2015-06-18 Astrophotography: The North American and Pelican Nebula (NGC 7000, IC 5070)

20150617_NGC7000(4)_DBE_CC_HT_HDR_ACDNR_HT_SAT-4I often seem to start these posts off by remarking about how we finally had clear night skies and that it has been cloudy for weeks, but this last stretch of poor visibility has really seemed to drag on and on.  In the last four weeks we have had one very clear night, and it happened to coincide with the full moon.  This makes it very challenging to image faint deep space objects.  Last night, the streak continued and while the stars were actually visible there was a constant layer of high altitude clouds passing through diffusing the light from the sky and preventing it from being truly dark.  I have felt so pent up lately that I decided that I would go out and setup, if only for the sake of exercising my skills with the gear.  As I started to image, I cursed the clouds and yearned for truly clear, dark skies.  I located my practice target, and began to review images to check for exposure settings and composition, and I noticed something about the images that was quite intriguing.  As I studied the image on the back of the camera LCD, I realized that there was an almost ethereal presentation of the stars as they illuminated the cloud layer immediately around them.  This caused them to look much larger than normal and made them really stand out in the sky.  I decided to give it a go, finished setting up the parameters on my equipment, and let it run.

NGC 7000 and IC  5070, are large Emission Nebulae found within the constellation of Cygnus.  They are very popular targets for astrophotographers due to their intensely vibrant and beautiful Hydrogen clouds as well as their large apparent size in the night sky.  These two Nebulae have a combined apparent size of 8 times the diameter of the full moon.  Located at the northern end of the Milky Way, they form a brilliant bloom that appears to emerge from the dust clouds that run the entire length of the summer night sky.

NGC 7000 (The North American Nebula) and IC 5070 (The Pelican Nebula)
NGC 7000 (The North American Nebula) and IC 5070 (The Pelican Nebula)

NGC 7000, found to the left of this image,  is commonly known as the North American Nebula, and without much imagination it is easy to see why.  The “Mexico” region of the North American Nebula is an area of high star formation, and surrounds the Gulf of Mexico region is the Dark Nebula LDN 935.  To the Right of NGC 7000 is IC 5070, commonly known as the Pelican Nebula.  Again, with a little imagination it is easy to see why it is called this.  To my eyes, The North American Nebula appears to be some sort of skull or goblin head, with its gaping maw full of jagged teeth facing off with the Pelican.

NGC 7000, The North American Nebula
NGC 7000, The North American Nebula
IC 5070, The Pelican Nebula
IC 5070, The Pelican Nebula

These Nebulae were first discovered by William Herschel in 1786.  They are estimated to be about 2,000 light years from Earth with a diameter of 50 light years each.  To the upper right in the image below is the bright star Deneb, found at the end of the tail of Cygnus the Swan.

NGC 7000 (The North American Nebula) and IC 5070 (The Pelican Nebula)
NGC 7000 (The North American Nebula) and IC 5070 (The Pelican Nebula) with the Deneb in the upper right corner.

I was only able to get about one hour of exposure on this subject, and that was through a thin layer of clouds.  After one hour, a thick layer of clouds moved in, completely obscuring the sky.  This did not give me much signal data to work, so I had to make the best of what I had.  This region of the sky is extremely beautiful and there are many areas that I hope to photograph as the summer season progresses.  All I really need are dark, clear nights.

A slightly wider view of this beautiful portion of the Summer Sky.
A slightly wider view of this beautiful portion of the Summer Sky.

Canon Rebel T5i (Modified), Canon 70-200mm f2.8is II (200mm) , f2.8, 90 second exposures (40 for a total of 60 minutes exposure), ISO 1600, Astrotrac, Light Pollution Filter, PixInsight, Lightroom.  Dark, Bias and Flat Frames taken for calibration.

 


 

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