Adriano Almeida’s crisp and clear image of the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula won the Photo of the Week title on June 4, 2021.
Located in Cepheus, the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula and the encompassing IC 1396 region is a rather complex area of space. The narrow, dark nebula lit around its edges — the one that twists toward the centre and gives the Elephant’s Trunk its name — is officially designated IC 1396A and is also known as vdB 142. A hot triplet star system, HD 206267A — itself a part of the larger system HD 206267 system — is located within IC 1396.
Almeida captured the nebula with a ZWO ASI2600MC and a William Optics RedCat 51 apochromatic telescope (f/4.9). He captured 10 hours and 40 minutes of data from his Bortle 8 backyard in Mississauga, Ontario, on May 12, 2021.
Almeida said overall, it was a fun and rewarding project to help launch him back into wide-field Milky Way season. He noted he especially loves the hint of dark dust lanes that were picked up outside of the object and towards the edges of the Hydrogen-alpha + HOO composition
“It was such a great feeling to start imaging nebulae again after the winter/galaxy season,” he wrote. “I hadn’t used the wider RedCat in a few months, but we experienced a series of amazing clear nights with little to no moonlight in early May, so I set up every mount and telescope I had. I managed four evenings on this target from May 9-12 and ended up with just under 11 hours of raw data to work with.
“I found that even the best duo-band and tri-band filters don’t yield the best separation of elements straight out of the camera, so I had been learning to use Astro Pixel Processor and tried the Hα/Oxygen III extraction tool that APP offers. This gave me very defined separate files for each band, which I then recombined in Photoshop to my taste.”
Our runner-up this week was Stuart Heggie’s image of the Flying Bat and Squid Nebulae, a difficult target to capture.
Sh2-129, the Flying Bat Nebula, is a relatively faint emission nebula in Cepheus, a neighbour of the larger and more often imaged IC 1396, the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula. The planetary nebula Ou4 — or the Squid Nebula — was discovered by amateur astronomer Nicolas Outters in June 2011.
Using a Moravian G4 and a AP155EDF (f/7.1) and shooting from Lucknow, Ontario, Heggie captured just over 41 hours of data over nine nights in early 2021:
- Red, 24 / Green, 16 / Blue, 23 exposures × 10 minutes each
- 29 exposures × 10 minutes each for luminance
- 33 × 20 minutes for Hydrogen-alpha
- 45 × 20 minutes for Oxygen III
He said he acquired the image CCD Commander and TheSkyX, and conducted calibration and initial processing in PixInsight. The final processing of the image was done in in Photoshop CC 2021.
Keep your eyes on the skies — and on the prize! In the coming months, we’ll be announcing the sponsors for the 2021-22 SkyNews Photo of the Week contest. In the meantime, you can submit your astrophotography here!