Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Something Astronomical

Whenever our area experiences something less than a clear sky, it it still possible to take pictures of the deep sky by using a remotely controlled telescope. Here is my effort:

The Lagoon Nebula
(click on the image)

This nebula is a Hydrogen interstellar cloud whose dimensions are about 55 x 20 light years and which is about 4000 light years distant. It contains a star-forming region (the bright area) and can be seen with binoculars. The bright stars to the left are an open star cluster in the foreground. This image was taken through a half-meter remotely controlled Slooh.com telescope, located on the Canary Islands. Once downloaded, the picture can be enhanced by means of freely available graphics programs.

Under dark a dark sky, the nebula is an impressive sight, but you will not see the colours shown in the image. The human eye is not capable of showing colours at faint levels of light. That's why astronomy involves sometimes gigantic telescopes. If a telescope has a larger diameter it will collect more light. That allows subtle details to be detected, particularly if photography is employed. Photographs exposed for sometimes many hours will show colours and details undetectable by eye.

The best direct (i.e human eye) views of these faint objects are obtained under a dark sky, away from all the light-polluted cities.