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IC 443 - The Jellyfish Nebula with a Small Refractor Telescope

Updated: May 18, 2023

The Jellyfish Nebula appeared 3,000 to 30,000 years ago when a supernova occurred in our galaxy. IC 443 is a beautiful remnant of the explosion that has the shape of a jellyfish.

Although IC 443 is pretty challenging to image, it still has a spot in our guide to the 15 best targets to image in Spring. It is also visible during most of the Winter season and should be photographed then if you are not busy with all the other incredible Winter objects.

The Meade 70mm APO refractor telescope sunset
The Meade 70mm APO ready to image

This is most likely the last time we'll be using the Meade 70mm APO telescope. It is a very small instrument with a wide field of view.

Because it is now Spring season (also called Galaxy season), we would not have a need for it as it is too small for pretty much all galaxies visible in the sky. We can't wait for Summer to be here so that we can use this little guy again!

We aimed for 6 hours of exposure but only had time to do a little under 5 hours. Still, we are not very happy with the end result and wish we went back on a different night to double our data.

Below is our final image of the Jellyfish Nebula processed in SHO (Hubble Palette). Let us know what you think! Scroll down further to see an HSO (more red) version of this image.

We also have a video available on our YouTube channel where you can see how we got this target from beginning to end. Scroll down for more info.

IC 443 in narrowband using the Meade 70mm APO and the ZWO ASI 1600MM

IC 443 Astrophotography in narrowband using the Meade 70mm APO and the ZWO ASI 1600MM


Telescope: Meade 70mm APO

Acquisition: ZWO ASIAIR

Processing: Pixinsight


Total Exposure Time: 4.8 hours

Exposure Time per frame: 5 minutes

Filters: Ha (22)/Sii (18)/Oiii (18)

Gain: 139


How to find the Jellyfish Nebula?

How to find the Jellyfish Nebula IC 443 in Gemini, constellation map

The Jellyfish Nebula is way too faint to be visible with the unaided eye, but you may be able to roughly spot it using a pair of binoculars, only if you are in a location far from light pollution.

Small telescope should reveal the brightest part of the nebula, although the use of a filter is strongly recommended.

The Jellyfish nebula is located in the constellation Gemini and is pretty easy to find by using the star- hopping technique. If you are familiar with the shape of this constellation (2 human twins), then IC 443 can be found near the foot of Castor. If observing with binoculars, you might also spot the Messier cluster M35 in the same field of view!


Cool Facts about the Jellyfish Nebula

  • One of the most studied supernova remnants in the night sky

  • Located 5,000 light years away from Earth

  • Supernova created a Neutron Star within


Processing of the Jellyfish Nebula

Processing the Jellyfish Nebula was more difficult than I anticipated. Although we had almost 5 hours of data, there was still some noise that was hard to get rid of throughout the image. I was also expecting more of the faint gas on the top and left side to be visible.

You can get our full PixInsight workflow HERE.

When stacking the filters together, I wasn't sure if I should process the Hubble Palette (SHO), or go another route with either OHS (left) or HSO (right) combinations. I decided to process the Hubble Palette combination, but am determined to go back to PixInsight and give HSO a try soon. I will update this post with the new image when it is done! [Update: Scroll down to see the result!].

PixInsight: The Jellyfish nebula in different narrowband combinations
PixInsight: The Jellyfish nebula in different narrowband combinations

What did each narrowband channel look like?

Below you can see what each stacked frames looks like for each narrowband channel. We used three filters to capture the Jellyfish Nebula:

  • Hydrogen Alpha (left)

  • Sulfur II (center)

  • Oxygen III (right)

The Hydrogen Alpha is, as (almost) always, the filter that shows the most data. The Sulfur II filter only revealed some of the very faint detail on the outer edge of the Jellyfish.


The Jellyfish Nebula in HSO

As mentioned earlier, I decided to not only process IC 443 in the Hubble Palette combination, but also in HSO. In this palette, Hydrogen Alpha is set to Red, Sulfur II is set to Green and Oxygen III is set to blue. In short, the difference between this and the Hubble Palette combination is that the Reds and Greens are switched.

You can see the result below! Which one do you prefer, the Hubble style version or this one? Let us know in the comments!

The Jellyfish Nebula narrowband HSO combination


Our video about capturing the Jellyfish Nebula

If you'd like to learn more about how Antoine found a new place to image from and how he captured the Jellyfish Nebula with the Meade 70mm telescope, you can watch the video below!


Final Thoughts

The Jellyfish Nebula was trickier than I thought. I was expecting almost 5 hours of data to be more than enough from a Bortle 4 zone, but it appears that we should have doubled that amount to get a really nice image. We usually spend 3 hours of total exposure on most of our targets, but this Jellyfish does not like to be photographed that easy!

We will keep this data on our computer until next year when we can hopefully add several hours to it with the same equipment.

Have you captured the Jellyfish Nebula? Attach your image in the comments and let us know your acquisition details!

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to stay up to date with our work!

Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter





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