 16th September 2011 at 04:37 AM.
I saved the file, and then blew it out a bit...to 400x, 600x and 800x. The definition
is interesting, as is the density of the image (see the thumbnails, below). No degradation
of the object, all the way out to 800x.
400x 2vtwmrn2a 400x.jpg
600x 2vtwmrn 600x.jpg
800x 2vtwmrn2 800x.jpg
This is not an object in space.
Last edited by Dizzy; 16th September 2011 at 04:58 AM.
Nice Moon shot John. Was that taken at the same time? (no EXIF data with the pic).
At midnight on 9/12, the Moon was at 37º altitude to the SW (you mention the shot was taken W-NW at approx. 60º), and at 7:42pm when the EXIF data shows the first pic was taken, the Moon was at 39º in the SE sky.
Can't tell you what the mystery item is John, but I can tell you with some certainty (99.99%) that it is not a deep space object of any sort. Did you shoot the pics through a window? Have you taken any other images in that area since then? No comment at all on the accurate star maps I posted?
John, your descriptions are just a bit too vague for me. People have invested their time in an effort to help you pin down the identity of this mysterious object, yet, you haven't provided any substantive additional information in response to the data shown in the posts from Steaphany, myself and others.
I'm afraid that my efforts to help have amounted to little more than
, and with all due respect to you John, unless there is some groundbreaking new data to report, I'm done here.
Last edited by Dizzy; 16th September 2011 at 03:39 PM.
John, could you tell me how the images were processed?
Reason I ask is that while I was resizing the image of the mystery object, I grabbed the
background to relocate the image on the screen, and the "mystery object" fell right off it's
Checked the Moon image, same thing happened there. Now, I am new to processing
images, but wouldn't the "central object" be an integrated component of the background
present at the time the image was taken?