Image Credit & Copyright: Alessandro Merga
Bright stars of Sagittarius and the center of our Milky Way Galaxy lie just off the wing of a Boeing 747 in this astronomical travel photo. The stratospheric scene was captured earlier this month during a flight from New York to London, 11,0000 meters above the Atlantic Ocean. Of course the sky was clear and dark at that altitude, ideal conditions for astronomical imaging. But there were challenges to overcome while looking out a passenger window of the aircraft moving at nearly 1,000 kilometers per hour (600 mph). Over 90 exposures of 30 seconds or less were attempted with a fast lens and sensitive camera setting, using a small, flexible tripod and a blanket to block reflections of interior lighting. In the end, one 10 second long exposure resulted in this steady and colorful example of airborne astronomy.
NASA APOD 14-Jun-14
The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is a dwarf galaxy. It is classified as a dwarf irregular galaxy. It has a diameter of about 7,000 light-years and contains several hundred million stars. It has a total mass of approximately 7 billion times the mass of the Sun.
Some speculate that the SMC was once a barred spiral galaxy that was disrupted by the Milky Way to become somewhat irregular. It contains a central bar structure.
At a distance of about 200,000 light-years, it is one of the Milky Way’s nearest neighbors. It is also one of the most distant objects that can be seen with the naked eye.
With a mean declination of approximately −73 degrees, it can only be viewed from the Southern Hemisphere and the lower latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. It is located in the constellation of Tucana and appears as a hazy, light patch in the night sky about 3 degrees across. It looks like a detached piece of the Milky Way. Since it has a very low surface brightness, it is best viewed from a dark site away from city lights.
It forms a pair with the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), which lies a further 20 degrees to the east. The Small Magellanic Cloud is a member of the Local Group.
Imaging telescopes or lenses: Takahashi FSQ106 ED
Imaging cameras: NIKON D800
Mounts: Losmandy G11
Guiding telescopes or lenses: Saxon 80mm
Guiding cameras: The Imaging Source DMK41AF02.AS
Software: DeepSkyStacker, PHD guiding, photoshop
Dates: May 18, 2012
Integration: 0.9 hours
Author: Andrew Lockwood
AstroPhotography of the day by SPONLI
14 June 2014