Reader’s wildlife photos

Well, today we have not wildlife but stars, appropriate for Valentine’s Day since we have no amorous animals and stars often feature in love poems. These lovely photos come from reader Tim Anderson, whose notes are indented.

I’m having an unusual run of clear, still nights, so I am taking advantage of the opportunities.

This is NGC3532, an open star cluster (also known as the Wishing Well Cluster) in the Carina Nebula. The prominent star towards the bottom right is X Carinae, a massive red giant that emits 165,000 times the energy of the Sun’s output. The cluster was first described by Nicolas Lacaille in 1752.

120 30-second images combined in Nebulosity 4 from frames taken with a colour camera and a 127mm refracting telescope.


This image is of the giant star cluster 47 Tucanae, also known as NGC104.
Wikipedia says: “47 Tucanae, 47 Tuc (or NGC 104) is a globular cluster located in the constellation Tucana. It is about 4.0 ± 0.35 kpc (13,000 ± 1,100 ly) away from Earth, and 120 light years across. 47 Tuc can be seen with the naked eye, with an apparent magnitude of 4.1.  It appears about 50 arcminutes across. Due to its far southern location, 18° from the south celestial pole, it was not catalogued by European astronomers until the 1750s, when the cluster was first identified by Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille from South Africa.

47 Tucanae is the second brightest globular cluster after Omega Centauri, and telescopically reveals about ten thousand stars, many appearing within a small dense central core. The cluster may contain an intermediate-mass black hole.”

Which is more information than a sensible person needs. The image was constructed from 120 twenty-second exposures using a refracting telescope and a colour camera.



  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 8:08 am | Permalink


    I’m becoming particularly interested when I see bright stars close to the horizon. I don’t know why. Sort of like how I notice when there are planets shining in place viewed near the moon…. “occultation”, or something… it stands out.

  2. Jim batterson
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Who knows what wildlife may be among the many stars in the pictures?

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      +1👍.&/or civilized life.

  3. Claudia Baker
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Beautiful and awesome!

  4. Jenny Haniver
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    These are beautiful photos, especially the way you brought out the various colors.

    How nice to be able to take advantage of “an unusual run of clear, still nights.” I never cease to marvel whenever I see stars like these — uncountable — in the sky or in your photos.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Always interesting! Thank you for sharing.

  6. Posted February 14, 2019 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I wonder what the closest stars together are that are not in mutual orbit …

    I was always dismayed as a kid that Alpha Centauri was “so near and yet so far” – whereas, one, with a bit of dreaming, can imagine within my lifetime a trip to (say) something 0.1 AU out.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 14, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      The Arches Cluster near our Milky Way centre is a good place to look for stars that are close together, but not in mutual orbit, but it’s a bugger getting there – as the Irish might say, while giving directions “you’re starting from the wrong place!”

      The Arches cluster is so dense that in a region with a radius equal to the distance between our Sun and our nearest neighbour there are 100,000 stars! And at least 150 stars within the cluster are the brightest ever discovered in the the Milky Way.

      Bring sun cream.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Remarkable, thanks for submitting these technical and beautiful photos.

  8. Tim Anderson
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    If you are interested in reading more about globular clusters like 47 Tucanae, Wikipedia has an excellent summary at:

    Thanks for all your kind comments. When you get the chance, take the time to look up. Clear skies!

  9. Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Great stars!

  10. Heather Hastie
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Stunning, beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us.

  11. rickflick
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Cosmic imagery.

    “165,000 times the energy of the Sun’s output”
    “4.0 kpc”
    I have no real sense of what these mean – except very big and very far.

  12. ploubere
    Posted February 14, 2019 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing, these are excellent. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than a clear, starry night.

  13. Tim Anderson
    Posted February 15, 2019 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    If x Carinae were in the position of our Sun, then the Earth would be inside the star. That is what “super-massive” means. In other words, we wouldn’t be here to ask questions about the physics of star evolution. By the way, that is the fate of the Earth in about 5 billion years.

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