Two of the telescopes at the UMD Observatory are fitted with CCDs, digital imaging devices used by astronomers to record the amount of incoming light from an object. Everything that we know about objects outside our solar system (and most of what we know even about objects inside our solar system!) we know by examining the light from the object that reaches Earth. CCDs allow astronomer to digital record the light received from a planet or a nebula and then take that information back into the lab for further analysis.

CCD images often capture far more detail than we can see with just our eyes looking through the telescope. Your eye works on a constant download to your brain. Light goes in, signal goes directly to brain. CCDs, however, can record light for longer exposures before downloading the information into an image file. This means you can collect 1, 5, 10 minutes of light from an object all together into one image, revealing fainter detail than if you just looked at a few seconds worth of light.

These images were taken with our 20" telescope and a Photometrics CCD system before the recent renovation.



Petav Crater on the Moon

M 15 - A Globular Cluster in the Constellation of Pegasus

M 42 - The Orion Nebula
A star forming region in Orion

M 57 - The Ring Nebula
Planetary Nebula in the Constellation of Lyra

With the renovation of the 20" and work from students and docents, we will be expanding our Gallery in the next few months with more images!