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  • Chris Baker

LUCY launches this morning - see her fly LIVE

Courtesy of NASA


LUCY will launch around 05:30 Eastern Standard Time today Saturday 16th October (10:30 BST) - VERY SOON IN OTHER WORDS!

The mission takes its name from the fossilized human ancestor (called “Lucy” by her discoverers) whose skeleton provided unique insight into humanity's evolution. Likewise, the Lucy mission will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system.

The Mission

With boosts from Earth's gravity, Lucy will complete a 12-year journey to eight different asteroids — a Main Belt asteroid and seven Trojans, four of which are members of “two-for-the-price-of-one” binary systems.

No other space mission in history has been launched to as many different destinations in independent orbits around our sun. Lucy will show us, for the first time the diversity of the primordial bodies that built the planets.

The path taken by Lucy - courtesy of NASA

What is an Asteroid?

Asteroids are rocky bodies that orbit the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. They are thought to be the remnants of the material used to make the planets - so left-over detritus!

What are Trojan Asteroids?

These are asteroids orbiting the Sun close to Jupiter just in front and just behind.

Difference between an asteroid and a comet?

The lines are blurred but essentially two things distinguish comets from asteroids - origin and composition.

Asteroids come from the belt between Mars and Jupiter. They are rocky and contain metals.

Comets come from much further out in the solar system, the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud. They are puff balls of ice and carbon - hence when the stray comets approach the sun they heat-up and vaporise leaving a tail so we can see them!

How many Asteroids are there?

Probably millions but around 800,000 have been identified.


Don't forget it is at approx 10:30 BST (UK is currently on BST)


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NGC 6188 is about 600 lightyears across, and its nickname is undoubtedly a result of astronomers observing the nebula and seeing two dragons facing off within the twists and curls of the dark dust.

My Image of the beautiful Wizard Nebula

About The Wizard

You are looking at a cluster of young stars recently born and still embedded in a vast area of gas, dust and plasma known as the Wizard Nebula.

The intricate nebulosity from the image.

Catalogued as NGC 7380 The Wizard is located in the constellation Cepheus about 7,000 light-years from Earth within our Milky Way Galaxy. The whole Nebula spans an enormous 110 light years. This kind of nebulae are the birthplace of stars known as ‘stellar nurseries’. They are formed when diffuse molecular clouds start to collapse under their own gravity, often due to the influence of a nearby supernova explosion. Parts of the cloud collapse in fragments, sometimes forming hundreds of new stars. The newly-formed stars ionize the surrounding gas to produce an emission nebula which in this case is ‘The Wizard’

Some of these stars have been born from the clouds

The stars of NGC 7380 have emerged from its cloud some 5 million years or so ago, making it a relatively young cluster. And, although the nebula may last only a few million years, some of the stars being formed may outlive our Sun.

The Wizard Nebula is ionized by the binary star (one star orbiting another star making a ‘system’) together with the many young energetic stars within the cluster. They make the nebula that surrounds them glow and their winds and radiation sculpt clouds of gas and dust into the mountainous ridges seen here.

Imaging The Wizard

This object is extremely faint from Earth and not much light is reaching the telescope and camera. In addition it emits light at specific wavelengths associated with certain ionized states of gases.

I use specialist filters which capture certain emissions from these gases, in this case Hydrogen Alpha (Ha), Oxygen III (OIII) and Sulphur II (SII). Using my telescope and cameras I captured 10’s of hours of data through these three filters over many nights. Each exposure was 25 minutes and at the end of each night I discard the sub optimal images, such as when the seeing conditions were not perfect or a satellite crossed the field of view. Over time I build up the data for each filter and eventually have enough to start the long process of calibration and processing.

During this process I want to extract the beautiful detail that exists buried within the raw data and at the same time make it look stunning for the Galaxy on Glass range. I use a convention to assign the colours developed for the Hubble Space telescope. This means that I assign the SII to the red channel, Ha to the green and OIII to the blue channel. You will see in this picture that there is a lot of blue, meaning the object is emitting a lot of light associated with the ionized Oxygen. Using this convention shows rich blues and golds and the wispy details of the nebulosity.

Examples of The Wizard32" Backlit being packed for a lucky customer!

As a special offer for those who have fallen in love with the Wizard - if you purchase any type of Wizard during September 2021 you will receive a 15% discount! Use the code: WIZARD on check out.

If you would like to see the availability of The Wizard then pop along to the shop right: here

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