An amateur astronomer from Cambridgeshire is receiving national attention for his astonishing photographs of the stars, many taken from his Cambourne garden. Steve Loughran has been observing the skies for four years.
Steve plans to build an observatory, but at the moment sets up all his kit every time there's a clear sky. "And when you're freezing cold, as the sun's coming up, strip it all down and bring it back into the house," he said.
So far he has spent around £10,000 on his equipment, producing images favourably compared with NASA's. He is flattered by the comparison but said: "It's nice to be associated, but NASA's pictures are massively better."
The M81 and M82 galaxies are around 12 million light years away from Earth. Steve's telescopes are computer controlled and can be set to point at these distant and slowly-colliding galaxies.
Big is not necessarily better when it comes to telescopes. "A lot of the pictures are taken with a telescope that is only about a foot long and about 70mm across. The shorter the telescope the wider the field of view," he said.
The Andromeda Galaxy is our nearest neighbour. "The light we see when we look at it through a telescope or in a camera has taken two-and-a-half million years to get from there to here," said Steve.
Steve used different processes to produce this image of the Horsehead nebula. To see more spectacular photographs and find out how he captured these images, log on to www.steves-astro.com.
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