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The Cygnus Wall

The Cygnus Wall in Cygnus The Cygnus Wall in Cygnus ©2023 Frederick Steiling
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Target Information
Main Target Designations Sh2-117 (North American Nebula)
RA Center 21h 00m 17.761s
DEC Center 43° 45' 58.53"
Rotation -0.750° (North is up)
Pixel Scale (as posted) 0.805 arcseconds/pixel
SiiHaOiiiRGB 900'/780'/880'/42'/42'/66'
Sii subframes 45 x 1200" @ 1x1
Ha subframes 39 x 1200" @ 1x1
Oiii subframes 44 x 1200" @ 1x1
R/G/B subframes 14/14/22 x 180" @ 1x1
Total Integration 45hrs 10min
Period of Acquisition Aug/Sep 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, Sii 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 one of the most popular narrowband targets among astrophotographers, and for exceptional reason! Meet the great Cygnus Wall, a 20 light-year long ridge embedded in a much larger region better known as the North American Nebula. This wall area (which to the creative geographic mind marks the shore along Latin America) is teeming with star formation activity. The young hot stars energize dense quantities of Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Sulphur gas which in turn emit a tri-color feast for our eyes.

This image represents the first I've posted with 3 distinct narrowband channels, mapped here in the classic Hubble "SHO" palette with Sulphur assigned to Red, Hydrogen to Green, and Oxygen to Blue. By using this false color mapping, we can truly appreciate the wonderful variety of gas densities throughout the region, something brought to even greater contrast and depth with huge bands of opaque obstructing dust. In addition to the gas mapping, stars have been mapped to a standard true color (RGB) palette to represent the area in a natural light, something which I first attempted with the Helix Nebula and will continue to do for other narrowband targets given the pleasing success it's achieved in my data.

After having become so accustomed to faint and difficult targets, this strong narrowband region was a real treat to process. In fact, the signal was so good that it took some restraint not to over-sharpen the countless folds throughout the ridge. This explosive, evolving area is just one more example of the incredible activity that happens right "next door" to us - indeed only 1500 light years away!

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