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Image of the Month

Here we showcase the best monthly images obtained during the past year by the Liverpool Telescope. If you feel that you have obtained a particularly good observation, then please let us know. You can see earlier 'Images of the Month' at the IOM Archive.

February 2017

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

28/02/2017 - 01:49 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

Coleg Llandrillo Abergele

The Image of the Month for February is of the galaxy NGC4051. This spiral galaxy lies around 33 million light years from Earth, meaning that we are seeing the galaxy as it was when the light left it over 30 million years ago! Inside this galaxy sits a supermassive black hole which is constantly pulling in more and more material - leading to the galaxy emitting lots of x-rays from the hot material falling into the black hole.

NGC4051
Download LTImage observations: 12348I000.hfit and, 12348I001.hfit and, 12348I002.hfit
Full size jpg of NGC4051
January 2017

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

17/01/2017 - 19:27 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

The Holy Family Catholic School

The Image of the Month for January, is a rare object to be able to observe with the telescope, although often seen with the naked eye, the planet Venus. We can often see Venus, close to sunrise or sunset, as it appears as a very bright 'star', this has lead to it's nickname as the morning or evening star. It is partly because it appears so bright that it is very hard to observe with the telescope, as the image can become saturated very quickly, much like trying to take a photograph of the sun on a bright day! Also, due to the fact that the planet is mainly seen close to sunrise or sunset, the sky is still quite bright, which is a problem for a telescope. This observation of Venus was taken in 1 second, whereas when we image nearby nebulae and galaxies we need to leave the image exposing for at least 30 seconds to get enough light to hit the camera. The other interesting thing about this image is that we see only part of Venus 'lit' by the Sun. As with all planets, Venus does not create it's own light but merely reflects light from the Sun. Here we see the planet with light falling on only the right as we see it, therefore we know the Sun must be in that direction.

Messier 1
Download LTImage observation: 12038D000.hfit
Full size jpg of Venus
December 2016

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

06/12/2016 - 01:48 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

Glebe School

The Image of the Month for December, is of the remarkable Messier 1 (M1) or the Crab Nebula. This is one of the few observable examples of a supernova remnant - the bits of the star which are left after a massive star explodes at the end of it's lifetime. This particular supernova has a very dense star, called a neutron star still located in the centre, which has strong magnetic fields created as the star spins around very quickly. We call these stars pulsars. The Crab Nebula was discovered almost 1000 years ago in the year 1054 AD and was recorded by Chinese astronomers at the time. It was so bright at the time that the star could be seen during the day!

Messier 1
Download LTImage observation: 11876J000.hfit and 11876J001.hfit and 11876J002.hfit
Full size jpg of Messier 1
November 2016

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

21/10/2016 - 23:43 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

Kirklees College

The Image of the Month for November was sent to us by a teacher at Kirklees College. Their students observation of Messier 76 (M76) or the Little Dumbbell Nebula is a wonderful example, taken in very good conditions, or with good/low "seeing". This in another planetary nebula, which are always popular to observe, as they are some of the most beautiful objects in space. They are created in the final stages of a low mass star, like our Sun's life, when the star begins to collapse and form a white dwarf in the centre, ejecting the rest of the material into space. The white dwarf star left at the centre is very dense, with a mass similar to the Sun but the size of planet Earth!

Messier 76
Download LTImage observation: 11634E000.hfit
Full size jpg of Messier 76
October 2016

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

20/10/2016 - 20:28 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

Carlton le Willows Academy

The Image of the Month for October is of the spiral galaxy, NGC6946, also known as the fireworks galaxy. It is called the fireworks galaxy as we have observed nine supernova, which are the explosions which occur at the end of a very massive stars' lifetime, in the last 100 years. As the stars which turn into supernovae are rare (we have around 100 stars the size of the Sun born for every one which will become a supernova), this is very unusual. In comparison, our own galaxy, the Milky Way contains about twice as many stars as NGC6946, but has an expected rate of one supernova per century (100 years). However, we rarely see supernovae in our own Milky Way as the light tends to be blocked out by the dust within our own galaxy.

NGC6946
Download LTImage observation: 11608I000.hfit and 11608I001.hfit and 11608I002.hfit
Full size jpg of NGC6946
September 2016

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

08/09/2016 - 19:52 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

Keswick School

The Image of the Month for September is a section of the Moon, containing the large 'sea', Mare Serenitatis, or the Sea of Serenity. These 'seas' on the Moon are flat areas created by the solidification of lava from when the Moon still had active volcanoes. The final manned mission to the Moon, Apollo 17, landed on the south-east edge of this 'sea' on 7th December 1972. This was the only mission in the Apollo programme which involved a scientist, the geologist Harrison Schmitt, alongside Eugene Cernan and Ronald Evans, who were both military pilots and engineers. During their three days on the surface of the Moon, they managed to collect over 100kg of rock samples which were brought back down to Earth in order that geologists and geophysicists could investigate how the Moon formed.

