Skies By Africa

Images of the Heavens By Eric Africa

M52 and the Bubble Nebula

M52 and the Bubble
As discussed elsewhere in this site, Cassiopeia is home to many interesting nebulae. It is also home to many pretty and interesting open star clusters. This image managed to capture one of each!

The Bubble Nebula, NGC 7635, is an aptly-named bubble-shaped nebula. This is a shell of gas blown off by a massive star (several times the mass of the Sun) that is going through a "Wolf-Rayet" phase. This is a stage in that massive star's life where it is shedding prodigious amounts of mass, and is quite possibly close to its end. That end is typically in the form of a supernova blast. So we are quite possibly watching the death throes of a star about to go supernova. Maybe not in our lifetime, but quite possibly within the next few thousand years. Or perhaps tomorrow!

M52, the open cluster on the left of the image, is one of the 110 objects in Charles Messier's famous list of showcase deep sky objects. It is not one of the brightest, as views even through my 8" telescope at my backyard are not that impressive, at least to me and in recent memory (take note that I rarely use my telescopes visually). Take note though, that at 5,000 light-years this cluster has distance working against it as well!

This particular image is not outstanding by any means. In fact, I can pick out quite a few flaws in the image. It does represent one of my first attempts at HaRGB imaging, however, combining H-alpha narrowband data with standard data captured through RGB filters. Since one objective of my web site is to showcase my images good and bad, I choose to share this image. Hopefully some day I'll be able to reshoot these targets.
Constellation: Cassiopeia
When Visible: August - January
Distance: 5,000 Light-years (M52), 7,000 - 11,000 light-years (NGC 7635)
Date: August 2005
Location: West Chester, Ohio
Exposure Details:
H-alpha: 20 x 20 Minutes Binned 1x1
R: 12 x 5 Minutes Binned 2x2
G: 12 x 5 Minutes Binned 2x2
B: 12 x 5 Minutes Binned 2x2
Equipment Used: Takahashi FS-102 on a Takahashi EM200 Temma-PC mount. SBIG ST-8XE camera with 5-position filter wheel and Astrodon filters (RGB), Custom-Scientific filters (H-alpha). Self-guided using an SBIG ST-7E on a Borg 76ED refractor.
Acquisition Software : CCDSoft, TheSky6
Processing Software: MaximDL, Photoshop CS, IrFanView