Hemisphere:  Northern

Image of the day 02/25/2019

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    SH2-129 & OU4 (The Bat & Squid Nebulae), 


            Mike Oates
    SH2-129 & OU4 (The Bat & Squid Nebulae)
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    SH2-129 & OU4 (The Bat & Squid Nebulae)

    Technical card

    Imaging telescopes or lenses: Takahashi FSQ-106 ED

    Imaging cameras: Starlight Xpress SX-814 Trius Monochrome CCD

    Mounts: Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ6 SynScan GOTO AZ-EQ6 GT Mount

    Guiding cameras: Starlight-XPress Lodestar Autoguider

    Software: Sequence Generator Pro  ·  Photoshop CS6  ·  PIXINSIGHT 1.8

    Filters: Astrodon 3nm SII  ·  Astrodon 3nm OIII  ·  Ha 3nm

    Accessory: Lakeside Astro Motor Focus System  ·  Starlight Xpress SX 'Maxi wheel'  ·  Starlight Instruments FTF3545B-A Focuser

    Dates:Dec. 12, 2018

    Astrodon 3nm OIII: 70x1800" bin 2x2
    Astrodon 3nm OIII: 4x3600" bin 2x2
    Astrodon 3nm SII: 62x1800" bin 2x2
    Ha 3nm: 123x1200" bin 2x2
    Ha 3nm: 14x1800" bin 2x2
    Ha 3nm: 147x600" bin 2x2

    Integration: 142.5 hours

    Avg. Moon age: 4.73 days

    Avg. Moon phase: 23.25%

    Bortle Dark-Sky Scale: 8.00

    Mean SQM: 18.50

    Basic astrometry details

    Astrometry.net job: 2527791

    RA center: 21h 8' 50"

    DEC center: +59° 54' 28"

    Pixel scale: 2.868 arcsec/pixel

    Orientation: 359.753 degrees

    Field radius: 2.751 degrees

    Resolution: 4641x5118

    Locations: The Hills Observatory, Manchester, United Kingdom

    Data source: Backyard


    This has been my most difficult image so far to produce, the logistics of making sure you get the same or at least similar integrations for each filter for each panel is not easy, especially under Manchester's Bortle 8 skies with an average SQM of 18.5 (varied between ~17.8 to 18.9).

    Due to the size of this task I imaged over 42 separate nights all between July and Nov 2018.

    This is a 12 panel mosaic, consisting of 416 subs (taken at, or converted to bin 2x2 {software binned}), with a total integration time of 142.5 hrs

    Each of the panels has about 9hrs integrated exposure except the two panels that cover the OU4 nebula, those have 28hrs each. Most of those being OIII i.e. 35 x 1800s per panel. OU4 is really, really, really faint. It was really unfortunate that OU4 would not fit inside one frame, this meant doubling up on subs)

    Processing has also been a challenge because the quality of the subs varied greatly over that period making matching the panels somewhat difficult.

    I also shot Oiii for all the panels but not enough to allow me to produce a 12 panel mosaic as the two panels that cover the OU4 nebula had lots more data, there was no way a 5 sub panel would blend with a 35 sub panel next to it. In the end I decided to leave all the other panels out and just blend the Oiii as a tone mapped image for those 2 panels only over the rest of the image which is a bi-colour using Ha and Sii.

    The Ha and Sii where simply combined with Ha to red and Sii to blue/cyan which produced a pleasing colour. Oiii is obviously blue/cyan. All the final colour blending was done in Photoshop (see note below) and all calibration, processing and mosaic construction was in PixInsight.

    Photoshop colour combination figures (the hue applied to each filter stack)
    Ha: 8, Sii: 190 & 104 Oiii: 208

    I don't plan on doing any other large mosaics anytime soon! But I am very glad I finished it, especially as it turned out far better than I thought it would when I started it.



    Mike Oates
    License: None (All rights reserved)

    Sky plot

    Sky plot


    SH2-129 & OU4 (The Bat & Squid Nebulae), 


            Mike Oates