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Tim Campbell
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Tim Campbell

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Last image for a bit... but this is one of my favorites and gets a bit longer treatment.

The universe seems to have a near limitless supply of examples that show us just how tiny we are.   Take this example...

Last summer we did some imaging at HJRO (trying to work on improving our technique.  Tim Dey and I worked on acquiring this image.  We still have a great deal to learn about imaging, but I was pleased with this result.  I remember what Thomas Edison said of all his failed light bulb filament attempts, "I now know of 3000 things that don't work."  As a relatively new imager... I think I now know of about 3000 techniques that don't work!  ;-)
 
This is one result of the image after being processed  (16 subs at 4 minutes each, 8 darks, and also processed with flats and bias frames and a few hours of post processing work and I ended up with this.)  I've reprocessed this a few different ways... in some examples I've enhanced saturation and used filters to tease out a bit more detail than I did in this one, but I like this one so... I'm going with it (at least for now).

This object is the "Dumbbell Nebula" (also known as Messier 27 or just "M27" for short).  It is a "planetary nebula" -- even though it has little to do with planets, but early astronomers though the roughly spherical shape resembled a planet and the name stuck.  This is one possible outcome for a star about the size of our own Sun.  A star which did not have enough mass to become a super-nova has ended it's life leaving a white dwarf (which will eventually fade to a "black dwarf") at it's center.  The shell of gas is being blown out from the explosion leaving this beautiful display.  There are many examples of 

It looks pleasant enough, but then... we are viewing from a "safe" distance.  It turns out this object is larger than you might guess.

If the values on my reference information is correct, then this object is about about 1.44 ly (light years) across.  Let's give that some perspective using our own solar system.  Let's imagine how large this object would be if it were located at the center of our solar system.

I'll use Pluto to offer some perspective.  I realize that Pluto is one of the larger Kuiper Belt Objects (KBO's) and not technically one of the major planets, but I think audiences relate better to Pluto because they're still used to thinking of it as the last "planet" in our solar system -- even though many KBOs are farther (and Pluto is no longer even the largest known KBO).
 
Pluto has a mean distance of about 39 AUs (AU = astronomical unit - this is established as the mean distance between the Earth and the Sun) from the Sun.    You can round this to 40.  I find it easier to think of the positions of the planets beyond Earth as being located at 1.5, 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40 AUs away (for Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto).  Those values are wrong -- I caution audiences that some liberal rounding is necessary to get such "neat" spacing -- but they are close and it's easier to remember "neat" values.   It's easy enough to look up a more accurate value when higher degrees of accuracy are necessary.
 
Given that 40 AU rounded distance (which is still fair since Pluto is frankly one of the nearer KBO's), this puts Pluto at a distance of 3.72 billion miles from the Sun.  
 
If we imagine this as the "radius" of the solar system, then the diameter of our solar system is about 7.44 billion miles across.   The real radius of the "solar system" in so far as the Sun's magnetic influence and the limit of its solar wind is actually about 3 times farther away -- that's the distance to the heliopause -- the outermost limit of the Sun's heliosphere.  I might mention this anecdotally, but if I used the term "size of the solar system" to an audience, I imagine most would guess that I am referring the size of the area where we find planets and not the size of the heliosphere.)
 
A light year, in miles, is close to about 6 trillion miles (5.87 trillion).  
 
How large would a light year be compared to the scale of our solar system?
 
The answer turns out to be around 800 times larger!  Using liberally rounded values of 6 trillion miles in a light year and 40 AU for Pluto, it's 806 times large, but it turns out if you don't round the distance of a light year and you don't round the mean distance to Pluto, then a light year is 804 times larger than the diameter of our solar system.  800 is a good estimate.
 
M27 isn't 1 light year across... it's estimated to be about 1.44 ly across.  That makes M27 a bit over 1100 times wider than our solar system (caveating my use of Pluto and not a more scientifically valid size).
 
If the central star of M27 was located at the position of our Sun then the outer shell of M27 would be about 579 times farther away than Pluto!
 
Another way to consider M27 is that you could park just about three M27's lined up in a row between the Sun and our nearest star, Proxima Centauri.  This would occupy a width of about 4.32 light years ... which is just fractionally farther than the distance to Proxima Centauri (4.24 ly)
 
The image above is sized at 1024 pixels wide.  The nebula occupies slightly less than 1/3rd of the width (it's probably about 300 pixels wide -- more or less).  That means that the distance from the central star in this nebula to "Pluto" is substantially less than 1 pixel!  I would need an image by about 4x this size to get a distance of just 1 pixel from the central star to Pluto.  While the nebula doesn't seem all that large at first look... one has to keep in mind this is VERY far away... about 1,360 light years distant.  Our entire solar system is insignificant on the scale of objects such as this.
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Great shot and obviously intense processing effort. Thanks for taking the time. Although by no means well versed in astronomy, I do marvel at the vastness and look at our Milky Way whenever possible trying to impress upon those around me the enormity of what that alone represents. You've made my references to the Milky Way miniscule with your explanation of M27's size. Awesome stuff!
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Tim Campbell

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Apparently I've never uploaded a few of my astronomy images to Google+.  Here's an image of the moon featuring the Copernicus crater. It is seen here in the middle of the image just at the terminator (the edge separating the light and dark sides of the moon.)

