This is the place for all the highlight images I have taken. Only the best of the best, as it were.
This is a picture of the Veil Nebula in the constellation Cygnus the swan. It is the remnants of a star, bigger than the sun, that exploded about 7,000 years ago. It was documented in 1784 and given the name Veil because of the thin filaments that make the object. Unlike most of the gas in interstellar space the material you see is made almost entirely of oxygen. However, there are other heavier elements mixed in but we cannot see them. Since it first exploded it has expanded to what you see here. To give you some perspective, from one side to the other is about 36 moon widths.
The nebula is made up of three separate objects. On the left is the Western Veil Nebula, the central portion of the Veil complex is Pickering's Wedge, or Pickering's Triangular Wisp. This segment of nebulosity was discovered photographically by Williamina Fleming, but credit went to her supervisor Edward Charles Pickering. On the right is the Eastern Veil Nebula.
To make this image I had to take thirteen 5 minute images of the left, middle and right side of the sky. I added the individual 5 minute pictures together to make separate panels. I then matched the three panels together to make the final image. All together it is about 3.5 hours of exposure. It took me another 2 weeks to get the panels together and “develop” the image into what you see.
The Horsehead Nebula (also known as Barnard 33 in bright nebula IC 434) is a dark nebula in the constellation Orion. The nebula is located just below Alnitak, the star farthest left on Orion's Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. It is approximately 1500 light years from Earth. It is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of the shape of its swirling cloud of dark dust and gases, which is similar to that of a horse's head. The shape was first noticed in 1888 by Williamina Fleming. The red glow originates from hydrogen gas predominantly behind the nebula. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick dust, although the lower part of the Horsehead's neck casts a shadow to the left. Streams of gas leaving the nebula are funneled by a strong magnetic fields. Bright spots in the Horsehead Nebula's base are young stars just in the process of forming. Next to the Horsehead is the Flame Nebula. The Flame Nebula is a emission nebula in the Constellation Orion. It is about 900 to 1,500 light-years away. The bright star Alnitak shines energetic ultraviolet light into the Flame and this knocks electrons away from the great clouds of hydrogen gas that reside there. Much of the glow results when the electrons and ionized hydrogen recombine. Additional dark gas and dust lies in front of the bright part of the nebula and this is what causes the dark network that appears in the center of the glowing gas. (taken in part from Wikipedia)
The Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as Messier 51a, M51a, or NGC 5194) is an interacting grand-design spiral galaxy located at a distance of approximately 23 million light-years in the constellation Canes Venatici. It is one of the most famous spiral galaxies in the sky. The galaxy and its companion (NGC 5195) are easily observed by amateur astronomers, and the two galaxies may even be seen with binoculars. The Whirlpool Galaxy is also a popular target for professional astronomers, who study it to further understanding of galaxy structure (particularly structure associated with the spiral arms) and galaxy interactions.
The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It is the nearest spiral galaxy to our own, the Milky Way. As it is visible as a faint smudge on a moonless night, it is one of the farthest objects visible to the naked eye, and can be seen even from urban areas with binoculars. It is named after the princess Andromeda in Greek mythology. Andromeda is the largest galaxy of the Local Group, which consists of the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way Galaxy, the Triangulum Galaxy, and about 30 other smaller galaxies. Observations revealed that M31 contains one trillion (1012) stars, greatly exceeding the number of stars in our own galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy is notable for being one of the brightest Messier objects, making it easily visible to the naked eye. Although it appears more than six times as wide as the full moon when photographed through a larger telescope, only the brighter central region is visible with the naked eye.