Thanksgiving Day Photo Mini-Trip

Nov 23, 2006

After a nice T-day at Karl's, the skies were so crystal clear following a cold front that I had to do some astrophotography. I had with me the 8" f/4 LXD75 reflector and ST2000XCM. Trouble with the battery power, and by the time I got set up my planned target - the Veil Nebula - was too low. I settled for IC 1396 complex, near Mu Cephei, I spent valuable time trying to compose this faint and unfamiliar subject and it was now getting pretty low too. Add in bad post-cold front seeing, low altitude, and the dodgey rack/pinion focuser / camera connection leading to strong coma and poor focus... and the results aren't great, but it'll help me plan my next attempt. I decided to hope the same focus and calibration would work for the nearby planetary nebula NGC 7139. A single shot of 5 minutes and I was pretty cold and ready for sleep.

IC 1396 in Cepheus. 9x5min stack (Registax3), and post-processed in Photoshop CS2: Curves, AstroTools actions - 5x 'make stars smaller', 'enhance DSO and reduce stars', brightness, contrast. No cropping. This is a small part of this 3 degree wide nebula - it is the region closest to Mu Cephei. The red H-alpha emission on the surface of the dark nebula on the left is on the far right of this exquisite image from the web.

NGC 7139 in Cepheus. Single 5min experimental shot. This tiny 80" planetary nebula is magnitude 13.3 and nearly lost in the 90' field of view. It required a heck of a lot of yanking to pull it out of the noise. Photoshop CS2 + AstroTools actions: 5x 'make stars smaller',contrast, levels, magnetic lasso around nebula then gaussian blurred, and cropped severely. The altitude was about 25 degrees. Clearly, it requires much more time on a longer focal length setup.