Readers’ wildlife photos

April 25, 2020 • 8:00 am

Actually, we have two disparate topics today: owls and astronomy. Is there a connection? You tell me.

The owls come from reader Gregoray, who lives in Austin, Texas. He has three young Eastern screech owls (Megascops asio) in his yard that fledged in the last week. His notes (sent on April 21):

We have had screech owls in our back yard for the past 5 years and they have bred and produced babies. We have 3 this year. Attached are some photos. We watched one fledge last night and 2 others this evening. Lat night one flew into our chicken coop and spent the night there.


And Tim Anderson in Australia has graced us with several astronomy photos. His notes, too, are indented:

Another clear night for a change, so here is Messier 104, the”Sombrero Galaxy”: an enormous lenticular galaxy noted for the prominent dust lane across its disk. This galaxy is a stretch target in the International Mexican Hat Dance Olympiad.

The Sombrero was first observed by Pierre Mechain in 1781 and later included by Charles Messier as object number 104 in his catalogue. This image was made from a stack of eighty 3-minute exposures using a 100mm refractor.

This is a group of galaxies lying in the Virgo Cluster. The group, “Markarian’s Chain,” is named for Benjamin Markarian, an Armenian astrophysicist, who discovered that the galaxies had a common motion. The image was formed from forty five-minute exposures using a colour camera and a 100mm refracting telescope

NGC4038 and 4039—the “Antennae Galaxies.” This is a pair of interacting galaxies – the two streamers are stars, gas and dust ejected from the galaxies when they passed through each other some 600 million years ago. Five supernovae have been discovered in NGC4038. This type of interaction will be the fate of the Milky Way when it encounters the Andromeda Galaxy.

The image was compiled from seventy 240-second exposures taken with a 100mm refracting telexcope and a colour camera.

26 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Good to see some lovely pictures of southern skies for me (stuck in the Northern hemisphere).

  2. I recently checked my wood duck box and found a screech owl in it. Not sure if it’s nesting or just residing.

    Star pics are spectacular. They really get you out of your own head.

  3. I would have said the connection between owls and astronomy is night time, but those owl photos appear to contradict me.

  4. Can you imagine what the night sky will look like when Andromeda and our Milky Way are in mid-collision? We might also have some of Andromeda’s stars passing close by. Not going to be here to see it though.

    1. I think the “collision” will be here in a billion years. Which leaves me out of it too. They say the spaces between stars is so great that the event will not produce stellar collisions. The galaxies will simply pass through each other like murmurations of starlings. As their gravitational fields take hold, they will gradually merge into a single galaxy. If there is anyone on Earth at the time, they probably would not notice it.

      1. And while the chance of stars colliding is small, they will be flung willy nilly by gravity. It’s not like one spiral passes through the other without interacting. Of course, it would still be in very slow motion even if we were around to see it.

        1. Precisely – sloooooooow. People would be born and die without any noticeable change. A galaxy strewn across the sky would be taken for granted by everyone. If there is an everyone. What are the chances of that? What would we be like if we did survive? 😎

      2. Actually closer to five billion years from now, Rick. By then the sun will have become a red giant, and the earth a cinder. No one to see it, at least not here. When it approaches, I suppose it would be like seeing a new milky way in the direction of earth’s Northern sky (where Andromeda is).

        My hope was to see Betelgeuse go supernova before I die, but that is not likely.

        1. Five billion? I guess I’m not going to be able to have a night selfie with it. Not worth worrying about.

  5. Thanks so much to Gregoray and Tim for the wonderful photos, and to our host for keeping all this coming to us!

  6. Wonderful astronomy images! And apropos of that, Hubble is 30 years old! Who would have thought it would last that long? But then all NASA’s babies live well past their use-by dates.

      1. Australia still plays its part in the NASA project. Last year, the Parkes radiotelescope (just up the road from where I live) tracked the Voyager spacecraft on its passage through the heliopause and Parkes collected the data to send them to NASA. I was privileged to see it in real time.

  7. I live in the DFW, TX area.

    For three seasons we had Eastern Screech Owls nesting in an area under our patio. When the chicks came out they would sometimes perch on the chair backs of our patio furniture. They would let us stroke their backs.

    One time I got one to perch on a tree branch that I was holding.

    However, I got tired of the big mess they made, and eventually covered the niche in which they nested.

      1. Wow. It amazing they seem to adapt to the human environment. Were they always so tame? My owls are in a duck box and I was worried about disturbing them, but maybe they don’t really mind.

        1. The chicks didn’t seem to be afraid of us.

          I had to rescue them twice. One got stuck under the stockade fence. Another was stranded on the entrance to the swimming pool skimmer basket. Fortunately, I got it before the pump came on!

          One time I was walking around the pool deck when I heard a slight whoosh, and one of the parents hit me in the head!

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