Diffuse Nebula
Open Clusters
Misc Objects
About Me


     By Messier Number

          M8, M16, M17, M20, M20 (WF), M42_and_M43, M78

     By NGC Number

          1499, 1788, 1893, 1976_and_1982, 1977, 2024, 2174, 2237, 2170, 6514, 6514 (WF), 6523, 6559, 6589 and 6590, 6611, 6618,
          6888, 6914, 7000, 7023, 7133, 7635

     By IC Number

          59, 63, 410, 417, 1283 and 4, 1316, 2169, 4703, 5076, 5146, 5146 (WF),

     By Sharpless Number

          2-54, 2-101, 2-155, 2-234, 2-237, 2-252, 2-254, 5, 6, and 7, 2-273

     By Other Catalog Number or Designation

          B33, B33 (WF), Bubble, California, Cocoon, Cocoon (WF), Cone, Crescent, Eagle, Flame, Horsehead, Iris, Lagoon,
          LBN529, North America, Rosette, Running Man, Trifid, Tulip, VDB 68, VDB 69


   Sharpless2-237 and NGC 1931

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 48/20/20/20

   Sharpless2-237 is the nebulosity overlapping the open cluster NGC 1931.  It is also known as the Fly Nebula, with IC 417, about 45' away, being the Spider.  It is a mix of emission and reflection nebulosity.

NGC 1931 is a very sparse cluster, consisting of 20 stars in a 6' diameter.  While both objects overlap, the center of 1931 is a little south (below) Sh2-237.  It is often misidentified as being the nebula.

     Half          Full

   IC 5076 and NGC 6991

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 48/16/16/16

   IC 5076 is the diffuse nebula located next to the bright star at the left of the field.  NGC 6991 is a very sparse open cluster occupying most of the field, even running out a little bit on the right. The cluster consists of 35 stars in a 25' diameter.

Megastar describes IC 5076 as an emission nebula, but the color and proximity to the bright star (SAO 50246) make me think it is a reflection nebula instead.  Simbad does describe it as a reflection nebula.

      Half          Full

   M17 (NGC 6618)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 50(40):16:16:16

   M17 has many common names, among them the Omega Nebula, Swan Nebula, Checkmark Nebula, and Horseshoe NebulaWhatever one calls it, it is a beautiful object and easy in even small telescopes.  40 minutes of hydrogen alpha exposure were blended with the luminosity to enhance the detail.  Also, the H-alpha makes the small emission nebulae IC 4707 and 4706 (left to right) in the upper right corner much more obvious.

It is a very active star forming region, similar to the Orion Nebula.  The open cluster NGC 6618 is embedded in the nebulosity.  The cluster covers the entire left two-thirds of the image with an almost equal area beyond the edges, left and below.


        Half          Full

   NGC 2170, VDB 68, and VDB 69

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 48:20:20:20

   NGC 2170 is the bright nebulosity surrounding the star at the lower right.  VDB 68 is the streaky nebulosity just above center, and VDB 69 is the ragged and streaky area below 48 and to the left of 2170.  The streaks are dark nebulae silhouetted against the brighter areas.  In much deeper images, it can be seen that the "streaks" are continuous and reach edge-to-edge.

I tried some H-alpha exposure but it did not seem to add much, so I did not use it.

        Half          Full

   NGC 1788

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 60(40):20:20:20

   NGC 1788 is predominately a reflection nebula but, like many of this type, also includes some area of emission and dark nebulosity.  This nebula has been given a variety of names, including the Foxface, Cosmic Bat, and others.  Take your pick.

I merged 40 minutes of H-alpha date with the luminosity but it made very little difference.  The upper left quadrant of the faint loop above, and the tuft hanging down toward the bright star on the left, were brought out a tiny bit more, but I believe an additional 40 minutes of luminance would have done more.


       Half          Full

   NGC 6604 and Sharpless 2-54

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 30(+ 30 h-alpha):10:10:10

   NGC 6604 is the small (6' diameter), bright open cluster at the center of the field.  The stars are concentrated toward the bottom edge of the cluster.  It contains 105 stars.

The nebulosity throughout the field is just a small part of Sharpless 2-54.  This object is huge, 144' x 78', and quite irregular.  The cluster is located near the southeast end of the nebulosity.

