Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

     NGC 7023 - VDB 141

Iris Nebula - Ghost Nebula Complex

Dusty Wide Field View



This dusty wide field view encompasses the bright blue Iris reflection nebula (NGC-7023) on the left as well as the Ghost Nebula (Vdb-141)  region that stretches through the center of the image.  Also known as Sh2-136, the Ghost Nebula is about 2 light years across and 1200 light years away. The surrounding nebulosity is not catalogued, but these dust clouds are pervasive throughout the constellation of Cepheus. The Ghost Nebula shown in the middle of the image is actually a reflection nebula that has several embedded stars. These stars give the nebula an eerie brown color. The nebula itself consists of numerous Bok globules - areas where the dust and gas is condensing to form protostars.

The Iris Nebula, in the constellation of Cepheus, is a reflection nebula that surrounds open cluster NGC 7023. The nebula is a complex mixture of reflection, emission and dark nebulosity surrounding a 7.4 magnitude star that illuminates the reflection nebula. The Iris Nebula is located 1,300 light-years away with an estimated size of 5.6 light-years in diameter

North is down in this image.


  • Date & Location:  October 11/12/13, 2015 - StarEffects Observatory, Bernville. PA

  • Weather:  Calm winds, average temp of 42F all three nights.

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with Above Average Transparency N1, Average Trans N2,N3. 

  • SQM-L:  Start to Finish  NI 20:30 - 20:45, N2 20:31-20:40, N3 20.28-20:46

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is 540mm w/Field Flattener @ f5.4

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

  • Mount:  AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  TeleVue TV60is - Orion Star Shoot AG - 5 second exp - good graph

  • Camera:  Canon 6DH Hutech Full Frame Modified UV/IR - DSLR

  • Exposure:  N1-25 x 10min, N2-10-12.5min, N3-30-9min ISO800  (total 10hours 45 minutes)

  • Calibration Frames: 16  Darks, 16 Bias 40F - 10 Flats Used acquired w/Alnitak Flat Man

  • Processing:    Images Plus 5.75a, PS CS6, DSLR-LLRGB, NIK filter tools 

  • Comments:  All three nights offered good sky conditions to start, with some deteriorating towards end of imaging session.  The final image required extensive photo processing to bring out the faint nebula details, first working in Luminance (B/W) only and then later in RGB color.  This combined with the greater sensitivity of the Canon 6DH and longer exposure times allowed me to expose a lot more of the interstellar dust than previous attempts in this region.

Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors