Friday, 26 August 2011

ρ Ophiuchi

This area looks like a child's painting. It's amazing how something so colourful formed out there on the border of Scorpius and Ophiuchus. It's just 4 x 4 minute pictures through a telephoto lens, looking at an area about the size of the palm of your hand at arm's length. Everything just happened to be in this one place: reflection nebula (top), dark nebula (left), hydrogen emission (right), a red giant (bottom), globular clusters, milky way. Wow! The red giant sitting at the bottom of the picture is Antares and it truly is a huge star. It is 8 HUNDRED times wider than our sun, and about 10 THOUSAND times brighter. It lights up the whole cloud with an orange glow! It is far wider than Mars's orbit. Next to it from our perspective is the globular cluster M4, which of course lies much further away. Personally I like how the star at the right (sigma Scorpii) is blue, yet is surrounded by gas that is fluorescing red. A fainter red emission cloud can be found off the bottom (south) edge of the picture. The maddest thing about this object is that it is REAL. This is a real place, just as real as the chair you are (probably) sitting on as you are reading this. Sure, it is a few hundred light years away and we happen to have a particularly nice line of sight of it, but it consitutes a lot more 'stuff' to the universe than little planet Earth.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Celestial Mire

Misty Murky Gloomy Pool of Stagnant Slowly Swirling Condensing Churning Fluid. The Lagoon Nebula (M8) is shown in a rather elegant monochrome view through the little refractor at La Palma.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The spine of the night

The Galaxy's spine is defined by tenuous but vast dust clouds, shadowing the myriad of stars beyond them. From this angle, it appears to be resting, asleep, with its back toward us. The North America nebula is over at the left in the constellation Cygnus the swan. Moving right, you pass above Aquila the eagle and Sagittarius the archer, and arrive at Scorpius, which is where the horizon intervenes. Taken with a 180º fish eye lens, a few minutes of exposure at f/2.8 revealed this panoramic view between the treetop and the mountain.