Monday, May 4, 2009

Clusters, Galaxies and Nebula ... Oh My!

Been a while since I have been able to post, but life has not slowed down enough to allow me to edit, post and share astro images I have taken recently until now.

Good thing I took these pictures when I did, because it has been cloudy for three straight weeks and we are on our second straight week of rain. ICK! Makes one consider getting into radio astronomy, which can be detected through clouds rather than visual astronomy, which cannot.

With no further ado, here are some globular clusters, galaxies and nebula that I imaged while under the stars the night of 17-18 April. (Click on each picture for a larger view)

M5 - Globular Cluster

M5 was discovered in 1702 and initially described as a nebulous star. The cluster lies 24,500 light years from Earth and is believed to contain between 100,000 and 500,000 stars. M5 is associated with our Milky Way Galaxy, but has maintained its own gravitational characteristics keeping it from being absorbed by the galaxy.

M13 - Great Hercules Cluster

M13 was discovered in 1714 by Edmund Halley (the namesake of Halley's comet) and added to Charles Messier's catalog in 1764. The cluster is 145 light years across and contains several hundred-thousand stars. M13 is 25,100 light years from Earth and was once chosen as the most likely place to harbor life outside our solar system. In 1974 a message was sent from the Aricebo antenna in Puerto Rico toward M13 in hopes to one day contact intelligent life. (However, if the message recipients in M13 try to contact Earthlings while the current administration is in Washington D.C., they will wonder if there is intelligent life here on Earth)

M57 - The Ring Nebula

M57 is a classic example of a planetary nebula which forms when a 'red giant' star depletes its fule and explodes. M57 lies 2,500 light years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. It is one of the brightest and most compact palnetary nebula in existance.

M92 - Globular Cluster

M92 is located in the constellation Hercules and is second in brightness to M13, also in Hercules. The cluster contains some 330,000 stars and is 109 light years across and is located approximately 26,700 light years from Earth.

M97 - Owl Nebula

The Owl Nebula is one of the faintest Messier objects in the sky, but easily seen in dark sky conditions. M97 is a planetary nebula in the constellation Ursa Major. The "Owl Nebula" name was given, because viewers can see what appears to be owl eyes when looking at the object through a telescope. M97 is located along the bottom of the dipper in the "Big Dipper" portion of Ursa Major.

M101 - Pinwheel Galaxy

Like many other northern hemisphere galaxies, the Pinwheel Galaxy is located in the constellation Ursa Major. It is located some 27 million light years away from Earth. M101 is believed to contain some 100 million solar masses (stars) and is 170,000 light years in diameter (nearly twice the size of the Milky Way galaxy).

M104 - Sombrero Galaxy

This spiral galaxy, which contains a bright central bulge and a large duct cloud at the galaxy edge resembles a Mexican sombrero. M104 lies in the constellation Virgo and is part of a group of nearby galaxies called the "Virgo Cluster", which the Milky Way galaxy belongs to. At the center if the Sombrero Galaxy is a super-massive Black Hole, a space object so dense that ligh itself cannot escape it.

That's all for now. I hope to get back out in a week or so and image some of the other interesting space objects. That provided the rain pushes out.

Doing an anti - Rain Dance

Star Pilot



Jacki said...

The Ring Nebula turned out great!

MyAstro said...

Great images! I agree with Jacki, ring nebula is the best, since it's the brightest from selection.
M101 also turned very well - pinpoint stars are proof that your tracking is smooth and accurate.
Keep it up and make some more expositions of the same target!