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[Public Domain] 11 Nov 2015 Dylan O'Donnell
CATEGORY : Astrophotography
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That’s a dramatic name isn’t it? It certainly does look like an eyeball. Many people now call it the “Eye of Sauron”, the evil omnipresence from Mordor in Lord of the Rings. What it actually is, is a planetary nebula, but that’s wrong too. It’s only called that because early astronomers hard a hard time distinguishing them from planets with their crude and low powered telescopes.
This image is created from 11 exposures, 9 taken with my Celestron SCT telescope at Astrofest earlier this year, and 2 taken last night by remote control. By renting time on a telescope I’ll never be able to afford, a Planewave CDK700 in Siding Springs Observatory, I was able to grab 20 minutes of Hydrogen emission spectrum data in black and white, which reveals all the structure and detail in the shock waves. Then in photoshop, I combined my earlier RGB colour exposures I’d made using a blending layer set to “multiply”.
Renting time on such insanely good gear isn’t cheap though. The total cost without discounts for the 2 exposures I took last night cost a grand total of $79AUD! Considering a typical astrophoto may include 2-4 hours at a minimum, that’s a cost of $600 – $1200 just for a single completed astrophoto. I could buy a new telescope for that! It’s definitely a great experience to use the big equipment but not something I can afford for my photos generally. Also it’s not quite as satisfying as imaging with your own gear in the backyard.
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