Readers’ wildlife photos

We’re going to count astronomy as wildlife today, as it’s Honorary Wildlife®. These two swell Cosmos Photos come from reader Tim Anderson in Australia, and I’ve indented his notes. As always, click on the photos to enlarge them.

It is the galaxy season in the Southern Hemisphere, which is to say that there are large number of galaxies up in the night sky down in these parts.
Here is one of them. This is an image of the Sombrero Galaxy (catalogued as M104 in the Messier catalogue). The dark dust lane that crosses the galaxy horizon is where new stars are forming.The galaxy is approximately 28 million light-years away from us. The image was formed from sixty 30-second frames taken using a colour camera and a 127mm refracting telescope.
Attached is an image of NGC 2997, a large barred spiral galaxy in the local supercluster. It is approximately 25 million light-years from Earth. The spiral arms contain many star-forming regions of ionised hydrogen gas. The image is a composite of three hundred 30-second shots taken with a colour astronomical camera and a 100mm refracting telescope.

And two marine invertebrates sent by reader Carl Sufit:

From my first and only trip to Turks and Caicos Islands in 2016 (geologically part of the Bahamas chain, so I’ve read):
First, the commonly seen Flamingo Tongue snail Cyphoma gibbosum, ~ 3cm long.  These hang out on (and eat) various Gorgonia (not sure of this species) at  fairly shallow depths .  I’ve heard many divers refer to them as nudibranchs, as they don’t see a shell (but also don’t see any “naked” branchial structures).  What one generally sees is the mantle that has spread out over the shell, and here you see the cephalad (I think) portion of the foot.  The underlying shell has the characteristic central bulge that you can see.

Next is the much less common fingerprint snail, formerly Cyphoma signatum?  This was the first time I’d knowingly seen one, pointed out by our guide. It was very close to some Flamingo Tongues, maybe even on the same coral—I don’t remember.  Apparently the old taxon is kaput, and this is now considered the same species as the above, C. gibbosum.  I’m not a biologist, and don’t know how those changes happen.  Some websites still show the prior name, and some had some very recent dates as to the change.  Was it DNA analysis, or breeding fertile “hybrids??” (I’d like to see the patterns of any crosses, but maybe the common pattern is dominant??)
Again, I don’t know the coral species.



  1. Posted April 15, 2019 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    All very interesting! It must be quite a thrill to assemble exposures from the sky and see from them the light of such ancient objects. When light left those galaxies, apes were just getting started here on earth.

    It is not surprising that this species of snail is found to be polymorphic for their color pattern. There are numerous other examples of this sort of thing in animals and plants.

  2. Posted April 15, 2019 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  3. Jim batterson
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    These are wonderful images of galaxies. Do not know if it is appropriate for jerry’s site, but i would love to have a few words on how one marries up 60 or 100 30-sec time exposures into a final image. I left amateur astronomy just as ccd cameras came out.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 15, 2019 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Here’s an outline on STAR STACKING & why it’s often better than the alternative, a rotating mechanical star tracker + long exposure. It also goes into settings, software & how to handle foreground landscape features in your image…

      • Jim batterson
        Posted April 15, 2019 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        Thank you michael. Very helpful. Astrophotography has really lept and bounded since 1988.

    • Posted April 15, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Here is a web site that is aimed at teaching and discussing astrophotography for amateurs:

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Perfect set!

  5. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    @Carl Sufit Coat of many colours — DNA reveals polymorphism of mantle patterns and colouration in Caribbean Cyphoma Röding, 1798 (Gastropoda, Ovulidae)

    Molecular analyses based on four molecular markers […] for three Cyphoma species (C. gibbosum, C. mcgintyi, C. signatum) & an unidentified black morph, collected from three localities in the Caribbean, show that they represent morphological varieties of a single, genetically homogeneous species. This outcome is in agreement with previous anatomical studies. As a result C. mcgintyi and C. signatum are synonymised with C. gibbosum, which is a key result for future work using C. gibbosum as a model organism


    • Carl
      Posted April 15, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Wow, thanks.

      • rickflick
        Posted April 15, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Wow. Notre Dame Cathedral is burning!

  6. rickflick
    Posted April 15, 2019 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    The Sombrero Galaxy is stunning. It looks a lot like images of our Milky-way Galaxy. Could there be life among it’s billions of stars?

  7. Posted April 15, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Speaking of long exposures made by amatuer astronomers, there’s this:

    1,060-hour image of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) captured by Amateur Astronomers

    • rickflick
      Posted April 15, 2019 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Wow. It must have been quite a process.

      • Posted April 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        And someone in the comments to the twitter post claims that there are some severe processing artifacts in the image, such as double images of stars. Perhaps they can fix these things, assuming they still have all the original images from which it was composed.

  8. Posted April 15, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Lovely images

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