Star lover

Star lover

Postby Lighthawk » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:49 pm

These astonishing images show psychedelic nebulae across the Milky Way.

They might look like the latest images from a Nasa satellite, but the colourful pictures were actually taken by an amateur astronomer from his back garden.

Surveyor Gordon Rogers spent tens of thousands of pounds building a state-of-the art observatory at his home in Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire.

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Mr Rogers even converted his garden shed to include a roll-top roof.

Not one to do things by halves, he built the three-storey construction with his builder son Chris five years ago when his stargazing hobby developed into a full-blown passion.

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Mr Rogers has been capturing incredible images like these ever since.

He said: 'My passion for astrophotography has become all consuming - I wanted to build something which was the bee's knees.

'It's a real labour of love. I have spent tens of thousands on this but if you were to put a figure on time invested - it's probably about a million pounds worth.

'I used to take pictures of galaxies but you need to be up a cliff in Arizona for those sort of things - so I started investing more time in pictures of the Milky Way.'

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Mr Rogers' love of astrophotography developed when he observed 'something dramatic on the moon' through a three-inch Zeiss refractor telescope he bought in a sale.

He said: 'Back in 1994, I observed something happening at the moon. It was so dramatic that I got my wife and neighbours to look and in my determination to speak with an astronomer there and then I made 14 telephone calls, the last four to Hawaii.

'I was then determined to update to something that would permit photography.'

Astrophotography is the practice of recording images of astronomical objects in minute detail.

Mr Rogers' photographs of nebulae - clouds of dust, gas and plasma that form stars - are for aesthetic value rather than scientific research.

He said: 'My photographs pick up the different types of atoms that produce red, green and blue colours.

'It was worth all the effort. I am pleased with the choice I made.

'I opted for the wider shutter with a lanphier window which can be attached to a metallic screen so that weatherproof observing is possible.

'This is good for showing friends planets on a cold and windy night but I do not propose a layer of glass for deep space. Having the computer room immediately below the telescope is a boon.

'Main computer controlled software packages never controlled the telescope as accurately as the telescope handset so I have a tube which permits the handset to be lowered to the computer room - with bung to stop the ascent of warm air.'

Many of Mr Rogers' images are available to buy in his astronomy book, My Heavens!

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