Good morning. It’s December 15, and I have a real treat for you today. This is an image of the Andromeda Galaxy, the nearest major galaxy to our Milky Way. Astronomers believe our galaxy is shaped much as this one is.
The photograph comes from a group that calls itself the Association of Widefield Astrophotographers, and the photo was a 100-hour project by six participants in the United States, Poland, and the United Kingdom. They collected data over several months to produce the image.
According to the organization, “Our goal with this project was to prove that very expensive equipment and dark skies aren’t required to create unique images of faint objects. Since most of us are high schoolers and college students with a passion for astronomy, our summer jobs did not allow us to afford the expensive gear used by most astrophotographers.”
Most participants worked within a city, with light pollution levels ranging from Bortle 4 to Bortle 9. While it would be difficult for an individual to reveal the faint structures in this image, they said that by working together with other astrophotographers, they could produce such a result. It is truly extraordinary.
You can find an annotated image here.
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Dr. Thomas Hughes is a UK-based scientist and science communicator who makes complex topics accessible to readers. His articles explore breakthroughs in various scientific disciplines, from space exploration to cutting-edge research.