Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

SH2-129 & VDB-140

Emission & Reflection Nebula





This image features at least two interesting deep sky objects.  First is SH2-129, a large red emission nebula which is sometimes referred to as the "Flying Bat".  The Sharpless (SH) Catalog is a list of 312 HII regions.  The first edition was publishing 1953 with 142 objects (Sh1) and second and final version was published by US astronomer Stewart Sharpless in 1959 with 312 objects.  The 312 items in the Sharpless catalog overlap with objects from many other catalogs including the 110 Messier objects (M), 7,840 objects in the New General Catalogue (NGC), Caldwell catalogue (which itself is a "best of" from other catalogues, with 109 items), and the RCW catalog. Abbreviations for Sharpless objects include, for example using 129, would be Sharpless 129, or Sh2-129.

The blue reflection nebula surrounding the star (V21 Cephei) in the upper left corner of the image is known as Van den Bergh 140.  The star itself is a variable star with an average magnitude of 6.50.  This star is circumpolar, so it never rises or sets.  This nebula is from the Van den Bergh Reflection Nebulae Catalog which contains 158 reflection nebulae.  It was originally published in 1966 by Sidney Van den Bergh.  The 5.5 yellow sun above VDB-140 is V381 Cephei and above that can be seen a dusty region of dark nebula.  For scale, the image field of view (FOV) is a little under 3 x 2 degrees, which is a rather wide FOV for an astro image.   



  • Date & Location:  November 28 & 24, 2011 - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm wind, Average temperature both nights 35F

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with average transparency

  • SQM-L: Average Start 20.07 / Stop 20:30

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor with 0.8x reducer 432mm @ f4.3

  • 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:  28 x 6 min @ ISO800 (total  2hr - 48 min)

  • Calibration Frames:  16 Dark / 16 Bias

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

  • Comments:  Relatively faint object that would have benefited from a more transparent sky and/or from a more sensitive CCD camera to bring out the finer details. 



Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors