These Breathtaking Photos Of Outer Space Were Taken Right Here On The Western Slope

Listen Now
Photo: Terry Hancock Astrophotography 1
Alnitak (below center), the easternmost star in Orion’s Belt, anchors a rich region of nebulosity that features the broad glow of IC 434, with the Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) silhouetted against it, and the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) at bottom center.

Taking photos of deep space is, not surprisingly, difficult. Even the wispiest clouds can turn an image soupy, as does wildfire smoke. Any gusts of wind faster than 10 mph cause the camera to vibrate and the photo to blur. Exposure times are often set to upwards of 10 hours. If photographers want the clearest results, they probably should cool their cameras to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

But when you get that peek into the cosmos, it's all worth it. And, often, you're hooked. That was true for Terry Hancock, an avid astrophotographer and the director of the Grand Mesa Observatory. The telescopes at the high-desert observatory are open at certain to everyone from school kids to astronomers. Hancock talked to Colorado Matters about what it takes to photograph deep space.

Photo: Terry Hancock Astrophotography 7
NGC 7635—also called the Bubble Nebula, Sharpless 162 or Caldwell 11—is a H II region emission nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia. The "bubble" is created by the stellar wind from a massive hot, 8 magnitude young central star.
Photo: Terry Hancock Astrophotography 6
This 2 panel mosaic of The Rho Orphiuchi Cloud Complex is one of the most beautiful and active star forming regions in the night sky with so many types of objects such as open and globular clusters, dark, reflection and emission nebulae.
Photo: Terry Hancock Astrophotography 5
The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules M13.
Photo: Terry Hancock Astrophotography 4
The very faint Holmberg 9, Arp's Loop and the Integrated Flux Nebulae in all their glory.
Photo: Terry Hancock Astrophotography 3
The image is dominated by Barnards Loop, otherwise known as Sh2-276, a large emission Nebula and part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex.
Photo: Terry Hancock Astrophotography 2
A closer view of Galaxies that lie within the string of Galaxies known as Markarian’s Chain.