Melotte 15, the “Heart of the Heart Nebula”

The tiny open cluster at the center of the Heart Nebula (IC1805) is known as Melotte 15. But it’s not really the cluster we’re interested in, it’s the amazing, twisty bit of nebulosity there that steals the show.

This image is the combination of data from two scopes: the Vixen R200SS Newtonian and the TS-Optics Photoline 130 refractor. Both have nearly the same focal length (922 and 908mm, respectively) with their correctors included. I shot the same target 48 hours apart in order to do a head-to-head comparison (soon to be written up and posted here), but the results were so good for both scopes, that I just combined them into a single image.

  • Exposures (-10ºC, gain=100):
    • H-alpha: 95×180s (50 from the Photoline 130, 45 from the R200SS)
    • SII: 85×180s (40 from the Photoline 130, 45 from the R200SS)
    • OIII: 100×180s (50 from the Photoline 130, 50 from the R200SS)
    • Total exposure time:  14 hours
  • Taken from Doylestown, PA, Dec 1 and 4, 2022
  • Telescope: Vixen R200SS with Paracorr2 (f/4.6) and TS-Optics Photoline 130 with flattener (f/7)
  • Camera: ZWO ASI2600MM-Pro with Astrodon filters (5 nm)
  • Mount: iOptron CEM60
  • Guiding: ZWO ASI174MM (off-axis)
  • Acquisition: NINA + PHD2 and ASTAP
  • Processing: AstroPixelProcessor, PixInsight

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