Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

NGC 281 - Pacman Nebula




The Pacman nebula lies at a distance of about 10,000 light-years from Earth.  A bright group of stars in the center (NGC 281) illuminate the region of hydrogen gas, glowing red in the constellation of Cassiopeia.  Dark clouds of dust obscure some of the glowing gas, creating the 'mouth' and 'eye' of Pacman.  Star formation occurs in these dense clouds of dust.  Because the nebula is in the direction of the Milky Way, innumerable stars glitter in the background and foreground of the image.  This is an extremely faint object, even though it has an apparent magnitude of 7.00.  It's brightness is spread-out over an area that is almost 35 arc minutes.


  • Date & Location:  November 2, 2011 - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm wind, high humidity, start temp 33F - end temp 28F

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with average transparency. 

  • SQM-L: Average Start 20.21 / Stop 20:38 (light fog)

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor with 1.5x extender 810mm @ f8.1

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

  • Mount:  AstroPhysics AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  None - PEM active

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

  • Exposure:  29 x 8 min @ ISO400 (total 3 hr - 52 min)

  • Calibration Frames:  None (sub freezing)

  • Processing:  Images Plus 3.82, PS CS4, Noise Ninja, GradientXTerminator, NIK 

  • Comments:  I had originally intended to use ISO 800 or possibly even 1600, but had forget to reset the ISO which was set at 400 from the previous session.  As it turned out, I had enough signal from my sub-frames and very little noise to deal with!  Additionally, star color was more enhanced with this lower ISO setting. 




Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors