Dublin Observatory Big Picture


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This is pretty self-explanatory. The detail that the telescope supplies is only vaguely hinted at without one. There is little that compares to the experience of looking through the eyepiece and feeling as if you are about to bump your head on the moon. When school groups come to the ‘scope, this is the first thing that they want to see. Paradoxically, though, the Moon is something of an astronomical nuisance. A full moon like this one tends to wash out other objects. The best nights are those with no Moon at all.
Dublin School Astronomy Class
With a medium-size telescope, this giant cloud makes a good claim to be the finest sight in the sky. It’s a huge object in Orion’s belt. Of course ‘huge’ is one of those words that loses its meaning in astronomy. More precisely, this cloud is about 1350 light-years away and about 25 light-years across. The various brightnesses and colors represent different temperatures, densities, and so forth. Basically, this is a star nursery. The gas in this nebula is gradually condensing into stars. If we had time, it would be interesting to photograph it every million years or so and watch as stars evolve.
Dublin School Astronomy Class
The title is pretty self-explanatory. There are four moons in a straight line. The other bright spots are stars. Galileo first saw these in 1610. He thought that they were stars at first and named them the ‘Medicean Stars’ after a family that patronized him. Eventually, he noticed that they rearrange themselves around Jupiter regularly and deduced that they must be orbiting it. This was the first clear demonstration that there were bodies orbiting an object besides Earth. It thus dealt a blow to the church-sponsored view that Earth is the center of everything. It also got Galileo in a lot of trouble!  Photographs like this are a little difficult, as Jupiter is far brighter than its moons, which is why there is such a variation in brightness in the picture.
Jonathan Weis
This is pretty self-explanatory. The detail that the telescope supplies is only vaguely hinted at without one. There is little that compares to the experience of looking through the eyepiece and feeling as if you are about to bump your head on the moon. When school groups come to the ‘scope, this is the first thing that they want to see. Paradoxically, though, the Moon is something of an astronomical nuisance. A full moon like this one tends to wash out other objects. The best nights are those with no Moon at all.
Dublin School Astronomy Class
This is essentially the gas cloud (“nebula” means “cloud”) left over from a supernova explosion in A.D. 1054. The Chinese noted this event as being so bright that it was visible during the day for several weeks. Since then, it has gradually expanded, cooled, and become dimmer. The center of the cloud contains a tiny neutron star, about 20 miles across, which rotates about 30 times per second and emits gamma rays. You don't want to get too close to this type of radiation, but it’s OK in this case, as the nebula is about 6,500 light-years away. The photo was taken with an ordinary camera, but with a 5-minute exposure time.
Andrew Charbonneau