StormEffects

Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti


 IC 4592 - Blue Horsehead Nebula

Reflection Nebula

Scorpius

 

The Blue Horsehead Nebula (IC 4592) is a faint reflection nebula of about 40 light-years across, located some 420 light-years away from Earth in the southern constellation of Scorpius, near the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.  The nebula, which is made up of small interstellar dust particles, is illuminated by the star at the horse's "eye" -Nu Scorpii (Jabbah). This image also shows a second reflection nebula, IC 4601 at the horses "ear".  The entire area is part of a large molecular cloud in Scorpius and Ophiuchus, which is a stellar nursery.

Despite its colorful beauty, IC 4592 is not commonly photographed. This is probably due to its close proximity to the even more colorful Rho Ophiuchi nebula. As it happens, IC 4592 is part of the Rho Ophiuchi complex.

North is down in the above image.

IMAGE DETAILS:

  • Date & Location:  March 12, 2016 - StarEffects Observatory - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm winds, average temp of 35F.

  • Sky Conditions:  Patchy Cirrus with Average Transparency. 

  • SQM-L:  Start 20:48 - Finish 20:14 near sunrise. 

  • Optics:  Canon 70-200mm f2.8L @ 200mm f3.2

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

  • Mount:  AP-900-GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion Star Shoot - 5 second exposures

  • Camera:  Canon 6D AstroHutech Modified- Full Frame DSLR

  • Exposure:  30 x 3.5 min ISO400  (total 105 min)

  • Calibration Frames:  Darks, Bias 40F - 11 Alnitak Field Flats Used

  • Processing:    Images Plus 5.75a, PS CS6, NIK filter tools 

  • Comments:  The above image was my second attempt at the Blue Horsehead nebula.  My first attempt (below) was from darker skies in northern PA, but the sky conditions, higher temperature, and a high ISO of 1600 along with an overly processed imaged yielded less than desirable results.  The above image was shot using a lower ISO (400) and was shot is much cooler conditions, but under more light polluted skies in southern PA and utilized better processing methods including a Layer Mask to separate the nebula from the stars.  The end result was a cleaner image, but still not as detailed as I would have liked.  The best results could be achieved from darker skies in the cooler mornings of March, preferable from light frames taken on several mornings. 

Previous Attempt Below

 

Although photographed in July, this object really needs to be photographed during the early morning hours of March!  In July the Blue Horsehead transits just about the time astronomical twilight ends...about 10pm EDT.  This doesn't give very much time to capture enough photons as this faint object  rapidly sinks into murkier skies near the horizon at 40 degrees north latitude. 

IMAGE DETAILS:

  • Date & Location:  July 11, 2015 - Bradford County, PA

  • Weather:  Calm winds, average temp of 68F

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with Average Transparency. 

  • SQM-L:  Average 21.15

  • Optics:  Canon 70-200mm f2.8L @ 200mm f3.2

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

  • Mount:  iOptron IeQ30pro

  • Guiding:  None - PPEC set

  • Camera:  Canon 6D AstroHutech Modified- Full Frame DSLR

  • Exposure:  25 x 3min ISO1600  (total 75 min)

  • Calibration Frames:  Darks, Bias 70F - No Flats Used

  • Processing:    Images Plus 5.75a, PS CS6, NIK filter tools 

  • Comments:  This is a target that I had wanted to image for quite some time.  Although I traveled to a darker sky site in northern Pa, sky conditions were not the best on this particular night.  This combined with limited exposures that did not start until well after transit occurred  resulted in a less than desirable image.  I'll need to plan another imaging session of this target earlier in the year at a time when more images can be obtained both before and after transit, and hopefully under better sky conditions as well!

Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

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