Monday, September 29, 2008

Cygnus Widefield

Continuing with my 20D and 50mm setup, I moved on from the Double Cluster to the region around Deneb (alpha Cygni) and the nebula with the most canny resemblance to its namesake, the North American Nebula. I've tried this region out with my 10D in the past, and have been pleasantly surprised with the results, so I was hoping for better things this time.

Set up in my back garden, equipped with an Astronomix CLS light pollution filter, I pointed the camera straight up and let it record 50 frames, each of 60 seconds - as with the Double Cluster, any longer and there was no benefit due to the quarter moon rising. Incidentally, while this was going on I actually undertook some visual observing for once! Lying on the sun lounger I worked my way around the familiar clusters and double stars of the summer sky, and also undertook some detailed observations of the Lunar terminator as well (more on that in another post perhaps). Anyway, a couple of hours later and the light and dark frames had been safely captured and I could retire for the night. Job done (for now!).

Stacking was done using the excellent Deep Sky
Stacker, and most of the processing with PixInsight LE and final composition and balancing with Photoshop. Yet again, I was impressed with what such humble equipment could achieve! There are just sooooo many stars in that region of the Milky Way! Here's the results at any rate.

Just as normal, I like to fire up Patrick Chevelley's excellent Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts) to see what I've captured. NGC7000 was immediately obvious - being the brightest hydrogen alpha region in the area that was to be expected! There was also a massive cloud of stars just further down away from Deneb which I'm sure must have some name or designation ... it does contain NGC 7039 - an open cluster - but when seen in this image it looks hard not to think the cluster is just part of another, more massive, grouping out there. One assumes that NGC 7039 is gravitationally bound and the rest of the stars are just a line of sight efffect looking through the plane of the Milky Way. There even seem to be darker dust lanes just eating into the side and edging into the middle of the stellar collection in places. Before I go further, here's an annotated version to compare my notes with.

The Pelican nebula (IC 5070) and adjoining IC 5068 are readily visible, as is the wonderfully sounding (and looking) Butterfly Nebula (IC 1318). Definitely worth a closer look at some point in the future! Continuing past the Butterfly along the main body of Cygnus you come to the area that houses the Crescent Nebula - too small to be seen directly here, but the hydrogen alpha complex it lies in s visible as a small reddish blob. In fact, there is lots of nebulosity around this region, including IC 1311, but with the current response of my 20D to this hydrogen light, that's about all I'm going to be able to see for now.

One final capture was that of the edge of the Veil Nebula on the extreme right hand edge of the image - again, another future target to explore!

I'm rather enjoying this imaging lark - there's just so much that you can do without having to spend massive amounts of money on fancy kit. I've not even attached it to a telescope yet :) So, the next logical stop must be to use my ED80 refractor as a lens and shoot through it at prime focus .... we can then get a bit closer to a number of these interesting objects in the summer skies!


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