On the night of April 11, 1785, William and Caroline Herschel, with a hand-made telescope and notebook, embarked on a “Night of Discovery” during which they found some 74 previously unseen deep-sky objects. It was a marathon of visual discovery that remains unrivalled to this day. In a recent live broadcast, Slooh astronomers set out to replicate this amazing achievement using our state-of-the-art robotic telescopes. Slooh’s powerful instruments pulled in more detail than Herschel could ever see, and in at least one image revealed so many background galaxies that even our own astronomers were astonished.
You can see these background galaxies for yourself in the image below of NGC 4869, one of the many galaxies discovered by the Herschels on their epic night. This image has been labeled by Slooh Member Peter Ilas, pointing out the galaxies for your convenience. As this image came off the camera, it became apparent that it contained more than 230 background galaxies, quite possibly more galaxies than foreground stars. Many of the galaxies in this image appear as fuzzy stars. But some show structure and shape despite their distance of more than 300 million light years. The light from these galaxies has been traveling through intergalactic space since before dinosaurs the walked on Earth.
Yet that’s what often happens in astronomy.You just never know what you might see, especially when you work with large telescopes and sensitive cameras supported by skilled engineers. As a Slooh member, you can use our state-of-the-art robotic telescopes in Chile and the Canary Islands from the comfort of your own home. Our membership page has everything you need to know to get started to take your own images, share them with fellow members, and learn more about the latest discoveries in astronomy.