Pretty Pictures

UCI Observatory Images

These were all taken with the 24-inch telescope at the UCI Observatory. Each of these images is seperate B, V, and R-band exposures combined together to create a single image. The plot here illustrates how the colors in these filters (dashed lines) overlap with the colors the human eye can see (solid lines).

The Ring Nebula

Messier 57, also known as the Ring Nebula, is the last vestiges of a dying star (the bluish dot in the center). In about 5 billion years, our own Sun will undergo a stage much like this, although we will have long ago ceased to care, as the Earth will have been baked to a lifeless cinder in the previous billion years as the sun passes through the Red Giant stage.

Comet 17P/Holmes

This object is a comet - a dirty iceball that circles the Sun in a highly elliptical orbit, slowly being evaporated by the solar wind when it gets close (this is the "tail" of a comet - the material being blown off). This particular comet is unusual in that it was a faint 17th magnitude object on October 23, and suddenly brightened over half a million times to magnitude 2.5 over about 42 hours. While the cause of the glowing is a faint cloud of dust and ice fountaining out from the comet, the actual cause of the release of material is not well understood. The actual extent of the glowing material is much larger than what is visible - at the time this image was taken, the coma was faintly visible out to about half a degree in diameter, or 2 to 3 times the size of the CCD field visible here. A neat thing to notice is that the brightest red and blue parts of the cometary coma are slightly offset from each other - this is not an imaging artifact - they really are offset.

Orion Nebula

This is Messier 42, the Great Orion Nebula (in the "sword" of the constellation Orion). It is a region of gas currently in the process of collapsing in places to form new stars that are lighting up the rest of the nebula.

Saturn and Moons

This is the planet Saturn, and three of its moons. The brightest moon is Titan, the most distant body ever landed on by a man-made vehicle.

more about titan and NASA's visits

Globular Cluster M15

Globular Cluster Messier 15, a dense knot of hundreds of thousands of ancient stars bound together by their mutual gravitational attraction.

Sombrero Galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy (Messier 104), a lenticular (S0) galaxy with a highly prominent dust lane forming the rim of the "hat".

The Ring Nebula (II)

An older image of the ring nebula, M57 (see above for more).