        Half          Full

   NGC 2174 (Sharpless 2-252)

   Astro-Tech AT66ED, ST2000XM, 80:32:32:32, 76' x 102'

   This image was acquired at a JSCAS club star party at Fort McKavett, TX.  NGC 2174 is also known as the Monkey Head Nebula.  If you Google it, you will find links to a spectacular Hubble image of a small part of it.  Just off the upper-left edge of the main portion is the sparse open cluster NGC 2175.  Both of these objects have a lot of uncertainty about the correct and historical names.  See http://martingermano.com/N2174_1024.htm for some excellent research into all the twists and turns in the designations. 

The dark nebula B227 can be seen in the lower right corner, and extends beyond the edges of the field.

        Half          Full

   IC 2169 and Collinder 95

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 30:20:10:20

   IC 2169 is a pretty reflection nebula often overlooked because it is so near the far more spectacular Cone Nebula and Christmas Tree Cluster.  While almost all of the light is from reflection, a little bit of reddish emission shows along the right edge.  Near the right edge of the field, starting about one-third of the way down and continuing out the top, is a dark lane which extends perhaps 30' further in wider field views.  The dust itself can be seen in longer exposures.

Collinder 95 is a large, sparse open cluster overlaying the nebula.  It is 19' in diameter and centered on the brightest star in the middle of the field.  It contains only 10 stars, so very few of the stars seen are cluster members.  As far as I know, the cluster and the nebula are unrelated.

        Half          Full

   Sharpless 2-254, 5, 6, and 7

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 70:85:70

   This is a narrowband image, my first in a long time.  It is shown in the CFHT palette.  For an explanation of the various palette choices, see the Narrowband page.

The largest (and faintest) nebula is Sh 2-254, on the right.  Moving left, the larger nebula in the center is Sh 2-255 and the little tuft below it is 2-256.  On the left, the brightest nebula is Sh 2-257.  This one also has an IC designation, 2162.  The group is dominated by H-alpha emission, but there is some significant SII emission and a tiny amount of OIII as well.  The right-hand buttons below will take you to monochrome H-alpha images.  Each of the nebulae has a fairly bright star near the center which provides the energy that stimulates the emission.

 CFHT:   Half          Full              H-alpha:    Half          Full

   IC 417 (Sharpless 2-234)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 64(+140 H-a):24:24:24

   This is a much improved version of IC 417.  You can see the old image on the Replacements page.  I added 60 additional minutes of H-alpha exposure and increased the weight of the H-alpha in the composite luminosity.

This object consists of a sparse cluster enveloped in a cloud of glowing gas, mostly hydrogen.  It is sometimes called the Spider Nebula, and the nearby object NGC 1931 (outside this field)  is called the Fly.  To me, IC 417 could be called the Angler, if viewed with south up, as it looks like the fish with the huge mouth and wormlike head appendage used as a lure.  The tendril (appendage) heading off to the left edge of the field looks like an tiny emission version of the Cocoon.

This object is, to me, more interesting and attractive in H-alpha than in color. I have included a pure H-alpha image for comparison.  You will notice that the H-alpha field is essentially completely full of nebulosity.  I scaled the background of the color image to remove the faintest nebulosity because the color data in those areas was so weak that it was basically just noise.

       Half          Full        H-a Half          H-a Full

   Sharpless 2-297

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 44(pseudo):32:32:32

   Sh2-297 is a very pretty combination of reflection and emission nebulosity, and it shows some interesting structure.  Surprisingly, it is very rarely imaged.  I found one image which included it as a tiny part of a wide field of the Seagull, and two other close-ups including a spectacular one by Adam Block.  Both of the latter listed it under the one of its alternate designations, Cederblad 90, Gum 3, or LBN 1049.

This is almost a pure RGB but I did accumulate 12 minutes of luminosity and merged that with the 32 minutes of blue to make a pseudoluminosity.

        Half          Full

   IC 5146 (The Cocoon)

   Astro-Tech AT66ED, ST2000XM, 80:32:32:32, 76' x 99'

   I've shot the Cocoon before, but just a a detail of the "head" with my 10-inch.  This image shows almost the whole object, and the rich Milky Way field behind it.  It was made at a JSCAS star party at Fort McKavett, TX during great (but very cold) conditions.  This field spans over 1 1/2 degrees and almost another 1/2 degree of dark tail extends beyond the right edge.  The dark nebulosity is cataloged as Barnard 168.  It's a very large object, and very difficult for visual observers. 

