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Monday, March 29, 2004

Pro-Am Astronomy

Many moons ago (well, about a moon and a half), I wrote about an amateur astronomer who found a new nebula in a well-studied part of Orion, and got it named after him.

Well, now McNeil's Nebula has been observed by trained professionals at Gemini Observatory (North) in Hawaii. Spooky-lookin' beast.

Note that the Gemini telescope is 8 meters in diameter, whereas McNeil's was 8 centimeters (3 inches), one hundred times. smaller. Gemini took their image in three minutes. McNeil says his took 90.

This page has artists' conceptions and a picture of McNeil with his telescope. There's no picture of Gemini for comparison (unless you count the dome behind Bo Reipurth's head in the next picture down). Here's a picture of the telescope, but there's not much sense of scale. Those are handrails around the blue platform, if that helps.