Pacman Nebula

pecman nebula ngc281 400mm

The plan was to photograph either the Heart or the Soul nebula last night. But with a pub quiz calling, I ran out of time to find and compose the targets before leaving. Even at 400mm some targets can be surprisingly difficult to find!.. So I resorted to shooting the Pacman Nebula (NGC 281) in Cassiopeia instead. Using the bright star Schedar as a handy guide. I quickly set up the shot and left it to run for a couple of hours.

Although the raw data was pretty underwhelming, I did manage to stretch the data enough to produce an image I’m happy with. From the Bortle 6 skies that I’m shooting from, I’m sure that emission nebulae like this would really benefit from a narrowband filter. I have my eyes on the Optolong L-enhance as my next purchase which should hopefully cut down on the light pollution.

From this image it’s also clear that my recent astro mod of the D5500 has introduced some tilt into the sensor plane. Stars on the right are in focus, while stars on the left are bloated and out of focus. I may need to open the camera back up to see if this can be dialled out.

Image details: Modified Nikon D5500Tamron-100-400mm-f4.5-6.3 @ 400mm/f6.3. Total of 90 minutes exposure time (180 x 30 seconds) at iso 1000. Tracked with unguided AstroTrac TT320X-AG. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker. Edited with Photoshop and Starnet++

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