Elephant Trunk Nebula

December 08, 2009

20091208 – Tuesday - Elephant Trunk Nebula
Photographer:
Charles Lillo
Summary Author: Charles Lillo

The image above showing the splendid Elephant Trunk Nebula was captured on the night of October 18, 2009 from the Big Cypress Preserve in the Florida Everglades. A cold front passed through earlier in the day, dropping temperatures to the low 50s (quite chilly for October in southern Florida) and clearing the sky for a night of nearly ideal viewing. Even the Moon cooperated in its new phase. The Elephant Trunk Nebula is located in the constellation of Cepheus (the King), approximately 2,400 light years away. It’s positioned within the IC 1396 emission nebula complex. This huge area of hydrogen gas and dust is a stellar nursery that holds many nascent stars. The top region of the Elephant Trunk is being blown away by radiation emitted from newborn stars that are igniting deep within the nebula. Although the dark gases and dust are opaque to visible light, infrared light easily passes through this region, permitting a view of the inner workings of the Elephant Trunk.

Image details: Camera - Starlight XPress SXV-H9C. This is a one shot color camera made specifically for astrophotography. The CCD sensor is cooled to 30 degrees below the ambient temperature in an effort to reduce thermal noise produced by the buildup of heat when taking long exposures; Mount - Orion Atlas EQ-G; Telescope - Orion ED 80 (80 mm refractor); Exposures - 20, 10 minute frames were taken, for a total exposure time of 3 hours and 20 minutes. Software: The images were then combined and aligning using Maxim DL and final image processing was done in Photoshop.

Big Cypress Preserve coordinates: N25.858889, W81.033889