Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Orion Nebula

Dwarfingly large billows of fluorescent hydrogen smoke glow from the intense ultraviolet radiation emitted from the stars that lie in the centre of this nebula. Blue wisps envelop the chasm that has been sculpted by their radiation pressure. Deep blue emission is caused by the atomic line of the hydrogen atom, where the electron quantum jumps between levels n=4 and n=2. On top of this, larger molecules drift and float about and reflect the bluish starlight from the central trapezium of hot stars. Among the larger molecules we call 'dust' many stars are being born. Infra red space telescopes can penetrate this dust to reveal the stars in the process of creation via nuclear ignition, driven by the gravitational collapse of leagues of dust molecules. A thousand or so years later this light hits my camera for a few minutes. Cool ... literally freezing, but with a hot centre.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Big comet floats into view

As you can see, I can't fit the 2 lovely tails of (2009 P1) Comet Garradd into the field of view of the Atik camera on the 20" scope. I limited the total exposure duration to about 7 mins, but there is still some movement of the comet. The faint fan of tails to the bottom (~west) is just visible, and the big slightly redder coloured anti tail goes up. I think it's about time I tried a picture of this on a smaller scope. This picture was taken at 23:00 on Feb 19th 2012. This comet looks set to put on a nice show for us in the northern hemisphere, as it's now up all night.