Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

NGC 6820 Emission Nebula

NGC 6823 Open Cluster


Mouse over the above image to see the designations of the various objects


NGC 6820 is an emission nebula that surrounds open cluster NGC 6823 in Vulpecula. The nebula NGC 6820 is also called Sharpless catalog Sh 2-86, which may more accurately be assigned to the small reflection nebula also known as GN 19.40.3

The most striking feature is the trunk-like pillar of dust and gas protruding from the east side of the nebula towards the open cluster, NGC 6823 in the west. The center of the open cluster is about two million years old and is predominantly represented by many young, bright blue-white stars. Outer parts of the cluster intimately involving pillars of emission nebula NGC 6820, contain even younger stars. The huge pillars of gas and dust are probably formed when surrounding gas and dust is pushed and eroded away by radiation from nearby stars. Remarkable dark globules of gas and dust are also visible in the nebula, much as is seen in the better known Eagle Nebula in Serpens or the Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius.

Open star cluster NGC 6823 is about 50 light years across and lies about 6000 light years away.


  • Date & Location:  July 24th & 25th, 2012 - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Breezy, Temperature range 72F to 67F (11:30pm to 2:10am)

  • Sky Conditions:  Mostly clear with average transparency.  Moonset 11:11pm

  • SQM-L: 20.36 start - 20.45 finish

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor with focal reducer (432mm f4.3)

  • Filter:  Hutech IDAS-LPS (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  AstroPhysics AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion SSAG @5 seconds

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500d) Hap Griffin modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  8 - 8 minute subs + 6 - 10 minute @ ISO800 - 124 minutes total exposure

  • Calibration Frames:  Master Dark & Bias 70F

  • Processing:  Images Plus 4.50b, PS CS6, GradientXTerminator, NIK filter tools 

  • Comments:  Positives on this night were gradually improving transparency as the night went on and a rare lack of dew because of the dry breezy conditions.  Star focusing was done with 10x Live View  and Canon EOS Utility. 


Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors