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Messier 29 - An Open Cluster in (Almost) Heaven

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Messier 29 is a small and faint open cluster in the constellation of the swan, Cygnus. I decided to image this object completely randomly while waiting for comet NEOWISE to rise around 4:30 AM in the morning. I had no idea I was in for such a wonderful treat...

Although tiny and not very impressive, the cluster itself is surrounded by so much hydrogen alpha gas, several dark clouds of interstellar dust, and beautiful bright stars. This object has instantly become my new favorite cluster of all time thanks to this magnificent field of view.

The image on the right shows the mount and telescope we used to capture Messier 29!

The telescope used is our trusty 8" Newtonian Astrograph from Orion, the mount used is the Software Bisque MyT Paramount (read our full review HERE!) and the camera is the OSC full frame QHY128C camera!

Telescope and Milky Way
The gear used to image M30

Object Designation: M29

Constellation: Cygnus

Object Type: Supernova Remnant

Distance: 5,870 light-years away

Magnitude: 7.1

Discovered in: 1784 by William Herschel

Here is our image of the open cluster M29, with one hour of total integration time only!

Messier 29 using the Orion 8" Astrograph and the QHY128C

Messier 30 Astrophotography - QHY128C


Camera: QHYCCD 128C

Telescope: 8" Newtonian

Guiding: N/A

Processing: Pixinsight


Total Exposure Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Exposure Time per frame: 30 seconds

Gain: 3200


How to find Messier 29?

How to find the globular cluster M30 in the night sky, map

Messier 29 lies in the most exciting constellation in the night sky (in our opinion), Cygnus.

Cygnus is full of nebulosity and interesting deep sky objects, so it is in a way not that surprising that M29 is surrounded by gas!

The cluster is located near the bright star Sadr and is in a way part of the Sadr Region, which we spent 41 hours on recently but did not include M29.

It is also close to NGC 6888, the Crescent Nebula, which we also imaged in the past!


How to Process Messier 29

Processing Messier 29 was not difficult but it wasn't easy either. The most challenging part was to get the proper masks to reduce the noise. It was not an easy feat because of how much nebulosity there is all over the image. I sometimes had no choice but to make some sacrifices by applying noise reduction to areas that did not need it, therefore applying some blur to parts of the image.

Messier 29 open cluster astrophotography
Zooming in on the open cluster M29 in our image

M29 being pretty small, it is easy to get lost and carried away if you photographed this target wide-field. There is just so much going on everywhere!

The image on the left shows a crop on the cluster only, and even then you can see quite a bit of Hydrogen Alpha gas behind and around it.

The colors I was able to bring out on the cluster itself are yellow and blue.

We did not use our auto-guider to image M29 but instead turned it off and took short 30-second exposures with just the mount tracking. Because of how short the exposures were, it was not a problem to not have auto-guiding and the stars look perfectly round thanks to a great polar alignment.

We used the QHY Polemaster (read our review!) to polar align before every imaging session.

What did our single shots look like?

You may be wondering what a single shot of 30 seconds looks like. Here is one from a Bortle 5 zone.

A single 30 second shot of Messier 29 with the QHY128C Camera
A single 30 second shot of Messier 29

We processed this image using the usual, basic workflow we've been using for years.

You can get our full PixInsight workflow as a PDF "follow along" file HERE.


Final Thoughts

Messier 29 was such an incredible surprise! I did not do my research before imaging this object and did not see any nebulosity on the single shot, so I was blown away when stacking the data and stretching the image for the first time. Now, I wish I spent way more time on this target and will probably revisit it at some point in the future!

Have you captured the M29 open cluster? Attach your image in the comments and let us know what you used!

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Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter


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Description: Discover which star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies are the easiest and most impressive to photograph for each season.

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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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