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💫The North America Nebula

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This image is a composite from black and white images taken with the Palomar Observatory's 48-inch (1.2 meter) Samuel Oschin Telescope as a part of the second National Geographic Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS II). The images were recorded on two glass photographic plates - one sensitive to red light and the other to blue and later they were digitized. In order to produce the colour image seen here a total of 62 different frames were processed with the ESA/ESO/NASA Photoshop FITS Liberator by Italian amateur astronomer Davide De Martin - 31 frames for each colour band, coming from 4 different plates taken from 1990 to 1993. The original file is 14,264 x 15,429 pixels with a resolution of about 1 arc-second per pixel. The image covers an area of sky larger than 4› x 4.3› (for comparison, the Full Moon is about 0.5› in diameter).

In July 2004 imaging scientists at the European Space Agency, the European Southern Observatory and NASA released a free plug-in called the ESA/ESO/NASA Photoshop FITS Liberator. FITS stands for Flexible Image Transport System and this single file format archives nearly all images of stars, nebulae and galaxies produced by major telescopes around the world. Until July 2004, this file format was only accessible to very few people other than the scientists themselves using highly specialized image processing tools. With the release of version 2 of the FITS Liberator today it has become even easier to create colour images from raw observations. You can literally create spectacular pictures like the iconic Hubble image 'Pillars of Creation' in a matter of minutes.

Credit: Davide De Martin (ESA / Hubble), the ESA / ESO / NASA Photoshop FITS Liberator & Digitized Sky Survey 2

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