The combination of cold and clouds limited me to this one image at the star party, but it a very enjoyable event anyway.  Lots of good conversation.

        Half          Full

   Sharpless 2-101 (Tulip Nebula)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 60:28:28:28

   The Tulip is the dark cup-shaped nebula just below and right of the yellow and blue pair of stars.  This is a very good narrowband target and I hope to make a NB image someday.  I had planned to include H-alpha in this image but, on my last two luminance exposures, the wind started to blast me.  We were having gusts around 20-25 mph.  I managed to collect usable RGB images by using Sigma Clip stacking.  The next night was even worse, and then I had to leave for home.

        Half          Full

   NGC 7635 (Bubble Nebula)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 48(+48 H-a):24:24:24

   This beautiful object is one that every imager feels the need to capture sooner or later.  It's usually classified as a planetary nebula, but is not really typical of that group.  The red emission nebulosity throughout the field is a cloud of gas, and a little dust, and the Bubble is a shell of that gas that has been pushed away by the stellar wind from the bright star SAO 20575.

It is an excellent target for narrowband imaging.  I used H-alpha to supplement my luminosity image, and it shows a lot of detail.  The monochrome H-alpha image can be seen using the button below.  In the future, I hope to add Oxygen-III and Sulfur-II exposures.

       Half          Full         H-alpha

   NGC 7023 (Iris Nebula)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 104:32:32:32

   Comparing this image with the Bubble image above really emphasizes the difference between emission and reflection nebulae.  Emission nebulae are predominately red, because hydrogen in the nebulae is being stimulated to emit in the H-alpha line.  Reflection nebulae are primarily blue, for the same reason that our sky is blue.  The dust particles reflect blue wavelengths most efficiently.  The Iris shows some slight emission in the outer fringes but is mostly reflection.  Where the reflection has been filtered by dust, it shifts from blue to brown.  Forgetting the technical stuff, this is an attractive object.

The central star is magnitude 7.43 and is spectral class B2V, which puts it in the second hottest class.  There is a tiny open cluster Collinder 427, consisting of 6 stars in a 4' diameter area, in the heart shaped region about 5.5' right of the central star.  Also note the dark nebulosity completely obscuring objects across the top part of the nebula.

        Half          Full

   NGC 6914

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 48:28:28:28

   NGC 6914 and 6914B make up the upper area of reflection nebulosity, while the lower area, near the bottom of the field, is 6914A.  The emission nebulosity filling most of the remainder of the field is, as far as I can determine, anonymous.  It is probably some of the outlying fringes of IC1318.  There are also some large areas of anonymous dark nebulosity distributed over the right half of the field. 

The sparse open cluster on the lower left of 6914A is Dolidze 8, containing 20 stars in a 5.0' diameter area.  As far as I know, the bright tuft of nebulosity on the bottom edge of Dolidze 8 is not named. 

        Half          Full

   NGC 6559

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 48:24:24:24

   NGC 6559 is one of the most photographed celestial objects, but usually as part of a wide field image including the Lagoon and Trifid (M8 and M20).  I don't find may images centered on it.  For my taste, many of the wide field images are too saturated and don't seem natural.  I've tried to keep this one fairly subtle.

The dark nebula up toward the brightest star reminds me of the much larger Snake Nebula but, as far as I can determine, it is just a part of IC 4685 which occupies most of the upper right quarter of the field.  I could not find any common name for it.

When I first spotted the very bright, tiny nebula near the bottom of the field, a little to the right of 6559, I thought I might have discovered something.  But it turns out to be Minkowski 1-41.  I was not able to find much information on it.

        Half          Full

   NGC 6910 and IC 1316

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 30:30:30

   The bright open cluster just above center on the right side of the field is NGC 6910.  It contains about 50 stars in a 7' diameter, and has an integrated magnitude of 7.4.  The nebulosity which fills the field is all part of IC 1318, a huge complex extending 210' x 140'.  Some of it is very spectacular and often the target of wide-field images.  I had expected the tuft on the left side of the image to be brighter.  I took a couple of H-alpha sub-exposures before deciding that they showed no more detail than the red subs, so I didn't continue them, or use them in the final image.

