Ian Barredo’s image of Messier 8 and Messier 20 captured the Photo of the Week title on July 2, 2021, with strong colour processing and clarity.
Messier 8, the Lagoon Nebula, is located about 5,200 light-years from Earth. It houses the star cluster NGC 6530, the massive stars of which give off enormous amounts of ultraviolet radiation, ionizing the gas and causing it to shine. Messier 20, the Trifid Nebula, is a star-forming nebula located 9,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. In Barredo’s image, the globular cluster NGC 6544 is also visible in the bottom-left corner of the image, located about 8,150 light-years away from Earth.
Barredo said he captured this image from Bortle 4 skies in a Saskatchewan provincial park, shooting while a bright waxing gibbous Moon was in the sky on June 19, 2021.
His telescope was a SharpStar 61mm triplet APO refractor, and he used a ZWO ASI533MC camera with an Optolong L-eXtreme filter. The mount was a Skywatcher AZ-GTi. The total integration time was 1.2 hours.
The close runner-up this week was Benjamin Law’s image of the North America and Pelican Nebulae, also with excellent detail and beautiful stars.
“I think I have spent double amount of time in processing than the overall exposure hours,” Law wrote. “It takes some practice to handle processing SHO data with RGB for natural star colours. There are still lots of rooms for improvement and I will keep trying more on future targets.
Shooting from Bortle 7 skies in southern Ontario, Law said he used a SharpStar 60ED telescope and a ZWO ASI294MM-P camera to capture about 7.3 hours of data:
- Sulphur II: 14 × 600 seconds, 200 gain, -5C
- Hydrogen-alpha: 8 × 600 seconds, 200 gain, -5C
- Oxygen III: 13 × 600 seconds, 200 gain, -5C
- RGB: 10 × 180 seconds each, 200 gain, -5C
- 20 flats for each channel, 30 darks in total
Keep your eyes on the skies — and on the prize! Prizes for the 2020-21 SkyNews Photo of the Week contest are sponsored by Sky-Watcher, Celestron, iOptron and The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Click here for more details on the prize packages that will be awarded to the best photos this year.