Thursday, December 29, 2011

Second Coolest Web Site Ever

Hmmm, maybe it's actually the third coolest Web site... not counting commercial sites like eBay and Amazon...

I guess Google would be the most useful to me, then Google Earth; but if I lump those together, then the Photopic Sky Survey site could still rank as number two.

I thought I had mentioned this site back last July, when Chris Bogart first told me about it. I just checked and it appears that I failed to do so. So when I saw that Nick Risinger's images, and the story behind them, are featured in the February 2012 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine, it reminded me to tell you all about this great resource.

I have to say that the amazing zoom-in-able images on this site are real game changers for someone who has spent the past the past 35 years scanning the dark Bonaire skies. The better you know the night skies at naked eye and binocular magnifications, the more fun you will have with this site.

Open and globular clusters, galaxies and emission nebulae show up beautifully. Planetary nebulae like the Dumbbell Nebula and the Ring Nebula aren't that easy to spot.

I've now got a list of large faint emission nebulae I'm going to try to image, based on what I've see online. For example, there is a giant red area located between the tail of Canus Major, Canopus, and the "false cross." I'd seen it outlined on printed maps, but the image on this site shows just how awesomely huge this nebulous region actually is. If we have clear skies this spring, I'll definitely try to capture it with my wide angle lens.

I often study the astro-photos I've taken and compare them with visual observations I've made, but this Web site works way better for that. It is still fun and challenging to try to take pictures of my very own, of course.

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