Flowers of the Night Sky
Cygnus is home to a plethora of wonderful objects – both for visual observing as well as imaging. Due to my latitude, it goes right overhead and is easily my favorite constellation – even ousting the hunter of the winter sky, Orion. Filled with gajillions (yes that’s a technical term) of stars, this band of our very own Milky Way galaxy is home to countless nebula, both bright and eerily dark.
Bright nebula such as the Orion Nebula are the ones you’re probably used to seeing. Move forward a few centuries, and technology advanced astronomy beyond Charles Messier‘s original 110 interesting celestial phenomena! One such catalogue, the Shapley-Ames catalogue included over 1200 objects, many of which are exciting nebula. In honor of astronomer Harlow Shapley, these are designated with “SH” identifiers. One such region, “sh2-101″ is home of the famous “Tulip Nebula”, due to its resemblance to the flower of Dutch fame.
Dark Nebula were the fascination of many early astronomers, but most notably Edward Bernard (of the famous Barnards Loop, Barnards Galaxy, Barnards Star). Another, lesser known astronomer, Beverly Lynds made a similar catalogue and correlated them to Bernard’s. Within them both lay the wonderous area in Cygnus known only as “B144″ or “LDN857″.
Eta Cygni, the bright star between Sadr and Albireo make for an easy find of this region. Combining the bright and dark nebulas together provides an interesting contrast between glittering star fields, foggy nebulosity and unusually dark murky regions. The dark area is big – more than 3 degrees – so imaging the whole region can be a fun mosaic challenge.
This image is 15x5m exposures with no filters at all, imaged with the Televue NP101is on a CGEM. Processing here turned out to be a bit easier than I expected. A standard application of a Bad Pixel Map, Debayering, Normalization and Stacking revealed a pretty reasonable image! Gentle touching up with Levels and Curves in Photoshop and whallah! Data was captured the night of Aug 1, 2011