I feel like talking about the North America Nebula. Like all nebulae, this one has its own quirks and quarks to it. It's really close to the star Deneb (part of the asterism, The Summer Triangle), and shines at magnitude 4. Magnitude 4 objects are just barely visible to the naked eye; for perspective, the bright orange star at the bottom-right is the star ξ-Cyg, which shines at 3.75 magnitude, just a tad brighter, and clearly visible if you have a dark sky. But the light North America Nebula (an emission nebula) is terribly diffuse, and is spread out over a region that occupies more of the sky than the full moon! Like butter, scraped over too much bread, the light is simply too thin to see with the naked eye. Through my 8" reflector, I can just barely make out a slightly grey blur.
But, when I point the camera at it, even a 2-minute exposure can reveal a lot of gorgeous colour.
This is because a camera can collect all the photons I tell it to, and pile them on top of each other until they reveal shapes that my eyeballs just can't. Our brains are designed to process visual stimuli real-time: collecting, processing and interpreting data at a constant rate. Cameras act like light buckets, and can reveal super-rad images that in reality, are surrounding us at all times.
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