Father-of-three captures spectacular images of Mars and the moon with a telescope in his backyard

Father-of-three captures spectacular images of Mars and the moon with a telescope in his backyard

Looking up at the night sky from your garden, you might catch a glimpse of a few stars if you’re lucky.

But James Flanagan, the father of three, wanted a better view and aimed his middle-of-the-road telescope at space to get a closer look.

Since then he has seen a lunar mountain range, the dusty red surface of Mars and swirling nebulae thousands of light-years away, all making for spectacular photos.

The amateur astronomer said: “The furthest thing I’ve seen is Markarian’s Chain, a series of galaxies about 55 million light-years away – so the light that formed that image left just after the dinosaurs went extinct.”

An amateur astronomer has captured a series of incredible images of stars, planets and distant nebulae thousands of light years away from his backyard.  In the photo: a full moon

An amateur astronomer has captured a series of incredible images of stars, planets and distant nebulae thousands of light years away from his backyard. In the photo: a full moon

He has photographed a lunar mountain range, the dusty red surface of Mars and swirling nebulae thousands of light years away.  Pictured: Orion Nebula

He has photographed a lunar mountain range, the dusty red surface of Mars and swirling nebulae thousands of light years away. Pictured: Orion Nebula

He added, “I’ve seen the rings of Saturn, the ice caps of Mars, and mountain ranges on the moon, all from my backyard.”

Mr Flanagan, a former city councilman, also snapped images of the Orion and Dumbbell Nebulae – huge clouds of dust and gas in space – the second of which is 1,360 light-years away.

Within our solar system he has observed Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and our moon in a lunar eclipse – all from his home in Tankerton, Whitstable.

The former politician’s love of stargazing started as a child after he was given a telescope for his birthday, but his interest was rekindled four years ago.

His telescope is equipped with two cameras – one to view planets and another to look further away at nebulae and galaxies.

Within our solar system, he has seen Saturn (pictured), Jupiter, Mars, and our moon in a lunar eclipse

Within our solar system, he has seen Saturn (pictured), Jupiter, Mars, and our moon in a lunar eclipse

Mr. Flanagan's telescope is equipped with two cameras - one to view planets and another to look farther away at nebulae and galaxies.  Pictured: Moon Mountains

Mr. Flanagan’s telescope is equipped with two cameras – one to view planets and another to look farther away at nebulae and galaxies. Pictured: Moon Mountains

Flanagan said,

Flanagan said, “The furthest thing I’ve seen is Markarian’s Chain, a series of galaxies about 55 million light-years away — so the light that formed that image left just after the dinosaurs went extinct.” In the photo: close-up of the moon with the ‘bay of rainbows’

HOW TO SEE MARS FROM THE UK THIS WEEK

Mars will be in opposition Thursday morning, meaning it will be in the opposite direction from the Sun relative to Earth.

It will appear larger and brighter in the sky because it is closest to us – about 81 million km away.

Coincidentally, Mars will disappear behind the full moon at 4:58 GMT on Thursday – an event known as an occultation – before reappearing at 5:59 GMT.

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Mr Flanagan insists anyone can take up astronomy, as many parts of space can be seen without an expensive kit.

He said: ‘Astronomy is a pastime that can be enjoyed even without a telescope.

“If you only have binoculars, you can see Jupiter’s four main moons, and if you have good binoculars, you might even be able to make out Saturn’s rings.”

“And as you go through each month or each season, there will be something new to see in the sky.

‘On December 8, for example, there will be a period when Mars appears to be very close to the moon there are certain events that I look forward to.’

On Thursday morning, the Red Planet will be in opposition, meaning it will be in the opposite direction from the Sun to Earth.

It will appear larger and brighter in the sky because it is closest to Earth – about 81 million kilometers away.

This gives stargazers in the UK the best view Mars offered this decade, and they don’t even need a telescope.

Coincidentally, Mars will disappear behind the full moon at 4:58 GMT on Thursday – an event known as an occultation – before reappearing at 5:59 GMT.

Due to the orbits of Earth and Mars, opposition occurs approximately every 26 months, but occultation and opposition occurring together is much rarer.

Mr. Flanagan added, “Seeing that sort of thing is so awe-inspiring that it always raises the question of what is our place in this universe?”

Mr. Flanagan's image of Mars

Mr. Flanagan's image of a lunar eclipse

The former politician’s love of stargazing started as a child after he was given a telescope for his birthday, but his interest was rekindled four years ago. Left: Mars. Right: lunar eclipse

Mr. Flanagan's image of Jupiter

Mr. Flanagan's image of the Dumbbell Nebula

Mr Flanagan insists anyone can take up astronomy, as many parts of space can be seen without an expensive kit. Left: Jupiter. Right: The Dumbbell Nebula

But Mr. Flanagan isn’t alone in taking pictures of space this month, as NASA shared a new image of the Eagle Nebula taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.

The $10bn (£7.4bn) superspace telescope photographed a particular feature of the nebula called the pillars of creation – finger-like tendrils of gas and dust located at a distance of 6,500 light-years from Earth.

They are known as an important source of star formation, as the image also shows many stars that are very young, only a few 100,000 years old.

The Pillars were captured in both near-infrared light, which blocks the brightness of nearby stars to show the swirling dust, and mid-infrared light, which shows the newly formed stars in orange.

The two images were then superimposed to produce a haunting image that shows off the best of both views, including the glowing fringes of dust where young stars begin to form.

But Mr. Flanagan isn't alone in taking pictures of space this month, as NASA shared a new image of the Eagle Nebula taken by the James Webb Space Telescope

But Mr. Flanagan isn’t alone in taking pictures of space this month, as NASA shared a new image of the Eagle Nebula taken by the James Webb Space Telescope

The $10 billion superspace telescope (pictured) photographed a particular feature of the nebula called the Pillars of Creation — finger-like tendrils of gas and dust that lie 6,500 light-years from Earth.

The $10 billion superspace telescope (pictured) photographed a particular feature of the nebula called the Pillars of Creation — finger-like tendrils of gas and dust that lie 6,500 light-years from Earth.

Construction of the world’s largest telescope, costing £1.7 billion, begins

Construction of the world’s largest telescope – the £1.7 billion Square Kilometer Array (SKA) has officially begun.

This telescope will initially include 197 dishes and 131,072 antennas scattered throughout South Africa and Australia, but will be headquartered in the UK.

It will have many scientific purposes, including searching for extraterrestrial life, testing Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and exploring the evolution of the early universe.

Construction commencement ceremonies have now taken place in both Murchison shire and Western Australia and in the Karoo of South Africa’s North Cape, the beginning of the construction phase

Dr. Sarah Pearce, Australia’s head of telescope operations, said: ‘The SKA telescopes will be sensitive enough to detect an airport radar on a planet tens of light years away from a star, so they can answer even the biggest question of all. answer: are we alone in the Universe?’

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