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The World Beyond The Sky

By Isaac Stewart
Intern

How often does one look up at the night sky and say, “wow?” It is a seldom thing for many, but for some, it is every night that the sky is clear.
Stars are simply dots in the sky, and sadly, for many, that is where the interest ends. But for others who dig a little deeper, discover a breathtaking, hidden world.
A telescope of the simplest design can give an entirely new view of space; more than many can imagine a small telescope is able, and one star turns out to be many.
Bright dots become planets. And the surface of the moon becomes filled with craters.
Have you ever seen the moon’s craters without the help of a screen? Have you seen the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn that are not on TV or the Internet? A telescope can let you see it all live with your own eyes.
Wide telescopes. Long telescopes. Huge telescopes. From the amateur to the professional, all of these pieces of equipment are part of an astronomer’s collection.
Even a basic telescope can offer a fantastic start for a budding space enthusiast, but there are many avenues people take to explore and enjoy the wonders of space.
One such avenue is astrophotography: the photography of astronomical events and objects. Astrophotography is where the famous pictures of planets, spiraling galaxies, and vibrant nebulae come to life. Have you ever heard of the Hubble Space Telescope?
Chances are, you have because that is where most widely known images of space come from.
Hubble was launched in 1990 and has broadened our view of the universe immensely, capturing images since 1993. Hubble’s images are some of astrophotography at its finest. But never fear. A seven-foot ten-inch mirror, like Hubble is equipped with, is not needed to have great fun taking pictures of stars.
A simple camera and lens can capture thousands of stars in just mere seconds. Fiddle with some settings on your camera, point it up at the night sky and take a picture (For the camera geek: take a longer exposure). The hidden stars that are revealed are truly breathtaking.
For a select few, a camera and lens mark just the beginning of the astronomy journey. Different lenses, cameras, telescopes that actually track celestial objects as they move across the sky, and numerous different magnifications all create the almost impossible to believe pictures. And all from their backyard. Many space lovers would say that one would be hard-pressed to find more colorful images on earth than of the objects in space.
Anyone with a simple photography camera is highly encouraged to explore the depths of space beyond just the stars you see in the night sky.
But be warned, it is tough to turn back once you have seen the awe-inspiring, deep-sky world.
To learn more about the fantastic world of astronomy, join your local astronomy club. To learn more about space in general, the science behind it, and missions to explore it, go to www.nasa.gov.