The Photo of the Week winner for March 4, 2022, Dan Kusz crawled through 14 hours of data to bring us this clear and crisp look at the smoky Gecko Nebula.
LBN 437 is a nebulous complex fittingly located in the constellation Lacerta, the Lizard. It is known as the Gecko Nebula and is often seen with the large, red emission nebula Sh2-126 that runs through the frame of this week’s winner.
Dan Kusz said this was his first attempt at capturing a “dark” nebula object like the Gecko Nebula. This proved challenging, as Kusz noted.
“I struggled to get the proper length of sub exposure to not blow out the star and to pick up as much of the dust as possible. Settling on 120-second subs from Bortle 5 seemed to work the best,” Kusz said.
Due to the image containing many elements, Kusz said it required “special and separate processing to bring out (the image) in full detail.” Kusz captured the image from Vernon, British Columbia, between October 30 and 31, and November 1, 2021, with a total integration time of 14 hours. He used a Sky-Watcher Esprit 120 reduced to 647mm and a ZWO ASI2600MM Pro.
“I completely changed my workflow for this type of target, and I’m happy with the result,” he wrote. “This opens up so many more target options with these type of nebula being widespread all year around.”
This week’s honourable mention goes to Stephan Hamel, who captured the ominous IC 2118.
Commonly referred to as the Witch Head Nebula, it is located 900 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Orion.
Scientists believe that the Witch Head Nebula could be the remnant of an ancient supernova, and is categorized as a reflection nebula, and the nearby Rigel shines bright on the gas and dust to create the reflection. Dust grains in the nebula reflect blue light more efficiently than red, giving the nebula a distinct blue-purple look. A similar process causes Earth’s daytime sky to appear blue.
Hamel said it took two years to get the perfect conditions to capture this image of the nebula, and it took two bone-chilling -25 C nights to collect six hours of data. Hamel said he used an 80mm Explore Scientific telescope and a ZWO ASI2600MC.
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Prizes for the 2021-22 SkyNews Photo of the Week contest are sponsored by Sky-Watcher, Celestron, iOptron, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and SkyNews. Find out more about the amazing telescopes, prize packages and gift vouchers awarded to the best photos this year.