This is a selection of images taken by our members. It is amazing that modern-day amateurs can now create images that only a couple of decades ago were the province of professional observatories. Much of this is down to the increase in computational power available and to the availability of digital imaging devices such as CCD chips.
Nebulae are regions of dust and gas which give off light either by reflection (of nearby starlight) or emission (because the gas is hot).
Galaxies are enormous collections of stars. Our own Sun is just one of over a hundred billion stars that make up the Milky Way – our own Galaxy. And the Milky Way is just one of over 100 billion galaxies in the observable Universe. If all Galaxies were as big as the Milky Way (some are smaller and some bigger), that would be 10,000,000,000,000,000 stars.
The Moon is our nearest cosmic neighbour being a mere 250,000 miles away. It makes and excellent target for viewing through astronomical instruments of all sizes from binocculars to large telescopes. Being so close, it is possible to make out surface features as small as about half a mile or less across.
The Solar System
Scientists now officially recognise eight planets. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. In addition there are many other bodies in our Solar System (the bodies in orbit around the Sun). These include minor planets such as Pluto and the asteroid Ceres. Most planets also have a collection of moons associated with them.