NGC 7380 - The Wizard Nebula

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

NGC 7380 is an open cluster located about 8,000 light-years away in Cepheus. It rises high in the sky and can be imaged during the Summer and Fall seasons. The cluster is surrounded by nebulous gas, giving the nebula the shape of a medieval wizard.

Spanning over 5 full moons, NGC 7380 was captured by NASA in 2020 with WISE, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission.

What you can see on the right is a mosaic of infrared images taken by WISE.

The cluster within the nebulosity is made up of star that are believed to have been formed in the past 5 million years. Just a few million year is actually relatively young when it comes to outer space.

We used our trusty Orion 8" Astrograph f/3.9 telescope and our ZWO ASI 1600MM-Pro cooled camera to image the Wizard. Sadly, on that night, we had some troubles with a cable for the guiding camera. We were forced to image this target un-guided, and decided to take 2 minute exposures instead of our usual 3 minute for this kind of object. We spent a total of 1 hour and 22 minutes doing narrowband photography, with 15 frame for Ha and 13 frames for each of the two other narrowband filters. Our camera was cooled down to -20C. You can see the result of each filter later in this post.

The Wizard Nebula is one of the most popular object for astrophotographers who like doing starless versions of their images.

You can see on the left an image of the nebula without any stars, allowing you to really contemplate this object on a different level.

Starless images are easily achieved using a free software called Starnet. It can be a little tricky to use at first but the internet has plenty of tutorials for beginners. You can download Starnet HERE if you are interested in trying it out on your own images!

Below is our image of the Wizard Nebula. We are pretty happy with it although we really are a bit angry that our guiding could not work that night. We know it would have made a significant impact in the end result, and perhaps would have made the background much cleaner.

Scroll down for more details about this deep sky object.

NGC 7380 (HaSIIOIII), with the ASI 1600MM


Camera: ZWO ASI 1600mm Pro Mono

Telescope: Orion 8" Astrograph f/3.9

Mount: Atlas EQ-G motorized Mount

Guiding: None (On a strike)

Acquisition: ZWO ASIAIR

Power: Pegasus Astro Pocket Powerbox

Processing: Pixinsight


Total Exposure Time: 1 hour and 22 minutes

Exposure Time per frame: 2 minutes

Filters: Ha (30 min) / SII (26 min) / OIII (26 min)

Gain: 139


With a magnitude of 7.2, the Wizard Nebula is not that faint but because it is mostly made of Hydrogen Alpha and Oxygen, spotting it with the naked eye or even small instruments is not possible. A OIII filter will definitely help, but even then, it will not look impressive. You will of course need to be under a very dark site to hope seeing the Wizard's gases or its cluster.

NGC 7380 lies in the constellation of Cepheus, and is pretty close to Cassiopeia's "right" star when looking at the "W" shape. The best way to find it is to start from that star, and slowly drift towards Cepheus' southern stars.

  • Discovered by William Herschel's sister, Caroline

  • Is disappearing rapidly and will become invisible in "just" a few million years from now

  • Spans about 100 light-years in diameter


Similarly to our image of the Bubble Nebula or the North America Nebula, we used our three narrowband filters to capture this target and processed it with a Hubble Palette color mapping.

Below you can see, from left to right, the stacked images for the Hydrogen Alpha filter, the Sulfur II filter, and the Oxygen III filter.

The Wizard Nebula, stacked images for Ha/SII/OIII

The Hydrogen Alpha filter is the one that reveals the most gases, and, as often, the Sulfur II filter is the most "boring" of the three. We almost wanted to image the Wizard in Bicolor (HA and OIII) but ended up adding Sulfur as well just to be safe.

Processing NGC 7380 was not too bad, we had trouble trying to bring down the noise in the background, most likely because the unguided frames weren't as neat as if they were guided, but we did what we could and ended up with a great result. We might add more to it in the future, as 1 hour and 22 minutes of total exposure isn't really enough for this type of nebula.


The Wizard Nebula might not be a great object to observe, but it is a beautiful and impressive target to photograph! Although it is best captured with a monochrome camera in narrowband, there are plenty of images online from people who achieved great results with a simple DSLR camera! If you are a beginner astrophotographer and are looking for a bit of a challenge, give NGC 7380 a go! Make sure to add your image to the comment section below so that we may see your work and perhaps add it to the post as a comparison with ours!

If you'd rather image something different but aren't sure what to pick, check out our guides for the best Astrophotography targets for each season.

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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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!

The Astrophotographer's Journal

Description: The Astrophotographer’s Journal is a portable notebook created for the purpose of recording observations, cataloguing photographs, and writing down the wonderful memories created by this hobby. This book contains more than 200 pages to memorialize your stargazing and imaging sessions, as well as a useful chart on the last pages to index exciting or important notes. Read back on the logs to see how much progress you have made through the months, the problems you overcame, and the notes taken to improve in the future. Just as the pioneers of astronomy did in their time, look up and take notes of your observations as you are the author of this star-filled journey.

The Constellations Handbook

Description: The Constellations Handbook is a logical guide to learning the 88 constellations. Learning the constellations is difficult. Remembering them is even harder. Have you ever wanted to look up to the night sky, name any pattern of stars and be able to tell their stories? This book groups the constellations in a logical order, so that the reader can easily learn them by their origin, and see how their stories interact with one another as a group. The last pages of this book include an index of all 88 constellations, each with a slot where you can write your own personal tips and tricks in order to memorize them with ease. The Constellations Handbook is not just another guide listing all the constellations from A to Z and their location, it is the perfect companion for stargazing, and a learning journey through the ages.

#astronomy #astrophotography #messiercatalog #messier #galaxy #nebula #cluster #stars #space #galactichunter #nevada #lasvegas #canon #orion #meade #telescope #WizardNebula #NGC7380 #ZWO #ASI1600 #ASIAIR #starless

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