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I figured it was time to throw up another deep sky image. This occasion features the Lagoon Nebula, located in the constellation Sagittarius. Discovered in 1654 by Italian astronomer Giovanni Hodierna, the Lagoon is an emission nebula and known as an active star forming region. It got it's name because the pink colored core region resembles a lagoon. The Lagoon Nebula is between 4k and 6k light years away from us and generally located in a region of the Milky Way Galaxy that contains massive star clouds and a number of other iconic astronomical sites.

Unfortunately, the area I referred to, rich in targets and popular with professional and amateur astrophotographers alike, but is low to the horizon and directly over the punishing light dome of Sacramento and it's surrounding communities. These two factors make it difficult to achieve conditions favorable to imaging. This is best mitigated by transporting your gear to a dark sky location far away from light glow sources. However, I was pleasantly surprised my image came out as well as it did, I was expecting these issues to surface so I planned this imaging session around adding a couple extra steps to help reduce noise and increase the signal to noise ratio. However, to properly increase SNR, I should have taken many more long exposure frames, but I wanted to run only one session of images instead of two or three over consecutive nights. I did just that on a subsequent image I took of a portion of the N. America Nebula. I'll post it at a later date.

The Lagoon image included not only the 25 or so long exposures, the obligatory dark frames, but this time I added 20 flat frames and 20 bias frames too. To save time on lesser targets, I don't normally add flats and bias frames, but I've been doing it more lately because the results are better. A technique many astro-imagers use is building a library of these frames and calling on them as needed. The library doesn't last forever, so a couple three times and it's time to refresh the bank.
 

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cool stuff!
 

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That is really neat. All the more amazing when you think that we are seeing what it looked like in 2000-4,000 BC. Astro-photographers in the years 6017-8017 will see what it looks like today.
 

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What you said Bill is one of the most fascinating elements of space, it is so vast, beyond comprehension really. In 3 or so billion years from now the Andromeda Galaxy will collide with the Milky Way Galaxy, it is currently on course to do so. Even though there are billions and billions of stars in each galaxy (trillion in Andromeda), astronomers say the likelyhood of a star to star collision would be rare because star spacing is so vast. The previous estimates of how large the Andromeda Galaxy really is has changed these past ten years, these studies have also concluded our own Milky Way galaxy is actually much bigger than previously thought. Both have an outer edge filled with metal poor dwarfs and subdwarf red stars and include super red giant stars as well. The science of Astronomy is moving at light speed, it's a wonderful time to be around and to experience it.

I recall an image I took of a pair of galaxies, forgot their names, but I had to pause for a moment when I realized they were 65+ million light years distant. That meant the light photons that fell on my camera sensor originated during the last years in the age of dinosaurs.

James Webb Space Telescope launching in 2018. You thought the Hubble did great things, I can't wait to see what the James Webb will do.
 
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