This is a pure RGB image.  The streaks which can be seen in the larger images are reflections from Gamma Cygnus (Sadr), which is only about 21' outside the lower right edge of the field.

         Half          Full

   Cone Nebula

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 60(Halpha):30:30:30

   The Cone is a very well known object but, so far as I know, has no designation in the familiar catalogs of deep-sky objects.  It is a very tiny part of SH2-273 (also cataloged as LBN911) but this nebulosity covers several degrees.  The Cone is about 7 arc minutes from the tip to the rather ill-defined base.  It is, however, an object of extraordinary beauty.  My image really does not do it justice.

I created a pseudo-luminosity frame from a 50-50 combination of the H-alpha and Red frames.  I had not realized how difficult it would be to show the fainter areas and should have made much longer images in all the wave-lengths.  The fainter areas are very noisy.  The pseudo-luminosity image shows the extent of the nebulosity best and it can be seen by clicking on the Mono button below.  The Full Size image is very poor because of the noise, and I almost didn't include it.  View at your own risk!


         Half          Full          Mono

   NGC 7133

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 40:40:40

   This is a pretty reflection nebula that is not frequently imaged.  It does have some emission components -- at the lower left, along the right edge, and at the lower right corner of the very faint reflection nebulosity around the star about 7' left of the main nebula.  To the right and partially overlapping NGC 7133 is the sparse, faint open cluster NGC 7129.  The cluster includes only 10 stars in an 8' diameter, and has a magnitude of 11.5.  The brighter stars within the boundary of the cluster are obviously not considered part of it, since each of the upper two substantially exceed this magnitude individually.  There is also a lot of faint dusty nebulosity to the left and bottom of the image. 

This is a pure RGB image.  No luminosity was included.  

        Half          Full


   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 40(H-alpha):40:40:40

   The Horsehead is an iconic astronomical object, seen in almost every astronomy book.  While dramatic in photographs and images, it is a nearly impossible object visually, as there is almost no contrast between the dark nebula, B33, and the red emission nebula, IC 434.  To even glimpse it through a telescope is considered exceptional.  The field also includes a bright reflection nebula, NGC 2023, in the upper left corner.

In order to show the stars in the field, the H-alpha image was merged with an average of the RGB images, to create a pseudo-luminosity frame.

        Half          Full

   IC 5146 (Cocoon)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 80:32:32:32

   The Cocoon is a large and beautiful object, at the end of a long, winding dark nebula, Barnard 168.  Only a small part of the complex is contained in this image but it is by far the most colorful part.  Barnard 168 winds for over 2 degrees (about four times the width of this field) to the west (right).  Portions of it can be seen all around the Cocoon itself.  All of the areas with a star density less than what is seen in the upper left quadrant of the image are part of B168.

The Cocoon is primarily an emission nebula but does include a significant reflection component.

This image is dedicated to the Colorado Valley Dark-Sky Explorers, a new astronomy club in Fayette County, TX.  Three of the members were observing with me while this image was being acquired.  

        Half          Full

   NGC 6888 (Crescent Nebula)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 64:36:36:36

   The Crescent is a delicate and beautiful object, similar in appearance to sections of the Veil, but is far smaller and fainter.  It is one of the faintest objects that I have imaged.  The Cocoon, above, is certainly not bright but a 30 sec. exposure of the Cocoon shows more than an 8 min. exposure of the Crescent.

This object is formed by the fast stellar wind from the bright blue-white star near the center of the nebula colliding with gas that was ejected at a slower speed earlier in the star's life cycle.  This is the Wolf-Rayet star WR136 (HD 192163).  Wolf-Rayet stars are massive, well into their life cycle, and very hot.

        Half          Full

   IC 59

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 40:40:40

   This image and the one below will be discussed together because they are adjacent objects.  The lower left corner of this image overlaps the upper right part of the IC 63 image.  They are often imaged together using either a shorter focal length telescope or a camera with a bigger chip, or both.  I could almost fit them both on my chip but they would have been right in the corners, and a little bit would have been cut off.  The blue-green glow at the bottom of this image and in the lower right corner of the IC 63 image is nebulosity surrounding Gamma Cassiopeia.  It is mostly reflection nebulosity but the greenish tinge indicates there is probably some OIII emission involved.  Someday I'll do a narrow-band version to see if I'm right.  IC 59 has a very ethereal appearance.  It is primarily a reflection nebula but faint H-alpha emission can be seen all around the edges, and some mixed in to the reflecting regions.

