Thursday, May 20, 2010

Great Balls of Fire

 Click on Image for a larger view
Not the Jerry Lee Lewis rock 'n' roll rendition, but it really is a great ball of stars.  Some 500,000 stars, this is a Globular Cluster named M3.  This is because it is the 3rd object in a catalog of 110 objects created by Charles Messier in the late 18th century.  Like bees around a hive, these stars orbit around each other.  50% of the mass is within the central 22 light years, but there are stars rotating the main mass out to about 750 light years.  As we look at this cluster from a distance of some 34,000 light years, it seems that stars are touching each other, but they are not.  They are still very far apart, but if the Earth were inside M3, our sky would be very bright with no night sky.
Imaging Telescope: Orion Mak-Newt, 190mm, f/5.3, 1000mm focal length mounted on a Celestron CGE mount.
Guide Camera and Guidescope: CCD-Labs Q-Guider on a 50mm finderscope.
Acquisition Camera: CCD-Labs Q-453.
Exposures: Ten frames, 1 minute each.
Calibration Software:  DeepSkyStacker was used to stacked 20 Bias frames and 20 flat frames, then the 10 light frames were calibrated.
Final Process: Photoshop CS3

1 comment:

  1. Hehe, that's a good song! :) This is a great photo! It's hard to believe there's around 500,000 stars in that cluster.