Art’s Astrophotography

There is so much beauty in the heavens that we cannot see with just our own eyes. Yes, these objects are quite distant, and they are very faint. The nebulae in my collection are in our own Milky Way galaxy, thousands of light years away. The galaxies in my collection are tens of millions of light years away.

To capture the colorful nebulae, the telescope needs to receive photons over several seconds or minutes. And all of a sudden, the beauty appears on the screen. Light enters the top of the “reflecting telescope,” bounces off of the concave mirror at the bottom of the telescope, and hits the electronic sensor near the top of the telescope. The sensor is similar to those used for the cameras in our cell phones. At that point is when the electronics kick in. There is not an eyepiece on the telescope. Instead, it transmits the electronic image to my cell phone. So, the scope is controlled by my cell phone – its movements, and the display of its images.

I am capturing two types of objects. Nebulae (that’s the plural of nebula) are collections of gases and dust thrown out by the explosion of a dying star. Other nebulae are regions where new stars are beginning to form, by coalescing the dust clouds in the region. 

Galaxies are collections of billions of stars (suns), like our own Milky Way.

Distances and sizes are presented in terms of light-years: the distance that light can travel in one year. The Earth’s Milky Way Galaxy is 105,700 light-years across. I strong light shined from one edge of the Milky Way would need 105,700 years for the light to reach the farthest edge.

Please note that I have not yet performed post-processing on these images. The telescope involves a lot of electronics in order to capture these images. “Noise” needs to be removed, stars need to be cleaned up, and the colors of the nebulae need to be enhanced. There’s more work to be done before these will look outstanding!

Dumbbell Nebula, M27. 3,500 years old. 1,250 light-years away. 3 light-years wide.
Jupiter and 4 of its moons
Whirlpool Galaxy, m51. Actually, there are 2 galaxies treated as a pair, M51a and M51b 37M light-years from Earth, 76,000 light-years wide. Contains 100B stars.
The horse’s head is a dust cloud blocking the colorful gases. 1,400 light-years away. 3 light-years across.
Helix Nebula. 10,500 years old. 650 light-years away, 3 light-years wide.
The Great Nebula in Orion. 1,350 light-years from Earth. 25 light-years wide.
Flame Nebula, 1,350 light-years from Earth. 12 light-years wide.
Blue Oyster Nebula
Running Man Nebula. NGC 1973. If you look carefully, you can see what appears to be a man running.
Ring Nebula, M57. This small nebula is 2,290 light-years from Earth, and is only 1.3 light-years across. 7,000 years old.
Own Nebula, M97. Do you see the owl’s two eyes? 1.8 light-years wide. 2,000 light-years from Earth. 8,000 years old.
Needle Galaxy, looking at it on-edge.
NC 2683 galaxy
Galaxy M110 is a dwarf galaxy and a satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy. 17,000 light-years across. Contains 10B stars.
M102 Galaxy. 40M light-years away from Earth.
Pin Wheel Galaxy, M101. Contains 1B stars. 27M light-years from Earth and is 11B light-years wide.. (I need to work on this one, to brighten it up.)
Black Eye Galaxy, M64. Contains 100B stars. 19M light-years from Earth. 54,000 light-years wide.
Cigar Galaxy, M82. 12M light-years from Earth. 40K light-years wide.
Bode’s Galaxy, M81. Contains 250B stars. 12M light-years from Earch. 80K light-years wide.
Andromeda Galaxy, M31. Contains 250B stars. 12M light-years from Earth. 87Klight-years wide.