These are images of our solar system taken by an astronomer that I know.

All of the images and the descriptions are from the astronomer. In other words, I'm not smart enough to have generated all of this, but I like it!

Click each title on the left to view the image in an overlay. You can then click [Full Screen] to see the image fill your entire screen.

Although it looks gray in most photos, it has color if you oversaturate a bit.

The surface and edge of the Sun with a nice prominence that is much larger than the Earth.

A planetary mosaic of the crescent Venus, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. Not to relative scale.

Moving outside our solar system, into the Milky Way Galaxy - The Seven Sisters (aka the Pleiades or Subaru), a newly formed system of stars moving through a gas cloud inside our Milky Way Galaxy.

The well-known Orion Nebula, a stellar nursery inside our Milky Way Galaxy.

A globular star cluster in our Milky Way Galaxy. These tightly bound collections of very old stars circle the galactic center, and have a few hundred thousand stars.

Moving further out, outside our galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy, the nearest big galaxy to us, is 2.2 million light years away now—although in a couple billion years (well before our Sun dies in 5 or 10 billion years) it will merge with our Milky Way Galaxy. This galaxy, ours, and the others below each have on the order of 200 billion to a trillion stars, most of which have multiple planets around them. That is a lot of planets. A light year for reference purposes is about 6 trillion miles.

The famous Whirlpool Galaxy, where spiral arms were first observed. It is about 30 million light years away from us now. If you look in the background of this image you can see many more distant galaxies, some 50-200 million light years away, and further. In every long exposure image of the sky with even a smallish telescope, you can see multiple distant galaxies in the background. Each with many billions and hundreds of billions of stars. The ‘tail’ is actually a smaller galaxy that is being absorbed into the main structure. The mist around it are millions and billions of stars that are being flung away into intergalactic space.

Galaxy NGC 891. It’s also about 30 million light years away from us. We’re seeing this one edge on, and the dust in the spiral arms is obscuring the plane of the galaxy. The dark streamers that appear up and down are thousand light year-long streams of dust blown out by supernova explosions over the past millions and billions of years. Lots more distant galaxies visible in the background.

Here is a cluster of galaxies known as Abell 262. The image is inverted to better see some of the fainter galaxies. Many of these objects are 200+ million light years away, and some of the very faint background objects are 5 to 10 times that distance. Notice the small appearing edge on and face on galaxies. If we could see them closer, they would look a lot like The Whirlpool Galaxy and NGC 891 above.

REALLY far out - This is an image of “Einstein’s Cross”, a quasar that is 8-10 billion light years away. That is getting close to the limit of visible light imaging, as much earlier in the history of the universe, there is only infrared light (all these pictures are pictures of things in the past). The only reason it can be imaged with the equipment used is that a spiral galaxy about 400 million light years away happens to be in the way, and the enormous gravity of the galaxy acts like a lens and focuses the quasar’s ancient light towards Earth. Einstein predicted this, and in larger telescopes you can see 4 distinct lobes that look a bit like a cross.