Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Winter Rose

Click on images for a larger view

All roses are pretty, especially in the Winter sky. Astronomers have named this the Rosette Nebula. It sits in the constellation Monoceros, right next door to Orion (see the constellation diagrams above. The rectangle in the diagram is the area of sky that my 300m lens and camera combination cover in the sky). This a very large nebula, taking up 5 times the area of a full moon, but so faint it is impossible to see unless you are in very dark skies, and even then, special filters are needed at the eyepiece to see its faint nebulosity.

For as big as it is, the Rosette is still very far away, 4500 light years distant. It's diameter is estimated at 130 light years across. Remember, light travels at 180,000 miles per second, so the light you see left that object 4500 years ago. What makes the nebula glow is the cluster of stars in darker center of the rose. High energy light from the bright young stars ionizes the surrounding hydrogen gas clouds to light up the red emission nebula. The hot wind of particles from these stars is also evacuating the cluster center. Slowly, over millions of years, the gas and dust will eventually condense into 10,000 or so stars. A truely remarkable piece of nature that can only be seen at its best in photographs.
"The sky is the ultimate art gallery just above us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 82)
Technical Data: I took its picture while waiting for comet Lulin to rise above the treetops, and also to give "First Light" to a new CCD camera. My Canon 300mm f/4 lens was used on a CCD-Labs Q453 camera The camers is cooled to -35C beyond ambient temperature. It does this to get rid of noise that is inherent in long exposure imaging. The imaging chip is 23.4mm(h) x 15.6mm(v) APS film equvilent, about .65 smaller than 35mm film. I took 6 images, 10 minutes each. 20 flat frames and 20 bias frames were taken, then all these images were processed in DeepskyStacker and final processing in Photoshop CS2.

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