IC 1396A - The Elephant's Trunk
This is the nebula IC 1396A aka "The Elephant's Trunk":
One of my best pictures and the first one, I was really pleased with. This nebula is actually part of a much larger structure, called IC 1396 which is a star cluster with lots of gas around it. It is about 2,500 light-years away from us. The Elephant's Trunk is a region of pretty dense hydrogen-gas in which new stars are born. One very eye-catching feature is the caveole in the tip of the trunk on the left. This hole is made by the solar winds of the two stars that you can see in it. At an age of approx. 100,000 years they are very young. The reddish glow to the left of the otherwise dark nebula comes from a couple of big stars, left of the imaged area. Their solar winds are so strong that the energy is enough to ionize the hydrogen gas which then starts to emit light.
One minor fact: The brighter star on the lower right of the caveole looks a little foggy. That is because it lights the reflection nebula "van den Bergh 142" (vdB 142) that is close in front of the trunk and physically connected to it. That is the reason why the Elephant's Trunk is often falsely referred to as vdB 142.
The picture is the result of 4 consecutive nights of imaging in late July 2012 with from-dusk-to-dawn imaging. I took 120 pictures, 300 seconds each. So this represents a total of 10h exposure.
One really problematic thing - besides the fact that it still did not get completely dark - was that the temperature of the camera sensor did not drop below 77°F. At that temperature you get loads of noise that you can hardly deal with. But with the large number of exposures this noise evens out quite nicely. The warm weather on the other hand lead to a very calm atmosphere so that you get pretty crisp images.
All in all I am very pleased with the result and hope, you enjoy it.
|Exposure:||120 x 300s, ISO800|
|Camera:||Canon EOS 1100D, modified + CLS CCD Clipfilter|
|Telescope:||10" GSO RC, 1340mm (Astro Physics CCDT67 Reducer)|
|Guiding:||OAG with Lodestar and PHD|
|EIP:||Fitswork and Gimp|
|Date:||23. - 26.07.2012|