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IC 2177, The Seagull Nebula

April 16, 2012 Leave a comment

This is a narrowband image of the nebula IC 2177, known as the Seagull Nebula.  Frankly, I think it looks a lot more like a parrot, even a phoenix (which would be a more dramatic name), but it’s hard to deny that it looks like a bird of some kind. It’s just a terrifically photogenic deep-sky object.

Also going for it is the fact that it was discovered by an amateur, Isaac Roberts, who published what Wikipedia calls ” the first popular account of celestial photography of the deep sky” in 1893.  I was going to complain that it took me four nights to collect the data for this image, but I’m sure Mr. Roberts had it a lot tougher than me back in the day.

Click to enlarge

Image data:

Exposures:  28 x 600s Ha , 23 x 900s O-III, 17 x 900s S-II (14h 40m total), all binned 2×2

Software:  guiding by PHD, stacking in DeepSkyStacker, processing in Photoshop CS3

Telescope:  Borg 77EDII 330mm f/4.3

Camera:  SBIG ST-8300M with Baader standard narrowband filters

Mount:  CGEM

Taken March 17, 18, 19, and 22, 2012 from Whitehouse Station, NJ.

IC405 and IC410 in narrowband

March 17, 2012 Leave a comment

This image represents four nights of exposures, including plenty of human errors and adjustments along the way.  Ultimately, 11 hours of exposures went into the final image, though I took about 20.  This became more of a project than I thought it would!

IC405 (right) is known as the Flaming Star Nebula.  I don’t know if IC410 has a nickname, but people call the two little gas squiggles near the top The Tadpoles (not to be confused with the interacting galaxies with the same nickname).  I wanted to capture both in one frame, which is just barely doable at 330 mm with the Borg 77EDII.  In H-alpha, these are both reasonably bright, but the O-III and S-II data are very dim.  In fact, I took two nights of exposures, split equally among the three filters, before I realized that 10 minutes binned 2×2 wasn’t giving me enough O-III or S-II to stretch.  The histogram was so narrow, the nebulosity pulled into a few discrete levels, even at 16 bits.  So I went back and took two more nights of just O-III and S-II, but binned 3×3.  This sacrifice in resolution was less than ideal (it’s a ridiculous 10″ per pixel), but I drizzled the resulting frames to pull a little more detail out, then combined it back with the H-alpha at the original resolution.  I don’t even want to talk about the night of data I lost because I forgot to check the “autosave” box in CCDSoft.  Then I processed the heck out of it, and though I’m less than thrilled with the final result, it’s time to let this one go until next year.

Image data:

Exposures:  23 x 600s Ha binned 2×2, 23 x 600s O-III binned 3×3, 20 x 600s S-II binned 3×3, a total of 11h 0m

Software:  guiding by PHD, stacking in DeepSkyStacker, processing in Photoshop CS3

Telescope:  Borg 77EDII 330mm f/4.3

Camera:  SBIG ST-8300M with Baader standard narrowband filters

Mount:  CGEM

Taken March 5-6 and 13-14, 2012 from Whitehouse Station, NJ.

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