Astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis

Deep Sky Object Image Gallery

Nebulae represent clouds of gas and dust which appear as hazy or fuzzy objects when viewed through a telescope and are characterized as one of four types (emission, planetary, reflection or dark). Emission nebulae, such as the Lagoon nebula (M8), simply glow, for example, with a stunning shade of red. Planetary nebulae appear as small greenish disks through a telescope, thus emulating the planets Uranus and Neptune, as a result of gas masses being thrown off by dying stars (ex. M27, Dumbbell nebula) or represent supernova remnants (ex. M1, Crab nebula). In contrast, reflection nebulae are characterized with gas surrounding young stars which reflect the stellar light (ex. M45, Pleiades) and, thus, yield beautiful images of nebulosity. Finally, dark nebulae are detectable and studied only using parts other than the visible spectrum and are believed to be associated with the formation of stars (ex. M16 in Serpens).

Note: One of the most stunning deep-sky objects is the Pleiades open star cluster in Taurus, a celestial gem which has been cited by Homer (Illiad, 750 BC; Odyssey, 720 BC), Hesiod (700 BC), various ancient Greek astronomers as well as several references in the Bible. The star cluster is based known for its seven brightest members, aptly named after the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, and, more specifically, Alcyone, Asterope, Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta and Celaeno. Extended exposures of this cluster yield magnificent swarms of (reflective) nebulosity around the various member stars with Merope and Maia perhaps stealing the show owing to the fact they are characterized with the most intense and expansive molecular clouds. It is believed that the 100 million year-old star cluster, centered around Alcyone, will partially disintegrate as a cluster in approximately 250 million years. The cluster is best observed using binoculars or rich-field refractors during fall and winter and represents a very easy naked-eye object with at least six member stars being visible. In contrast, the nebulae around Maia and Merope are both quite faint (as suggested by the use of 10-min exposures for the image below) and large (similar to the apparent diameter of the full moon).

Please click on the image below to display in higher resolution (1200 x 900)

Image Details
NGC 1432 - Maia Nebula
Imaging Details
NGC Number:
1432

Common Name(s):
Maia Nebula

Other Designations:
vdB 21

Object Type:
Nebula

Object Classif:
Reflection

Constellation:
Taurus

RA / Dec:
03h 46m 16s /
24 23' 32"


Distance:
359 + 37 light-yrs

Object Size:
30' x 30'

Maia (20 Tauri):
Mag3.86
Dist360+ 37 ly
Lum282+ 61 x Sun
Mass4.5 x Sun

Date:
Jan 12, 2008
19:10 - 23:30 UT+2


Location:
Athens, Greece

Equipment:
AP 160 f/7.5 StarFire EDF
AP 1200GTO GEM
SBIG ST-2000XM
SBIG CFW10
SBIG LRGB + IR-block


Integrations:
Lum :  060 min (10 x 06 min)
Red :  060 min (06 x 10 min)
Green :  060 min (06 x 10 min)
Blue :  060 min (06 x 10 min)
Dark :  240 min (15 x 6+10 min)
Flat :  ~18,000 ADU
Binning :  1x1 (L),  1x1 (RGB)

Temperatures:
Ambient : + 03.4 C
CCD Chip : - 25.0 C

Software:
CCDSoft V5.00.186
AIP4Win V2.1.10
Photoshop CS2