The Elephant Trunk Nebula

The Elephant Trunk Nebula located in the Constellation Cepheus is about 2,400 light years from earth. This region is a massive concentration of interstellar gas ionized by the young stars. The common name comes from the elephant trunk looking structure of dense gas.

Elephant Trunk Nebula

Contains: B161IC 1396IC1396Sh2-131VdB142

Optimized for: Red = Ha, Blue = OIII

Here is another process of the image that we like – popped out the red a bit more. Curious which one you prefer – the OII is lost on this one, however the hydrogen gas is more pervasive and brighter!

Optimized for: H-Alpha

This photo was taken in Austin TX on the night of the 4th of July. Didn’t have too many subs to drop out due to fireworks.

Leave a comment below to let us know which one you prefer!

Acquisition Software

These photos were taken with the Open Source software NINA – Nighttime Imaging ‘N Astronomy.


  • Flats generated using Nina Flat Wizard.
  • Target acquired from Stellarium Planetarium and imported into Nina Framing Wizard.
  • Target set as Sequence in NINA.
  • Sequence was configured for centering, plate solving and tracking.
  • 100 exposures of 180 seconds a piece with dithering between every sub.

Acquisition Gear

  • Orion ED80 Telescope
  • ASI533 Camera cooled to -5c
  • EQ6R Mount
  • Optolong L-Enhance Filter
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PixInsight Processing

This image was processed using PixInsight with the following workflow

  1. WeghtedBatchProcessing – WBPP – Calibrated with Flats, Flat-Darks and Lights
  2. Split off Luminance Channel
  3. Split RGB Channels
  4. Apply Stretch – look for features in channel.
  5. Use starnet++ to generate star Mask from Luminance
  6. Mask Stars on Luminance
  7. Deconvolution on Luminance
  8. Denoise on each L RGB
  9. Combine RGB Channels
  10. Photo Color Calibration – Selecting NB target and allow Background Neutralization
  11. Clone
  12. Stretch Clone
  13. Run Starnet to remove stars
  14. ACDNR to denoise
  15. Use Pixelmath to re-add stars
  16. Stretch
  17. PixelMath apply Lum Channel
  18. Curves adjustment
  19. Save your work

I’ll re-process this image with screenshots taken. I’m happy to share the steps, tools, and tricks in the hopes it helps others!

Thank you and as always, we love your feedback! Let us know what you think!

1 thought on “The Elephant Trunk Nebula”

  1. Hello….
    coming to you from Phoenix….just found your website…great for me, learning the ins and outs of astrophotography, how to use pixinsight, etc…AND I have a Esprit 120, so i’m excited to see your images from Bortle 8. I also have just aquired a Triad Ultra, waiting on a focuser, and field reducer…currently using a canon rebel 6ti mod. Trying out the triad the last couple nights, frustrated with focusing, since i cant see much with it on….so hoping the focuser will help….and just got a qhy 268 cooled camera…so i have the gear…just need to get things dialed in. Your website is beautiful, and helpful. I found while browsing Astrobin searching for shot with the 120mm…and your shot of Abell 85, with the link to your site…thanks again.
    Greg Meyer MD, Phoenix.

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