Photo of 204-megapixel with shutter speed of 1060 hours shows Large Magellanic Cloud

A group of French amateur photographers has captured an impressive 204-megapixel image of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, at the El Sauce observatory it runs in Chile. The combined shutter speed is 1060 hours.

The five French amateur photographers of the group Ciel Austral published their photo last month and that was preceded by a lot of work. Using a 160mm refractor and a special Moravian astrophotography camera, the photographers shot a large number of images and then put them together. The different colors have to do with the use of special filters, with which the chemical composition of gas clouds can be mapped.

According to Astrospace blog, all space photos captured took up a total of 620GB and several hundred hours were needed to post-process and stack or merge all the photos, mainly reducing noise. To arrive at the 204-million-pixel image, the photographers merged sixteen smaller pieces of the Large Magellanic Cloud. This galaxy is about 163,000 light-years from Earth and can only be seen from the southern hemisphere in the night sky.

Once merged, the photo had a combined shutter speed of a whopping 1060 hours. Normally, when using a wide-angle lens, a photo of stars will have a shutter speed of up to 25 seconds; at a slower shutter speed, the rotation of the earth quickly leads to star streaks, where the stars are no longer beautiful dots. With lenses that bring the objects closer, an even faster shutter speed often has to be used. The telescope used probably had a motorized system to compensate for the Earth’s rotation.

An own photo of the Large Magellanic Cloud, not from the French photographers. Taken on a Pentax K-70 DSLR, in combination with an O-GPS1 unit, a 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 800 and a shutter speed of 186s.