Updated: Jun 22, 2020
M17 is a fairly bright diffuse emission nebula, and is also commonly named the Swan nebula. M17 is very similar to the famous Orion nebula (M42), but it is seen from its edge, while M42 is seen face-on. Messier 17 is also about three to four times farther than the Orion nebula.
In Astrophotography, getting the bright part of M17 is an easy feat, but if you would like to get some of the faint outer gases, make sure to spend some more time on gathering enough light. You will also want to keep those fainter gases in mind during your entire processing workflow, so you don’t accidentally make your image too dark and lose the data from the gases all around.
We will show you our attempt at imaging this object from our light polluted backyard using our very first telescope, our $499 reflector, a cooled astrophotography-dedicated camera and the TRIAD Ultra filter (click the link to read our review).
The TRIAD Ultra is a quad-band narrowband filter that allows you to image any narrowband target, no matter the light pollution. As a proof, our backyard is from a white zone, in a Bortle 9 scale. This is as light polluted as it gets.
Here is our final (or maybe not) image of the Omega Nebula. We may or may not add more hours to it in the near future.
Messier 17 using the TRIAD Ultra filter with the QHY128C
Camera: QHYCCD 128C
Telescope: Orion 8" Astrograph f/3.9
Guiding: ZWO ASI 290MM Mini
Total Exposure Time: 5 hours and 40 minutes
Exposure Time per frame: 3 minutes
Filters: TRIAD Ultra Quad-Band
You can get our Raw files for this target and many others by supporting us on Patreon :)
How to find the Omega Nebula?
Messier 17 is best seen through wide telescopes and binoculars. Only people with very good vision will be able to spot it with the naked eye under a dark site.
The Omega nebula is located in the constellation Sagittarius, near the Eagle Nebula. You can find it easily by spotting the bottom star of the constellation Scutum, or also by using the teapot stars in Sagittarius.
If using binoculars when trying to find it, make sure not to mistake the Omega Nebula with the Eagle Nebula, the Trifid or Lagoon nebulae, because they are all close to each other.
Discovered in 1745
One of the brightest star-forming nebulae
Home to 800 stars
Processing of Messier 17
Processing the Omega Nebula was no easy feat. Things would have been much, much easier if we took some flat frames in the morning instead of packing everything up right away. For our defense, it was already super hot here in Vegas at 6AM in the morning when we woke up so it was really difficult to stay out playing with the histogram.
Do you see this ugly white vignetting on the right? That would have been gone with flats. You might not see it below but it is also present on the left. It becomes much more noticeable during the background extraction process. For now, we just cropped it out.
We processed this image using our usual, basic workflow we've been using for years.
You can get our full PixInsight workflow as a PDF "follow along" file HERE.
What did our single shots look like?
You may be wondering what a single shot of 3 minutes from our backyard looks like. Here is one! Remember that this is with the TRIAD Ultra filter attached.
You can read our full review of the TRIAD Ultra filter HERE.
The image we got is great, shows a lot of detail, but is not super clean overall. We know this can be fixed by adding a few more hours to it. We also did not take flats which might have affected some parts of the image. Will we add more data to it? Well, we'll see, but if we do, we'll make sure to update this post!
Have you captured the Omega Nebula? Attach your image in the comments and let us know what you used!
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