Starry, Starry Nights!

A miracle appears to have happened! We have had a series of clear skies over Lincolnshire where the weather Gods appear to have forgotten about the need for cloud/rain/cold/damp conditions! Amazing… I’ve had to literally dust off the scope and observatory and remind myself how to use it! It’s been wonderful…

I’ve published in the chat forum my development of an image of the Iris Nebula, gradually increasing the hours of data received and seeing how far I can push the camera/scope combination along with the software I use for processing. Thank you to all who kindly commented on those images.

Last night be had yet another clear night 🙂 But the enemy of deep sky imagers is now quite prominent – the moon. It was quite bright last night and that tends to scupper attempts at faint deep sky objects and distant galaxies. So I thought I would return to star clusters, within our own galaxy and beautiful objects to view, and not so affected by the moonlight when imaging. This was ideally placed last night as it was 180 degrees from the moon…

So here is an image of the M13 The Great Hercules Cluster – this being a total of 6.45 hours so far taken between April 2019 and last night.

This cluster is awesome! In a very dark sky it could be almost visible as a faint “blob” to the naked eye. With a good set of binoculars you can make out a bit more. It is a relatively close neighbour, some 25,100 light years from earth with a diameter of 145 light years (that’s 8.524e+14 miles!!) and some 12 billion years old (so one of our older neighbours.

The luminosity (brightness) of this cluster is equivalent to 250,000 times that of our Sun. The number of stars within this cluster is several hundred thousand, with some calculations now suggesting there to be one million. And we can cover this with a 5 pence piece held out at arms length…

In 1974 a message was sent to this cluster by radio telescope, with an intention of communicating with the hypothetical extra terrestrials who may reside somewhere within this cluster. At the time it was felt there would be a greater chance of finding extra life there due to the number of stars which would have their own planets orbiting them. As yet, no message has been received in return – not surprising as it will take another 25000 years for our message to reach M13, by which time the cluster will have moved from the position it held in the sky in 1974! 

In the high resolution version of this image I can pick out numerous distant galaxies – which I have circled in this next version for interest… I’m trying to find out how far they are from us – so far I have managed to reach a mere 536 million light years – but I know the others are further away. It’s just a case of finding their details somewhere in the depths of some scientific databases. I’m rather hoping (beyond hope) that one may not have been named yet, then I can claim it as my own! I know that’s not going to happen, but I can dream…

I love the fact that it’s taken 536 million years for those photons to hit my camera sensor. Never ceases to amaze me. In my high res version I can just make out spirals in that one at 536 mly – WOW…

So, that’s the end of last night’s venture – thanks for bearing with me and my ramblings.

Published in Member Blogs
  1. This is just amazing Charles.

  2. Charles, the numbers are mind boggling, and the picture inspirational…. time to read the instruction manual and give it a go!!!

  3. Truly amazing and wonderful

  4. Thank you…

  5. Just amazing and really puts some perspective on life. I absolutely love how the photography here really is all about ‘light’ and that the light is a tangible concrete thing.

  6. Thanks Charles, this is absolutely amazing. I just cannot comprehend the timescales you refer to – 536 million years to see it and it is 12 billion years old, give or take a day or two!

  7. The times/distances etc are mind boggling. Love seeing the images

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