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IC1396 is a large region of ionized gas about 2,400 light years from Earth. The Elephant Trunk Nebula (extending vertical from bottom to center of image) is an interstellar gas and dust concentration. It gets its name because it appears to resemble an Elephant head and trunk. This nebula is now thought to be a star forming region.

Esprit100-Moravian-G3-16200EC-EQ6-Skyshed-pier

An Esprit 100 triplet APO refractor and Moravian G3-16200EC CCD camera riding on a Skywatcher EQ6 mount and Skyshed pier.

Light pollution has long been the bane of stargazers and astrophotographers alike. In the past, I’d load up the car and travel to dark sites to get away from the sky glow plaguing my Kitchener Ontario home. Fast forward a decade, add some life and work commitments, ten years of aging, and long sleepless nights away from home became harder to pull off. So, I decided to become an urban astrophotographer.

 But is deep-sky imaging really possible from the city? Absolutely. While there’s no substitute for a dark rural sky, I found ways to adapt to my circumstances. First, I pick the objects that climb high enough to photograph well; objects like bright reflection nebular or that contain a lot of narrowband (H-alpha) or even a good mix of both. Second, I found imaging with LRGB filters is a little less susceptible to the effects of light pollution compared with the one shot colour camera I used previously. Finally, I put together a semi-permanent setup that allows me to get some sleep while the equipment runs unattended.

 My image of IC1396, above, is proof of what can be accomplished from the city. The photo combines 9 hours and 40 minutes of exposure data, shot through Optolong filters with a Sky-Watcher Esprit 100mm triplet refractor and Moravian Instruments G3-16200 CCD camera, all riding on a Sky-Watcher EQ6 mount and Skyshed Pier.

 “You have to have work with what you’ve got” a friend of mine always says. That’s what I did. And you can too!

 Technical:

  • Skywatcher Esprit 100mm APO refractor, F5.5
  • Moravian G3 16200 CCD @ -10deg
  • Optolong filters (Ha-sL-R-G-B)
  • Skywatcher EQ6 mount / Skyshed Pier
  • 9 hours 40 min / 5min subs
  • SGP, PHD, EQmod softwares for acquisition
  • Pixinsight 1.8 calibration, processing
  • Seeing and transparency average