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Dates & Location

9th November - 16th December 2009 using the SMAP site at Weed, New Mexico. Elevation 7269 ft. Lat 32.8°N Long 195.5W  

Catalogue identification

NGC 281
Pacman Nebula

Equipment Used

Officina Stellare RC400 at 3304mm focal length.
Paramount ME German equatorial Mount.
Camera SBIG ST-11000M with FW-8L filter wheel.
TheSky V6 telescope control.
CCDSoft V 5.0 camera control


Where it is in space

In the constellation of Cassiopeia within the Milky Way Galaxy. It is about 10,000 light years away and spans about 80 light years. NGC 281 is approximately 35 arc minutes in apparent size - larger than the apparent size of the full Moon. In this image North is up and East is to the left.

Remote session using RADMIN PC control from Ravenshead, UK.
HaLRGB exposures:- 240:300:80:80:100 mins total, using 20 min sub-exposures for Ha and 10 min for LRGB at
-25°C. All images binned 1x1. AllC

  What it is

NGC 281 is a star cluster associated with nebulosity.  The young, blue central stars are being formed from the surrounding gas, which emits Ha light after being excited by stellar radiation.  The nebulosity of this region is faint and can be best appreciated in long exposure images such as this.  There are prominent Bok Globules in the central portion of this image and columns of the original gas cloud have been etched out by the intense UV radiation from the new massive stars. These are further examples of the famous Hubble Space Telescope image of the Eagle Nebula which were nick-named "Pillars of Creation". The dark cloud across the centre of the cavity is a remnant of the original cloud which in the line of site of the Earth and is also being gradually eroded away by this radiation.
When the mouse is rolled over the image above, the normal size stars are displayed. These have been reduced in size to emphasis the nebula detail.

Processing Methods

Image acquisition and telescope control with CCDSoft V5/ TheSky6.  
  Data reduction with CCDStack. (Ha+L), (Ha+R)GB colour channels prepared in CCDStack.  

Master (Ha+R)GB image and Master (Ha+Lum) images finished with Photoshop CS2.Final HaLRGB image effects created using PhotoShop CS2.