Astrophotographer Uses $500 Telescope to Photograph the Pillars of Creation

Astrophotographer Uses $500 Telescope to Photograph the Pillars of Creation

When the Hubble Space Telescope photographed the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation in 1995, the image instantly became a classic. This fascinating look at a region that births many stars captured the world’s imagination. Recently, backyard astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy took his own image of the Eagle Nebula, but rather than using NASA’s $16 billion space telescope, he simply used a 12″ Newtonian telescope he picked up for $500, along with a tracking mount and a few other pieces of equipment. Looking at them side-by-side, McCarthy’s result is quite astounding.

While his image has a wider view of the nebula, the “pillars” are quite visible in the center of the composition. To make them stand out even more, McCarthy made the creative choice to remove the stars in post-production. In doing so, he allows us to drink in the rich, smoky atmosphere of the nebula. It took about eight hours of exposure time over several evenings to achieve the image he was after. And by using narrowband filters, he cut through light pollution and got a color palette that is quite Hubble-like.

The Eagle Nebula is a subject that McCarthy turns to time and time again. Each time can look different depending on the filters used and the post-production choices made, but the results are always spectacular. By sharing these images with the world, McCarthy reminds us that you don’t need a NASA-built telescope to photograph incredible scenes of outer space.

If you’d like to own this image, McCarthy has prints available for sale on his website.

One of the Hubble Space Telescope’s most iconic photos is its look at the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula.

Photo: NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team

Backyard astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy shot his own look at the Eagle Nebula using a $500 Newtonian telescope.

In the center of the photo, the Pillars of Creation are clearly visible.

The pillars are about 4-5 light years tall- so you have an idea of the scale here. Our entire solar system wouldn’t even be a pixel in this image.
I have free shipping on prints until the end of the day today- if you want this one for your wall get it here:

— Andrew McCarthy (@AJamesMcCarthy) July 4, 2022

The Eagle Nebula is a favorite subject for McCarthy, who has photographed it many times.

Any image requests for print? I’m giving my website a facelift and beginning operations with a new commercial printer next week! I have some plans for which prints I’ll have available, but would love your feedback! This one is the Eagle Nebula.

— Andrew McCarthy (@AJamesMcCarthy) May 28, 2022

Andrew McCarthy: Website | Instagram | Patreon | YouTube 

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Andrew McCarthy.

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READ: Astrophotographer Uses $500 Telescope to Photograph the Pillars of Creation

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