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Eagle Nebula, A Stellar Nursery [M16]

Eagle Nebula
Eagle Nebula, M16

The Eagle Nebula is the 16th object cataloged by Charles Messier and discovered by Jean-Philippe de Cheseaux in 1745.  Also it spans 70 by 55 light years and is 7000 light years away from us.  In addition, it is an open cluster with so much dust and gas that it’s best known as a star forming region.  Of course the most famed area is the Pillars of Creation.  A group of spires spanning 4 to 5 light years sitting at the heart of the nebula.

Eagle Nebula: The Pillars of Creation

Do you want to see baby stars? If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look a the infrared Hubble photo of the Pillars of Creation. Although, in visible light it’s hard to see how much star making is happening. The below picture is cropped from the above in order to highlight the pillars. In essence, my photo does’t compare to that of NASA and I’m ok with that. My photo does, however, show the Eagle Nebula and the Pillars of Creation in great detail. So all in all I’m happy.

Pillars of Creation
Pillars of Creation

Definitely, because of the Hubble photos, this has become an favorite region of the sky to photograph by amateur astrophotographers. In the long run, as I continue to improve, I will compare these photos with those from my own telescopes. Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments.

How I Captured This Nebula

Telescope & Mount: RRRT

Camera:  SBIG STX-16803, 2048×2048 with 9 micron pixels

Location:  Fan Mountain, VA

Acquisition & Calibration:

  • Sky Net Software
  • Filter, Luminance, HA, OIII
  • Lum, 10  frames @ 180 s
  • H-Alpha, 10 frames @ 180 s
  • OIII, 10 frames @ 180 s
  • Total Integration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Post Processing

  • Deep Sky Stacker (Star Detection Threshold= 2 – 20%, Stacking Method: Sigma Clipping)
  • Gimp
    • Luminance Frame
      • Levels
    • RGB Frame
      • Add H-alpha Frame in Red
      • Add OIII frame in both Green and Blue
      • Levels
      • Remove Light Pollution
        • Add Subtraction Layer with Gradient
      • Color Balance
      • Add Luminance Frame (mode Overlay, at 50% opacity)
      • Saturation (reduction)
    • Curves
    • Denoise
    • Unsharp Mask
    • Curves
    • Added Name

Astrophotography Photobook!

The sky is only the limit when your mind is unwilling to fly. Go beyond!

Kevin Francis

Kevin Francis is a Mechanical Engineer by day, amateur Astrophotographer by night who is taking his Google Pixel smartphone camera to new limits.