Out there in the deep reaches of outer space, an incredible trio of stellar nurseries is booming with newborn stars. Astrophotographer Terry Hancock captured a dazzling image of this cosmic trio from Fremont Michigan. Each one of these nebulae are unique with their own awe-inspiring stories and intergalactic happenings. Let your mind take a journey into each nebula as we describe them below and imagine the incredible possibilites of unexplored worlds and stellar wonders.
As we gaze into the night, we can see amazing wonders, but telescopes can turn them into eye candy for the soul. This image captured by Terry Hancock in his amateur backyard observatory in Fremont, Michigan, takes our eyes on an instant cosmic vacation. It almost appears 3-D as our imagination travels through the incredible jewel encrusted scenery.
There are many mysterious objects in the cosmos that evoke awe and wonder. Tucked away in this stunning planetary nebula known as the Dumbbell nebula (Messier 27) is a dying sun, that created it all. Now a white dwarf, the central star continues to propel cosmic material outward.
Like a pinwheel, this galaxy spins seemingly with the help of unseen cosmic breath. The Pinwheel Galaxy also known as Messier 101 or NGC 5457, is a face-on spiral galaxy at a distance of 21 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. With a diameter of about 170,000 light years it is 70 percent larger than our own Milky Way Galaxy.
Here it comes! Excitement has been growing about what everyone hopes to be the biggest night sky event of the year, or as some might say, the century. All eyes are on comet ISON as it zooms through the solar system and makes it's way closer to the Sun. It should become visible to the naked eye in the next two months. The stage is set as astronomers all over are tracking it's every move, hoping for a spectacular show.
This bright galaxy is one of the most famous examples of an edge-on spiral galaxy, oriented perpendicularly to our line of sight so that we see right into its luminous disc. NGC 4565 has been nicknamed the Needle Galaxy because, when seen in full, it appears as a very narrow streak of light on the sky. It is amazing to see such beautiful detail in a galaxy 50 million light years from Earth both from the ground and in astonishing close ups by Hubble.
The extraordinary image you are looking at is not an image from the Hubble Telescope or any huge observatory on Earth. This image was taken in a backyard in an ordinary neighborhood in western Michigan by a very talented astrophotographer named Terry Hancock. What is even more impressive is that he used a tiny 3.6" refractor telescope to achieve it. This is the famous Helix Nebula and some have nicknamed it "The Eye Of God".