This is a pure RGB image.

        Half          Full

   IC 63

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 48:20:20:20

   IC 63 provides an interesting contrast to IC 59, above, since it is almost exclusively an emission nebula.  There are a few small areas of reflection but nothing like IC 59.  The shape shows clearly the result of stellar winds from Gamma Cassiopeia.  While these are the most prominent objects, the entire area for a couple of degrees around Gamma is full of nebulosity.

This image is an LRGB and the total time is very similar to that for IC 59.  In the past, I have found that pure RGB images give richer colors for diffuse nebulae but I don't find that very obvious in this case.

        Half          Full

   NGC 6589 and 6590, IC 1283/4

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 32:32:24

   NGC 6590 is the brightest reflection nebula at the bottom of the field.  NGC 6589 is the reflection nebula above 6590 and NGC 1283/4 is the red emission nebula occupying most of the field.  6590 includes a very dark absorption feature while the left side of 6589 fades into a large area of partial absorption. There has been a lot of debate over the correct names for the two NGC objects, and it continues today, but the names used here seem to be the most widely accepted.

This image was planned for 32:32:32, and I hoped to get a bit of H-alpha as well, but it went into the trees at my site after only 24 minutes of blue.

About 4' east of NGC 6590 is a tiny wisp of unnamed nebulosity.  It is not visible in this thumbnail image, and can barely be detected in the half and full size images.  I've included a high contrast close up (the Mini Nebula button) but it is really rough and noisy.  I'm fairly certain that the grey wisps are just noise, so concentrate on the red parts of the object.  See http://www.capella-observatory.com/ImageHTMLs/DiffuseNebula/NGC6589.htm for a couple of superb images.  I'm including it to encourage others with better equipment to check it out because, even with the deficiencies of my image, it seems like the object has changed slightly in shape and/or position since the earlier images.

         Half          Full          Mini Nebula

   M20 (Trifid, NGC 6514)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 32:32:32

   M20, the Trifid, is a beautiful combination of pink emission nebulosity and a blue reflection nebula.  The name comes from its visual appearance in small telescopes which shows the division of the lower nebula into three sections -- in the image, four sections are seen.  This is a pure RGB image, which I feel produces richer colors than LRGB with bright objects.  The colors of the nebulosity are the most obvious feature of this object, but the range of star colors in and around the nebula are very attractive.

The half size image is shown with a little less stretching to deemphasize the surrounding nebulosity and make the appearance more like older film images you may have seen.  In fact, all of the images are presented with very mild stretch -- the field is filled with nebulosity from edge to edge.  Farther down on this page, there is a wide field image which includes both M20 and M21, taken with a smaller telescope.  It does not show the extent and detail that this one does.

         Half          Full

   NGC 2237 (Rosette) and NGC 2244

   Astro-Tech AT66ED, ST2000XM, 230:62(+70 H-a):58:58 minutes, 61' x 94'

   The Rosette nebula itself is generally assigned the designation NGC 2237, but over the years some of the brighter parts were cataloged separately as NGC 2238, 2239, and 2246. The bright open cluster essentially at the center of the nebula is NGC 2244.  This image was acquired at three locations: the luminance at my home, observatory, and Fort McKavett, TX, and the color (including H-alpha) at Fort McKavett.  The H-alpha enhanced version is shown in this thumbnail.  Al Kelly helped with the processing of this image.  In addition to this version, there are buttons below that link to a pure H-alpha monochrome.

Although bright, the Rosette can be a very difficult object visually because the light is spread out over more than a degree.  A little light pollution washes it out, but in very dark skies it can be seen with binoculars.  Don't expect to see any color, though.

