When the skies are clear, the stars come out to play around here. Only unlike the likes of Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Anne Hathaway, these stars tend to shy away from the bright lights of the city.
Local astronomers Dale Ireland (not just about time lapse videos!) and Tom Gwilym, who heads the Eastside Astronomy Society had their telescopes out a couple of weeks ago when the skies were crystal clear.
And while if you just glance outside and see a few pinpoints of light in the sky, they've shown that with the right equipment, you can see oh so much more in the heavens if you know where to look.
These first five images are from Dale Ireland. Here is the description he sent me along with the photos:
"This is what I did all night Friday (Aug. 26). It was a nice clear night for the telescope. Most of these gas clouds and star clusters are around the constellation Cygnus, The Swan, that the Milky Way runs through and is straight up at midnight this time of year. The gas is almost all Hydrogen. The red gas is glowing like a neon sign and the blue gas reflecting the blue light from young stars that are blue. In the clusters and nebulae the young stars are blue and they turn yellow then red as they age."
The Eastern Veil Nebula
The Star cluster "globular Cluster M92" with a satellite passing through it
The "Crescent Nebula"
The "Bubble" Nebula caused by an exploding star
The "Dumbbell" Nebula M27, some of these I have shot before but I never get tired of this one, another nova
(If you want to know how Dale gets these awesome photos, check out my blog entry from January that goes into detail the equipment he uses and the process involved in keeping the camera's exposure open long enough to see these images.)
Gwilym was focused on exploding stars too. The first image is from the supernova discovered earlier this month:
"Just last week a new supernova was discovered in M101, just above the handle of the big dipper. Not sure what magnitude it is, I have to look that up, but it outshines the rest of the galaxy. Bright one! And it's the closest supernova to earth in the last 30 years - 21 million light years away. That's just like going to Portland or something. Ha!"
A familiar shot of M27, Dumbell nebula. A star that blew off its outer layers a long, long time ago.
As Tom says: Clear skies at night are a good thing!