Elephant’s Trunk?

Elephant's Trunk

I believe the elephant’s trunk is dangling down from the upper middle. This is a composite of 100 2-minute exposures; processed with Pixinsight and Gimp.  Better pictures taken by more experienced amateurs with better equipment can be seen here. The full field of view here is actually known as IC 1396, and it’s part of a much larger complex.  Here’s a great view of the whole complex.

There is a bright star dead center.  You can’t tell in this image, but that is a group of at least three stars.  Here’s the center at full resolution:

center view

This is the combined image; once you know what you are looking for the center star does look a bit suspicious.

Here’s the center without the nebulosity, from a single 2-minute exposure:

Just stars

One star is clearly separated, and there is a hint of another in the lower right.  Other exposures show that split more clearly.   This is at the limit of the resolution of my telescope.


The Wizard Nebula

Wizard Nebula

NGC7380, the “Wizard Nebula”.  It’s a bit small for this telescope.  Doesn’t look much like a wizard to me — Maybe that’s him walking out of the darkness towards the right?

The Soul Nebula

Soul Nebula

IC 1848, if I remember correctly from last night when I was collecting this.  The Heart Nebula is just a little down and to the right.  Merging with the previous image, we get something like this:

heart and soul

More careful processing is needed to get a seamless transition between the images, but you get the idea…

The last two nights were clear and mostly moonless.  I have images of several other objects that may be OK.

The Heart Nebula

the heart nebula

IC 1805, known as the “Heart Nebula“.  Also catalogued as “Sharpless 2-190”.  Just above, out of view, is another nebula , IC 1848, known as the “Soul Nebula”.  I’ll try that one soon.  Perhaps I’ll try to construct a mosaic.

Another galaxy, another Messier object

M33 floating in space

This is M33, the “Triangulum Galaxy”.

Very very roughly, given all the uncertainties about the size of your screen and how close you are, this view is about not too far from naked eye size.

Here’s an image of the moon with the same equipment, same magnification:

The Moon

About the view you would get through binoculars.

The moon is half a degree wide; M33 is a little over one degree, but that includes dim reaches that don’t show in the  photograph above.

I posted a picture of the Andromeda galaxy a few days ago at the same scale.  It is much larger, about three degrees wide.  (Most of the astrographs I post are with the same tiny 61mm telescope and camera, so the scale for all of them is similar. )

The sky goes on forever, and it is littered  with amazing giant things, only slightly hidden from us.

Dumbbell Nebula

AKA M27.  Some pictures may look like a dumbbell, but this one doesn’t.  It looks so small and alone, but it is 1.4 light years in diameter, and nearly 1300 light years away from us.

M27, the Dumbbell Nebula

It doesn’t know about us…


I tried a fairly major software change on my imaging setup, but it was a failure. — I couldn’t make it work.  Even worse, the tracking software  several times ran the telescope into the tripod and ground the gears in the mount in a very frightening way.  So I went back to the previous setup.  Fortunately, the Andromeda Galaxy  is now visible, and I was able to get a nice image, to prove that things were still working.  Everyone has seen this a million times, but it never gets old:

M31, the Andromeda Galaxy

Edit: here’s an improved version of the above image — more exposures, better processing.  Barely noticeable at mobile device scale, but full size you can see the difference…

Improved image of M31

Iris Nebula, plus a strange artifact…

Iris Nebula

The Iris Nebula, NGC 7023

Constructed from about 15 images.  The Iris Nebula appears to be an enormous cloud of dark dust, partially illuminated by the bright star in the center.  A messy, dirty explosion of some kind… The “artifact” is the star in the lower left — I don’t know why it alone is surrounded by a perfectly circular halo.  I think it is T Cephei.

(The Wikipedia article on T Cephei, incidentally, has an absolutely stunning huge image of the region around NGC 7023 — well worth staring at for a while.)

Here’s a second image, with more data and further processing.  The artifact was still there, but I cropped it out to expand the nebula:

Iris Nebula

This image is a stack of 34 frames — several hours total exposure time.   A little robotic telescope mindlessly doing its thing…

Wildfires are raging a couple hundred miles to the Northeast.  That thought keeps intruding.  COVID-19 is sneaking around, touching people, and killing some of them.  I think about that too.  1300 light years away, six light years across.  About half the diameter of the moon…