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The Elephant's Trunk Nebula

The Elephant's Trunk Nebula - An Emission Nebula in Cepheus The Elephant's Trunk Nebula - An Emission Nebula in Cepheus ©2017 Frederick Steiling
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Target Information
Main Target Designations [None]
Companion Objects IC1396
RA Center 21h 35m 04.830s
DEC Center +57° 31' 07.19"
Rotation -0.138°
HαRGB 690’/130'/130'/130'
Hα subframes 1800" @ 1x1
R/G/B subframes 600" @ 1x1
Total Integration 18hrs 0min
Date(s) of acquisition 24Aug2015, 03Sep2015, 04Sep2015, 12Sep2015, 15Sep2015
Locations Whiteside, MO
Hopkinsville, KY
Imager SBIG STF-8300M
Telescope/Lens Orion 8" f/3.9 Astrograph
Mount Celestron CGEM
Guiding Apparatus OAG-8300
Guiding Camera QHY5L-II
Filter Wheel FW5-8300
Wide Filters Astronomik LRGB
Narrow Filters Astronomik 12nm Hα
Coma Corrector Baader MPCC Mark III
Collimator Orion LaserMate
Focusing Bahtinov mask
Acquisition Sequence Generator Pro
Guiding PHD2
Processing PixInsight 1.8

This image presentation was last processed on 2017Feb25
The original version can be found here.

Easily my largest acquisition effort to date, the Elephant Trunk is another example of an emission nebula, containing grand cloud formations that resemble the likeness of its name.  Ionized by the large star to the left of the frame, this nebula takes on a very real, tangible shape that is another testament to the many forms clouds in our universe may take.  Though over 20 light years in length, the trunk (like most nebulae) is not dense.  In fact, it's less dense than typical vacuums we can form on Earth!  However, with its size condensed into a frame roughly the size of a full moon, we see a cohesive pillar of dust focused in the Hα wavelength.

After finally getting my gear to somewhat operate on its own for longer periods of time and getting comfortable sleeping in the car, I was able to discover what long integration times (20+ hours) could do for an image.  I'm very proud of the dust detail that comes through in this photo, with poofs and plumes present throughout the trunk.  However, I had some considerable trouble controlling large star halos and as a result have dialed back the RGB component considerably here.  Though not displeasing, I'd have rather had more color throughout the stars.  But as I've said in countless images before, it just gives me a reason to come back to this later!

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