Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

Sh2-136 aka vdb141

 Dark Nebula



Over 2 light-years across this ghostly nebula and relatively isolated Bok globule, also known as vdB 141 or Sh2-136, is near the center of the image field. The spooky shapes are cosmic dust clouds faintly visible in dimly reflected star light that lurk at the edge of the Cepheus Flare molecular cloud complex some 1,200 light-years from Earth. The core of the dark cloud on the right is collapsing and is likely a binary star system in the early stages of formation.  Its spooky appearance reminds one of Halloween ghosts and goblins and is a favorite target of astrophotographers as Halloween approaches.


  • Date & Location:  October 11 & 12, 2012 - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Light Winds, Temperature range 41F to 37F (11th) & 42F to 29F (12th).

  • Sky Conditions:  11th - average transparency-high clouds, 12th -Clear with above average transparency late.

  • SQM-L: 11th = 20.15 start - 20.37 finish, 12th = 20:12 start - 20:45 finish

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

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

  • Mount:  AstroPhysics AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion SSAG @5 seconds exposures

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

  • Exposure:  37 x 10 minute subs @ ISO1600 - 370 minutes total exposure (6 hours 10 min)

  • Calibration Frames:  Master Dark & Bias 40F

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

  • Comments:  11th - thin veil of high clouds and haze deteoriated transparency. 12th - had good transparency that improved after midnight.  This target is at the limit of what can be decently resolved with my 4" APO refractor and a DSLR camera sensor, much better image details could be resolved with a high end ccd camera and/or with the use of a larger/faster scope...not to mention darker and more transparent skies.  Still, I wanted to see what I could do with my current equipment and this is yet another target I'd like to revisit someday with a higher resolution camera coupled with improved processing techniques. 


Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors