These photographs were taken with a CCD camera, which is a special camera that connects to both a telescope and a laptop computer. To learn about CCD cameras and the telescopes used to take these pictures, click here to visit StarTeach Telescopes . All photographs on this page are by Leslie Welser.
The Ring Nebula (M57) is visible in even small telescopes as an object that resembles a smoke ring. The bubble and ring structure are the remains of gas and dust from the expansion of a star at its center thousands of years ago. The dying star is still visible in the center of the ring, and the ultraviolet radiation from this star is what makes the gas and dust glow brightly. The material of the ring itself is made up of helium, oxygen, and nitrogen, and is one light year in diameter. (10 second CCD exposure)
The Orion Nebula (M42) is visible with the naked eye, since it is only 1600 light years away and is a gigantic 30 light years across. It is the main part of a large cloud of gas and dust which extends several hundred light years over about half of the constellation Orion. This region of space is known as a stellar nursery, since it contains immense amounts of matter to create new stars. (2 second CCD exposure)
Bode’s Galaxy (M82) is a spiral galaxy located near the cup of the Big Dipper. It is part of a nearby group of galaxies, and is approximately 12 million light years from Earth. M81, an irregularly shaped galaxy very close to M82, has been interacting with Bode’s Galaxy for millions of years. (10 second CCD exposure)
This star field near the star Vega is a typical example of how many stars are in our sky. Though this is not an open cluster, it is a good demonstration to show the detail that can be brought out with a telescope. (10 second CCD exposure)