Tuesday, 21 June 2011

When I behold the heavens ...

Sometimes it is good to get things in perspective. Here is a photo of the constellation Orion, taken from my back garden and then processed a bit to bring out the detail. You're looking at the 'belt' (the three stars in a straight line at an angle) and the nebula on Orion's sword. Zoom on the image to check out just how many stars there are, most of which you can never see with the naked eye and yet which are just a tiny fraction of those that would show up in a telescope.

This was shot using a digital slr camera on a tripod - nothing more fancy than that. Below is a wider angle image of the same. Two thirds of the way up, on the left, is my favourite star, Betelgeuse, a red supergiant which is so big that if it replaced our Sun, we'd be orbiting inside it. I should just point out that the round dots are not the surface images of the stars. Even Betelgeuse is too far away to show a 'disk'. This is just an illusion cause by slight movements of the tripod and, mostly, atmospheric distortion.

The colours are true colours, but exaggerated by increasing the 'saturation'. The red at the bottom of the picture is not sunset but sodium street lamps!

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  1. What was the exposure time and the lens?javascript:BLOG_CMT_subscription.toggle()

  2. Sorry about all that extra script that appeared after I hit the subscribe button.

  3. When I heard the learn'd astronomer;
    When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
    When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and
    measure them;
    When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much
    applause in the lecture-room,
    How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
    Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,
    In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
    Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

    Walt Whitman