Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More night-time wonders...

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19

I hope you enjoy these next few images I've taken through the telescope over the last couple of months. Clear night skies have been a bit lacking recently, as has the energy to stay up and enjoy them...due to late-night lambing and calving duties.

This first image is of the Cone nebula area, in the constellation Monoceros (up and left of Orion). On the left side of the picture, the Cone itself is a column of dark interstellar dust sillhoueted against red glowing hydrogen gas. The blueish area over on the right is a reflection nebula , where the light of bright stars gets reflected off the dust.

The next picture is of the Outer Limits Galaxy...or NGC 891. This is estimated to be between 24 to 32 million light years away and is of a similar size to our own Milky Way galaxy...110,000 light years wide. We see it edge-on and so the dust lanes in it's spiral arms form a stiking dark band. It is situated in the constellation of Andromeda. Can you spot several other smaller galaxies in the picture?

This next one is called the Jellyfish Nebula...I think you can see why...
8,000 years ago in the constellation of Gemini a star exploded and sent a shock wave out into space which is still travelling. As it speeds through clouds of dust and hydrogen it energizes and excites them into the red glowing tendrils that form the Jellyfish shape.

A rather hazy shot of jupiter and two of it's moons. You can just about make out the Great Red Spot, an orange blob in a dark band (the South Equatorial Belt)upper left. This is a huge storm that is bigger than the Earth and has been raging for over 200 years...and we think this winter has been bad!

Galaxies M81 (lower left) and M82 in Ursa Major.
These two are 12 million light years away but only 150,000 light years apart...virtually on each other's doorstep! In the distant past it is believed that the larger galaxy, M81 partly deformed it's smaller neighbour (M82) and has left it bursting with star formation as a result.

M101...The Pinwheel Galaxy.
This is one of my favourites. A beautiful face-on spiral galaxy 27 million light years away in Ursa Major (next to the handle of the Plough). It is 70% larger than our own galaxy but quite faint and takes long photographic exposures (27 exposures of 5-10 minutes each) to capture the details of its spiral arms.

A poorly processed picture of the surface of the Moon. Funnily enough, although the Moon is bright it can be difficult to get clear, high magnification pictures because of turbulent air currents. I must be more diligent and remember to label my pictures when I take them because I can't remember which area of the Moon this is...any guesses?
The Needle Galaxy in the constallation Coma Berenices,32 million light years away.
Another edge-on spiral galaxy with dramatic dust lanes cutting across it's bulging central core. This is the largest edge-on spiral galaxy in the night sky, containing 200 billion suns! Our own Milky Way would apparently look very similar if viewed edge-on. There is another smaller galaxy lower on the right (NGC 4562)
Well..roll on clear quiet nights...and get your binoculars out!


  1. Wow! I love these pictures....and now feel exceedingly small!

  2. Steve,

    These shots are fantastic, some of the best photography I have ever seen from Bardsey (Don't tell Ben!). It is amazing what can be achieved on the clear nights!!

  3. Superb photos Steve! looking forward to some clear nights on Enlli in the coming week.