Updated: Oct 28, 2019
Featured on Orion Telescopes & Binoculars 2016 Holiday Catalog, page 41.
Featured on Orion Telescopes & Binoculars "featured member" webpage.
Featured on The Astrophotographer's Guidebook.
The Pillars of Creation is the most famous image taken by the Hubble telescope. I remember seeing the 1995 original photo on a magazine when I was younger, and it was probably at that time that I began to love astronomy.
Back when we started Astrophotography, without even having a telescope, M16 was very well positioned in the September night sky, but we couldn't capture it with our little tripod and DSLR. After waiting almost a year for our Earth to complete its turn around our sun again, M16 finally re-appeared.
I hope that one day we can afford a CCD camera to be able to redo this target and capture all the nebulosity of the Eagle.
Camera: Canon t3i
Telescope: Orion 8" Astrograph f/3.9
Mount: Atlas EQ-G motorized Mount
Total Exposure Time: 3.45 hours
Exposure Time per frame: 3 minutes
69 lights - 21 Darks - 21 Bias
A cropped version of our image. You can see the Pillars of Creations in the center, the beak of the Eagle above, and the faint, spanned wings on its sides.
Here is Hubble's version of the pillars of Creation (revisit). The only way to get a result that close, using amateur gear, is with a CCD camera and a "Hubble palette" of filters. One day, we shall capture it this way.
As you can see, the iconic Pillars of Creation are easily photographed by amateur photographers even with a cheap DSLR camera and no filter. This is another cropped image of our photo where you can clearly see the Pillars in the center!
LOCATING MESSIER 16
M16 can be found in the tail of the Serpens constellation, near Scutum. It lies about 2.5 degrees west of the bright star Gamma Scuti.
The Eagle nebula is close enough to M17, the Omega nebula, that they can both be seen in the same field of view when using binoculars. M16 is not that impressive through binoculars, the cluster of stars will easily be seen, but the gases forming the nebulosity will be far from obvious.
The Eagle is best seen through low powered telescopes, such as 4” or 6”. As for the famous Pillars of Creations, those can only be seen through telescopes with an aperture of at least 12”.
Discovered in 1745. and thought to be a star cluster
Made famous by the HST in 1995
Tallest Pillar of Creation is 4 light-years high
SINGLE SHOT & PROCESSING OF THE EAGLE NEBULA
M16 is not too difficult to process. It is actually easy as long as you don't get too greedy when trying to show the fainter gases in the wings of the Eagle. Here is what a single shot looks like with our t3i and 3 minutes of exposure at ISO 400:
You should spend a minimum of 4 hours on this target to get a similar result as ours with a DSLR camera, but adding more time will help to capture more of the outer gases forming the wings of the Eagle. Just note that this is assuming you have similar skies as ours (Bortle 3.5).
The Eagle Nebula is an awesome target to capture, but most importantly an amazing nebula to revisit as your skills and equipment become better. We really cannot wait to be able to photograph it again with a CCD camera!
If you would like to get our image as a print or other, you can support us and see some options HERE
Part of: The Astrophotographer's Guidebook
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!
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