Thursday, December 8, 2011

Star Gazing

The experts said this photo couldn’t be taken without highly specialized equipment. But a keen New Zealand stargazer has captured the first amateur image of faraway galaxy from his backyard in West Auckland with a 25mm telescope (that’s not big or flashy!). Theory held that stellar glare made it too bright to shoot, but Rolf Olsen took a nothing-is-impossible approach. With a bit of ingenuity (subtracting one image from another) he now has his own personal snapshot of a solar system 60 million light years away.

Some people like Rolf’s result more than the efforts of professional observatories. I like the idea that he saw a challenge in the distant star’s name, Beta Pictoris, which sounds suspiciously like...Better Pictures?

If you like the concept of bringing the cosmos into focus through a tiny lens, check out Tweeting the universe. It’s a bite-sized collaboration that breaks down everything you ever wanted to know about the origin and mechanics of everything, 140 characters at a time. Happy star gazing...