This image was produced with a RCOS half meter telescope and a SBIG STL-11000 camera between December 10- 21, 2006.
Exposure times: 630 minutes Luminance, 150 minutes Red, 90 minutes Green and 180 minutes Blue (All 1X1)

M77 in Cetus

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Raygun Gothic

Novels, movies and television shows are filled with images of ostracized, obsessive scientists stalking about their hidden lairs while pursuing an idealistic quest, for the good or ill of society, based on flawed assumptions. The template for many tales that followed was Mary Shelly's book titled Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus- published in 1818- about a protagonist that was the product of a twisted dream its creator mistook for beauty. Interestingly, it's also considered the first example of a superhuman, intelligent and entirely artificially created robot in literature.

Today, robots inhabit our lives even though few appear like a human being. For example, robotics have become part and, to me, represent the future of amateur astronomy. The images I produce and those created by an ever growing number of others are the result of robotic remote observatories which operate more or less autonomously! Creating pictures using distant instruments gives appreciation for the work that's been accomplished by deep space probes and planetary rovers, by the way. When something goes wrong, as inevitably happens, the inability to simply stroll over and lay your hands on the instruments can make even small challenges seem somewhat overwhelming!

Well, there's a bit of mad scientist in many imagers, even though the area around our processing desk isn't necessarily decorated in classic Raygun Gothic! After all, there is something quite appealing to creating a deep space image that will result in world domination and vindicate our self-assumed genius! Unfortunately, this display of hubris is more often than not accompanied by one of our pictures escaping its computer cage prematurely- to our utter chagrin, shock and horror! So, pardon me while I don my lab jacket, turn up my Bunsen burner and practice my maniacal laughter- I must resume work on my next diabolical imaging experiment!

(Sniff) Do you smell something burning?

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