A Gallery of Astronomical Images by RAS Members and Friends

The Cigar Galaxy (Messier 82) by Madhup Rathi. Evidence indicates that this reddish hydrogen area of ionized hydrogen near the center is being driven out by the combined emerging particle winds of many stars, together creating a galactic superwind. The filaments extend for over 10,000 light years. The 12-million light-year distant Cigar Galaxy is the brightest galaxy in the sky in infrared light, and can be seen in visible light with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major).  This image is a composite of 15 luminance images at 30 minutes each with color RGB data of 6 images at 20 minutes each and with 9 images using a hydrogen alpha filter at 30 minutes each.

An image of the Antennae Galaxies by Madhup Rathi.  These galaxies are some 60 million light-years away in the southerly constellation Corvus.  The two large galaxies are colliding, leaving a long tail of their remnant spiral arms. Spanning about 500 thousand light-years, the stars in the two galaxies, cataloged as NGC 4038 and NGC 4039, very rarely collide directly in the course of this merger, but their large clouds of molecular gas and dust often do, triggering furious episodes of star formation near the center of the cosmic wreckage.

Madhup captured this image over 11.5 hours. (13 luminance images of 30 minutes each and 15 color images (5 each of RGB) of 20 minutes each.

Tyler Hutchison took this image of the ISS at 6:01 AM on January 19, 2017 with 48.4s of exposure at ISO 200 and f/3.5. Jupiter is visible just to the right of the Moon, and the bright star Spica just below that. The International Space Station appears to fly right through the Moon’s “halo”, an optical phenomena that occurs when hexagonal ice crystals refract moonlight in a certain way. If you look closely, you can see a smaller halo within the larger one, but unfortunately both are slightly challenging to see.

The Cone Nebula by Madhup Rathi.  This nebula is so named because of its apparent shape.  It consists of a dark absorption nebula of cold molecular hydrogen and dust in front of a faint emission nebula containing hydrogen ionized by S Monocerotis, the brightest star in the image. The faint nebula is approximately seven light-years long (with an apparent length of 10 arc minutes), and is 2,700 light-years away from Earth. Madhup captured this image over 8.5 hours (Luminance 12 images of 30 minutes each and 5×3 RGB color images of 20 minutes each).

Irregular dwarf galaxy IC1613 by Madhup Rathi. IC 1613 is an irregular dwarf galaxy, visible in the constellation Cetus near the star 26 Ceti. It is approaching Earth at 234 km/s and is one of the closest galaxies to us at approximately 2.38 million light year. It is closer to us than the nearest large galaxy Andromeda galaxy and is substantially smaller. Madhup captured this image over 6.5 hours with 8 luminance images of 30 minutes each and 5 images each of RGB color of 20 minutes each.

Composite image of Abell 85 (also known as CTB1) by Dwight Talley consisting of 18 hours of exposure time (27 x 20 minute images through a hydrogen-alpha filter, 27 x 20 minute images through an oxygen III filter, using an AT65EDQ telescope and QSI 660 camera).

Dwight Talley captured this image of Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova from New Mexico. The timing was early in the comet’s latest approach to Earth with the comet very low in the western sky at sunset. Dwight’s image is a composite of 5 images, each at 2 minutes exposure using a TEC 140 telescope and STF8300C camera.

Star trails around Polaris – by Rebecca Browder

Star trails captured in a sequence of 320 30-second exposures at ISO 6400 on December 30, 2016.  The individual images were combined into one composite using Startrails software.  A video showing the image accumulation/compositing is at https://youtu.be/UCyaeLtAefI.

The Andromeda Galaxy – by Tyler Hutchison

A wide-field view captured at Belmead December 30, 2016.  Composed of 28 frames of 25 seconds exposure each.

The Horsehead Nebula in hydrogen-alpha light – by Dwight Talley

Imaging in a very narrow wavelength of light emitted by excited hydrogen atoms allows capture of exceptional detail in this image of the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae.  Image details:  15 x 20 minute subs.  AT65EDQ scope with a QSI 660 camera.  Stacked in PixInsight, processed in Photoshop and Lightroom.