Updated: May 17
The Statue of Liberty Nebula is a colorful and bright emission nebula in the constellation Carina. It is a great target for beginner astrophotographers living in the southern hemisphere! In this post, you will find information, images, and tips to photograph the Statue of Liberty Nebula.
Object Designation: NGC 3576
Also known as: The Statue of Liberty Nebula
Object Type: Emission Nebula
Distance: 9,000 light-years away
Discovered in: March 16 1834 by John Herschel
Below you will find two different versions of the Statue of Liberty Nebula. One was taken with a large telescope and shows an up-close view of the object, while the other was taken with a small widefield refractor telescope. We like both fields of view, what about you?
The Statue of Liberty Nebula Close-Up with a PlaneWave Telescope
The Statue of Liberty Nebula is located in the southern constellation Carina, and so is not visible from the northern hemisphere.
Because we live in Nevada, we don't have a choice but to use a remote telescope service if we want to capture this object. In this case, I decided to use "Telescope Live" to remotely image the object.
You can see the result below, it is a total of 9 hours taken from a Bortle 1 zone in Chile with a PlaneWave CDK24 and CCD camera. Narrowband filters were used, which I combined into the Hubble Palette as "S-H-O". I really like the number of different colors interacting within the gases!
Camera: FLI Proline PL9000
Telescope: PlaneWave 24" f/6.5 CDK
Mount: Mathis MI-1000/1250 with absolute encoders
Processing: Pixinsight, with RC-Astro plugins
Total Exposure Time: 9 hours
Exposure Time per frame: 10 minutes
Filters: Astrodon 3nm SHO
The Statue of Liberty Nebula Widefield with a Small Refractor Telescope
After processing the close-up version of NGC 3576, I also wanted to get a wide view on it and see how much gas was in the surrounding area.
This second attempt was done using a small refractor telescope, the Takahashi FSQ-106 ED. The focal length here is 382mm, versus 3962mm previously with the CDK 24, that's a big difference! This data was once again acquired using Telescope Live.
The Statue of Liberty Nebula can be seen in the center. Just to the left of it is NGC 3584. The two nebulae appear to be interacting, but they are actually at completely different distances and are not related in any way. The nebulosity you see on the upper right is NGC 3503, which is a reflection nebula very close to the Great Carina Nebula.
On the bottom left is a section from the Running Chicken Nebula (IC 2944).
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Camera: FLI PL16803
Telescope: Takahashi FSQ-106
Mount: Software Bisque Paramount MX+
Processing: Pixinsight, with RC-Astro plugins
Total Exposure Time: 21 hours
Exposure Time per frame: 5 minutes
Filters: Astrodon 3nm SHO
How to find the Statue of Liberty Nebula in the Sky?
NGC 3576 lies 9,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina. The best time to image the Statue of Liberty Nebula is from March to September, although it stays available in the sky all year round. Remember that you would need to be in the southern hemisphere to be able to spot it.
The nebula is not very large, so it can be difficult to find visually, but it is bright enough to easily appear in short test pictures if you are doing astrophotography. If using a camera lens, simply point your camera roughly towards the Carina Nebula, and you should see the Statue of Liberty nebula in your frame not too far. For telescope users, it is recommended to use a GoTo mount to center your instrument on the nebula.
The Statue of Liberty Nebula has a right ascension (R.A.) of 11h 11m 32.7 and a Declination (Dec.) of -61:21:44.
The Carina constellation is located close to the southern pole. Other nearby constellations include Vela, Puppis, Volans, and Musca for example. The constellation itself is very simple to find because it contains the brightest star in the southern hemisphere, Canopus.
As you can see on the map above, the circled Statue of Liberty nebula lies just in between two open clusters, NGC 3532 (The Pincushion Cluster) and IC 2602 (The Southern Pleiades).
NGC 3576 Information
NGC 3576 has a diameter of 100 light-years and lies in the Sagittarius arm of our Milky Way galaxy.
It is an active star-forming region, with powerful stellar winds going in all directions and creating filaments in and around the object. These winds contribute to how much texture is visible in the Statue of Liberty Nebula.
The picture on the right was taken by NASA/ESA in 2019, and shows a crop on the Statue of Liberty Nebula.
Do you see the faint blue gases in the bottom half of the image? These were revealed by the Chandra X-Ray observatory, and are believed to be intense winds created by the young stars traveling through the nebulous gases.
The red and orange gases are not X-Ray, but optical light from ESO telescopes.
The name of "Statue of Liberty Nebula" is not that old. It was suggested by Dr. Steve Mazlin, a member of Star Shadows Remote Observatory (SSRO), in the year 2009. I think it fits the nebula perfectly!
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Recommended Equipment for Astrophotography of the Statue of Liberty Nebula
If you are a beginner astrophotographer and aren't sure what to use to take a picture of the Statue of Liberty Nebula, you are at the right place! Below we are going to go over 3 different options, all of which are great for this target.
1 - Imaging the Statue of Liberty Nebula with a Small Refractor Telescope
This is the easiest setup you can use if you are a beginner astrophotographer. Using a widefield refracting telescope will give you a similar field of view seen in our widefield image. If you are looking for a good telescope that is much more affordable than the FSQ-106, check out the Askar FRA 400. It is a fast high-quality telescope, especially when paired with the f/3.9 reducer!
As for the mount and camera, we recommend either the Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro or the ZWO AM5, which is lighter and more portable. The type of camera that is best used for this target, as well as other emission nebulae, is a monochrome astronomy camera. One of the best cameras you can get right now is the ZWO ASI2600MM or the QHY version, the QHY268M.
This camera/mount suggestion applies to both this option and the second one below.