LRGB + H:    Half          Full         H-alpha:    Half       Full

   NGC 1977 (Running Man)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 32:32:32

   This beautiful diffuse nebula is not often viewed, probably because it is relatively faint and only half a degree north of the much better known M42.  But it has a lot to recommend it -- intricate structure, beautiful colors, and an unusual "nebular asterism" at its center.  If you are good at seeing shapes in clouds, you will be able to trace out the Running Man near the center.  Clues -- one foot is right above the brightest yellowish star and the other knee is just right of the brightest blue star.  The head has two faint stars making perfect eyes.

This image is a pure RGB.  No luminosity was used.  I pushed the saturation (color intensity) quite a bit higher than I usually do, to make the Running Man stand out better.  Also, if you look carefully, there are a lot of faint streaks running left-right in the brown dusty nebulosity at the bottom.  There was a geosynchronous satellite trail in almost every sub-exposure, and several of them had 3 or 4.  My processing software almost got rid of them, but not quite.   

         Half          Full

   Sharpless2-155 (LBN 529)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 64:48(+32 H-a):40:40

   This bright nebula in Cephus is part of an extended faint cloud of emission, reflection, and obscuring nebulosity covering a large region of the sky in the area.  Only the brighter portions are listed in the familiar catalogs.

There is a lot of H-alpha emission from this object and the links below include a version where I added 32 min. of H-alpha exposure to both the luminosity and red image sets.  This shows the brighter areas much more dramatically.

 LRGB:   Half          Full              LRGB + H:    Half          Full

   IC 4703 (Eagle) and NGC 6611 -- together, M16

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 60:32(+32 H-a):28:28 minutes, 21.6' x 28.3'

   Messier described M16 as a "cluster of small stars enmeshed in a faint light", so it is the combination of two objects given separate designations in modern catalogs.  The nebulosity is IC 4703 while NGC 6611 is the cluster.  There are fascinating tunnels or pillars of dark matter, as well as some more typical dark blobs, throughout the nebula.

I've also included links to a version including some H-alpha exposure.  The H-alpha (32 minutes) was merged with the luminosity and red frames.  No surprise, the image is much redder but, for this object, H-alpha does not add any significant detail not seen in the LRGB image.

These images replace a much shorter, RGB only, image taken with my AT66ED at the 2009 TSP.  They are much better.

 LRGB:   Half          Full              LRGB + H:    Half          Full

   NGC 6523 (M8, Lagoon)

   Astro-Tech AT66ED, ST2000XM, 40:32:32 minutes, 76' x 102'

   The nebulosity in this image extends far beyond what is normally considered the extent of the Lagoon, particularly to the east.  The open cluster just east (left) of the brightest area of nebulosity is NGC 6530.  The faint nebulosity at the top of the field, separated from M8 by the broad dust lane, is a portion of NGC 6526.  The three largest dark nebulae within the boundaries of M8 are B88, near the upper edge directly above NGC 6530, B89, just east of 6530, and B296, near the lower edge below 6530.  There are quite a few smaller dark nebula scattered all over M8 but I haven't really tried to find out if they've been cataloged.  Also notice the small blue reflection nebula -- look at the half or full size views -- northeast of M8 enveloping two bright stars.  Some sources identify it as IC 4678 but it doesn't appear that there is general agreement on this.

This image was made at TSP and is RGB only.

           Half          Full

   NGC 6514 (M20, Trifid) and NGC 6531 (M21)

   Meade 2045D, ST2000XM, 28:24:24 minutes, 46' x 62'

   The Trifid is a very popular imaging target because of the beautiful color contrast.  The name comes from its visual appearance in small telescopes which show the division of the lower nebula into three sections -- in the image, four sections are seen.

M21 is the extremely blue open cluster in the upper left part of the field.

Like M8, this image was made at TSP using RGB only.

           Half          Full

   IC 410 and NGC 1893

   Meade 2045D, ST2000XM, 72:52:44:44 minutes, 44' x 60'

   IC 410 is a beautiful but faint emission nebula.  It would barely show up using an exposure similar to M20, above, and is a very difficult visual object.  The long straggly open cluster left of the dark center is NGC 1893.

The Tadpole nebulae can be detected near the northwest edge of IC 410, past the cluster and opposite the dark center.  The filters used, and the low resolution, combine to make them very indistinct but you can find them if you know where to look in the full size image.

This is another 2009 TSP image.


