03 January 2006

Amazing Astrophotography, pt. III

The fourth and final sequence of our journey...

I first became aware of Tom Davis' work via the Astrophotography section of the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today bulletin board, where I'm a member of the forum staff. From his Idaho-based Starsearch Observatory, Davis has been producing fantastic images of the cosmos, and holds an ever-growing number of image publications to his credit (including the BBC's Sky at Night Magazine). Thanks to his kind permission, this article contains my personal favorite endeavors he's completed over the last year. Clicking on each of the images below will take you to larger-resolution versions in Tom's image gallery -- please note the images are copyrighted and may not be reprinted without the author's permission.

Antares-Rho Ophiuchus region
© 2005 Thomas V. Davis

A truly mezmerizing portion of the summer night sky, sharing the constellations Scorpius and Ophiuchus. At the bottom-left of the photo sits the red supergiant Antares, which at a distance of 600LY is 10,000 times more luminous than our Sun. To its right is M4, one of our nearer globular clusters, beautifully represented in Tom's image. Above this massive globular appear Sigma and Tau Scorpii, known together as Al Niyat. Rho Ophiuchus is visible toward the center of the image at top amidst a reflection nebula, illuminated by its output. Magnificent image, rich with complexity. This photo was featured on Fraser Cain's Universe Today website, Sep 28, 2005. When I finally am able to secure the proper equipment for serious astrophotography and follow suit, this will definitely be item #1 in my crosshairs.

NGC 869 & 884, Perseus Double Cluster
© 2005 Thomas V. Davis

This pair of open clusters in the constellation Perseus remains a favorite of my observing targets (and many others'), reminiscent of precious jewels strewn across the rich, black velvet of space. The prominent duo, accounting for a jaw-dropping 6500 solar masses in total, dazzles through binoculars, small refractors, and moreso through larger apertures. My favorite observing weapons of choice through my 10" dobsonian include TeleVue 24mm and 35mm Panoptic eyepieces. Tom's magnificent image was featured as the Astronomy Picture of the Day, October 11th, 2005.

IC 405 Flaming Star Nebula
© 2005 Thomas V. Davis

Just... wow. Davis' shot of this wonderful region in the constellation Auriga is amongst the finest I've ever seen. Tom writes on his gallery:

"IC405 is created by the radiant energy of AE Auriga, a highly energetic variable star. This star was formed in M42 but was ejected by gravitational interactions with other stars. AE Auriga is just passing through this nebulosity; it was not formed from it. Both reflection and emission nebulae are presenting this amazing nebula."

Fantastic detail! This artful depiction was featured as the Astronomy Picture of the Day back on October 18th of 2005.

Many thanks to Tom Davis for allowing me to showcase some of his work here on The Den. Be sure to visit his image galleries at tvdavisastropics.com -- and, for you budding astrophotographers out there, don't miss Fraser Cain's podcast interview with Tom, available from Universe Today.

This concludes my (now) three-part series illustrating my favorite astrophotographs of 2005. I hope you've enjoyed trip.

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All articles and imagery ©2006 Wolverine's Den unless otherwise stated.