The last hurrah of the SkyNews Astroimage Editing Contest is two for one — data from a pair of sparkling globular clusters, Messier 3 and Messier 13.
Here at SkyNews, we love globular clusters. Made of hundreds of thousands of stars tightly bound together by gravity, these “faint fuzzies” contain some of the oldest known stars in the Universe. The Milky Way has some 150 globular clusters floating around it.
Messier 3 — the first object in the catalogue to be found by Charles Messier — is 34,000 light-years from Earth, located in the constellation Canes Venatici. Aged at an impressive eight billion years old, the cluster is one of the largest and brightest globular clusters ever discovered. It is estimated to hold 500,000 stars.
The cluster is extra special because of the number of variable stars it contains. The European Space Agency states that as of April 2019, we knew of 274, more than we’ve found in any other globular cluster — and new variable stars are still being discovered. Among them are about 170 of RR Lyrae variables, “standard candles” which can be used to calculate vast distances between our Solar System and deep-sky objects.
Also known as the Hercules Cluster, Messier 13 houses about 100,000 stars and is located 25,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Hercules. According to a 2010 study, the cluster is about 11.65 billion years old.
NASA states that near the cluster’s core, the density of the stellar population is about a hundred times greater than the stellar density in our own neighbourhood. The stars occasionally run into each other and when they do, they can form a new star, resulting in “blue stragglers” that appear to be younger than they are.
The cluster also holds a special place in humanity’s history — it was the target of a symbolic Arecibo radio telescope message that was sent in 1974.
Located near Auberry, California, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Robotic Telescope is a 16-inch, f/8.9 RCOS with a SBIG STX-16803 camera on a Paramount ME mount. It has seven filters: LRGB, Hydrogen-alpha, Oxygen III and Sulphur II. A Canon 6D — used to capture larger targets — is piggy-backed on the scope, sporting a 200mm f/2.8 lens.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of our Photo of the Week contest, SkyNews is buying time on the telescope, using it to gather amazing data and sharing it with our readers for free.
Each month, we are releasing data packages for one deep-sky object. Process the data, send it back to us and you’ll be entered into our astrophoto editing contest for the month. Our judges will choose the image that wins a SkyNews prize pack, including access to RASC Robotic Telescope data for the year.
To be eligible, submissions must be received by May 31, 2022. One entry per target per person (so you can submit two entries this month, one per target). A team of judges will choose the best submission and SkyNews will publish the winning image.
To enter, you can fill out the entry form on the SkyNews website, or you can send your image by e-mail to email@example.com. Be sure to include your name, contact information and the processing details.
There are no entry fees. This contest is open to residents of Canada only.
The data was released on May 3, 2022. You have until May 31, 2022, to download it, edit it and enter the edited image in our contest.
Each month, SkyNews will be giving the winner a prize package that includes: access to RASC Robotic Telescope data for the year, as well as some essential stargazing tools — a one-year gift subscription to SkyNews (to use or to give to a friend), a SkyNews folding chair, a SkyNews backpack and a SkyNews red light keychain.
The value of the prize pack is about $200.