Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

IC 348 Star Forming Region

Reflection - Dark Nebula Complex



IC 348 is an open star cluster with Nebulosity in the constellation of Perseus. The core of the cluster is in the upper left portion of this image. The bright star is Omicron Persei, commonly known as Atik, a 3.85 magnitude white giant star with a surface temperature of 46.700F.  IC 348 is a young star forming region whose age is estimated at about 2 million years and is located about 1,000 light years distant from Earth.   In this wide field image, the broader dust areas of this region can be see extending to the right and include the dark nebula Barnard 3 & 4.  What makes this field so fascinating is not only what is seen, but also the hints of activity hidden amid the darkness. This great molecular cloud harbors the formation of new solar systems.

A difficult target to process, the dust swaths are very faint so the image needs to be stretched strongly, this makes it very difficult keeping the brighter stars controlled, particularly Atik from blowing out completely in size and brightness. Image was captured over a three night period and required nearly 5 hours of exposure time in order to bring out the faint dust swaths.   North is up. 


  • Date & Location:  Dec  26,  27/28,  30/31, 2013  - StarEffects Observatory, Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm, Average temperature 22F for all four nights.

  • Sky Conditions:  Patchy thin clouds on the 26th, below average trans.  Clear, average transparency other 2 nights.

  • SQM-L:  N1 19.79 start - 19.89 end / N2 20:17 - 20:26 / N3 20:34 - 20:35

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor 432mm @ f4.3

  • Filter:  CLS-CCD Astronomic DSLR clip in  (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion SSAG @ 5 second exposures w/TeleVue TV60is

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500D) Hap Griffin Modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  296 min (37 x 8 minute subs = 4hrs-56min total) @ ISO 800 RAW using Custom White Balance

  • Calibration Frames:  12-10min Darks, 12 Bias, 10 Field Flats w/Alnitak Flat Man - All Custom White Balance

  • Processing:  Images Plus 4.50b, PS CS6, NIK filters, RCastro

  • Comments:  This was another challenging target much better suited to darker sky sites.  A fresh snow pack and local Christmas lights added to the local light pollution resulting in lower than normal SQM dark sky readings for this time of the year. 


Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors