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This blog contains recent projects, activities, and musings about astrophotography and space, to view my main webpage with prints for sale, final images, and Annie's Astro Actions, please visit: www.eprisephoto.com


Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Whale of a time getting to the Elephant Trunk

As those of you who know me probably know, I prefer nebulas to galaxies. No real reason, I just do. Not that I dislike galaxies but I enjoy imaging nebulae a lot more. So as galaxy season goes into full swing what do I pick for an object to image: the Elephant Trunk Nebula!! Being at a nice northern latitude I am day by day getting less "dark" to work with not to mention the infamous cloudy skies of England so when I saw on the forecast that I was supposed to get not one, but two perfect nights in a row I set up my scope and accepted the fact that I wouldn't sleep from Friday morning until Sunday night.

I have been looking forward to doing Elephant Trunk in narrowband since I started imaging, I just had to wait until I was good enough and I finally got SII and OIII filters. Of course, the Elephant Trunk doesn't rise high enough for me to begin imaging it until about 1257am so I had to come up with something to image as a warm-up. I was randomly slewing about while trying to decide and landed on the "Whale Galaxy" and figured, why not? Off I went on my imaging marathon.

Night 1 I imaged for 5 hrs on the Whale, mostly on luminance but a little red and blue binned as well and then switched to narrowband filters and moved on over to the Elephant Trunk and continued on until sunrise.

Night 2, same except I shot more luminance and a little red, blue, and evened out the green on the Whale followed by Hydrogen-Alpha only on Elephant Trunk.

It is now 55 hrs, give or take, since I last slept (although I did take a couple of quick naps when my daughter did during the day) but my marathon weekend is complete! I spent around 4 hrs processing today and have my final results.

First, the Whale Galaxy (and his companion), total LRGB integration time: 7 hrs (4:1:1:1)

and finally my Elephant Trunk in HST-mapped narrowband (SII, Ha, OIII). Total integration time: 10hrs (2:6:2), (I had a couple of hours of Ha from a week or two ago that I added in to this weekends data):

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Monitor Calibration

Monitor Calibration
The grayscale above presents 24 shades of gray from pure white to solid black. If you cannot see all 24, your monitor needs calibration to view the astrophotos correctly: I recommend the site linked in the image