M97 The Owl Nebula

I do enjoy imaging Planetary Nebula, they are such beautiful colourful objects. This one, the Owl Nebula, is thought to have formed 6000 years ago and as ever, it is the result of a star ‘blowing off’ its outer layer. The central star in the nebula is magnitude 16 & has a mass slightly less than 3/4 of our own sun.

M97 - The Owl Nebula

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This nebulas’ structure is not fully understood and even its distance is debated.

In a pushed version of the original image it is possible to just make out several distant & faint background galaxies. Imaging this last night was a lucky bonus, I had not expected the skies to clear properly & was spending a little time tweaking the mount’s polar alignment. The skies did clear pretty well & despite a bright half moon, it was possible to image in the Ursa Major region for the first half of the night. This image was based around 2min 45s sub exposures on the Canon 20D at f10 & ISO1600. 50 lights, 20 darks, 20 flats & 10 flat darks were taken. Only 49 lights registered so total exposure time was a little over 2 1/4 hours. Still no guiding, so all in all I’m quite pleased with this one.

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