10/13/2013 M16 The Eagle Nebula

14 October 2013

Hello Everyone!

After several months away from the world of astrophotography and image processing we are back with our first major imaging project of the summer.  The image presented here is that of the Messier 16 (M16), also known as the Eagle Nebula.  It is located approximately 6500 light years from Earth in the constellation Serpens.  The center area of this region of space was the site of the famous Hubble Space Telescope photo, “Pillars of Creation.”  While I do think my colors are slightly better, the Hubble image does seem have the edge on image detail.  😉

To the left and down from the pillars is located a fantastic stellar spire.  As with the pillars, this area is also a likely star forming region.

M16 is presented here in Hubble palette:

Red = S II (ionized sulfur)
Green = HA (hydrogen alpha)
Blue = O III (doubly ionized oxygen, having two electrons removed)

Here are the technical details:

M16 – The Eagle Nebula
Capture date: July 8, 2013 – August 5, 2013
LRGB image using Ha for Luminance, SII for Red, OIII for Blue and Ha for Green
Astrodon filters: 5nm HA, 5nm SII and 3nm OIII
17 exposures of OIII, with 20 minute subs each
18 exposures of SII, with 20 minute subs each
26 exposures of HA, with 20 minute subs each
Imaging scope: Astro-Tech AT10RC Ritchey Chrétien at f/6.7 (native f/8)
Focal reducer: Astro Physics CCDT67 focal reducer
Imaging camera: QSI 583wsg monochrome
Guide camera: Starlight Xpress Lodestar
Mount: Celestron CGE hypertuned by Deep Space Products
Capture and stacking in Maxim DL
All other processing in Photoshop

Over 20 hours of starlight exposures went into this project.