Two days ago, some ‘late night clouds’ rolled in giving me only a tiny window to the sky. Like any good observer, I quickly scoured the skies for anything that might be interesting — when I came upon the Veil Nebula. Holy moley this thing is both gorgeous and easy to find!

For whatever reason I find that Cygnus the Swan is easy to find. Well, the Veil Nebula is near a ‘sort of visible’ star off to the side of the main stars making it up. This ends up being about a fist and a half “lower” than Sadr, the ‘middle’ star – which is ‘not as bright’ as Deneb, one of the three stars making up the Summer Triangle. (The summer triangle is fabulous for aligning scopes, too — the other two stars being super bright Vega and ‘pretty bright’ Altair)

Nonetheless, I spend a good slug of time imaging NGC 6960. I was so excited with the results that I spent another day imaging it more. All together I ended up with several hours of imaging over two days. This created some interesting challenges. First, from day to day the image ‘centering’ varied. This is pretty easy to deal with. However, the second is trickier — rotation. Not because of an alt-az mount (I was on the CGEM), but rather because the camera actually was rotated from day to day! Of course, both DeepSkyStacker and MaximDL dont have much probelm with rotation and recentering, so software took care of most of the problems and a healthy dose of cropping makes it look like it was all planned!

NGC 6960, The Veil Nebula

NGC 6960, The Veil Nebula

For processing, I played with a few concepts. All the subs here were either 30 or 60 seconds each. In MaximDL, I chose the ‘Sum’ method for every five minutes of image time. This turned out to be tricker than it sounds since some images were rejected during the ‘Combine from disk’ phase. Nonetheless, I eventually ended up with 12 subs, which were summed up to 5+ minute exposures. Rather than combine these in MaximDL, I bounced over to DeepSkyStacker. Here I did a normal combine (Kappa Sigma, 10 iterations) and of course spent countless hours trying to get the color balance to some point where it was both colorful and contrasty. While this final image does appear a bit inflated in Greenness, I really can’t complain much about the final product here.

If it weren’t for Oceanside Photo and Telescope sending me the 1.5x extender and some new guidescope rings, I probably would be imaging it more today to add even more subs! Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy this particular image as much as I do. Even though the filaments on the left side don’t completely jump out, they are there. Maybe after a few more days …

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