IC 1396 – The Elephant Trunk Nebula

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I’m proud to highlight IC 1396, the Elephant Trunk Nebula as our “first light” in our new observatory! My mind is completely blown by just how rich, detailed, and clean data is from dark skies. I knew there would be an improvement, but I didn’t know it would be this well. My heart was racing as I downloaded the subs and my jaw dropped to the floor when integration finished. My integrated subs with zero processing looked better than much of my heavily processed data!

Elephant Trunk Nebula

Here is my first take on processing our first light!

Starless Elephant Trunk

As part of processing, we often make star masks to work on stars or nebulosity independently. I had to save my star mask to share it since it was just too beautiful to pass up!

IC 1396 Without Stars – So beautiful!

One advantage of building a star mask is that we can use that star mask with morphological transform to try and soften some of the stars to bring the focus back on to nebulosity. Since stars are super bright in comparison, sensors seem to over-expose some stars while trying to gather as many photons on nebulosity.

Here is an image with the stars slightly toned down.

We also experimented with some of the blues vs teal. It’s all about finding that color transition and mix that you love. I have no preference right now, just wanted to share the possibilities of toning things down or brightening things up to try and show off everything in this beautiful field of view.

More to come!

Data is uploading so we can share the subs and we’ll publish our post-processing steps here too! We’re having to change things up a bit because the data is so good you almost don’t have to do a darn thing to it!

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About the author

I’m a 40 something father of two girls who loves the mountains, still plays in the sand, and enjoys being in the great outdoors. The mountains are always calling my name.

“Wilderness is a necessity” – John Muir

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