Moon
Download LTImage observation: 11184C000.hfit
Full size jpg of Moon
August 2016

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

08/08/2016 - 04:05 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

The Long Eaton School

The Image of the Month for August is the lenticular galaxy, NGC524. Lenticular galaxies are very old spiral galaxies which are beginning to run out of material to form stars. When classifying galaxies using the Hubble Tuning Fork, these galaxies lie in between the young, star forming, spirals and the old, red, ellipticals. On our image, created by combining a Red, Green and Blue observation with our 3 colour imaging tool in LTImage, the galaxy almost looks like an elliptical - but if we were to have the power of the Hubble Telescope which sits outside of the Earth's atmosphere we would be able to make out the disk of the galaxy, seen here.

NGC524
Download LTImage observation: 11153J000.hfit, and 11153J001.hfit, and 11153J002.hfit
Full size jpg of NGC524
July 2016

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

23/07/2016 - 22:02 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

The Long Eaton School

The Image of the Month for July is the Ring Nebula (M57), a planetary nebula in the northern constellation of Lyra. The name "planetary nebula" is a misnomer - to early astronomers some of them resembled giant planets, but in actual fact they are the remains of a star that has ejected its outer layers during the end of its life! Like other old red giants, M57 has expelled most of its material in the form of hydrogen and oxygen. At its core lies the white dwarf remnant which consists mainly of carbon. The lighter hydrogen forms the outer reddish envelope while the heavier oxygen in green remains about the centre. The gases in the expanding shell are illuminated by the radiation of the central white dwarf whose glow is still 200 times brighter than our Sun. An exposure of 120 seconds in each of filter was used to obtain the 3 colour image using LTImage. The object is about one light-year across and 2,000 light-years away from Earth.

M57
Download LTImage observation: 11151I000.hfit, and 11151I001.hfit, and 11151I002.hfit
Full size jpg of M57
June 2016

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

30/June/2016 - 02:30 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

Castell Alun High School

June's image of the month is one of our favourites - Messier 27, or the Dumbbell Nebula. This is one of the best Planetary Nebulae to observe on the NSO as it almost fills the field of view (how much of the sky the camera can fit into one image) of the CCD camera, IO:O, therefore providing a spectacular image with vast detail. This image was produced by combining an observation in the B, V and R- bands using our 3-colour image tool.

M27
Download LTImage observations: 11062J000.hfit, 11062J001.hfit, and 11062J002.hfit,
Full size jpeg of M27
May 2016

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

20/May/2016 - 20:26 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

Milne's High School

For the image of the month for May we thought we would revisit the largest planet in our Solar System, Jupiter. This wonderful image was taken early in the night, when the planet Jupiter looks like a bright star in the evening sky. It has been visible in the UK in this way for the last few months, but June provides better conditions for observing Saturn and Mars - so keep a look out for some very bright 'stars' in the sky. If you'd like to know what objects are good to see each month then check out our Night Sky segment each month, or on the home page look to the far right Sun and Moon rise and fall times, but also the planets which will be observable each night, which can also be found here! If you open this image of the month in LT Image and bring down the 'scaling' feature, then although you will lose the detail on the surface of Jupiter (this month we can clearly see the bands of different clouds and the great red spot to the bottom right of the image), something else appears - 3 of Jupiter's closest moons! It's always interesting to play with this scaling feature to see what else is hiding in your images!

Jupiter
Download LTImage observations: 10997D000.hfit,
Full size jpeg of Jupiter
April 2016

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

25/April/2016 - 21:49 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

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
Download LTImage observations: 10566D000.hfit,
Full size jpeg of Messier 97
March 2016

Date:

Telescope:

Observer:

Description:

11/March/2016 - 02:14 GMT

Liverpool Telescope

Collingwood College and Ravensbourne School

Much of March and April so far have been taken trying to catch up on observations lost during the bad weather earlier in the year, with some pretty impressive results. There have been spells of very good seeing which has led to some sharp images of wonderful objects. We have chosen to combine some images from 2 different schools for this month's image, which is of the spiral galaxy known as NGC4501, or Messier 88. This is a great example of a 'young' spiral galaxy with tightly wound arms, and it sits at a distance of around 50 million light years from the Earth, which means it has taken the light 50 million years to reach us! In the centre of this galaxy sits a supermassive blackhole which has a mass about 80 million times the mass of our Sun, that's about twice as massive as the one in our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

Messier 88
Download LTImage observations: 10677G000.hfit, 10677G001.hfit, and - 10677G002.hfit
Full size jpeg of Messier 88

ATTENTION

Please note that over the weekend of the 26-28th May 2017 we will be switching over to our brand new website - during this time there may be periods where the site is difficult to access, and users will be unable to request observations from the telescope. Please bear with us during this time. All should be back up and running by the 29th May 2017.