Image Credit & Copyright: Petr Horalek.
I find this image from Petr Horalek simply astounding and even a little painful. If our eyes could collect photons into a long exposure before sending them off to the brain, it’s very likely that this is what we could see in the night sky. Fortunately, long exposure photography can make up some of what our eyes can’t do.
Let’s have a look at what we can see in this image taken from Aitutaiki Island in the Cook Islands, moving from left to right. That faint pink smudge at far left in the constellation Perseus is NGC 1499, an emission nebula known as the California nebula because of its shape when seen and imaged.
Next is the blue open star cluster of M45, the Pleiades, Seven sisters the tail of the bull and the Subaru logo in Taurus the Bull. Next, still in Taurus is the open star cluster, Melotte, the Hyades which is easily seen here as an upside down “V” which also acts as the head of the bull. You can also see red supergiant in the Hyades known as Aldebaran which represents the eye of the bull. Aldebaran isn’t actually in the Hyades but just in the line of sight with the Hyades but much closer to us.
We leave Taurus now and our next stop is the wonderful region of Orion. Let’s start with that round red nebula acting as Orion’s head, Sh2-264 or the Angelfish nebula which surrounds the star Meissa. The angelfish sits of the blue and red shoulders of Orion with that red star being the most famous star soon to die, Betelgeuse. Follow the red arc known as Barnard’s loop to blue supergiant Rigel and encompassed in the arc are the three belt stars, Flame & Horse Head nebulae and M42, the Orion nebula.
Scroll your eyes down near the horizon to the faint pink point in Monoceros (The Unicorn). That’s Caldwell 49 (C49) known as the Rosette nebula. Keep moving left into Canis Major and you find the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius the “Dog Star.”
Next we move right some more and up slightly to the constellation Carina and the next bright star, Canopus. This is the brightest star in the southern hemisphere and the second brightest star in the night sky. Here’s where it gets painful for me; there’s the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) which contains numerous night sky objects but just look how close it appears to Orion which means although I can’t see the LMC it sits just below my winter horizon, teasing me every year. The LMC and its partner the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) (not in this image) are satellite galaxies to our own Milky Way which is a treat in and of itself.
Now I know I already stated that this image was taken from Aitutaiki Island in the Cook Islands but what does that translate to for the night sky? Well for one Orion isn’t upright or quite upside down but instead, being near the equator, it’s on its side and the LMC rises and sets with the Hunter every night. Couple that with the beautiful reflections in the calm tidal waters and you have an image for the ages.
Peter Horalek photography: http://www.astronom.cz/horalek/
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/107738803955805116995