A Whale of a time getting to the Elephant Trunk

April 10, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

As those of you who know me probably know, I prefer nebulas to galaxies. No real reason, I just do. Not that I dislike galaxies but I enjoy imaging nebulae a lot more. So as galaxy season goes into full swing what do I pick for an object to image: the Elephant Trunk Nebula!! Being at a nice northern latitude I am day by day getting less "dark" to work with not to mention the infamous cloudy skies of England so when I saw on the forecast that I was supposed to get not one, but two perfect nights in a row I set up my scope and accepted the fact that I wouldn't sleep from Friday morning until Sunday night.

I have been looking forward to doing Elephant Trunk in narrowband since I started imaging, I just had to wait until I was good enough and I finally got SII and OIII filters. Of course, the Elephant Trunk doesn't rise high enough for me to begin imaging it until about 1257am so I had to come up with something to image as a warm-up. I was randomly slewing about while trying to decide and landed on the "Whale Galaxy" and figured, why not? Off I went on my imaging marathon.

Night 1 I imaged for 5 hrs on the Whale, mostly on luminance but a little red and blue binned as well and then switched to narrowband filters and moved on over to the Elephant Trunk and continued on until sunrise.

Night 2, same except I shot more luminance and a little red, blue, and evened out the green on the Whale followed by Hydrogen-Alpha only on Elephant Trunk.

It is now 55 hrs, give or take, since I last slept (although I did take a couple of quick naps when my daughter did during the day) but my marathon weekend is complete! I spent around 4 hrs processing today and have my final results.

First, the Whale Galaxy (and his companion), total LRGB integration time: 7 hrs (4:1:1:1)

















and finally my Elephant Trunk in HST-mapped narrowband (SII, Ha, OIII). Total integration time: 10hrs (2:6:2), (I had a couple of hours of Ha from a week or two ago that I added in to this weekends data):


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