The image was taken with a Canon 60Da mounted to a Meade 80mm apochromatic refractor (f/6) on a Losmandy Titan mount at the Hector J Robinson Observatory.  The image is of my first lunar images and I technically over-exposed this just a bit... but not so much to make it unrecoverable.
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Haha. Thought you would appreciate this, +philippe roux .
 
Perpetual motion machine.
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Pure genius. No doubt patented already.
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w/+Leon Shaner - Relaxing on the sailboat in Sarnia, ON. In the background we can hear a LOT of 4th of July Fireworks.
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Looks peaceful, serene...
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Thank you! Also, it's "pass muster" (another military term) and NOT "cut the mustard" (which doesn't even make sense.)
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Tim Campbell

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This is a later image -- similar to the first (but taken more than a year later).  This image was taken using the Meade 80mm apochromatic refractor (f/6) but also using a TeleVue 2x Powermate.  That makes this roughly an f/12 image.

This image followed the "Loony 11" rule which suggests that you can take a proper exposure of the moon by using f/11 and then setting the shutter speed to the inverse of the ISO setting.  I used ISO 100 and 1/100th and while the telescope was technically f/12 and not f/11, that minor difference is not enough to alter the exposure.

I did remove some of the "red" seen in the earlier image so that this image appears more "gray".  The Canon 60Da is an astrophotography camera which is particularly sensitive to reds (which is why the previous lunar image as a brownish appearance.)
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You hot a ps4 yet??
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Cool photo... Until I read the description I was completely sucked in to thinking this was the moon.
#astronomy #science
 
Sunlit Side of the Planet Mercury: Another day, another beautiful view of Mercury's horizon. In this scene, which was acquired looking from the shadows toward the sunlit side of the planet, a 120-km (75 mi.) impact crater stands out near the center. Emanating from this unnamed crater are striking chains of secondary craters, which gouged linear tracks radially away from the crater. While this crater is not especially fresh (its rays have faded into the background), it does appear to have more prominent secondary crater chains than many of its peers.

This image was acquired on Oct. 2, 2013 by the Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) aboard NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, as part of the MDIS's limb imaging campaign. Once per week, MDIS captures images of Mercury's limb, with an emphasis on imaging the southern hemisphere limb. These limb images provide information about Mercury's shape and complement measurements of topography made by the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) of Mercury's northern hemisphere.

The MESSENGER spacecraft is the first ever to orbit the planet Mercury, and the spacecraft's seven scientific instruments and radio science investigation are unraveling the history and evolution of the solar system's innermost planet. During the first two years of orbital operations, MESSENGER acquired over 150,000 images and extensive other data sets. MESSENGER is capable of continuing orbital operations until early 2015.

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

#solarsystem #mercury #messenger #nasa #apl #space #planets #craters

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This 1897 Baldwin 4-4-0 was Henry Ford's personal steam locomotive.  After years of restoration work, it is now beautifully restored and was put into service this summer in time for Henry's 150th birthday at Greenfield Village (Dearborn, MI)
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+David Connor He bought a railway to move supplies to his plants.  He eventually sold the railway but he kept this particular locomotive which he then donated to the Edison Institute (his museum -- which today is known as The Henry Ford).  You can read the story of this locomotive here:  http://blog.thehenryford.org/2013/08/part-one-number-7-is-on-track/
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Tim Campbell

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Canon 5D III @ ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/40th.  Lens: EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 135mm.  Focus: AI Servo using AF Case 2 (track subject, ignoring obstacles).  Best viewed at 16:9.  #cyclist   #panning #Canon
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Magnífico barrido.
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Tim Campbell

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Even more cool things you can do with Buckyballs!
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Amateur Astronomer, Planetarium Presenter, & Photographer
Introduction
In my non-professional life, I'm an avid amateur astronomer and member of the Ford Amateur Astronomy Club in Michigan.  I also enjoy astronomy outreach.  I am also a planetarium operator & presenter for the Hammond Planetarium at Henry Ford Community College and participate in other outreach events as they arise.

I'm also a photographer, having worked in the photography industry in my younger years but now only shoot for personal enjoyment.

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