Category Archives: nebulae

Merope & Tempel’s Nebula (NGC1435)

Image centred at:
RA: 03° 46′ 18″
Dec: +23° 56′ 04″
Field of view: 25.46′ x 18.82′

Merope & NGC1435 (Tempel's Nebula)The Pleiades open cluster in Taurus is one of the brightest and most recognisable objects int he winter sky. As a first LRGB image using the 14″ Newtonian, and to test the setup of the off-axis guider, I imaged the area around Merope (23 Tau). This was also the first use of a Bahtinov mask that I got laser cut by Oxford Hackspace. The focusing mask works excellently – this should be a real plus, especially for any planetary/lunar work.

The particular area of nebulosity imaged here around Merope was discovered by Wilhelm Tempel on October 19th, 1859, and is catalogued as NGC1435. The dust isn’t in fact the nebula from which the cluster formed, rather that the Pleiades happen to be travelling through a particularly dense part of interstellar medium. This dust scatters blue light from the cluster members, resulting in the reflection nebula visible to us.

The image shows strong diffraction spikes from the secondary spider, as would be expected. There’s also further diffraction visible around the brightest stars dark shadowing present at 60 degree angles, which is the result of the mirror retaining “clips” (they are not actually clips – they are part of the cell in the case of the 9 point Orion Optics mirror cell). To remedy this would require a mask to be added over the outer edge of the mirror to cover these over – this is maybe something I’ll think about making in the future to help deal with tricky situations like this! 

The additional dark shadow pointing to the right appears to be the focuser drawtube intruding on the internal light path inside the scope – that’s probably something that can only be cured by either a shorter drawtube, or shortening the truss tubes. Again. Maybe I’ll wait in case I decide to change coma corrector at some point, in which case it’ll probably need a change to the focal plane position anyway.

The image was taken on the evening of the 7th Jan 2018 through the 14″ (350mm) Newtonian, with an ST2000XM and an MPCC v1 coma corrector. Total exposure was “only” 2h 32m (L: 59m (20x1m, 13x3m), RGB: 31m (10x1m, 7x3m) each channel). Processing in Pixinsight and Photoshop CS4.

Widefield Flaming Star and Spaghetti Nebulae

Widefield Image of The Flaming star Nebula (IC405) region in AurigaThis image was taken on 11th December which was a clear and very cold night (-8C) though skies weren’t as great as they could have been, despite the temperature. A covering of snow from a couple of days before always seems to make for much brighter skies than we’d have otherwise.

I imaged the area around the Flaming Star Neb (IC405) using my modded 350d + Canon 85mm EF combination. This image is 79x5min (6h35m total) at f4, ISO 400, taken through an IDAS P2 filter. This lens is a bit sharper at f4.5, but wanted to try and get as much signal as poss, without completely ruining the stars in the corners of the image. Reduction and processing as usual in PixInsight and Photoshop CS4. 

Widefield of Flaming Star Nebula region in Auriga - red channel, inverse
Widefield of Flaming Star Nebula region in Auriga – red channel, inverse

I offset the framing to have a go at getting the SN remnant Simeis 147, the Spaghetti nebula (Sh2-240). Bearing in mind this is a non narrowband image with an uncooled camera, I’m fairly pleased to see it there (though it is very faint!). It’s a bit clearer in the negative image of the red channel as shown (bottom right) Most definitely one for an H-Alpha filter attempt with a more suitable camera (mono, cooled, low read noise, etc.)! It would have been nice to have M37 not quite so close to the edge though…

Widefield Image of The Flaming star Nebula (IC405) region in Auriga - Annotated

There are lots of other objects in this 15°x10° view, including IC410, M36/37/38, several other Sharpless-2 objects, and dark nebulae. These are highlighted in the annotated image as shown, though there are other objects in the field of view. For example, the obscure “DU77” just to the left (north) of Simeis 147 is just visible in the colour image, and a bit clearer in the negative. 


Belt, Sword, Loop

An area of winter sky that surely needs little introduction. This is a widefield shot of central Orion, showing the three belt stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka and the “sword” (Orion Nebula and the Running Man Nebula). Widefield Image of Orion's belt and sword regionThe whole region is surrounded by the arc of Barnard’s Loop, a 2 million year old supernova remnant (the precursor of this was in a multiple star system and created several “runaway stars” including AE Aurigae, Mu Columbae and 53 Arietis), as well as a multitude of other nebulae and dust clouds that form part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. 

