Hemisphere:  Northern  ·  Constellation: Cepheus (Cep)  ·  Contains:  B161  ·  B162  ·  B163  ·  B365  ·  B367  ·  IC 1396  ·  IC1396  ·  Sh2-131  ·  VdB142
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IC 1396 Elephant's Trunk Nebula, 


            Jerry Macon
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IC 1396 Elephant's Trunk Nebula

Imaging telescopes or lenses: Tele Vue NP127is

Imaging cameras: ZWO ASI6200MM-PRO

Mounts: Paramount MEII with Absolute Encoders

Software: Nighttime Imaging ‘N’ Astronomy N.I.N.A.  ·  PixInsight 1.8

Filters: Astronomik RGB 2" filter set

Dates:Oct. 20, 2020

Frames:Astronomik RGB 2" filter set: 245x60" (gain: 100.00) -15C bin 2x2

Integration: 4.1 hours

Avg. Moon age: 4.21 days

Avg. Moon phase: 18.78%

Bortle Dark-Sky Scale: 3.00

Temperature: 7.00

Astrometry.net job: 3960304

RA center: 21h 38' 25"

DEC center: +57° 28' 19"

Pixel scale: 2.337 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 89.144 degrees

Field radius: 1.552 degrees

Resolution: 3800x2902

Locations: Dark Star Observatory, Taos, New Mexico, United States

Data source: Own remote observatory

Remote source: Non-commercial independent facility


Imaged on nights of 10/20/2020, 10/21/2020.
No dithering.

IC 1396, commonly called the Elephant's Trunk Nebula is one of my favorite targets, imaged many times, with perhaps every new iteration of hardware. No exception here. This is my first posted image from a new ZWO ASI6200mm full frame 62 mpixel camera. Pixels are 3.75 microns, but binned at 2x2 as this image is, yields 15.6 mpixels of 7.2 micron size. The camera has very low noise and dark current, essentially zero dark current. All this should contribute to improved images. And this image provides a bit of a contrast to my previous long string of very small Abell planetary nebula targets.

The camera is mounted on a Televue NP127is which is piggy backed on an Orion optics AG12" Newtonian. It also took images at the same time as these, but at a resolution of 0.44 arcsec/pixel. Hopefully that one will show up here soon, showing much more detail of the trunk. I centered the trunk on the small FOV of the AG12, which controls the mount, but as you can easily see, the trunk is no where near center on the ASI6200 image. Poor alignment of the two telescopes. But I just installed the ASI6200 and have not had time to align the two scopes. Probably won't. A new Planewave ODK 14" is shortly going to replace the AG12.

Another slight deficiency with this image is I have not installed the flat field lens, which is necessary when using a full frame camera to prevent elongated stars around the outer edges of the frame. My excuse is I had not yet received the spacers required for proper spacing of the lens. However, a little cropping of the image has, I think, eliminated the offending stars.

From Wikipedia:
The Elephant's Trunk Nebula is a concentration of interstellar gas and dust within the much larger ionized gas region IC 1396 located in the constellation Cepheus about 2,400 light years away from Earth. The piece of the nebula shown here is the dark, dense globule IC 1396A; it is commonly called the Elephant's Trunk nebula because of its appearance at visible light wavelengths, where there is a dark patch with a bright, sinuous rim. The bright rim is the surface of the dense cloud that is being illuminated and ionized by a very bright, massive star (HD 206267) that is just to the east of IC 1396A. The entire IC 1396 region is ionized by the massive star, except for dense globules that can protect themselves from the star's harsh ultraviolet rays.

The Elephant's Trunk Nebula is now thought to be a site of star formation, containing several very young (less than 100,000 yr) stars that were discovered in infrared images in 2003. Two older (but still young, a couple of million years, by the standards of stars, which live for billions of years) stars are present in a small, circular cavity in the head of the globule. Winds from these young stars may have emptied the cavity.

The combined action of the light from the massive star ionizing and compressing the rim of the cloud, and the wind from the young stars shifting gas from the center outward lead to very high compression in the Elephant's Trunk Nebula. This pressure has triggered the current generation of protostars.


Sky plot

Sky plot


IC 1396 Elephant's Trunk Nebula, 


            Jerry Macon