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M101 Galaxy
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The galaxy in this project nightflight image, M101, is not only far, far away. The light recorded with this shot is also from a long time ago. It had to travel for more than 20 million years through intergalactic space before it finally reached our camera’s sensor. So, the image shows the galaxy as it actually looked like more than 20 million years ago. At that time, most of Earth was covered in lush grassland and tropical forests. Mammals roamed the landscape and our distant ancestors, the great apes, lived in the trees in great numbers. Today, we can admire this far away galaxy through telescopes. From very dark locations, experienced stargazers can detect the ancient glow of M101 even in binoculars. But the growing light pollution of our advanced civilization makes it increasingly harder to see deep-sky objects with such a low surface brightness. Let's hope Earth will not suffer the same fate as the fictional Star Wars planet Coruscant. Our image of the remote Pinwheel Galaxy was shot under the dark skies of La Palma island on a summer night in June 2016. More than 90 individual exposures with a total exposure time of about three hours were digitally combined to produce this HDR view of M101. [Released November 26, 2017]