Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

M97 Owl Nebula + M108 Galaxy

Ursa Major


In the lower left of this image is the Owl Nebula, a ghost-like outer shell of gas that was blown off by a dying star.  The Owl Nebula is about 3,000 light years from Earth, but even small telescopes can detect the faint hollow eyes of the nebula, which earned its name in 1848.  The Owl Nebula fits into a class of nebula known as Planetary Nebula, which are generally small, but colorful deep sky objects suitable for viewing and imaging with larger amateur telescopes.  In the upper right of this image, Galaxy M108 lies over 1,000 times farther away, at a distance of 45 million light-years.  It's spiral arms form is concealed by its nearly edge-on orientation to our angle of view.

North is up in the above image. 


  • Date & Location:  April 1/2nd, 2013 - StarEffects Observatory - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Breezy, steady temperature near 33F. No snow cover.

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with average transparency.

  • SQM-L: 20:34 start  - 20:43 finish which is excellent for this time of year.

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is @ 540mm f5.4

  • Filter:  Hutech IDAS-LPS (Light Pollution Suppression) in image train.

  • Mount:  AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion SSAG @ 5 second exposures

  • Camera:  Canon 5D MII  unmodified

  • Exposure:  13 x 8 min (1 hours 44 min total) all at ISO 800

  • Calibration Frames:  None - near freezing

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

  • Comments:  An unmodified DSLR was used since there were no red emission nebula to be found in the above image frame. Image above was cropped to about a degree square. 


Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors