Mike Hankey fell in love with astrophotography when he attached his camera to a telescope and peered through glass at the night sky for the first time. Six months later, a large “fireball” meteor exploded near Baltimore, Pennsylvania while Hankey was photographing the Andromeda galaxy from his backyard, and he accidentally captured a shot of the meteor fragments streaking down to Earth.
He’s been hooked on astrophotography ever since, and he spends his nights producing stunning long exposure astrophotos like this image of an emission nebula within the Cassiopeia constellation:
An emission nebula is a cloud of gas that has been ionized by close proximity to a hot star such that it emits light of various colors. There are two types of emission nebulae—H II regions and planetary nebulae—which are ionized by huge young stars or dying stars shedding their outer layers and exposing their warmer cores, respectively.
Hankey shot the image in Auberry California using green, blue, and red narrow band filters over a span of 15 hours across four nights. He used an Apogee U16M camera attached to an RCOS 14.5 telescope to capture the image and SkyX, MaximDL, FocusMax, CCDAutoPilot, CCDStack, and Adobe Photoshop to edit and optimize the final image.
“I [love] taking pictures with my telescope and I work on it every night that is clear,” said Hankey. “The great thing about astronomy [is that] space is infinite, you can never run out of things to learn, look at or take pictures of. The study of astronomy has transforming effects on people and I encourage everyone I meet to look up at the stars.”