Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

IC59 & IC63

Emission-Reflection Nebula Complex



The above image was taken over a period of four consecutive nights during a period of clear and rare transparent nights here in southeast Pennsylvania. The image contains the mixed emission and reflection nebulae IC59 (upper right) and IC63 which is located near the center of the image and seemingly pointing at the bright star Gamma Cassiopeia to its lower right. This cometary shape of IC63 was likely formed due to the radiation pressure from this nearby star. This bright star is also known as Navi, which shines at magnitude +2.18 and is the middle star in the well known "W" shape in the constellation of Cassiopeia.  The luminosity of this blue-white sub-giant (which is 70.000 times the brightness of our sun!) is responsible for energizing the emission "front" of IC59 & IC63, causing them to glow red in Hydrogen Alpha light.  The nebula behind the red emission front is less energetic and simply reflects the blue star light from Gamma Cassiopeia.  The overall starscape in this image displays the myriad of stars that populate the Milky Way in this part of the sky.


  • Date & Location:  Oct  27/8, 29/30 / Nov 1/2, 2/3, 2013  - StarEffects Observatory, Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm, Average temperature 40F for all four nights.

  • Sky Conditions:  Mostly clear with above average transparency. 

  • SQM-L:  N1 20:32 start - 20:42 end / N2 20:32 - 20:15 / N3 20:44 - 20:44 / N4 20:34 - 20:42

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor 540mm @ f5.4 no FF

  • Filter:  CLS-CCD Astronomic DSLR clip in  (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion SSAG @ 5 second exposures w/TeleVue TV60is

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500D) Hap Griffin Modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  272 min (34 x 8 minute subs = 4hrs-32min total) @ ISO 800 RAW using Custom White Balance

  • Calibration Frames:  12-10min Darks, 12 Bias, 10 Field Flats w/Alnitak Flat Man - All Custom White Balance

  • Processing:  Images Plus 4.50b, PS CS6, NIK filters, RCastro

  • Comments:  This is another target I had never attempted to image before and one not overly photographed, yet offers a strikingly beautiful combination of Emission and Reflection nebula.  I stumbled across this object while looking for interesting objects to photograph that would be near the meridian during the hours of peak darkness in late October, a great find for sure!


Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors