It sits among the stars and distant galaxies in this picture — the Headphone Nebula is the subject of Ron Brecher’s image that won Photo of the Week on May 14, 2021.
Also known as Jones-Emberson 1 and catalogued as PK 164+31.1, Brecher writes on his website that the object is a northern planetary nebula. It is located about 1,600 light years away in Lynx, and the red and green glows are mainly due to emissions from hydrogen and oxygen atoms, respectively.
“This image includes galaxies that lie millions of light years away, thousands of times further away than the nebula,” he writes. “Look for streaks and smudges that look obviously different from the sharper, rounder stars.”
The total integration time for the image was 31 hours and 55 minutes:
- Luminance: 32 × 10 minutes, totalling five hours and 20 minutes
- Hydrogen-alpha: 42 × 10 minutes, totalling seven hours
- Oxygen III: 38 × 10 minutes, totalling six hours and 20 minutes
- Chrominance: 159 × 5 minutes, totalling 13 hours and 15 minutes
More imaging details can be found on Brecher’s website.
Our runner up this week is an astrophoto of Markarian’s Chain by Dan Kusz, caught from Vernon, British Columbia.
“Markarian’s Chain is a stretch of galaxies that forms part of the Virgo Cluster,” Kusz wrote. “When viewed from Earth, the galaxies lie along a smoothly curved line. Charles Messier first discovered two of the galaxies, M84 and M86, in 1781.”
Kusz said that after 44 days straight of clouds, he noticed clear skies when he ran out to to his car to grab something.
“I look up — oh my gosh! I see stars!” he wrote. “I run back in, toss the gear outside —only my Esprit 80 was ready. Fastest polar alignment in history and no Moon. Slim pickings on what to shoot at the spur of the moment, but I found something on my list for later this year and the Moon and weather co-operated. I was able to frame the ‘chain’ as to pull the viewer into the picture as the ‘chain’ tapers off into the distance moving from lower left to upper right of the frame.”
Kusz said although the integration was quick — only 3.8 hours — he captured imaging data around the zenith and the seeing was good.
“I was surprised to see so many faint galaxies,” he wrote. “Actually, I was taken back. How vast the universe is, even from this little patch of sky.”
Kusz captured the image with a ZWO ASI1600MM Pro on a Sky-Watcher Esprit 80 (400mm, f/5). The total integration time was 3.8 hours in luminance (20 × 60 seconds) and RGB (35 × 60 seconds each filter).
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!