Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Heart of the Scorpion

Antares is a supergiant star in the constellation Scorpius. It is nearly 300 million miles across, which is larger than the orbit of Mars! Antares is sometimes called the "Heart of the Scorpion."

The area in the sky around Antares is full of exciting objects. I imaged a small part of it while waiting for M8/M20/M21 to rise one morning. I took only a few images, but after heavy image processing I came up with the following:

Antares, Messier 4, NGC 6144 and IC 4605; ST80 on Vixen SP; 6x180
Antares is the yellow star at the bottom of the image. It appears orange to the naked eye. The yellow color here is due to the fact that the star is overexposed, and the camera is less sensitive to the red part of the spectrum.

Clouds of interstellar gas and dust fill the area, adding unusual patterns and colors to the scene.

Messier 4 is the large globular cluster at the top. It is about 7,200 light years away and is one of the closest globular clusters to Earth. Messier 4 is also called the Cat's Eye cluster because of the conspicuous bar structure across the middle.

Globular cluster NGC 6144 is located to the upper-left of Antares. It is about 33,000 light years away.

The blue reflection nebula IC 4605 is in the lower-left corner.

I plan on revisiting this and the surrounding area one day. There is a lot more to see!

1 comment:

  1. This is very nice, Rory! You must be getting up early. Nice round stars, nice color, and nice perspective. What a great part of the sky! Makes me want to grab the DLSR and get up early, too.

    I once knew a girl named Antares.