Gerald Rhemann started taking photos of space nearly 30 years ago.
And while his field of astrophotography takes incredible skill and dedication, Rhemann is up to the task.
From nearby comets to far-off galaxies , Rhemann has captured the universe. His work has been published in astronomical magazines, graced the cover of astronomy books, used on NASA’s website, and won multiple awards.
One of Rhemann’s proudest moments is when an image of his graced the cover of Stephen Hawking’s 2007 children’s book “George’s Secret Key To The Universe,” which Hawking wrote with his daughter, Lucy.
We talked with Rhemann to find out about his story, and how he captures his amazing images. Ahead, take a journey through space.
Rhemann became fascinated with space when he learned about the famous Halley's Comet, which was visible to Earth in 1986. It wasn't until three years later that Rhemann became familiar with astrophotography -- and due to Halley's orbit, which happens every 75 years, Rehmann has never been able to photograph it. But he did shoot Constellation Centaurus (NGC 5193), shown here, which was often misinterpreted in 1986 for Halley's comet when it drifted through the Centaurus constellation.
He was disappointed by what he saw of Halley's Comet when looking through a telescope. Eventually, Rhemann found more of what he was hoping to see when he photographed other comets and saw a lot more details. Constellation Auriga (IC405), pictured here, is otherwise known as the Flaming Star Nebula. It is a hot star that lets off such a high level of light that it kicks away electrons from the gas that surrounds it - which leads the nebula around it to glow red.
When Rhemann first started, he tried taking the astrology photos in his own backyard, in Vienna. However, there was too much light pollution in the city to capture a clear, crisp image of space objects like this. Can you spot the shape of the horse's head in this photo? It's the Constellation Scorpius (IC4592), otherwise known as the Blue Horsehead Nebula.
To escape the light pollution, Rhemann started photographing in the foothills of the Alps, otherwise known as the Austrian Voralpen, a couple hours outside of Vienna. In darker areas like this, the Constellation Orion (M42) pictured is even one of the nebulae that can be seen without any aid or equipment.
Rhemann would also go to Namibia in Southwest Africa to photograph how the skies looked from the Kalahari Desert, a large open stretch of land, experimenting with what worked best. The Constellation Sagittarius (M8) here, also known as the Lagoon Nebula, is very hard to see just with the naked eye.
Eventually, Rhemann built a fully remote controlled observatory in 2010 near his home in Vienna, which he began to use frequently. This is the Constellation Gemini (M35 and NGC 2158), discovered by French astronomer Charles Messier in 1764.
Rhemann has software in the observatory that points his electronic telescope to the part of the sky that he wishes to photograph. The Constellation Andromeda (M31) here is the closest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way and is the furthest space object you can see from Earth with an unaided eye under the right conditions. What he chooses to capture depends heavily on the season and altitude of which galaxy, nebula, or star he is shooting.
The telescope looks at the weather monitoring within the system of the observatory to see if the sky is clear. If it is, the roof opens after Rhemann programs the software for all the correct technical settings. An open cluster of stars is shown here in Constellation Gemini (M35 and NGC 2158). The mount in the observatory moves the telescope around during the process and autofocuses along the way, able to get focus on stars.
The Constellation Hydra (M83) is hardly visible to the eye from northern latitudes. Sometimes, to get the right exposure, it can take Rhemann's camera multiple hours.
This image involved capturing the nebula and star clusters around the Rho Ophiuchi as part of Constellation Scorpius and Ophiuchi, which is known for its colourful clouds. During the length of the exposure, Rhemann has to keep track of the total time, which he breaks up to capture the image through different filters and colours of the part of the sky he is looking at. This includes taking shots with different layers of luminance (red, green, blue, and alpha). There are a lot of technicalities in setting it up and capturing the photos.
The Comet Hale Bopp seen here is one of the most popular comets of the 20th century. According to Rhemann, one of the most difficult things to photograph in astrophotography is comets. But Rhemann isn't phased by the difficulty. 'I dare to say that I'm one of the leading comet photographers around the world,' Rhemann tells Business Insider.
Here's one of his shots of Constellation Monoceros (NGC2170), which has been around since forming 6 to 10 million years ago.
Rhemann also captured this photo of Constellation Corona Australis (NGC6726), one of the smallest constellations in the sky.
He snapped this shot of Constellation Aquarius (NGC7293), which has been nicknamed the 'Eye of God.'
Rhemann took this image of Constellation Cygnus (NGC6960), which lies on the plane of the Milky Way and gets its name from the Latin word for 'swan.' This particular section is known as the 'Witch's Broom Nebula.' The pink looking gas is atomic-hydrogen and the blue is oxygen - both coming from explosive interstellar shock waves going through the nebula, which spans about 35 light-years. The bright star in the center is 52 Cygni, a triple star system.
The Constellation Tucana here shows a Small Magellanic Cloud and 47 Tucanae cluster. The cloud is actually 12 times more distant than the cluster. While he's still taking photos from his observatory in Vienna, Rhemann's next move is to concentrate more south of Austria. Next, Rhemann plans to install a remote-controlled observatory in Chile.
In Chile, he will search the sky for more dazzling comets. The Constellation Scorpius (Sh2-1), pictured below, is one of the southern hemisphere objects he's already captured. With the northern hemisphere being the more popular place for exploration, who knows what else he will discover from his new location.
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