Sunday, October 21, 2007
The Dark Arts 4
I really must try and come up with a few more original names.
Right then, this weeks Astro Experiment is a photograph of the central region of the great nebula. If you want to see this yourself then the naked observer (it happens, what can I say…) will need to be standing facing south at around 5 in the morning with a decent pair of binoculars. Find Orion’s Belt and the fuzzy patch half way down his sword will reward you well if you look at it for a few minutes.
A dark southern sky will help. You might also prefer to wait until January when you can see the same thing as you come out of the pub, but at a far more reasonable hour.
The photograph I have taken of course relies on a few hundred quids worth of telescope and camera as well as a little experience setting the whole thing up.
So what is it? This is a region of far away (and long ago) where we can see the great Moo Moo making stars. A stellar nursery if you like. Gravity squashes huge clumps of Hydrogen together until they eventually ignite and stars are born. We see the clouds lit up from the inside by the magic of nuclear fire. Okay that’s a little simplistic as an explanation but if you are interested beyond this then Google knows far more than I (look up M42 Great Nebula).The picture has had the red element pushed up a bit to bring out more detail.
Now I know that there are plenty of perfectly good and far better focussed photos of this nebula all over the net but this is the one I took. And, I might add, froze myself to the bone doing it. Still, its tremendous fun even with your clothes on…..