How to Choose a Deep-Sky Photo Subject?

We'll streamline that for you! You might already have a beautiful object in mind. If so, run it by me and I'll let you know if we can do it. In order for an object to be do-able, it must be high enough in the sky at about 9:30pm to be above the local trees at the Observatory. By using a free sky projection software like C2A (my personal favorite), you can see in detail if your object is high enough to do. To make it easier, I'll list all the constellations that are high enough in the sky such that deep-sky objects in them will likely be high enough to photograph. If you find or have in mind a photo subject and it is NOT in one of these constellations... alas, we won't be able to photograph it.

Constellations Nicely Up at 9:30pm mid August in Santa Cruz

Ursa Major (the Big Dipper)
Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper)
Draco (the Dragon)
Capricorn (the Sea Goat)
Sagittarius (the Archer)

Libra (the Scales)
Hercules (the one-and-only!)
Ophiuchus (the Doctor)
Serpens (the Serpent)

Cepheus (the King)
Cassiopeaia (the Queen)
Lacerta (the Lizard)
Cygnus (the Swan)
Lyra (the little harp)
Vulpecula (the Fox)
Sagittae (the Arrow)
Aquila (the Eagle)
Scutum (the Shield)
Scorpius (the Scorpion)
Coma Berenices (Bernices Hair)
Bootes (the Shepherd)
Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs)
Delphinus (the Dolphin)
Equus (the Little Horse)
Pegasus (the Horse)


It can be confusing, trying to find a great subject to photograph, since google'ing on the web may show you photos with the Hubble Space Telescope. As proud as I am of the Cabrillo Astronomical Observatory, we can't take photos like the Hubble! So, I'm linking below some suggestions, of the best most photogenic of the targets that are nicely placed in our mid August evening sky...

Comet Lemmon - 9th magnitude in Cepheus
Comet PanSTARRS - 10th magnitude in Bootes
M16 The Eagle Nebula - (not Thur or Friday)
M17 The Omega Nebula - Sagittarius (best early)
M20 the Lagoon Nebula - Sagittarius (best early)
The Veil Nebula - Cygnus
The North American Nebula - Cygnus
M27 The Dumbell Nebula - Vulpecula
The Gamma Cygni Nebular complex - Cygnus
M11 the "Wild Duck" star cluster - Scutum
M13 the great Globular Cluster of Hercules
Saturn (small and blurry!)
M5 Globular Cluster - Serpens
NGC 6888 The Cresent Nebula - ancient stellar explosion in Cygnus
NGC 5986 Galaxy Trio in Draco
NGC 6804 "Snowball Nebula" in Serpens (1.1')
M81 - spiral galaxy in Ursa Major (28 alt)
M82 - colliding galaxies in Ursa Major (28 alt)
M101 - Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
M97 - the Owl Nebula - Planetary Nebula in Ursa Major
M108 - Sc Spiral Galaxy in bowl of Big Dipper (29 deg alt)
M51 - Classic spiral in Canes Venatici (47 alt)
NGC 6781 - The Little Ring - Planetary Nebula in Aquila


This links to photos of many of the brightest Deep Sky objects