This image was produced with a RCOS half meter telescope, an Apogee Alta U16M camera and Astrodon E-Series filters. Exposure times: 720 minutes Luminance, 270 minutes Red, 270 minutes Green, 270 minutes Blue and 420 minutes h-alpha (1X1).

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Image copyright ©2014 R Jay GaBany

IC 434 (Barnard 33)

The Horsehead nebula

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A Fresh Vision

When Claude Monet peered through the window of a rented second floor room across from the Paris Rouen Cathedral in February 1892, he had already demonstrated a deep fascination with repeatedly painting the same subject, each under different lighting or weather conditions; attempting to capture the effects of light and breathe life into the inanimate objects filling his canvas.

By this time, he had already completed several series of paintings featuring haystacks; the Seine and Thames Rivers; poplars that lined the River Epte and the Paris Saint-Lazare train station. Later in life, Monet would also concentrate much of his attention on a water lily series from his garden at Giverny.

Nevertheless, between February and April 1892, and during the same months the next year, Monet produced over 30 Cathedral paintings, each of them similar yet individual. Fellow impressionist Camille Pissarro said, "The cathedrals are praised by Degas, myself, Renoir and others." The artists Sisley, Mondrian, Picasso and Roy Lichtenstein also found inspiration in the series.

Monetís Cathedral paintings are widely considered the climax of impressionism. They demonstrate the artist's capacity to push his personal limits and, in the process, give the world a fresh vision.

Time passes. Technology changes.

Today, many astrophotographers are enchanted with repeatedly photographing the same astronomical object in hopes of revealing some new aspect that eluded or improves upon their previous versions.

Like Monet, astrophotographers are also intrigued in the way light affects the subjects captured on the canvas created by their telescopes and cameras. However, unlike Cathedrals and haystacks, our Earth-bound perspective of deep space objects (essentially) does not change over time. So, all the billowing nebulae and spiraling star systems appear frozen in cosmic amber because of the mind boggling distances that intervene.

Surprisingly, even though our view of the heavens is identical, the same cannot be said for astrophotographs of identical subjects. This is because most modern astronomical pictures are enhanced to make their color, details and faint regions more apparent. This complicated exercise is filled with hundreds of decisions that have a cumulative impact on the pictureís final appearance. As a result, every astrophotograph- even those of the same subject; even those prepared by the same photographer- is different!

Thus, astrophotography enables modern Monetís to capture the starry Cathedral vaults of heaven, demonstrate their capacity to push personal limits and, in the process, give the world a fresh vision, too.

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