One of the most gorgeous open star clusters in the sky, designated NGC 3532, is visible in the southern constellation of the ship's keel. It is also nicknamed the pincushion cluster or firefly party cluster for its brilliant stars. This wide field image, taken in Namibia with a 4" telescope at 525 mm focal length, shows the cluster embedded in a rich star field of the southern Milky Way. The cluster is composed of about 150 stars, of which seven already evolved to the red giant phase. The stars in the cluster formed about 300 million years ago and are located at a distance of 1300 light years. The cluster is almost twice the size of a full Moon in the sky and bright enough to be seen with the naked eye. To the top and to the right the reddish glow of faint ionized hydrogen clouds can be seen. To the left fuzzy dust clouds decrease the stellar density in the field by absorbing the light of background stars.
An Interstellar Comet - C/2019 Q4 (Borisov)
Just stop and consider for a moment that this little fuzzball captured in my camera this morning is not bound to our solar system. It was created in some far flung star system, billions of years ago. For a few months, Comet Borisov is just passing through our neighborhood. It is traveling so fast that the sun’s massive gravity well cannot hold onto it. After a course change, it is off to visit another star in another billion years, or so.
This is only the second confirmed interstellar object that mankind has identified in our solar system. Though the first showed no signs of outgassing, this one is behaving like an otherwise normal comet. Consider for a moment that our comets spew organic compounds (as complex as amino acids) all over our solar system, now ponder for another moment that this thing may be doing the same with compounds created countless light years away.
Like a seed in the wind...
As an astrophotographer I strive to create eye-popping images that can be appreciated for their beauty. But I think this one has a unique beauty, and not simply because it was so technically difficult for me to produce 😉.
As always, enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments!
@thevastreaches <— consider following me for more views of your lovely universe.
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Celestron EdgeHD 8”, ZWO ASI1600MM, Orion AtlasPro
Luminance 14x90s stacked on the comet
21 minutes total exposure
Milkyway on a bright, moonlit night. This was taken last Sunday while camping in Big Sur, two nights after the Friday the 13th full moon. It was an hour after moonrise, and I thought the galactic center wouldn’t be visible enough to capture. • #sonyalpha A6000 + #sigma 16mm • 8 sec | f/1.4 | ISO 1600 | 8 images stacked for noise
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