Penguin and the Caped Crusader

                                Penguin and the Caped Crusader

       Better known as the Soul Nebula, IC1848, Constellation- Cassiopeia

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©2008-2013 Richard Murray

Science Fiction Stuff:

The total exposure time for this image was 11 hours and 20 minutes. You might be thinking, “That poor devil had to pull several all nighters at the telescope to get that picture.” But remember we live in the science fictional world of the 21st century. Here’s what I actually did.

I purchased an iPod Touch app for $14 that wirelessly duplicates an image of my observatories computer monitor complete with keyboard and mouse control. The observatory computer monitors the telescope to make sure it stays locked on to a guide star so that it doesn’t drift away from the object I’m trying to image. If it does lose its lock, an alarm sounds so that you can manually regain a lock on the guide star. The only thing that the iPod app lacked was sound which means I wouldn’t be able to hear the alarm if it went off. I took care of that with a wireless baby monitor.

So during the hour after hour of images my telescope was robotically taking, I was sound asleep except for having to roll over in my bed once every two or three hours to pick up the iPod Touch and check to make sure the telescope was still tracking. If it lost its tracking, which wasn’t very often, I manually got the tracking back with a few swipes on my iPod Touch and went back to sleep.

Does it really look like that?

No, it doesn’t. Several filters were used that allow you to see only the hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur content of the image. These images were then combined with the result you see; very similar to how NASA processes the Hubble Space Telescope images. The green in the image is the hydrogen, the red is the sulfur and the blue is the oxygen.

There is always some science involved in the taking and processing of these images but there is also a touch of art involved as well. So if you were coming up on this nebula with an FTL (faster than light) spaceship you would see different colors and details but I’m sure it would be even more spectacular.

Now for some fun.

Look below and you’ll see some stereo images I prepared so you can view the Soul Nebula image in 3d.

The first image is the parallel version.  Just stare at the middle of the two images and another image should appear in 3D.

The second image is the cross version.  Just stare at the center of the image while crossing your eyes and another image should appear in 3D. This is the easiest for me to use.

©2008-2013 Richard Murray

Cross Vision Image Pair

©2008-2013 Richard Murray

  This is my second narrowband project which is the Soul Nebula right next door to the Heart Nebula.  The weather wasn’t as cooperative this time but I did manage to get most of the image exposures I needed.  I got a full six hours of Ha but only managed half that for the OIII and SII filters.  Still, it turned out pretty well.

Be sure to click on the image for a full size view and also at the bottom, the Read More link will take you to a great article in Universe today about this colorful nebula.

Date(s): 10-3, and 10-4-08
Object: IC1848 Soul Nebula in Cassiopeia
Telescope: Megrez 80mm APO, WO 0.8 FR/FF
Mount: LX90
Camera: Atik 16hr
Guiding:  Lx90 8″ SCT, DSI Pro, Phd Guiding
Filters: Ha 6nm, OIII 15nm, SII 14nm
Exposure: 11 hrs 20 mins Ha 12×30 mins, OIII 10×20 mins, SII 6×20 mins, Binning 1×1
Processing: CCDStack, Photoshop CS2, PixInsight, Hubble Palette: SII=Red,Ha=Green,OIII=Blue
Location: Burke Ave. Observatory, Three Rivers, Michigan

Read More

About Richard Murray

I've been interested in astrophotography for some time now and more recently began writing science fiction. Half a million words plus later, I continue to write every day. I share some of the things I learned along the way as well as some of my writing, plus an occasional astrophoto I’ve taken just for fun on my blog site Fictional Astronomer at .
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