This image was produced with exposures taken between April 12- June 25, 2007 through a 12-inch RCOS telescope and a SBIG STL-11000 camera from a remote observatory in Austrailia.

Exposure times: 720 minutes Luminance, 120 minutes Red, 120 minutes Green, 120 minutes Blue, 120 minutes Ha, 120 minutes SII, 120 minutes OIII (All 1X1)

Eta Carinae and NGC 3372 in Carina

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Interstellar Windjammers

I believe the Saturn V launch vehicle only supplied half the energy needed to hurl a dozen people from Earth's surface to the crescent moon's waiting arms. The combustible material loaded into the missile's belly was insufficient to break shackles fashioned by ages of conventional wisdom that said no foot would ever tread on the lunar surface. However, enthusiasm can be a powerful stimulant when there's need for rising to a challenge- and the people launching the moon rockets were saturated with this stuff! It's the same propellant that's driven many to accomplish feats that others considered impossible or, at the least, highly improbable throughout history. The Wright Bothers, the great European explorers, the Vikings, the Greeks and the Polynesians, for example, all quenched their thirst with the same beverage and, despite the odds, reached out and grasped the stuff their forebears could only speculate!

Likewise, every night a thousand sailors depart for vastly remote places in ships made of glass nudged by silicon sails glinting with starlight- their prospects for success seem as infinitesimal as the Universe is infinite. And yet, that does not deter these interstellar windjammers from embarking on their countless cosmic journeys. While some debate the viability of traveling through time and space ad infinitum, increasing numbers of pilots routinely leap astonishing distances into the past from common backyards and uncommonly dark places lifted aloft by unbridled curiosity and irrepressible exhilaration.

We tend to celebrate the spectacle seen in deep space pictures rather than the captains who navigated the instruments through perils that conspired to founder their efforts- the capricious weather, turbulent sky conditions, misbehaving computers and a wide array of potentially crippling electro-mechanical failures. Today's astrophotographs demonstrate what technology can muster but it takes an ecstatic capacity to transform dim shadows into dazzling scenes filled with wonder. Nothing is more challenging than the pursuit of this hobby and I owe a debt of gratitude to those starry-eyed mariners whose visions continue to grip, thrill and inspire me. Each of your pictures brings the past to light and place the stars within my grasp!

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