Updated: May 30
Cooler temperatures bring a new addition to our monthly series and no shortage of insanely cool targets to shoot! Can you believe we're in September? In another installment of our special monthly series, we have gathered five September astrophotography targets for you to photograph.
In this post, you will find 5 deep sky objects that are at their highest elevation in September. Don't worry if a particular object isn't listed here, you might find it in another month! We ensured that each month had a unique selection and tried to avoid duplicates.
This list has something for everyone! Of the five targets, three of them are considered beginner-level, and the last two are more challenging for advanced astrophotographers.
Watch our video guide on YouTube
Need inspiration for the fall season? Read the 15 best Fall Astrophotography targets!
5 September astrophotography targets:
Sh2-129 & OU4 - The Flying Bat and Giant Squid Nebula
The Bubble Nebula is an emission nebula discovered in 1787 and is located in Cassiopeia. NGC 7635 lies very close to Messier 52, a beautiful open cluster of stars that can be captured in the same frame as the Bubble if using a small to medium size telescope.
The nickname obviously comes from the bubble shape of the object as seen below. The image attached is from the Hubble Space Telescope, photographed to celebrate the satellite's 26th birthday in orbit. We have imaged this target with our amateur equipment, from Earth, and you can click on the link below to see our results!
IC 5146 is both a reflection and emission nebula. It can be found in the constellation Cygnus. The Cocoon Nebula looks nice with any type of camera (DSLR or cooled Astrophotography dedicated camera) and is great in RGB! If you own a monochrome camera and/or have a Hydrogen Alpha filter, you can also have some Ha data to your image to enhance the red gas in the Cocoon part of the nebula.
The dark interstellar dust lane that you can see going from the Cocoon to the top right corner of the frame requires long exposure times under dark skies to be visible. You'll also notice that this particular area of the sky is full of stars, which can make your processing workflow a bit difficult if you are not familiar with using star masks.
NGC 281 - Pacman Nebula
The Pacman Nebula is an emission nebula in Cassiopeia. It is rich in Hydrogen Alpha and Oxygen II but also contains some Sulfur II gas mostly around the edges. This object got its name because its shape looks like the Pacman video game character. Well, kind of...
The image below was only two hours of total exposure and the result is not bad! Through DSLR cameras or One Shot Color cameras without filters, this nebula will look almost entirely red.
HCG 92 - Stephan's Quintet
Stephan's Quintet is a group of five galaxies visible in Pegasus. Four of these galaxies are bound by gravity, while the fifth just appears to be part of the group by chance due to its position in the sky. The designation of HCG 92 is for the four gravity-bound galaxies.
Photographing this object is a little bit difficult because each of these galaxies is small and very close to each other. They also have completely different shapes and colors. Using a large telescope will help get some nice details for each object, but it is not impossible to image with a wider instrument. Read our full post about HCG 92 - Stephan's Quintet.
HCG 92 by NASA
Sh2-129 & Ou 4
The large red nebula you can see below is called the Flying Bat Nebula. It is full of Hydrogen Alpha and will not fit in most telescopes due to its size. Imaging this target with a camera lens equipped with a Hydrogen Alpha is the best way to go, even better if your camera is modified for Astrophotography. You can also attach a DSLR camera lens to a cooled Astrophotography-dedicated camera and filter wheel for even better results.
The smaller, elongated blue nebula within the Flying Bat is the Giant Squid Nebula (discovered not too long ago by an amateur astrophotographer). This one is much more difficult to image and is pure Oxygen III gas. Long hours of total exposure and an OIII filter will be needed if you want to include the Giant Squid in your image.
Sh2-129 & Ou 4 by Nico Carver
Hopefully, you didn't breeze too fast through the September astrophotography targets. It's great to take your time but if you love collecting data, bookmark this page to come back and check off everything on our list. Perhaps even take a peek into October and other months and see if you can get them too!
GALACTIC HUNTER BOOKS
Description: Discover 60 Deep Sky Objects that will considerably improve your Imaging and Processing skills! Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced astrophotographer, this detailed book of the best deep-sky objects will serve as a personal guide for years to come! Discover which star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies are the easiest and most impressive to photograph for each season. Learn how to find each object in the night sky, and read our recommendations on imaging them in a quick and comprehensive way. Each target in this guide contains our advice on imaging, photos of expected results, and a useful information table. We've also included a few cool facts about each target, a map to find it in the night sky, and more!
Description: The Astrophotographer’s Journal is a portable notebook created for the purpose of recording observations, cataloging photographs, and writing down the wonderful memories created by this hobby. This book contains more than 200 pages to memorialize your stargazing and imaging sessions, as well as a useful chart on the last pages to index exciting or important notes. Read back on the logs to see how much progress you have made through the months, the problems you overcame, and the notes taken to improve in the future. Just as the pioneers of astronomy did in their time, look up and take notes of your observations as you are the author of this star-filled journey.
Description: The Constellations Handbook is a logical guide to learning the 88 constellations. Learning the constellations is difficult. Remembering them is even harder. Have you ever wanted to look up to the night sky, name any pattern of stars and be able to tell their stories? This book groups the constellations in a logical order so that the reader can easily learn them by their origin, and see how their stories interact with one another as a group. The last pages of this book include an index of all 88 constellations, each with a slot where you can write your own personal tips and tricks in order to memorize them with ease. The Constellations Handbook is not just another guide listing all the constellations from A to Z and their location, it is the perfect companion for stargazing and a learning journey through the ages.