Image of the Month - April 2016

Thumbnail Title: 
Caterham School

The image of the month for April is a single 'lucky image' of the nebula Messier 97, otherwise known as the Owl Nebula as the shapes within the cloud are thought to make the pattern of an owl's face! This nebula, or dusty region, was created by one of it's central stars which shed material through very strong stellar winds, much as our Sun does on a smaller scale. We have put a false colour on this single image by using the Colour Select Tool within the LT Image software and selecting the 'cold' option - why not try open your own observation and explore these colour options? When we explore the image using the 'Astro' menu in LT Image we can that this nebula sits at a distance of 2,600 light years from Earth, and that every pixel in the image in real space measures 243 astronomical units (AU) across - this means 243 times the distance between the Sun and the Earth! The nebula has several shells of material - why not try and measure the difference between them and work out the real distance?

Messier 97