First Light – Sculptor Galaxy

On Thursday 22 October 2020, ELTHAM College’s largest telescope celebrated a meaningful milestone: First Light.

First Light is the term used in the astronomy community to describe the first image taken on a telescope. Pictured above you’ll see the results of this First Light, a beautiful image of the Sculptor Galaxy.

The Sculptor Galaxy (NGC 253) is one of the brightest spiral galaxies visible from Earth. The galaxy was first discovered in 1783 by Caroline Herschel, 10 million light-years away and 70 thousand light-years across. It is also one of the most active forming stars much faster than our galaxy the Milky Way. The material for this rapid star formation can be seen in its dusty spiral arms that provide plenty of material for baby suns.

The image itself was taken on the College’s CDK17 with an exposure of 20 minutes! This was done to ensure that as much light as possible entered the telescope so that I could take the best image possible. The image was then edited so we could see all of the beautiful details of this stunning galaxy while still ensuring that it kept its natural colours.

Great endeavours often experience teething problems, but the amount of work that’s gone on behind the scenes over the last year to get both our telescopes fully operational has been phenomenal.

I want to thank everyone from the donors to the teachers, parents and astronomers who helped to bring this vision to life.

I can’t wait to see what the future of our College Observatory holds, and the photos that other students take on our telescopes as we explore the cosmos together.

Year 10 student