2 - Imaging the Statue of Liberty Nebula with a Reflector Telescope
The best telescope we would recommend for this target is a much cheaper option, and will give you a better framing on the nebula itself. We recommend an 8" reflector telescope, which is what our very first telescope was when we got started! You'll have 800mm of focal length (compared to 300-400mm with the refractor) and a higher aperture.
The beautiful image below was taken by "TracerCore8" on Reddit, using an 8" reflector telescope and monochrome camera. You can see how great the field of view is using the 8" Newtonian! This image is under 2 hours of total exposure time and was taken from a Bortle 6 zone!
3 - Imaging the Statue of Liberty Nebula with a Remote Telescope
If like us, you live in the northern hemisphere, then there is no way you can image this object from your location. If you do not want to travel with your entire astrophotography rig to a southern country, then you'll need to image this target remotely!
We use Telescope Live to image deep-space objects that are out of our reach due to our location. You can use Telescope Live to either directly control a telescope remotely and image whatever target you want, or you can also easily download sets of raw data ready for processing.
We've used Telescope Live a few times in the past, for example when we imaged the Bug Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula, or the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy! If you'd like to give it a try, you can use the discount code "TL4GH" when signing up!
Do I need a modified DSLR camera or a filter to image the Statue of Liberty Nebula?
The Statue of Liberty Nebula is an emission nebula. Emission nebulae are best captured using narrowband filters (Hydrogen Alpha, Sulfur II and Oxygen III). You can either use these three filters individually with a monochrome camera, or use a duo-band narrowband filter with a One-Shot-Color camera. A great narrowband filter for color cameras is the Optolong L-Ultimate.
If you own a DSLR or mirrorless camera and do not want to use filters, you can try modifying your current camera to make it more sensitive to Hydrogen Alpha gas.
The comparison image above shows Barnard's Loop in Orion with a stock unmodified DSLR camera (left) versus a mirrorless camera modified for astrophotography (right). Click the image to learn more about modifying a camera for the purpose of imaging deep-sky objects.
Processing the Statue of Liberty Nebula Data
I processed NGC 3576 twice, the first time was the close-up data with the CDK24, the second time was the widefield data with the FSQ-106.
Both times were fun, although the close-up view was much easier to process than the widefield version. In the widefield version, the image was great during processing with the stars removed, but adding the stars back, even after reducing their size, made the image very messy and not visually pleasing. It was also more difficult to achieve perfect colors and details in the widefield version because the resolution wasn't as great as what the CDK24 offered.
The close-up data was so simple to process. There are no limits to what color combinations you can achieve, and the details are easy to bring out as long as you don't blow up the brighter section of the star-forming area.
Below you can see what each channel looked like. The HA was obviously the cleanest, but all three had important signal to combine.
The Statue of Liberty Nebula - H, S, and O channels
If you are interested in learning how I process all our images nowadays, you can download a full PDF "follow along" file that contains 97 pages, a full 1 hour and 45 minutes walkthrough tutorial video, our custom pre-sets for your dashboard and even raw data HERE. It also includes a section on how to download and process data from the James Webb Space Telescope.
The file is updated whenever I decide to tweak my workflow or add more to it, and you always get the updates for free!
The starless version of this image was especially beautiful, so let's take a look at these below!
The Statue of Liberty Nebula Starless
I really like how the starless version of both images looks, specifically the close-up one. So much texture and details are visible in the gasses, and the shape of the statue is clearly defined. The widefield version is also very impressive when stars are removed. You can see an incredible amount of gas going all the way from NGC 3503 to IC 2944 while passing through the Statue of Liberty Nebula.
As you can see in the comparison image above, I decided to remove more of the green hue in the widefield image, and keep some of the green in the close-up view. This is because the green looks fine when it is just on the nebula itself, but it did not look as good when spread out all over the frame in the wide-field version.
Removing the green is easily achieved using SCNR on PixInsight. You can select the percentage you want to remove, and the green pixel will become bluer after applying the process.
Statue of Liberty Nebula FAQ
In which constellation is the Statue of Liberty Nebula located?
You can find the Statue of Liberty Nebula in the southern constellation Carina.
How big is the Statue of Liberty Nebula?
NGC 3576 has a radius of 50 light-years and a diameter of 100 light-years.
How far is the Statue of Liberty Nebula?
NGC 3576 is located 9,000 light-years away from Earth.
How long should my exposure time be when photographing the Statue of Liberty Nebula?
300 to 600 seconds (5-10 minutes) is a good starting point for any telescope. Be sure your guiding is smooth if you go for 10 minutes per frame.
Should I use a filter to image the Statue of Liberty Nebula?
NGC 3576 is an emission nebula, so it is best imaged in narrowband. We recommend using either H, S, and O filters with a monochrome camera, or using a duo-narrowband filter like the Optolong L-Ultimate with a color camera. You can also attempt this target without any filter, which will give you an object that will look mostly red.
What equipment do I need to photograph the Statue of Liberty Nebula?
You can capture NGC 3576 with a small refractor if you wish to include other nearby nebulae and gases. For an up-close view, we recommend using an 8 to 10" Newtonian reflector telescope.
The Statue of Liberty Nebula is such a beautiful emission nebula, that is sadly invisible for northern observers. This is I believe my favorite southern object, thanks to its cool shape and vibrant colors. With a big telescope, you will be able to resolve so much intricate detail and texture within the interacting gases. This is also a good target for owners of small refractor telescopes as you will be able to include much more outer gases, and even maybe several additional nebulae!
Have you captured NGC 3576? Attach your image in the comments and let us know your acquisition details!
Antoine & Dalia Grelin
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