Around Alnitak, the easternmost star of the belt, the Horsehead Nebula (B33) and surrounding hydrogen emission is present, as well as the slightly more orange Flame Nebula (NGC2024) to its east.

Orion's belt and sword region using 85mm lens - annotated image.Also visible is the reflection nebula complex containing M78 and further towards the top of the image is the dark nebula LDN 1622, sometimes called “The Bogeyman”. To the west (right) of the Orion Nebula is Sh2-278, with further fainter areas of nebulosity beyond this surrounding Eta Orionis. These  correspond to members of the LBN catalogue (LBN 907, 910, 915, 919, 937, 942, 945), though much more signal is needed to really get these to show well!

Image was taken on 25th/26th November 2017 from West Oxfordshire. Canon 350d (modded with Baader filter), Canon 85mm EF f1.8 USM lens (at f4.5). Image consists of 21 exposures of 5 min each at ISO 400, totalling 1h45m. Reduction and processing was performed using PixInsight and Photoshop.

Image centred at:
RA: 05h 29m 19s
Dec: +32° 29′ 10″
Field is 15° x 10°


IC1396A – Elephant’s Trunk Nebula

Image centred at ( plate-solve):
RA: 21h 34m 17.296s
Dec: +57° 30′ 37.211″
Up is 2.19° E of N

IC1396 is a very large region of HII emission located in the Milky Way within Cepheus, which spans over 5 degrees of sky. Within IC1396, to the western side, is the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula, known as IC1396A, and VdB 142, which is a reflection nebula at the end of the “trunk”.

IC1396A - The Elephant's Trunk Nebula in Cepheus - LRGBIC1396A itself is a dense globule of gas and dust that appears to be lined by bright pink emission from atomic hydrogen. This emission is due to excitation by the giant triple star system HD 206267 (off field to the left). The globule appears to be an area of star formation, and contains two young stars in the head of the globule that have created a cavity by the action of their own stellar winds. 

These F-type stars provide the illumination for the rare yellow reflection nebula seen in the head of the globule, as well as the radiation causing the pink hydrogen emission within the cavity. The combined action of HD 206267 and the two young stars has resulted in areas of high compression in the nebula, triggering the formation of protostars.

Data was captured on the night of the 21st September 2017 from West Oxfordshire. Image details are as follows:

L:R:G:B = 130:45:35:35
(L:10m subs, RGB: 5m subs, 2x bin)

Taken using a WO FLT110 @ f5.6 with SBIG ST2000XM, on Losmandy Titan.

Processing was performed in Pixinsight – control over the star sizes is tricky here, and I may try and improve on this later. There’s also a (relatively) small amount of data used here – this is certainly a subject that would benefit from adding more exposure (which may also help with star control), as well as H-Alpha data to increase signal and contrast in the emission nebula areas.

Simeis 57 – Propeller Nebula in Cygnus

The Propeller Nebula (Simeis 57) in Cygnus - 7hrs ExposureI had opportunity on the 19th/20th September 2017 to add another 3h40m of exposure to my previous image of the Propeller Nebula (Simeis 57/ DWB111/119) – see “A Crescent and A Propeller” for the previous version. Here is the reprocessed version of the data, taken through an H Alpha filter, which is centered at RA: 20h 16m 08s, DEC: +43° 40′ 42″ (plate-solve from

Simeis 57 - Annotated with Simbad query resultsThe extra time on this subject has brought out some of the fainter background nebulosity and enhanced dark nebulae in the field. The image at left is an annotated image (using the Image Solver and Annotate Image scripts in Pixinsight). As shown, the Propeller itself is catalogued as DWB111 (south) and DWB 119 (north), with DWB118 representing the surrounding nebulosity, with DWB 108 further to the south below the southern “prop”. There are a few catalogued dark nebulae in the field – Dobashi 2501; Dobashi 2511/TGU H469 P16 which sits between DWB118 and DWB 107 (off field to lower left); and TGU H469 P18 to the west of the main nebula. 

For more information about this region, and pretty much the only bit of published research I can find on it(!), see the paper “Israel, F.P. , Kloppenburg, M., Dewdney, P.E., Bally, J. (2003), The peculiar nebula Simeis 57, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 398, 1063 – 1071“.

All data was taken from West Oxfordshire on 9th/10th and 19th/20th September. William Optics FLT110 @f5.6 on a Losmandy Titan, SBIG ST2000XM CCD and an Astrodon 5nm HA filter.