Primordial Light: November, 2006: My First CCD Image
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The Horsehead and the Flame nebula in Orion (NGC 2024 and Barnard 33)
This is the very first photograph I ever made with an astronomical CCD camera.The camera was an STL-11000M from Santa Barbara Instruments Group. I made the picture on November 25, 2006. The telescope was a Tele Vue 76.
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And my most recent photo of the Alnitak area, made on December 2, 2008.
February 1, 2008
The Flame is approximately 1,500 light years from Earth and the Horsehead is about
1,600 light years distant. The bright star is Alnitak, the left-most star in Orion’s Belt.
The clouds of dust and gas in this image are shaped by the same force that
shapes clouds in our sky—wind. Many of these clouds even resemble the clouds
in our sky. But the wind that shaped these clouds is not the wind in which you
would fly a kite.* These clouds are shaped by stellar wind— radiation (sub-atomic
particles emitted by stars acting on the dust and gas in the same way that earthly
winds act upon clouds of water vapor). The dynamics are virtually identical in each case.

*It has been suggested that a spaceship launched from Earth by means of a conventional
rocket could, after it has escaped the Earth's gravity well, unfurl a huge sail made
of very lightweight yet very strong material. The sail would be black on one side and
as reflective as possible on the other side. The black side would be kept facing the Sun
at all times. Photons from the Sun would strike the sail and cause the spacecraft to
accelerate. These photons are simply sunlight, and not the charged particles that
comprise the solar wind, but the stellar wind brought this to mind. While there is no
reason such a spacecraft could not be built, thus far such spacecraft are limited to the
realm of science fiction. Acceleration would be exceedingly slow, but if you had
a few billion years to spare you could travel a long distance by using the light
of different suns along the way.

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