           Half          Full

   Horsehead (B33) and Flame (NGC 2024)

   Astro-Tech AT66ED, ST2000XM, 80:28:24:24 minutes, 75' x 102'

   The Flame and Horsehead are well known.  The nebulosity surrounding the star S of the Flame and NE of the Horsehead is NGC 2023, while the large red glow which silhouettes the Horsehead is NGC 434.  IC 432 is the bluish nebula right at the top of the field and IC 435 is at the left (E) edge.  The objects of interest are offset to the east side because I was attempting to include a string of 11 Mitchell Anonymous Galaxies which runs from just E of the NW corner down to the bright star near the bottom of the field.  About half of them are visible but are so tiny that they are not identifiable as galaxies in the image -- they look like faint, slightly blurry stars.

This image was acquired at my observatory and replaces one made at my home in The Woodlands, TX.  While that image was 220:72:64:60, the light pollution is so much worse that this shorter image is better and, in fact, combining the data also produced a poorer image.

           Half          Full   

   M78 (NGC 2068 & 71)

   10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 60:24:16:16 minutes, 21.1' x 28.5'

   Messier 78 is just northeast of the Belt of Orion.  The small reddish nebula, just above the bottom edge of the field, is McNeil's nebula, discovered by amateur Jay McNeil a few years ago.  It has been slowly fading but recently some observer's have noticed a brightening.

There is a very faint meteor trail going right through the center of the field.  I didn't notice it until I had finished my processing and decided to just leave it in.  This image could use a little more RGB exposure but I ran out of time as clouds were rolling in.


           Half          Full

   SH2-273, Christmas Tree Cluster (NGC 2264), Cone, and Trumpler 5

   Astro-Tech AT66ED, ST2000XM, 60:32:28:28 minutes, 76' x 102'

   This is a beautiful and jam-packed field, and is my first image using the AT66 at my observatory.  The bright nebulosity seen throughout the field is SH2-273.  It has an unusual range of colors.  The Christmas Tree cluster is on the left, "upside down" in this N up presentation.  The brightest star is the trunk and the little group at the other end is the "star" at the top.  The Cone Nebula is at the bottom left of the field, just below the "star" on the tree.  It is very small in this thumbnail and not large even in the full size image.  It is an object that I need to image next year with my 10-inch.

Trumpler 5, in the lower right, is a spectacular open cluster, strongly reddened (or yellowed?) by the  dust clouds in our line of sight.  It is one of the most impressive of all open clusters.  There are many dark nebula in the field but the only one that I can find a catalog designation for is B39, right at the top center.

          Half          Full

  M42 and M43 (NGC 1976 & 1982)

   Two versions:
      10-inch Newtonian, ST2000XM, 3:12:10:10 minutes
      Astro-Tech AT66ED, ST2000XM, 92:40:36:32 minutes, 75' x100'

   In the close-up version, M43 is the smaller nebula at the top of the field, just left of center.  The rest of the field is the famous Orion Nebula, M42.  The open cluster NGC 1976 encompasses the entire field.  This is a short exposure but the object is so bright that a lot of time is not needed.

   In the wide-field version, M42, M43, and NGC 1976 are generally centered in the field, and the blue nebula at the top is the southern half of NGC 1975 with it's associated cluster NGC 1977.  The bright cluster of stars at the bottom of the field is open cluster NGC 1980.  Links to both image sets are provided below.

 Close-Up:   Half          Full              Wide-Field:    Half          Full

   California Nebula (NGC 1499)

   Astro-Tech AT66ED, ST2000XM, 45:30:24:24 minutes, 71' x 97'

   I call this view "Central California".  The entire nebula is about twice as long as this field is wide, so only about half of it was captured.  The combination of light pollution at my Woodlands, TX, location, short exposure times relative to the faintness of the object, and the relatively high f/number (6.0) make this a really marginal image.  I plan to go after it again sometime at a dark sky location.  I will also get an H alpha filter at some point; that is how the best pictures of these diffuse nebulae are taken, especially in light polluted locations.


   NGC 7000 (North America nebula)

   Astro-Tech AT66ED, ST2000XM, 18:16:16:16 minutes, 76' x 102'

   This large diffuse nebula in Cygnus is a good target for the telescope/camera combination used, but the exposure time was far too short to produce a quality image.  I plan to add more exposure when I get a chance and would expect to at least triple the time.


                                                                              Back to Top