Dan Kusz’s bright, clear image — with a 3D feel — of the familiar Pacman Nebula won our Photo of the Week on March 19, 2021.
Also known as NGC 281, the emission nebula holds the open star cluster IC 1590, and was first identified in 1883 by astronomer E.E. Barnard. Located in Cassiopeia, estimates published in 2014 put the object about 9,200 light-years away from Earth. Kusz noted the nebululosity, 20 × 30 arcminutes in size, is also associated with open cluster IC 1590.
Kusz captured the nebula with a ZWO ASI1600MM Pro camera and a Sky-Watcher Esprit 120 840mm (f/7). Total integration time was 25.7 hours, collected from Vernon, British Columbia.
“This was one of those long projects that had me worried about being able to finish it this season,” he wrote. “I started imaging Hydrogen-alpha on September 30, then bad weather hit and could not finish Oxygen III and Sulphur II until it cleared up again on November 7/8, and finally [collected] RGB data for stars on March 8, 2021. This has been an incredible season for inclement weather!”
Kusz said he enjoyed this target, as it has really good data in all three narrowband channels:
- Hα: 59 subs × 600 seconds each on September 30, 2020
- SII: 43 subs × 600 seconds each on November 7, 2020
- OIII: 43 subs × 600 seconds each on November 8, 2020
- RGB: 60 subs × 30 seconds each on for each filter on March 8, 2021
“Each channel also had unique details within, making the detail in the final combine more interesting than I thought,” he wrote. “The strong data in each channel allowed me to really bring out the smaller details and give the larger structures some real depth in the image.”
He said he processed the image almost entirely in PixInsight, and he did the final colour work in Adobe Photoshop.
“The OIII channel surrounded by the strong Hα and SII, I found, gave the image some really nice contrast and a 3D feeling to the final image,” he wrote.
Jason Dain’s peaceful shot of the Milky Way from Bayswater, Nova Scotia, got the judges’ honourable mention this week.
Using a Nikon D850 and a 20mm f/1.8 lens at f/2.5 and ISO 3200, Dain captured 12 10-second exposures on March 8, 2021. He stacked the images in Sequator and edited the stacked master in Photoshop.
“I had planned to capture the Milky Way after a night of deep sky astrophotography,” he wrote. “I knew the Moon was coming up, but dismissed it as I figured it would be well out of the frame where I was shooting. Boy, was I wrong. Around 4:15 a.m. this morning, I started taking down my equipment so I could walk down to the sort to capture the Milky Way before astronomical twilight. After getting mostly packed up, I caught something bright on the horizon out of the corner of my eye. A nice orange crescent moon was rising out of the water right in the middle of my planned shot. I shouted a few obscenities to the night sky and continued to pack up. I went down to the water anyway and managed to capture this scene with the Moon rising below the Milky Way.”
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.