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NGC7293 (The Helix Nebula)

NGC7293 - The Helix Nebula in Aquarius NGC7293 - The Helix Nebula in Aquarius ©2023 Frederick Steiling
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Target Information
Main Target Designations NGC7293
RA Center 22h 29m 38.689s
DEC Center -20° 50' 7.33"
Rotation -0.329° (North is up)
Pixel Scale (as posted) 0.806 arcseconds/pixel
HaOiiiRGB 940'/1060'/70'/75'/65'
Ha subframes 47 x 1200" @ 1x1
Oiii subframes 53 x 1200" @ 1x1
R/G/B subframes 14/15/13 x 300" @ 1x1
Total Integration 36hrs 50min
Period of Acquisition Oct/Nov/Dec 2020
Location Animas, NM
Imager SBIG STF-8300M
Telescope/Lens TS Optics N-AG12 12" Newtonian Astrograph @ f/4.56
Mount Mesu 200 Mk II
Guiding Apparatus OAG-8300
Guiding Camera QHY5L-II
Filter Wheel FW8-8300
Wide Filters Astrodon Gen II RGB
Narrowband Filters Astrodon Ha 5nm, Oiii 3nm
Coma Corrector TS Optics 3" N-AGK3
Collimator Howie Glatter 650nm laser
Focusing Feather Touch True 3.0" with Focus Boss II
Acquisition Sequence Generator Pro
Guiding PHD2
Processing PixInsight 1.8

It's a shame there aren't many more planetary nebulae that sit close to us. The Helix Nebula - practically a neighbor at a distance of 650 light years - is a grand display of gasses ejected by the star at center as it sheds its outer layers during the final stages of its stellar life. Here, layers of Oxygen gas (blue) and Hydrogen gas (red) stretch just a light year and a half in each direction, and are energized by the increadibly hot core that remains of the central star.

Because of the Helix Nebula's proximity to us, it presents us some of the best examples of cometary knots, the strange snake-like tunnels of clouds best seen here reaching toward the central star in the outer skirts of the central Oxygen (blue) emission. A confirmed origin of these knots remains a mystery, making them an attractive ongoing area of astro research. For us laypeople at home, they are downright fascinating to explore visually in an already busy area of gas!

With the Helix Nebula barely reaching over 30 degrees in altitude from my local photographing area outside St. Louis, it was a great chance to take advantage of better southern views while my big gear was set up in New Mexico. This is the first multi-channel narrowband process I've completed and shared, and I'm very excited with the results after a successful combination of true-color RGB stars with the narrowband emission data. I'm quite pleased to have captured a huge amount of 2- and 3-channel narrowband data while in New Mexico, as these filters offer some of the crispest and most stunning views of any objects within our own Milky Way home. More to come soon!

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