Updated: Jan 20
Featured on AAPOD2 - 08/12/2020
Very pleased with how our IC 1318 (The Sadr Region and the Butterfly Nebula) image turned out with over 40 hours of data, I decided to start another large project, this time with a different telescope and mount. This was also our first time using the 3nm narrowband Chroma filters!
This time, it was time to hunt another flying living thing.. not a butterfly, but a Pelican!
For the Sadr Region, I used the tiny Meade 70mm APO Refractor telescope and our Orion Atlas EQ-G mount.
This time, I wanted to use our new mount, the Paramount MyT from Software Bisque (make sure to read our full review!) and yet another Meade: the Meade 6000 series 115mm APO which is pretty much a bigger version of the 70mm.
I wouldn't be able to carry the whole setup in and out easily this time as I did with the small Meade 70mm and Atlas EQ-G. I still wanted to make sure I made my life as easy as possible though and so kept the camera and all the cables attached to the telescope at all time.
Every night, I would carry the mount out, attach the counterweights followed by the telescope/camera so it was still pretty quick.
It gets very hot pretty early here in Vegas so I would wake up every morning at 5AM to put everything back inside or the metal on the mount would burn my fingers after sunrise.
The Pelican Nebula contains several "Herbig-Haro" objects, which are jets of gasses and other matter being ejected at hundreds of miles per second by the newborn stars.
The photo on the left shows HH 555 (the thin "pillar" near the right), the most active Herbig-Haro object in the Pelican Nebula.
These objects, when colliding with the surrounded dust of the nebula, create gigantic bright shock waves. These jets will disappears over time as they disperse in space.
The Pelican Nebula from our Bortle 9 backyard in narrowband
Interested in a print? You can get one HERE!
Raw Data available on Patreon
Camera: ZWO ASI 1600MM
Telescope: Meade 115mm APO
Guiding: ZWO ASI 290MM Mini
Power: Deep Cycle Battery
Total Exposure Time: 20 hours and 20 minutes
Exposure Time per frame: 10 minutes
Filters: Chroma 3nm Ha/Sii/Oiii
How to find the Pelican Nebula?
The Pelican Nebula is located in the constellation of the swan: Cygnus and is best photographed in Summer. Look for Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation at the tail end of Cygnus and move slightly westward until you find the Pelican.
Despite being very large, you will not be able to spot IC 5070 with the naked eye, as the gases are spread out and quite dim. However, a pair of binoculars or small telescope (e.g. 3”) will reveal a faint patch of gray light.
The "Cygnus Wall" is a dark molecular cloud that divides the Pelican Nebula from the North America Nebula
The Pelican Nebula is designated as both IC 5070 and IC 5067
The Nebula is very active and will look completely different in the future
Want to learn all aspects of astrophotography in the most efficient way possible, and see how we imaged the Pelican Nebula from our backyard?
The Galactic Course includes a LIFETIME membership that gives you unlimited access to all current and upcoming astrophotography content. Step into an ever-growing realm of knowledge and learn at your own pace. Make life-long friends and connections with other members, and get tips from instructors that truly care about your journey and progress under the night sky.
Processing of the Pelican Nebula
Processing the Pelican Nebula was super fun. It is such a colorful target especially in the Hubble Palette combination (SHO).
As soon as the channels were integrated into a color image (read our tutorial about how to combine narrowband channels if you are not sure how to), I processed the file using our usual, processing workflow that can be found as a PDF "follow along" file HERE.
What did each narrowband channel look like?
You might be curious to know how much data was visible for each narrowband channel. Below you can find the stacked image for each narrowband filter.
Hydrogen Alpha (left)
Sulfur II (center)
Oxygen III (right)
The Pelican Nebula was more prominent in Hydrogen Alpha (not a surprise), but you can see that both Oiii and Sii filters also showed some great textures.
What scared me is that our S channel looked... terrible. It was very fade and was suffering from what appears to be terrible light leak. I tried to ignore it and played with DBE very harshly to be able to get as much data from it as possible.
Below is what our three channels looked like when combined. To be honest, this was already so pretty and I almost wanted to just not process it at all and be happy with that 😅
In September 2020, when recording the processing section of the Galactic Course, I decided to reprocess this data but this time using StarNet on PixInsight.
I first removed the stars near the beginning of the processing workflow, and was more aggressive in bringing out faint details and as much gas as I could. Check out our tutorial if you'd like to know how to use StarNet on PixInsight.
The starless result on the Pelican Nebula is attached below:
After going through my entire processing workflow, which is available as a full 75-page PDF guide and a 1 hour and 45 minute tutorial video HERE, I added the stars back onto the image.
As a fun experiment, I intentionally kept processing the object even after exporting the version that I liked (on the left), and went absolutely bananas on the details, clarity and dark areas to see how much of the faint dust lanes I could bring out. The result looks incredible on small screens (perfect for Instagram!) but is definitely not clean enough to be viewed on a large computer screen.
The Pelican Nebula is such a beautiful object! Make sure to frame the object the way you want it, plan your shot the day before with apps or softwares like Sky Safari or Stellarium to get as much gas as you can depending on your field of view.
We are in love with the final image we got and might hang it on our wall! If you'd like to do the same, you can get a print of the Pelican Nebula either on paper or metal HERE!
Have you captured the Pelican Nebula? Attach your image in the comments and let us know your acquisition details!
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