An image of Messier 8, the Lagoon Nebula, produced by Stuart Heggie using data collected by The RASC Robotic Telescope. | SkyNews
Stuart Heggie produced this example image of Messier 8 using the data provided in this contest. (Stuart Heggie/RASC Robotic Telescope)

SkyNews image editing contest: September 2021

We’ve collected the data. All you need is the software and to get ready to create your own version of the Universe.

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of our Photo of the Week contest, SkyNews is buying time on the RASC Robotic Telescope, using it to gather amazing data and sharing it with our readers for free.

Each month, we will release data packages for one deep-sky object. Process the data, send it back to us and you’ll be entered into our astrophoto editing contest for the month. Our judges will choose the image that wins a SkyNews prize pack, including access to RASC Robotic Telescope data for the year.

An image of Messier 8, the Lagoon Nebula, produced by Stuart Heggie using data collected by The RASC Robotic Telescope. | SkyNews
Stuart Heggie produced this example image of Messier 8 using the data provided in this contest. (Stuart Heggie/RASC Robotic Telescope)

Our first object: Messier 8

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. 

The Lagoon Nebula, found in Sagittarius, has an apparent magnitude of 6 and is about 90 arcminutes wide. For the image data being used in the contest, the RASC Robotic Telescope collected 12 hours of data (Hydrogen-alpha: 4 hours; Luminance: 4 hours; RGB: 4 hours).

A diagram showing where to find the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) in Sagittarius. | SkyNews
Messier 8, or the Lagoon Nebula, in Sagittarius (Allendria Brunjes, Stellarium)

Located near Auberry, California, The RASC Robotic Telescope is a 16-inch, f/8.9 RCOS with a SBIG STX-16803 camera on a Paramount ME mount. It has seven filters: LRGB, Hydrogen-alpha, Oxygen III and Sulphur II. A Canon 6D — used to capture larger targets — is piggy-backed on the scope, sporting a 200mm f/2.8 lens.

The rules

To be eligible, submissions must be received by September 30, 2021. One entry per person. A team of judges will choose the best submission and SkyNews will publish the winning image.

To enter, you can fill out the entry form on the SkyNews website, or you can send your image by e-mail to photo+edit@skynews.ca. Be sure to include your name, contact information and the processing details.

There are no entry fees. This contest is open to residents of Canada only.

The data

The data was released on September 1, 2021. You have until September 30, 2021 to download it, edit it and enter the edited image in our contest.

The prize

The prize for the winner of the astroimage editing contest. | SkyNews
SkyNews prize pack

Each month, SkyNews will be giving the winner a prize package that includes: access to RASC Robotic Telescope data for the year, as well as some essential stargazing tools — a one-year gift subscription to SkyNews (to use or to give to a friend), a SkyNews folding chair, a SkyNews backpack and a SkyNews red light keychain.

The value of the prize pack is about $200.

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