Skies By Africa

Images of the Heavens By Eric Africa

The Iris Nebula and the Ghost Nebula

Iris and Ghost Nebula
NGC 7023, nicknamed the Iris Nebula, is the blue nebula at the center left of this widefield image. It is one of my favorite objects and on my target list ever since I heard about it. There's something about its cool blue reflection glow framed by the dark nebulosity that makes it stand apart from the hordes of emission nebulae out there. It is located in the northern constellation Cepheus, a group of faint stars looking somewhat like a lopsided drawing of a house. This constellation is near the familiar “W” (or “M”, depending on its orientation) of Cassiopeia.

NGC 7023 is illuminated by star HD 200775, a massive star with 10 times the mass of our sun. Its light is reflected off a surrounding dust cloud. Interactions between the star and the surrounding dust are responsible for the distinct hourglass shape of this nebula.

This widefield image showcases the amount of dust visible in this portion of our Milky Way galaxy. It also captures vdB 141, to the right of the Iris, which I captured back in 2011 using a different setup, which can be seen here.

The above image is a highly-compressed version of the full image. Please click on that preview image to see a 75%-sized view. 100%-sized crops of the Iris and vdb141 are also showcased below.
Constellation: Cepheus
When Visible: August - January
Distance: 1,200 Light-years
Date: September-October 2013
Location: Rancho Hidalgo, Animas, NM
Exposure Details:
L: 54 x 10 minutes Binned 1 x 1
R: 21 x 10 minutes Binned 1 x 1
G: 21 x 10 minutes Binned 1 x 1
B: 21 x 10 minutes Binned 1 x 1

19 hours and 30 minutes total exposure time
Equipment Used:  Takahashi FSQ-106N on an Astro-Physics AP1200GTO mount. SBIG STL-11000 camera with 5-position filter wheel and Astrodon filters. Robofocus focuser. Externally guided with an SBIG Remote Guide Head on a Borg 50Ach refractor.
Acquisition Software:  MaximDL, TheSky6, CCDAutopilot
Processing Software: MaximDL, Photoshop CS5, IrFanView, HLVG Plugin, Carboni Actions
The large image linked to above is only 75% of the original sized image. Here is a 100% sized crop of vdB141:
And here is a 100% sized crop of NGC 7023 (the Iris Nebula):