02 January 2006

Amazing Astrophotography Redux

Editor's note:

I had originally intended on showcasing the following images in my previous article, but had not yet received permission from the author to include them before the last installment went live (... and I was trying to have the article posted prior to the end of 2005). It's just as well, since the last entry really started to get busy with all the necessary formatting -- my poor WYSIWYG interface was vehemently protesting . ;-)

And now for the third leg of our voyage in part II of this installment...

Stefan Seip's accomplishments clearly stand out in the astrophotography community. He's not only a consummate and diverse photographer but also displays astounding prowess in the realm of astronomical imaging. Seip's images have been prominently featured in a slew of major astronomy publications as well as in cyberspace, including an impressive 11 APODs to his credit. I've been a big fan of his for quite some time, and after you view my favorites he's assembled in the last year, you'll see precisely why. Clicking on each of the images below will take you directly to larger-resolution versions on Stefan's website (which, by the way, is every bit as impressive as his photos -- marvelous design). As in my prior entry, the following works are copyrighted and may not be used or reproduced without the author's permission.

Beta Cygni
© 2005 Stefan Seip
Click here for image details

One of the perennial favorite targets for amateur astronomers, Alberio (Beta Cygni) in the contellation Cygnus is one of the true jewels of the night sky. This binary delights even through relatively small aperture refractors or binoculars. That beauty, however, does not easily translate to photographs. A cursory review of imagery available on the web will quickly illustrate the difficult nature of capturing its brilliance. Stefan's image above is quite simply the best of its kind yet taken. Bravo!

H-alpha and Calcium Sun
© 2005 Stefan Seip
Click here for image details

Sol, our Sun, as you've likely never seen. Using a delightfully original approach, Stefan took separate images of the Sun in Hydrogen alpha and ionized Calcium (a.k.a. Calcium K) wavelengths at 656.3 nm & 393.4 nm respectively. Then, as he writes:

"I made a third, new image (the big Sun at the right) by calculating the difference of both pictures. The result is a totally new view showing H-alpha details as well as CaK details in the chromosphere. It looks 3 dimensional. I hope you like that one as much as I do."

You bet!

NGC 6992 - Veil Nebula, eastern segment
© 2005 Stefan Seip
Click here for image details

Within the constellation Cygnus some 1400 light-years distant, the Veil Nebula's ghostly beauty displays the remnants of a supernova that occurred several thousand years ago. This particular segment of the larger supernova remnant is a favorite subject of many astrophotographers. While I've seen some marvelous images of this region, Seip's is especially breathtaking. What a phenomenal amount of background starfield detail! Gorgeous.

Comet C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) Meets the Pleiades
© 2005 Stefan Seip
Click here for image details

And lastly, my favorite to date of Seip's portfolio.

This image was featured as the Astronomy Picture of the Day back on January 11th, 2005. On January 7th of last year, C/2004 Q2 passed within a mere couple of degrees of the Seven Sisters (M45), providing a marvelous photo opportunity for properly-equipped stargazers. Stefan's image of this meeting simply reigns supreme. In addition to a brilliant capture of the coma, note the fantastic amount of detail visible in the comet's ion and dust tails, with the former streaking brilliantly across the Pleiades' nebulosity. Absolutely amazing.

Many thanks to Stefan Seip for granting permission for his inspiring work to be included here on my little corner of the web. Be sure to visit his online image galleries to feast upon a multitude of similarly stunning photographs.

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